#BlogTour Operation Large Scotch by Bill Flockhart

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Operation Large Scotch: O.L.S. by Bill Flockhart.About the Author

‘Operation Large Scotch’ is my first book and at my age (71) possibly my last. it reflects on my life in many respects having worked in a distillery in my early working life before digressing into financial services.

My interests are sport (especially golf, swimming and basketball, (the latter through my two sons who played at international level) and current affairs in our ever changing world.

I have always enjoyed a challenge, which producing a book has certainly proved to be, but I would recommend writing to the retired population as it certainly keeps your brain active.

Two years after publishing ‘operation large scotch’ I am delighted to release my second novel ‘She’s Not a Lovely Girl’ which is a sequel to my first book. I only hope it gives everyone the pleasure ‘O.L.S.’ did judging by the favourable reviews it received.

Follow on Amazonon Facebookon Pintereston Instagramon BookBubon LinkedInBuy Operation Large Scotch

About the book

Fearing the Good Friday Agreement will effectively end the lifestyle his IRA terrorist cell has enjoyed for years, Michael Caldwell the leader of the 1972 Club (named after the Bloody Sunday Massacre) decides to turn his attention to targeting the UK Government economically. He launches an attack threatening to bomb the Scotch whisky industry unless the British Government pay the terrorists a £20m ransom.

Armitage Brown, Assistant Controller of MI5 is given the task of stopping the terrorist attack but is unable to get any information on the assailants as to how, where and when they are going to deploy their explosives if their demands are not met. He co-ordinates a strategy, using all the emergency services, to thwart the terrorists under the code name ‘Operation Large Scotch.’

Both the military and the intelligence services have been guilty of murderous acts going back over the previous eighteen years. John Johnston, a young Ulsterman, living thousands of miles away in South Africa, is determined to get revenge for the killing of his father in Belfast. With the assistance of Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service he releases information that will haunt both the British Military establishment and the terrorists.

Will MI5 succeed in preventing mayhem in various towns around Scotland?


When tackling the conflict between the IRA and the British military it’s important to give a balanced account, especially when trying to make a point about two wrongs not making a right. I can imagine neither side would agree and believe the other is more at fault. I’m not going to get into the politics of it, because the bad blood goes back too far and deep.

When young John inadvertently becomes a witness to a heinous crime his father realises that the only way to keep him safe is to whisk him away to a completely different continent. Little does he know that he will delve back into the nightmares of his childhood later in life in an attempt to avenge the loss of a loved one.

The language and transitions could do with being a little smoother – less abrupt, although one could argue that it’s a style, as opposed to the misfires of a debut novel. Flockhardt clearly writes with passion, both for his premise and the topic.

It’s a spy come military thriller – an explosive story that wades into controversial topics. The author balances the controversy with an attempt to create a bridge to close the rift by acting as the observer. Simultaneously he delivers a fast paced read, whilst reminding readers that just because one group acts in the name of an honourable institution it doesn’t make some of their deeds any less deadly or wrong. It also serves as a reminder that terror committed in the name of an honourable goal doesn’t make the havoc and death it causes any less of a crime.

Buy Operation Large Scotch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in ebook and paperback formats on 11th December 2017. Buy at Amazon com.

The Burgas Affair by Ellis Shuman

Today it is my pleasure to feature The Burgas Affair by Ellis Shuman, which includes a fantastic Q&A with the author, info about the book and Ellis Shuman, and of course my review. Enjoy!

About the Author

Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. After working for several years in the hotel industry, he today writes and edits online marketing content. In the years 2009 – 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ellis’s writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. He is the author of a collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz (2003) and two novels, Valley of Thracians (January 2013) and The Burgas Affair (October 2017).

Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem. He writes about Bulgaria, Israel, books, travel, and the craft of writing on his blog:

Visit Ellis Shuman Writes ellisshuman.blogspot.com

Follow @ellisshuman on Twitter, ellisshumanauthor on Facebook or on Goodreads Ellis Shuman

Buy The Burgas Affair

About the book

She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.

The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack. It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.

Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.

The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.

Q&A with Ellis Shuman

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a few questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’ (readers love to get to know all about their favourite and new authors)

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) The last book I read and thoroughly enjoyed was His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, a historical thriller set in the Scottish Highlands of the 1800s. This is not the kind of book I usually read! I enjoy reading Israeli and Bulgarian fiction, when translated into English. And to pass the time on my train commute to work, I read suspense thrillers that are easy to put down, and even easier to forget.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? When I particularly enjoy reading a book by an author, I will eagerly look for all the other books they have written. As a youth I read all the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. I have also read the books of John Irving and I have a bookshelf filled with all the works of Haruki Murakami.

Now let’s talk about The Burgas Affair!

What was your inspiration for The Burgas Affair? I was born in the United States but I have lived in Israel since I was a teenager. My entire adult life has been in Israel – serving in the Israeli army; being a founding member of a kibbutz; raising a family; and working in the hotel industry and in online marketing. Except for two years, when my job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria.

During the time I lived in Sofia, I fell in love with Bulgaria, with its culture, nature, history, and people. I realized that most Westerners have no knowledge of Bulgaria whatsoever. This is a shame, I thought, because there is so much to see and do in Bulgaria. Most of my writing these days, both fiction and non-fiction, is based on my experiences there. I hope that it will introduce people to the country and encourage them to visit.

The explosive and emotional beginning of the book is based on a real terrorist attack. Did you pick this one in particular because of the link between Israel and Bulgaria, and the parallels to your own life? (Perhaps not the attack, but the countries) Having grown up in Israel where, unfortunately, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks are an ever-present security danger, I assumed Bulgaria to be a completely safe place to live. That is why the terrorist attack at Burgas Airport was so upsetting to me. I read every media report about the bombing and the investigation in its aftermath. I envisioned a joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation and the end result was my novel, The Burgas Affair.

The blurb makes a point of reminding readers that no perpetrator has ever been punished for the attack in Burgas, unfortunately this happens far too often. Was it important to you to remind people of what appears to be a lack of interest in bringing certain criminals to justice depending on who is targeted? The fact that no one was ever held accountable for the terrorist attack gave me quite a bit of creative leeway. I was able to imagine the things that would be investigated and I came up with a fictional motive for the attack. But, as in real life, my novel concludes with an ambiguous ending. In real life, not all crimes are solved. There are not always happy endings. This was what I wanted to express in my writing.

One of the things I enjoyed most about The Burgas Affair is the vivid imagery you create when it comes to the surroundings featured in the book. It is almost as if the reader is there in Bulgaria with the characters. Do you think readers connect better to a story when they have great visual prompts? For me, the location of the story was almost as important as the plot. I envisioned the location (Bulgaria) as a character that had a role to play. Ayala had never previously been to Bulgaria and we see the country for the first time through her inquisitive eyes. If readers come away with a deeper understanding of Bulgaria, I will have achieved my goal.

The relationship between Boyko and Ayala is a driving force in The Burgas Affair. Why do they connect in such a strong way? Both of the main characters in the novel are flawed individuals, troubled by traumas in their past. Boyko is a headstrong, haughty detective who prefers to work independently while Ayala, an inexperienced data analyst on her first assignment outside Israel, sees solving the case as a way to resolve her own personal matters. Their joint investigation changes them and their outlook on life. Hopefully for the better.

This is the most important question for readers. Is this a standalone novel or will we be seeing more of Ayala or Boyko again? The ending of the novel leaves it open to a sequel. It is quite possible that Ayala and/or Boyko will return in my writing in the future!

Thank you for answering all my questions, even the odder ones!


The book starts off with a brutal terrorist attack, which is based on a real terrorist attack that took place in July of 2012 at Burgas Airport. A bomb was placed and detonated on a bus, and the blast subsequently killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. No one was ever held accountable for the attack or the deaths, which is unfortunately a tragic reality when it comes to terrorist attacks and also crimes in general. This means the loved ones who are left behind never get any closure let alone any kind of justice.

One of Shuman’s strengths and indeed I would consider it a talent, is the way he describes the surroundings. The way he can evoke vivid imagery in the mind’s eye of the reader. The reader sees and experiences Bulgaria through his words and emotional connection. It made me want to wander the streets and take in the history and architecture. Not every author can evoke that kind of response.

In a way I think Shuman has actually described the way the authorities may have gone about their investigation. The difficulty of cooperating with foreign agencies, whilst being burdened by the rules and bureaucracy of the country the attack happened in, and simultaneously trying to find justice for the victims.

Regardless of all of those obstacles Boyko and Ayala are drawn to each other, perhaps because of the differences between them. At times it felt as if the budding romance was distracting from the criminal investigation, however it did open up avenues for further collaborations between the two of them.

Shuman reels the reader in with a stunning and equally shocking first chapter. It is deceptively happy until the innocence is shattered within moments. Although I think there needs to be a better balance between the descriptive scenes and the dialogues, in a sense that the latter is sometimes a little disjointed, I think this unusual duo could make another appearance. Hopefully we will be reading more by Shuman in the future.

Buy The Burgas Affair at Amazon Uk, at Amazon com or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @ellisshuman

Buy Valley of Thracians at Amazon Uk (debut novel) or at Amazon com

Buy The Virtual Kibbutz at Amazon Uk (short stories) or at Amazon com

#BlogTour A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon. It’s a story full of political intrigue and betrayal. (A Secret Worth Killing For was previously released under the title Woman of State)

About the Author

Simon Berthon has been described by The Daily Telegraph as a ‘formidable Second World War Historian’ for his reporting of events. He became the editor of BBC Northern Ireland’s current affairs programme Spotlight, moved to ITV’s investigative series World in Action  where he won a Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, and went on to make the major historical series The Shape of the World which won a Gold Medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.

He became a founding partner of 3BM Television, seeing over a stream of high quality historical and investigative documentaries, many of which are award-winning.

His books, Allies at War: Churchill v Roosevelt v De Gaulle (Thistle, 2011) and Warlords (Thistle, 2006) offer detailed accounts of the mind games played by leaders in the war as well as examining their relationships, deals and decision making, all of which has been expertly researched and recounted intelligently.

His latest book, A Secret Worth Killing For (HQ, 2018), follows protagonist Maire Anne McCarthy, a one-time honey-trap for the IRA.

Follow @HQStories

Buy A Secret Worth Killing For

About the book

Secrets – 1991, Belfast. Maire Anne McCartney is recruited for a one-off IRA mission as a honey trap. She is told there will be no violence. But she has been lied to. To save herself, eighteen-year-old Maire must flee across the border alone, and start a new life.

State – Present day, London. Human rights lawyer Anne-Marie Gallagher is appointed Minister of State for Security and Immigration. At the same time, the police in Belfast receive an anonymous tip-off. The password is verified from the Troubles – and the co-ordinates lead DCI Jon Carne to a field. And a body.

Betrayal – The new Minister receives a message and realises that the new life she has crafted is at risk of being uncovered. And when Carne’s investigation brings Anne- Marie to his attention, she must decide where her allegiances lie…


Anne-Marie is an ambitious politician with quite a few skeletons in her closet. Not exactly unusual for a politician. Her secrets are buried all the way back in Ireland in the midst of the Troubles. The story moves from past to the present and back again, as some of those secrets begin to surface and threaten to destroy the new life and identity she has built for herself.

Although Anne-Marie is portrayed as the unsuspecting and innocent victim of political machinations and spy games, I find that perspective hard to swallow. The whole set-up of the honey-trap suggests at the very least a subconscious awareness of what would happen, especially considering her family and their involvement in the IRA.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the question of guilt. Anne-Marie doesn’t seem to feel as if she is complicit in any way. One could argue that her role in the honey-trap, which leads to the death of a man, is what hardens her and makes her less empathetic or does her family loyalty and politics play a bigger role in her life than she lets on?

To me Anne-Marie reads as a woman fully aware of her actions and the consequences of said actions. In a way her ambitions and her almost instinctive play for power after the successful election is indicative of her true nature and personality.

I also think it is a fairly common assumption that women are less likely to be ruthless leaders, killers and in positions of power, when it comes to crime or terrorism. A fatal mistake I might add. There is this stereotypical misconception that we are less likely to be cruel, brutal and able to make life and death decisions.

Regardless of the truth all of the above still applies to the situation, so I suppose in the end it is a question of whether everything is fair game when we are at war. If that is the case then why do we put war criminals on trial? Are some acts of murder deemed not to be a crime, depending on the circumstances, the conflict and the person who committed them? It’s food for thought at the very least.

Berthon makes an interesting political point and one about human rights with this story, regardless of whether it is intentional or not. It also speaks to the nature of politicians, the omnipotence of secret military and police operations, and human nature in general. The author takes a snapshot of the events during that violent period in our history and manages to place the blame where it belongs, which is firmly on both sides.

It’s a gripping venture into the world of politics, political skirmishes, clandestine operations and history. Ultimately it is also one about human nature, conscience and guilt, and betrayal. I think it is fair to say we all have some skeletons in our closet, some of us have just buried them deeper than other people.

Buy A Secret Worth Killing For at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman


Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman. It is a contemporary novel, a sign of the times, and an attempt to understand the complex thought process of men and women who choose to view their own society and fellow humans as the enemy. Of course there is an amusing story wrapped around the more serious twist.

About the Author

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975 Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Wraysbury with his wife and two children. Khurrum graduated with BSc Honours and has been working in IT for a Local Authority for over 18 years.

His keen interest in fiction initially drove him to write screenplays and write for an independent film maker. However, his true passion lies in reading crime thrillers which have inspired his current work. He has employed his unique perspective and careful study of great writers to develop a fresh voice that crackles with originality.

Follow @KhurrumRahman @HQStories

Buy East of Hounslow

About the book

East of Hounslow (HQ), is Khurrum Rahman’s debut novel, it is part one of a gripping spy thriller trilogy that centres on Javid Qasim, a happy-go-lucky small scale dope dealer in West London. When the Security Service identifies him as a potential recruit and the hardliners at his Mosque start thinking he may be useful to them his happy quiet life begins to implode. To complicate matters further, his best friend is now a Detective Inspector in the local police and, rather carelessly, Javid has also managed to lose his new BMW and £10k he owes his psychopathic drug supplier…


It is gritty, witty and a breath of fresh air. It is relevant to our day and age, and the problems we face in our society. Javid is the boy next door, the last person you would suspect of planning a terror attack, and of course that is the actual problem. The reality is that the world is filled with vulnerable young men and women, who are easy to persuade and lead towards the dark side of life.

Javid Qasim accidentally falls into the role of double-agent, when he is forced to pretend to become a jihadi. If he actually had a choice in the matter he certainly wouldn’t even be entertaining the idea, but when you’re a small time drug dealer with a price on your head you just have to go with the flow, even if it means putting yourself in the middle of a dangerous situation.

Javid can either face his supplier, to whom he owes quite a lot of money and drugs, or infiltrate an terrorist cell supposedly operating out of his local mosque. Seems like a double-edged sword, which of course it is because it’s a lose-lose situation. His decision is swayed by the fact his neighbour and friend Parvez appears to be caught up in the group.

Throughout the book there is this sense of uncertainty when it comes to Javid. Will he be sucked in and enjoy the brotherhood? Is it possible that he believes the mantra of the jihadi and has finally found a way to vent his frustrations against society?

Rahman does a fantastic job of introducing readers to a basic understanding of the religious setting. It is done in an explanatory way, as opposed to a ‘come hither and partake of this field of gold’ way. I found that particular element of the story quite informative. The most important point Rahman makes is that just because Muslims pray at the local mosque and adhere to the rules of their religion, it does not mean they are also planning to wipe out every infidel they can find.

He also portrays the antipathy of the general public towards the Muslim population. Open hostility and a large helping of side-eye has become a daily occurrence. Unfortunately the terrorists, and right-wing groups, use this imbalance between the two groups to incite more hatred, recruit more members and create more chaos.

Although the topic of the plot is a serious one, Rahman still manages to evoke a sense of empathy for his characters, especially the crooked yet charming Javid. Camaraderie and friendship play a pivotal role in this contemporary novel which also has a subtle layer of humour. It’s a read you won’t want to miss.

Buy East of Hounslow at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris

my-hateI remember reading Antoine’s Facebook status and thinking how right he was, and how poignant his words were in the aftermath of the Paris attacks on the 13th of November 2015.

More so than those of any politician, religious leader, bystander or any other person personally affected by the atrocities.

I knew I would find it an emotional read. Antoine Leiris writes as he feels and experiences. His words and descriptions are focused solely on his son and himself.

In the aftermath, and during such attacks, the focus tends to be on the who, the why and the how. How many are dead? How exactly did they die? Who took their lives and why? Leiris doesn’t do that at all. Instead we get the reality of loved ones learning to deal with the absence the death has created. The normality of having to cook, go to sleep, return to work and of having to live without the person they loved.


Antoine & Melvil

The read was accompanied by tears, which wasn’t a surprise, as said I knew it would be an emotional read. I was surprised by what made me cry though. It wasn’t when Antoine was finally reunited with his wife after two days or the funeral. It was the baby food pots.

The compassion of the parents in the nursery school, and the way he accepts their need to help. Their need supersedes his own and that of his child.

It’s a strange thing grief, especially in the case of mass tragedy. It often becomes about the bystanders and those on the periphery, as opposed to those who are actually involved in the incidents. It’s almost as if you and I need to feel and work through the emotional distress,because the stark reality of the event is so frightening. Subconsciously we are glad it wasn’t us, but simultaneously we feel ashamed and guilty for those thoughts. The guilt is appeased via compassionate words, gestures and actions.

Hence the cards, letters, the baby pots, food and messages he receives. Antoine describes this process really well without actually coming out and saying it. Even within these pages he is still careful of taking away from others. He isn’t necessarily braver than anyone else, he perhaps just has better insight into what everyone else needs in this awful situation. Hopefully he can learn to put his own needs and those of Melvil first.

The book is a lovely testament to his wife Hélène, his son Melvil and himself. A fresh breath of humanity embedded in a whirlwind of grief and loss. A short yet very poignant read.


Helene &  Melvil

Buy You Will Not Have My Hate at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.


Bomber Boy: Rise of the Underwear Bomber by Ike Pius

bomberThis is a novella length story

In light of recent terrorist attacks in the last few months and indeed in the last few decades the premise may seem a little forward thinking. However the reality is even the terrorist has a voice, and this story is looking at it from a perspective other than that of the victims.

Farouk is planning to kill a plane load of innocent people. Why? Because they are infidels of course. Does it matter whether he has his reasons for doing so?

Pius starts out strong, but tapers off towards the end. I would have liked to have seen him explore the thoughts, mindset and interactions of the terrorist. How one minute Farouk is the friendly compassionate conversationalist to the people around him and then in his head Farouk the murderer-to-be is having an entirely different conversation.

Bomber Boy starts off as an ambitious idea, but it seems a little rushed. The difficulty with a novella is that it needs to draw you in and keep you there without having the advantage of the full length novel to do so.

Buy Bomber Boy at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.