#Blogtour The Medici Murders by David Hewson

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Medici Murders by David Hewson.

About the Author

David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, Sunday Times and Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels, including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages, and his Amsterdam-based series featuring detective Pieter Vos. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing. He lives near Canterbury in Kent. Follow @david_hewson on Twitter, Visit davidhewson.com

About the book

Venice is a city full of secrets. For hundreds of years it has been the scene of scandal, intrigue and murderous rivalries. And it remains so today. 1548, Lorenzino de Medici, himself a murderer and a man few will miss, is assassinated by two hired killers.

Today, Marmaduke Godolphin, British TV historian and a man even fewer will miss, is stabbed by a stiletto blade on the exact same spot, his body dropping into the canal.

Can the story of the first murder explain the attack on Godolphin? The Carabinieri certainly think so. They recruit retired archivist Arnold Clover to unpick the mystery and to help solve the case. But the conspiracy against Godolphin runs deeper than anyone imagined.


When the reader starts this journey into the investigation or clarification of the death of Marmaduke Godolphin, it seems to be an almost normal thing thing for Capitano Fabbri to ask for help from someone who knew him – knew of him. Is it though? In what way could a simple archivist possibly contribute to unravelling the mystery surrounding the demise of Godolphin, unless of course there really is a connection between a assassination of a de Medici committed many centuries ago.

Towards the end I felt as if Capitano Valentina Fabbri was perhaps from the very beginning of the story an instinctive and astute Columbo, but with an element of compassion where the law should supersede the emotional context of the scenario or crime.

Only a small side note: Valentina should have laughed not giggled, it’s not in keeping with her character. The assertive, confident person insistent on being viewed as without the usual stereotypical traits society deems womanly and in equal measures as a sign of weakness in comparison to men – she would have laughed.

I enjoyed the way past, present and the surroundings soaked in centuries of both told and untold history are woven into the fabric of the story, thereby elevating the characters just ever so slightly from their imposing background drop and the baggage that walks along with them.

It reminded me in some ways of Dibdin mastery, who also had this talent for enhancing story and character with art and history. I’d be interested in seeing whether Valentina, Arnold and hopefully Luca, will continue to enthral us with tales of mystery, vengeance and the fragility of human nature.

Buy The Medici Murders at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Canongate books;  Publication date: 4th May 2023 – Paperback £9.99 – eBook £4.79. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet, translated by Katherine Gregor.

About the Author

Marion Brunet, born in 1976 in the Vaucluse, is a well known Young Adult author in France. Her YA novels have received over 30 prizes, including the 2017 UNICEF Prize for Youth Literature. Summer of Reckoning is her first novel written for adults and her first work to be translated into English.

About the translator:

Katherine Gregor lives in London and has recently translated works by Alexander Pushkin from the Russian and plays by Carlo Goldoni and Luigi Pirandello from the Italian.

Follow Marion Brunet on Amazonon Goodreads, Follow translator Katherine Gregor   @ScribeDoll on Twitter, Buy Summer of Reckoning

About the book

A psychological thriller set in the Luberon, a touristic French region that evokes holidays in magnificent pool adorned villas. For those who live there year-round, it often means stifling poverty and boredom. Two teenage sisters have grown up in a world where the main distractions are hatred of Arabs and booze. When Celine, 16, discovers she is pregnant and refuses to divulge her lover’s identity, her father embarks on a mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Brunet uses her tense and efficient novel to tell us a story of “people at sea, on a boat punctured just above the waterline, never far from a shipwreck”. No one describes better the poisonous claustrophobia of families trapped in small rural towns. She writes with a scalpel about couples, family, sexism, racism and poverty.


This reminded me of the teenage exploration of sexuality in Smooth Talk (1985). When young girls float between childhood innocence and the magnetic pull of sexual exploration. No one story is alike, and yet in a way they are all the same.

When a father discovers his teenage daughter Celine is pregnant it sets off a series of events that, although destructive in nature they are also don’t leave much of an impact. That in itself speaks to the nature of what the author wants to portray. The absolute miniature cosmos of village or small-town rural life. The way life stagnates and threatens to suffocate those who are still in the throes of discovery and development, as opposed to those who have already resigned themselves to the stagnation.

The two sisters, Jo and Celine find themselves taking different paths. Celine has begun a road well-worn and travelled by others, whereas Jo still has the aspiration to reach beyond what others say she can reach for.

It’s literary fiction, a slow exploration of violence, birth, sexuality and a crime that slips into obscurity.

It’s fascinating how Brunet captures the differentiation of domestic and other violence. The way both perpetrator and victim perceive it as normal, ergo not worth mentioning or trying to stop. An acknowledgment that society will be just as reluctant to do so. In contradiction the violence during the crime is seen as necessary against a growing evil. One act weighs upon the conscience – the other is not worth another thought.

Brunet is also astute when it comes to the impact of false information fueled by racism, which in turn leads to misconceptions about fellow countrymen, who then become victims of vicious propaganda.

It’s a Kodak moment novel. A study of rural life, of poverty, racism and family.

Buy Summer of Reckoning at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 12 March 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jørn Lier Horst translated by Anne Bruce – published by Orenda Books.

About the Authors

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense.

Follow @LierHorst on Twitter, Visit jlhorst.comon Goodreadson AmazonBuy Death Deserved

Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger ’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger ’s first co-written thriller.

Follow @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit thomasenger.netBuy Death Deserved

About the book

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missingpersons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flair for the dramatic, and thirst for attention. Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…


You can’t just end a book like that. That’s not a cliffhanger – that’s hanging readers over the Grand Canyon and pulling them back in after you’ve given them a brief taste of excitement. Just saying.

Blix and Ramm are an unusual coupling, perhaps more so because the past has melded them together forever. Ramm is unaware of the connection at first, but where Blix is concerned it defines the way he relates to and interacts with Emma. The decisions he made many years ago are used as an example of right or wrong, and it has stunted his career path, despite being convinced that he did the right thing.

He is pulled into an extremely violent game of fame based cat and mouse when a celebrity goes missing and he starts to feed one journalist in particular the kind of details that could cost him his career.

It’s Nordic noir, a police procedural crime read. A fast-paced brutal serial killer is determined to leave his mark on society and that storyline is balanced excellently with the personal lives of the main characters. Blix who struggles to connect with his grown daughter and Emma who hides her own imperfections, because only the perfect are lovable, right?

The authors give readers the trepidation of crime, whilst simultaneously showing us the fragility of the human psyche. The result is a compelling read.

You could say that aside from the usual problems, which could arise, a novel written by multiple authors and translated from a foreign language often has to rise to the occasion more so than a one author native language novel. This novel does that successfully. Not only is it written so smoothly that you don’t notice a difference in style or voice – the translation and the edit are spot-on.

When you have read the book do yourself a favour and read the acknowledgement. It’s absolutely hilarious and hands down the funniest acknowledgement I have ever read. Those few pages give insight into the relationship which makes Enger and Horst an extremely successful writing team. I hope this is the first of many. It better be – did I mention how they ended the book?

Buy Death Deserved at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orenda Books; Pub date 6 FEBRUARY 2020 | Paperback Original | £8.99. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Orenda.co.uk

#BlogTour Out of the Ashes by Vicky Newham

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Out of the Ashes by Vicky Newham. It’s a compelling urban crime read, a multi-layered story with a gripping main character.

About the Author

Vicky Newham is a writer, teacher and psychologist. She is the author of the DI Maya Rahman series of police procedural novels set in multi-cultural East London. The first in the series, Turn a Blind Eye, was published in April 2018. The second, Out of the Ashes, publishes on May 30th 2019.

The East London setting of the novels, and the characters, were inspired by the 4 years that Vicky spent living and working in the Tower Hamlets area.

Vicky grew up in a tiny Sussex village, where shop opening hours and the local bus service did occasionally prompt murderous thoughts. After her A-levels, she exchanged mud and fields for London pavements. Here, she

taught psychology for many years before moving to Kent, where she now lives with her cockerpoo dog. Vicky is fascinated by what makes people tick and what pushes ordinary people to commit violence and murder. You can keep in touch with Vicky and her books:

Follow @VickyNewham on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, on Facebook, on Instagram, Visit vickynewham.com

Buy Out of the Ashes

About the book

A tragic accident – or a ruthless killer?

When a flash mob on Brick Lane is interrupted by a sudden explosion, DI Maya Rahman dashes to the scene. A fire is raging through one of the city’s most infamous streets, the sight of Maya’s childhood home. And the discovery of two charred bodies in the burnt-out building transforms an arson attack into a murder case.

With witnesses too caught up in the crowd to have seen anything useful, Maya is facing a complex investigation without a single lead. And, when reports of a second, even more horrifying crime land on Maya’s desk, it’s obvious there’s more at stake than she could ever have imagined. She must find the answers – before all of East London goes up in flames.


This is the second book in the DI Maya Rahman series. If you haven’t read it then don’t forget to give Turn a Blind Eye a try too, although this absolutely can be read as a standalone book.

What appears to be a simple case of accidental arson turns into so much more when two bodies are found on the scene of the crime. A crime that was facilitated by a diversion, a smokescreen of people taking part in an ‘innocent’ flash mob.

I really enjoyed the way Newham combines the past and the present to create a riveting crime read. It’s not just a matter of the past, but rather how the difficulties and trauma of the past come back to haunt the present. Also how crime has changed in our day and age. At the same time how some crimes remain the same throughout time.

Part of that is how London has changed. The people, life, the motives and the face of crime. Gone are the old gangster rules of the town and in their place are the ruthless, violent and downright vicious new rules of modern crime. The kind of crime that doesn’t hesitate to suck kids in and spit them out.

It’s a compelling urban crime read, a multi-layered story with a gripping main character. Rahman has a conscience, which is why certain aspects of this story haunt her to the point of distraction. I think that is what makes the series stand out though. The way Newham gives the reader a character who tries to do what’s right, as opposed to what the law dictates. Simultaneously it’s also how urban crime is bounced off more base human emotions and the crimes resulting from those emotions.

Hopefully Newham will be back soon with another DI Maya Rahman story.

Buy Out of the Ashes at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

This is book fourteen in the DSI Roy Grace series.

I thought James brought this book back to the roots of Grace a wee bit. It was certainly a fast-paced read from beginning to end, but I am referring to a sense of nostalgia it awakens in relation to the earlier books in the series.

There was less focus on Grace, his family and his personal life, aside from the whole bomb fiasco. Instead the majority of the read is focused on the dirty criminal underworld Grace finds himself pulled into.

The story begins with a horrific scenario when Grace and his son find themselves in a stadium at the same time as the many lives in said stadium are under threat. Somewhere in there is a bomb, which is about to go off at any minute and there is no time to get out before it does. Thus Grace is thrust, head-first into this action packed thriller.

Whilst every ear and eye is on a possible detonation a young boy goes missing. The son of a successful businessman, who also has a nasty gambling habit. The kind of habit that ends up with him being the perfect target for a group of ruthless criminals. The type that doesn’t mind if they kill a kid.

It had the feel of a television show, a weekly series featuring a popular police detective. It’s a sound crime thriller with a decent pace. James tends to deliver a good read though. This is no exception.

It’s very much urban crime meets modern mafia, which is tackled by good ol’ Brit policing.

Buy Dead If You Don’t at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pan Macmillan; pub date 17 May 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @peterjamesuk on Twitter, Visit peterjames.com

#BlogTour Swann’s Down by Charles Salzberg

Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg Banner

  Swann’s Down

by Charles Salzberg

on Tour May 1 – June 30, 2019


Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg

When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who’s swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can’t say no. Although he doesn’t actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner’s mysterious past. His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortune tellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.

While working his partner’s case, he’s approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who’s scheduled to go on trial for murder he claims he didn’t commit in a week. Swann’s search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant’s girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the Bay from Mobile, Ala. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?


Book Details:

Genre: Detective/Noir/Mystery
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1-64396011-1
Series: Henry Swann
Purchase Links: Amazon | BN.com | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:

The Age of Aquarius

“We’re partners, right?”
Nothing good can come from that question when it comes from the mouth of Goldblatt.
“I mean, all for one and one for all, am I right?” he quickly added in an attempt, I was sure, to seal the deal.
“I think you’re confusing us with the three musketeers. May I point out there are only two of us, and I’m afraid that’s not the only fallacy in your declaration. But you might as well finish what you’ve started.”
We were having our weekly Friday lunchtime sit-down to discuss what Goldblatt likes to refer to as “business.” I have another name for it: waste of time.
Our venue changes from week to week but the concept is always pretty much the same: a cheap diner-slash-coffee shop somewhere on the island of Manhattan. Today’s eatery of choice (Goldblatt’s choice, my destiny) is the Utopia Diner, on Amsterdam, near 72nd Street. And as for the business we’d just finished discussing, well, to be honest, there never is very much actual business to discuss and today was no exception.
At this particular moment in time, we were going through a bit of a dry spell, which always makes me a little nervous because no matter how much I banish it from my mind, the rent is due the first of every month and at least three times a day I seem to develop a hunger that must be quenched. Still, a good fifteen, twenty years away from Social Security, and with precious little dough in the bank–okay, let’s be honest, no dough in the bank–and no 401-K to fall back on, I need to keep working. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, lately it’s been my “partner,” as he likes to refer to himself, as opposed to my preferred albatross, who’s brought in the bulk of our clients.
We’d already finished eating–though technically, Goldblatt never actually finishes eating which means a meal can easily turn into an all-day affair, if I don’t apply the brakes–and we were just waiting for the check to arrive. This is a crucial point of any meal with Goldblatt because it is the opening gambit in what has become our weekly routine of watching the check sit there in no-man’s land somewhere between us until I inevitably give in, pick it up, and pay. Otherwise, I risk one of two things: either we’d be there all afternoon or, worst case scenario, Goldblatt will decide he’s still hungry and threaten to order something else. Neither one of these options is the least bit appealing.
“I’ll get right to the point,” he said.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the waiter, like a white knight, approaching with our check in hand. If I acted quick enough I might be able to get out of there before I can be sucked into something I don’t want to have anything to do with.
“That would be nice,” I said, reaching for my wallet. “What is your point?”
“I need to hire you.”
I was stopped in my tracks before I got my wallet halfway out of my back pocket.
“Really? To do what?”
“I want you to find someone for me. Well, to be more precise it’s not really for me. It’s for my ex-wife.”
Wait a minute! Goldblatt married? Goldblatt with a wife? Goldblatt a husband? This was a new one on me, something I’d never even considered.
“You…you’ve been married?” I stammered.
Truth is, I never pictured Goldblatt being in any relationship other than with, yes, as irritating as it might be, me. I mean the guy isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of Don Juan, although I suppose in theory there are women who might find him if not attractive in the conventional way at least interesting in a specimen-under-glass way. Or maybe as a project. Women love a project. They love a challenge. They love the idea that they have the opportunity to remake a man in their image. Maybe that was it. But whatever it was, my world was shaken to the core. And what would shake it even more would be to find that he was actually a father, too. But one shock per meal is more than enough, so there was no chance I was going to pursue that line of questioning.
“Unfortunately, the answer is yes. More than once, in fact.”
“Holy Cow,” I blurted out, channeling the Scooter. “You’re kidding me?”
At this point the same bald, squat waiter who seems to serve us in every diner we patronize, reached our table and dropped the check right in front of me.
“This is not something a man usually kids about.”
“How many times?”
He held up three fingers.
“Three times! You’ve been married three times?”
I gulped.
“Are you married now?”
He shook his head. “Nah. I’m kinda between wives. Giving it a rest, if you know what I mean.
But chances are I’ll be back in the saddle again soon enough.”
“Okay, so let me get this straight. You’ve been married three times and now you’re single but you would consider getting married again?”
“Man is not meant to be alone, Swannie. You might consider the possibility that your life would be enriched if you found your soulmate.”
You’re fortunate if you find one soul mate in life and I’d already had mine. She was yanked from my life as a result of a freak accident, a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t know if Goldblatt knew the circumstances of her bizarre accidental death, but I wouldn’t have been surprised because he seems to know a lot of things he has no business knowing.
“Some men are meant to be alone, Goldblatt. I’m one of them and after three failed marriages maybe you should consider the possibility you are, too.”
He smiled and puffed out his chest. “What can I say, Swann? I’m a friggin’ babe magnet.”
I would have laughed, should have laughed, but I was still processing the scary fact that he’d been married three times. That meant there were three women in the world who not only were willing to marry him but did marry him. I wanted to know more. Much more. Everything, in fact. But this was not the time and certainly not the place to delve into Goldblatt’s mysterious, sordid past. Nevertheless, I promised myself I would revisit this topic in the not too distant future.
Still in shock, I avoided our weekly “who’s paying for this meal” tango, grabbed the check and reached for my wallet…again.
“So, wanna know the story?” he asked.
“Which story would that be?”
“The story of why I want to hire you?”
Excerpt from Swann’s Down by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2019 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg
Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Redbook, The New York Times Book Review and other periodicals. He has written over 20 non-fiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times. He is author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair, nominated for two Silver Falchions, Swann’s Way Out, Devil in the Hole, named one of the best crime novels of the year by Suspense Magazine. He was a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing the New York Writers Workshop where he is a Founding Member. He is a member of the MWA-NY Board.

Catch Up With Charles Salzberg On:
Charlessalzberg.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

My Review
In this Henry Swann mystery, Henry is asked to look into two cases. He is asked to find a killer’s alibi and to find a charalatan with a penchant for scamming the vulnerable out of a lot of money.

It’s curious that Henry Swann doesn’t describe himself as a private investigator per se. He just finds people and things, that’s all. He doesn’t solve crimes and he isn’t responsible for anyone involved in anything considered a crime. He finds things – do you understand the difference? Yeh, I’m not sure he does either, although he makes a valiant attempt to convince himself and others of the distinction. It’s probably part of his charm.

His charm, albeit a ‘doesn’t give a toss’ and ‘take it or leave it’ kind of charm is what makes him such a compelling character. Swann really doesn’t give two monkeys, and don’t we know it.  The paradox is of course is that he is drawn into the crime, mystery or case, despite said attitude.

Another fascinating aspect is the relationship or rather reluctant partnership between Swann and the disbarred lawyer Goldblatt. Goldblatt is a little bit like the greasy oddball you have to hire because you can’t afford a decent legal representative. He often walks both sides of the line.

I was pleasantly surprised by this read. I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by Salzberg. He has this way of combining a Sam Spadey feel with a noirish vibe to create an engaging read. What’s even more interesting is the way the author doesn’t deliver or rather doesn’t facilitate an ending the reader might expect. Not a happy one, a sad one nor a cliffhanger. Instead it’s an ending with a sense of realism. In life there is no perfect storyline, so why should there be one in fiction, right?

It’s mystery crime fiction that nods in the direction of the devil may care attitude of 1940s private eyes with a noirish vibe and to boot is dunked in realism.

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Charles Salzberg. There will be 6 giveaway winners. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. There will be five (5) 2nd Prize winners of one (1) Print Edition of Swann’s Down (U.S. Mailing Addresses only). The giveaway begins on May 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#BlogTour The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan

The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan

The Company Files: 2.The Naming Game

by Gabriel Valjan on Tour April 22 – June 22, 2019

The Company Files 2 The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan


Whether it’s Hollywood or DC, life and death, success or failure hinge on saying a name. The right name. When Charlie Loew is found murdered in a seedy flophouse with a cryptic list inside the dead script-fixer’s handkerchief, Jack Marshall sends Walker undercover as a screenwriter at a major studio and Leslie as a secretary to Dr. Phillip Ernest, shrink to the stars. J. Edgar Hoover has his own list. Blacklisted writers and studio politics. Ruthless gangsters and Chief Parker’s LAPD. Paranoia, suspicions, and divided loyalties begin to blur when the House Un-American Activities Committee insists that everyone play the naming game.

Praise for The Naming Game:

“With crackling dialogue and a page turning plot shot-through with authentic period detail, Gabriel Valjan pulls the reader into the hidden world of the 1950’s Hollywood studio scene, involving murder, McCarthyism and mayhem.” ~ James L’Etoile, author of At What Cost and Bury the Past “Terrific historical noir as Gabriel Valjan takes us on a trip through post-war Hollywood involving scandal, McCarthyism, blacklisting, J. Edgar Hoover and, of course, murder. Compelling story, compelling characters – and all the famous name dropping is great fun. Highly recommended!” ~ R.G. Belsky, author of the Clare Carlson Mystery Series “Brilliantly written, Gabriel Valjan’s The Naming Game whisks the reader back in time to postwar Los Angeles. Spies, Communism, and Hollywood converge in a first-rate thriller.” ~ Bruce Robert Coffin, Agatha Award nominated author of Beyond the Truth

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction Published by: Winter Goose Publishing Publication Date: May 4, 2019 Number of Pages: 210 ISBN: 978-1-941058-86-2 Series: The Company Files: 2 Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

At seven minutes past the hour while reviewing the classified documents at his desk, one of the two colored phones, the beige one, rang. He placed the receiver next to his ear, closed the folder, and waited for the caller’s voice to speak first. “Is this Jack Marshall?” “It is.” “This is William Parker. Is the line secure?” “It is,” Jack replied, his hand opening a desk cabinet and flipping the ON switch to start recording the conversation. “I don’t know you Mr. Marshall and I presume you don’t know me.” A pause. “I know of you, Chief Parker.” “Were you expecting my call?” “No and it doesn’t matter.” Jack lied. “Fact of the matter, Mr. Marshall, is an individual, whom I need not name, has suggested I contact you about a sensitive matter. He said matter of security so I listened.” “Of course. I’m listening.” “I was instructed to give you an address and have my man at the scene allow you to do whatever it is that you need to do when you arrive there.” “Pencil and paper are ready. The address, please.” Jack wrote out the address; it was in town, low rent section with the usual rooming houses, cheap bars, about a fifteen-minute drive on Highway 1 without traffic. “Ask for Detective Brown. You won’t miss him. Don’t like it that someone steps in and tells me how to mind my own city, but I have no choice in the matter.” Jack ignored the man’s defensive tone. He knew Detective Brown was a dummy name, like Jones or Smith on a hotel ledger. Plain, unimaginative, but it would do. Most policemen, he conceded, were neither bright nor fully screwed into the socket. A chief was no different except he had more current in him. The chief of police who ruled Los Angeles by day with his cop-syndicate the way Mickey Cohen owned the night must’ve swallowed his pride when he dropped that nickel to make this call. “Thank you, Chief Parker.” Jack hung up and flipped the switch to OFF. Whatever it was at the scene waiting for Jack was sufficient cause to pull back a man like Bill Parker and his boys for twelve hours. Whoever gave this order had enough juice to rein in the LAPD. Jack took the folder he was reviewing and walked it across the room. He opened the folder once more and reread the phrases ‘malicious international spy’ and, in Ronald Reagan’s own choice of words, ‘Asia’s Mata Hari’, before closing the cover and placing it inside the safe. His review will have to wait. He put on his holster and grabbed a jacket. Betty came out on the porch as he was putting the key into the car door. “I won’t be long. Please kiss the children good night for me.” “Can’t this wait, Jack? The children were expecting you to read to them tonight. Jack Junior set aside the book and you know Elizabeth will be crushed.” “It can’t wait. I’m sorry. Tell them I’ll make it up to them.” “You need to look them in the face when you tell them sorry.” He opened the door as his decision. She understood she dealt him the low card. “Want something for the road?” “No thanks. I’ll see you soon.” He closed the door with finesse. He couldn’t help it if the children heard the car. He checked the mirror and saw her on the porch, still standing there, still disappointed and patient, as he drove off. Detective Brown, sole man on the scene, walked him over to the body without introducing himself. Jack didn’t give his name. At six-fifteen the vet renting a room down the hall discovered the body. Detective Brown said the veteran was probably a hired hound doing a bag job – break-ins, surveillance, and the like. Recent veterans made the best candidates for that kind of work for Hoover, Jack thought. Worked cheap and they went the extra mile without Hoover’s agents having to worry about technicalities like a citizen’s rights going to law. “What makes you think he was hired out?” Jack asked. Brown, a man of few words, handed Jack his notebook, flipped over to the open page he marked Witness Statement and said politely, “Please read it. Words and writing are from the witness himself.” “The man was a no good ‘commonist’.” “Nice spelling. A suspect?” “No, sir. The coroner places the death around early afternoon, about 2ish. Our patriot was across the street drinking his lunch. I verified it.” Jack viewed the body. The man was fully dressed wearing a light weave gabardine suit costing at least twenty-five. The hardly scuffed oxfords had to cost as much as the suit, and the shirt and tie, both silk, put the entire ensemble near a hundred. Hardly class consciousness for an alleged Communist, Jack thought. The corpse lying on his side reminded Jack of the children sleeping, minus the red pool seeping into the rug under the right ear. The dead man wore a small sapphire ring on his small finger, left hand. No wedding band. Nice watch on the wrist, face turned in. An odd way to read time. Breast pocket contained a cigarette case with expensive cigarettes, Egyptian. Jack recognized the brand from his work in the Far East. Ten cents a cigarette is nice discretionary income. Wallet in other breast pocket held fifty dollars, various denominations. Ruled out robbery or staging it. Identification card said Charles Loew, Warner Brothers. Another card: Screen Writers Guild, signed by Mary McCall, Jr. President. Back of card presented a pencil scrawl. “Find a lighter or book of matches?” Detective Brown shook his head. Jack patted the breast pockets again and the man’s jacket’s side-pockets. Some loose change, but nothing else. The man was unarmed, except for a nice pen. Much as he disliked the idea Jack put his hands into the man’s front pockets. Nothing. He found a book of matches in the left rear pocket, black with gold telltale lettering, Trocadero on Sunset. Jack flipped the matchbook open and as he suspected, found a telephone number written in silver ink; different ink than the man’s own pen. Other back pocket contained a handkerchief square Jack found interesting, as did Detective Brown. “What’s that?” he asked, head peering over for a better look. “Not sure,” answered Jack, unfolding the several-times folded piece of paper hidden inside the hanky. The unfolded paper revealed a bunch of typewritten names that had bled out onto other parts of the paper. It must have been folded while the ink was still wet. It didn’t help someone spilt something on the paper. Smelled faintly of recent whiskey. Jack reviewed what he thought were names when he realized the letters were nonsense words. “Might be a Commie membership list. Looks like code.” But Brown zipped it when Jack folded the paper back up and put it into his pocket. “The paper and the matches stay with me. We clear?” “Uh, yes sir. The Chief told me himself to do whatever you said and not ask questions.” “Good. Other than the coroner – who else was here? Photographers, fingerprints?” “Nobody else. Medical pronounced him dead, but nothing more. Chief had them called off to another scene – a multiple homicide, few blocks away. We’re short-staffed tonight. The Chief said he’d send Homicide after you leave. They’ll process the scene however you leave it. They won’t know about the matches or the paper. Chief’s orders.” Jack checked his watch. Man down, found at six fifteen. Chief called a little after seven. He arrived not much later than seven forty. The busy bodies would get the stiff by eight or eight thirty, the latest. Perfectly reasonable Jack thought. He squatted down to see the man’s watch, noticing light bruising on the wrist and the throw rug bunched into a small hill near the man’s time hand. Intriguing. “Thank you, Detective. I’ll be going now. If I speak to the chief I’ll let him know you’ve done your job to the letter.” “You’re welcome. Night.” Jack knew he and the chief would be speaking again. Outside on the street, Jack pulled out his handkerchief and wiped both hands for any traces of dead man as he headed for the parked car. Compulsive habit. He pulled up the collar on his jacket. It was cold for late May. The street sign said he was not far from Broadway. In this part of town thousands lived crowded in on themselves as lodgers in dilapidated Gothic mansions or residence hotels, working the downtown stores, factories, and offices, riding public transit and the other funicular railway in the area, Court Flight, a two-track railway climb towards Hill Street. Los Angeles changed with the world. The war was over and there was a new war, possibly domestic, definitely foreign. Court Flight is gone, ceased operations. Its owner and his faithful cat had passed on. His good widow tried. In ’43 a careless brush fire destroyed the tracks and the Board of Public Utilities signed the death warrant; and now Jack was hearing whispers Mayor Bowron planned to revitalize the area International Style, which meant dotting the desert city with skyscrapers. Jack opened the door and sat behind the wheel a moment. He took the family once to nearby Angels Flight. Junior wondered why there was no apostrophe on the sign. Betty tolerated the excursion, indifferent to Los Angeles because she preferred their home in DC. He released the clutch. Betty disliked LA because it changed too much without reason. She might have had a point. He shifted gear. Pueblo city would level whole blocks of thriving masses just to create a parking lot. He pulled the car from the curb. *** Excerpt from The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2019 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

Gabriel Valjan

Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of two series, The Roma Series and The Company Files, available from Winter Goose Publishing. His short stories have appeared in Level Best anthologies and other publications. Twice shortlisted for the Fish Prize in Ireland, once for the Bridport Prize in England, and an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest, he is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and an attendee of Bouchercon, Crime Bake, and Malice Domestic conferences.

Catch Up With Gabriel On: gabrielvaljan.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

My Review

I really enjoyed the way Valjan combined important political and historical events of the time to create a characters with greater depth and a storyline that has a realistic feel to it.

Set in the 1950s, in post-war Hollywood, a time when there were echoes of Nazi Germany when McCarthy started hunting for Communists. When your name on the list meant you were a pariah. Blacklisting people who believed in Communism smacks of the same political repression and fearmongering.

Jack Marshall is tasked with solving the murder of a script writer. The trail seems to lead straight to the office of Hoover. The reader follows Marshall, Walker and Leslie as they try and navigate their way through a world of glitzy glam, make believe, and complete and utter paranoia. Then again it isn’t paranoia if they really are out to get you.

Valjan slips in small moments of brutal reality, which may fly under the radar, but I am sure there are many who comprehend the need to give background to time, people and events. Case in point is Walker when he mentions quite casually and yet filled with the emotional trauma it comes with, that his company liberated Dachau. Nothing more, just the fact he acknowledges and those around him understand the implications. As the Germans say ‘Ohne Worte’.

The author doesn’t romanticise the past, something I greatly appreciate when it comes to historical fiction. He calls a spade a spade, which makes the characters seem more authentic. Of course that means the story can lean towards politically incorrect, but then that’s what it was like. Racism, sexism, discrimination. A country still recovering from the tumultuous years of war. Valjan also makes the read more inclusive, adding to his readership by using creative ways to describe certain events and scenery, as opposed to filling in the blanks with gratuitous violence. It’s historical crime fiction with a noirish flair.

Tour Participants:

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 22, 2019 and runs through June 24, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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#BlogTour Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks. It’s a suspense thriller full of heightened drama, which perhaps shows the more dubious side of people, especially family, when it comes to money.

About the Author

Miranda Rijks is a writer of suspense novels. I Want You Gone is her first psychological thriller.

Miranda has an eclectic background ranging from law to running a garden centre. She’s been writing all of her life and has a Masters in writing. A couple of years ago she decided to ditch the business plans and press releases and now she’s living the dream, writing suspense novels full time. She lives in Sussex, England with her Dutch husband, musician daughter and black Labrador.

Up next is Fatal Fortune, the first of three books in a mystery romance series that will be published in May 2019. They feature Dr Pippa Durrant, a psychologist and specialist in lie detection, who works alongside Sussex police getting embroiled in some scary stuff!

Miranda loves connecting with her readers, so you can reach out to her at www.mirandarijks.com

Follow @MirandaRijks on Twitter, on Amazon, on Instagram, on Facebook,

Buy Fatal Fortune

About the book

Is someone trying to frame psychologist Pippa Durrant for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never even met? It certainly seems that way when Pippa’s photo is found on the body of murdered lottery winner, Leanne Smith.

Pippa soon finds herself a suspect at the centre of a huge media storm. But she has an invaluable skill set – she is a human polygraph, expertly trained to spot lies and deceit. Skills she will need to help her to solve the mystery of who killed Leanne before it destroys her career – and her life.

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one arrives in the shape of DS Joe Swain. Initially suspicious of Pippa, he comes to trust her and to value her lie detection skills. Soon it’s clear there’s a definite spark between them….

Then, when another body turns up, Pippa realises her reputation isn’t the only thing in danger. Can she identify the killer before she becomes the next victim?

Fatal Fortune is the electrifying first book in the Dr. Pippa Durrant Thriller Series. If you like edge-of-your-seat action, clever sleuths, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Miranda Rijks’ gripping crime novel.


Money is the measure of all people. A fact that couldn’t be demonstrated more clearly than when someone wins a fortune and they are suddenly able to live a completely different lifestyle. The way they treat others, cope with the change and spend can be a testament to true character. To be completely fair that also applies to their loved ones, friends and acquaintances too. Greed can be a nasty little motivator and drive people to the most heinous acts.

The main sentiment and driving force of this plot is greed, or at least it appears to be. In a way it plays the role of the simplest solution and also the one of the red herring in this story. Perhaps everything is just a tad more complicated than just a person committing murder for a multi-million lottery win.

When Leanne and Kevin win the jackpot they decide to move to Spain. They fob their daughter and grandchildren off with a mere pittance, which causes a lot of tension. So, when Leanne is found murdered a few weeks later the most obvious motive is money.

Everyone is a suspect. Including psychologist Pippa Durant, who finds herself thrust into the middle of a murder investigation when her picture is plastered all over the media. A picture that purports to show the victim.

Rijks plays a sleight of hand with readers, as we find ourselves looking in a completely different direction for the solution. A plot within a plot

It’s a suspense thriller full of heightened drama, which perhaps shows the more dubious side of people, especially family, when it comes to money.

On a side note – Pippa really needs to examine her lack of boundaries, emotional involvement and ethics in regards to her profession. Somehow I think she will cross just as many boundaries in the next book.

Buy Fatal Fortune at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Inkubator Books; pub date 5 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen

I am delighted to welcome Owen Mullen to the blog today and his crime fiction novel Out of the Silence. Don’t miss the brilliant Q&A with Owen!

About the Author

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is an epic revenge thriller set in Pakistan.

Follow @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook on Twitter, on Instagramon Facebookon YoutubeAmazon Author pageGoodreads Author pageBookbub page,

Buy Out of the Silence

About the book

A compelling revenge thriller

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there. When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime. As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost? Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

Q&A with Owen Mullen

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Calibre…great Scottish drama

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper?Stephen King and James Lee Burke

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?Jesus Christ…that would be an interesting conversation!

A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home – you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why?Firstly I’ve got my own version of Marie at home! The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes – my all-time favourite detective, A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipal – it’s a slow burner but I love his use of language and Brideshead Revisited – an old boss switched me on to Evelyn Waugh

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Out of the Silence.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by your book. It blends the often stringent boundaries of crime and women’s fiction. I would love to know all about your inspiration for Out of the Silence?Several years ago I watched a horrific documentary on the treatment of women in Pakistan; it stayed with me. Some years later, my wife Christine and I were travelling in the region for the third time and the idea started to form for an amazing crime thriller set in this wonderfully colourful environment. When we ventured into the Thar dessert we came across a young woman selling salt: when she looked up at me from behind her hijab Afra was born.

The use of the bangles as a plot device to connect the threads is both clever and emotional. Again, I am intrigued by the inspiration to use the bangles in this way.The idea just arrived from wherever it is they live.

The contrasting effect of seeing how the lives of Jameel and Afra go in such different directions is an excellent example of the stark difference in opportunities and development when it comes to gender. Do you think giving a voice to the silent will help to end or at least level out the inequality a little?I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t set out to change things. I simply wanted to write a thrilling crime fiction novel. That said however, if anything I ever write can help someone in any way I would be more than delighted.

As I mentioned above I enjoyed the fact that this fits firmly into both crime and women’s fiction. Did you know your crime story would end up being a silent call to arms for the abused and oppressed or did it just evolve that way as the story progressed?The story arrived almost complete for me, so I always knew that Dr Simone would take up the cause.

What’s next for Owen Mullen? Are you already working on something new?Almost finished the follow up to In Harm’s Way, then there are several ideas fighting for my time!

Thanks for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!Thanks for inviting me here today…I really enjoyed it. – Owen


Although the blurb suggests that the investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan is the main character and takes centre stage, the truth is he is a mere bit-player in the story of Afra and Jameel. Saying that, aside from the important connection and emotional significance of the family heirloom Jameel gives to his love, even he doesn’t play as much of a pivotal role as Afra.

This story belongs to her, every disillusioned moment, every injury and each second of silence. In turn her story belongs to every woman and girl, who have been and still are treated as a sub-humans. Treated with contempt, abused and used for pleasure and/or pain.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of countries that still do nothing to combat the abuse, molestation, torture, rape and murder of girls and women. Not that our western society has a stellar record, but the country in which this is set, Pakistan, still lives in the dark ages in regards to women’s rights and the abuse of women. Don’t even get me started on India.

An intriguing and emotional element of the story is the way Mullen connects all the threads of the story with the bangles, and indeed they become an integral part of the plot. They become synonymous with the image of Afra, every time they are mentioned it conjures up images of the young girl before, when her world existed only of her family, the village and Jameel. The innocent girl experiencing the first blushes of young love, before life submerges her into a quagmire of systemic and cultural abuse.

It’s a crime thriller combined with a poignant plot about the abuse and neglect of girls and women. This is so much more than a crime thriller, perhaps because the story of Afra takes precedence over the murders, despite the fact everything leads back to her. She is always there in the background, watching and waiting.

Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon com.at Waterstonesat FoylesBook Depository,

Publisher: Bloodhound Books; pub date Paperback – 21 Jan. 2019pub date ebook edition 28 Jan.2019

#BlogTour Gallowstree Lane by Kate London

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Gallowstree Lane by Kate London. It’s the third book in the Collins & Griffiths series, but can be read as a standalone novel. It’s a dynamic police procedural with a character-driven plot. 

Kate London – photo by Tim Flach

About the Author

Kate London graduated from Cambridge University and moved to Paris where she trained in theatre. In 2006 Kate joined the Metropolitan Police Service. She finished her career working as part of a Major Investigation Team on SC&O1 – the Metropolitan Police Service’s Homicide Command. She resigned from the MPS in August 2014. Her debut novel Post Mortem was published by Corvus in 2015.

Follow @kate_katelondon @CorvusBooks on Twitter,

Buy Gallowstree Lane

About the book

Please don’t let me die. Please don’t. The final words of teenager Spencer Cardoso as he bleeds out on a London street, his life cut short in a single moment of rage.

When a teenage boy steps out of the shadows of Gallowstree Lane and asks a passer-by for help, it’s already too late. His life is bleeding out on the London street.

The murder threatens to derail Operation Perseus, a cover police investigation into the Eardsley Bluds, an organised criminal network. Detective Kieran Shaw can’t and won’t allow that to happen. But fifteen-year-old Ryan has other ideas. He’s witnessed the death of his best friend, and now he wants someone to pay…

As loyalties collide, a chain of events is triggered that threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane.


When it comes to modern day crime in Britain nothing could be more on point than the rise in knife crime in Britain, more specifically in the capital. It has become a veritable Wild West scenario, except the weapon of choice is knives and the majority of crimes are being committed by youths and teens. The MET, well the police in general are woefully understaffed and are trying to stay on top of what can only be called an epidemic at this point.

Sarah is called to the crime scene of a knife crime. A young teen has been killed as part of a gang vs gang act of revenge. His friend witnesses the stabbing and inadvertently becomes a pivotal player in a story that questions whether there is any escape from the inevitable destiny of a criminal and socio-economically depraved environment.

In this book it becomes even more apparent how much of a connection DI Sarah Collins and DC Lizzie Griffiths have. The common denominator is their gender in relation to working in what is considered to be a more masculine job. They both have to contend with having to work ten times harder to prove themselves.

Now that Lizzie is a single mother she finds it hard to reconcile the image and life she had before she was faced with finding dependable childcare and getting through her daily work commitments. She is struggling to cope and expects her baby daddy to do his bit to support, he however has completely different ideas. The kind of drastic solution only a manipulative and desperate person would come up with.

London makes a valid point about women who want both careers and children often being forced to choose one or the other, whereas their male colleagues never seem to have to make the same choices. Although society has come a long way to trying to level the playing field, it is still women who suffer when they want both worlds at the same time.

It’s worth mentioning that although this is the third in the Collins & Griffiths series and that some plot elements lead on from previous books, this can absolutely be read as a standalone novel. It’s a dynamic police procedural with a character-driven plot. 

Buy Gallowstree Lane (Collins and Griffiths #3)at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 7 Feb. 2019