Book Spotlight

Spotlight: Words & Kisses Subscription Box

Words & Kisses is a subscription service/online book club for people who like their books with happy endings.

I am a sucker for a happy ending. I am a proper romantic and I love subscription boxes so when I was approached by the lovely Amy at Words & Kisses about reviewing her book subscription box, she didn’t have to ask me twice.

My book arrived beautifully wrapped in pink tissue paper with a lovely note.

It was like Christmas had come early as I couldn’t help but tear the wrapping open to reveal the surprise inside.

I received The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. One read of the description and it was clear the right choice had been made for me. It is a great way to discover novels you may not have read or picked up otherwise.

How it works is so simple. Visit wwww.wordsandkisses.com.

*Subscriptions are three months for £34.99, six months for £69.99 or a twelve month subscription for £139.00. Alternatively, you can pay a recurring monthly subscription of £11.99 if you want to try it out first. If you live in the UK, postage is included.

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October: Recent and Upcoming Releases

Bantam Press

I am excited to be writing about a whole load of new novels being released soon and there are some fantastic sounding titles in my list this week.

Coming out on 29th October is the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. It’s called Blue Moon.

Two rival criminal gangs are competing for control. They have not counted on Jack Reacher.

He is trained to notice things; like the elderly man sitting near him on the Greyhound bus with an envelope full of money and the other passenger hoping to get rich. He had not counted on Jack Reacher either.

I have to put my hands up and admit that I have not read a Jack Reacher novel but I may have to start as this sounds brilliant.

I saw the movie and didn’t hate it as I know a few people did. Are you a fan of Jack Reacher?

Let me know why and which book I should start with in the comments below.

 

Headline

From Lee Child to the Queen of crime novels. The latest novel from Martina Cole, No Mercy has been released this week.

This is another author I don’t know a lot about which is strange considering I love my crime novels but my Mum loved her books.

In No Mercy, Diana Davies has been head of the family business since her husband died. She’s a woman in a man’s world but no one would dare mess with her.

Her only son is about to enter the business and even though he a born criminal, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to earn his mother’s trust along with everyone else.

His blind spot is his wife and three children. He has a painful truth to learn.

 

The Puzzle of You is the latest novel from author, Leah Mercer and is due to be released on 1st November and is a book that sounds totally up my alley.

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Book Review: Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

A big welcome to the fantastic Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, Let it Snow. 

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

 

It may be October but it’s never too early for a Sue Moorcroft Christmas novel.

To add the topping to the cake, we’re welcomed back to the village of Middledip, Sue’s wonderful setting for quite a few of her stories. Because of this, we get a smattering of the inhabitants we’ve grown to love and this gives the novel an atmosphere of a family christmas.

Say hi to Lilly Cortez and Isaac O’Brien, out main protagonists, along with Doggo of course, a very friendly Dalmatian.

Fans of Sue will be familiar too with Tubb the Pub who has a central role in the main story. It’s very nice, this reviewer believes, that this much-loved character has more than a peripheral part in this story. In fact, this novel is chock full of wonderful, rounded, well-written characters, including Carola who’s a particular favourite of mine from Middledip.

Switzerland bounds to life off the pages to such a degree that you feel like you’re walking in the snow-clad towns, villages and fields of this Alpine country. It certainly made me wish that I could go for a visit. Here, you have a roadtrip combined with a love story that will have you silently screaming for a happy ending!

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Book Extract: One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

I am happy to be welcoming back Mandy Baggot. She is here with the blog tour for her novel, One Christmas Star. 

 

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround.

Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show.

As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…

 

To celebrate the release of One Christmas Star, Mandy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

‘Tangfastic?’

Before Emily had a chance to reply, the sharing-size bag of Haribos was pushed under her nose by Dennis Murray, the forty-something teacher of the Year Five class. He shook the plastic and all manner of gum, sugar, sweet and sour flew into Emily’s sinuses in one mammoth rush. She picked out a sweet simply to get the bag away from her nose. Popping it into her mouth, the bitterness hit her taste-buds straight off, contorting her expression. She watched, one eye squinted, as Dennis put five sweets into his mouth at once, double-chin wobbling. He was a walking, talking pick ‘n’ mix addict but still his capacity for sugary sweet treats astounded her. Simon had liked sweets – Maltesers, Minstrels, Mars Bites, all the chocolate. Simon had liked chocolate the way Emily liked cheese…

‘So, what do you think the budget meeting is going to be about this time?’ Dennis asked, nudging Emily’s arm as the other teachers joined them in the main hall used for assemblies, performances, lunch and meetings such as these. ‘Christmas cancelled? No unnecessary expense until we’re back in January?’

‘I don’t know,’ Emily answered. ‘But no matter what it is, I can’t protest.’ She lowered her voice and leant a little into Dennis’s personal space. ‘Susan caught me giving Jayden Jackson help with his project this morning and I bought him a bagel because I know he isn’t getting breakfast at home.’ She wasn’t getting breakfast at home herself, but only because the cupboards always seemed to be bare now Jonah had gone. Plus, really strong coffee almost counted as a meal, didn’t it?

Dennis sucked through his teeth, bits of gum crushed between his canines. ‘A double-whammy.’

‘I know,’ Emily said with a sigh. ‘I only narrowly managed to avoid the proverbial third thing because the Sellotape on the Christmas stars held out just long enough until Susan had closed the door behind her.’ But she knew she was under scrutiny and it made her nervous. She pulled at the sides of her maroon corduroy skirt, shifting her bottom on the too-small chair. Had she picked one of the children’s chairs and not a grown-up one. That was exactly how her luck was right now…

‘Definitely no extra baubles for the Year Six Christmas tree this year then,’ Dennis remarked, chewing on more sweets.

Emily’s phone erupted, tweeting like a bird, from inside her all-colours vintage carpet bag. It had been a bargain. Well, actually it had been quite expensive, but it was a genuine 1950s artifact. And she’d been quite emotional on that particular visit to the antique boutique. Emotion and her love of vintage were a heady mix…

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Happy October.

October is one of my favourite parts of the year.

Not only is it my birthday month, it’s also Halloween so, for the book club, I wanted to pick something gothic and this one has been on my list for a while.

This month’s book is called, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Chris Riddell.

Although it’s marketed at 9 -10 year olds on Amazon, for me, it has an interesting premise and is totally suited to the countdown to 31st October. The fact that there is a black cat on the cover had nothing to do with my decision. Cough. Haha.

 

Here’s a little about the book.

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves.

It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there.

And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

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Upcoming Novel Releases

Chatto & Windus, Sept ’19

Autumn is on its way (even though the weather can’t quite make up its mind.)

What this does mean is a great list of fantastic novel releases and here is my first list of the books I am looking forward to reading.

The first book on my list has already come out but it is one I am incredibly excited about. It’s one I’ve been waiting years for… The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Ever since I read the Handmaid’s Tale when I was sixteen, I have been wanting to know what happened next. The TV show has been great for that but there is something for me about a novel straight from the original author that makes it extra special. I am also interested to read it having had the perspective from the TV show and the continued development of the characters from that. I have heard such good things about this book.

Released on 10th September, The Testaments picks up fifteen years after the end of the first book, Gilead maintains its power but there are signs that it’s beginning to crumble from within. Three women’s lives converge with explosive results.

 

HarperCollins, Sept ’19

The second novel in the list is another book I have been waiting so long for and that is Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. I have been fortunate enough to get an advanced copy and I am planning on reviewing soon.

I adored PS I Love You and so the sequel had a lot to live up to. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. The first one had such a unique plot. How was the story going to carry on?

I won’t say too much now about my thoughts at this stage but a summary of the plot is that Postscript starts seven years after the end of PS I Love You and six years after Gerry’s last letter.

A group contacts Holly. They call themselves the PS I Love You club and they are asking her for help. She begins a relationship with the group and is soon finding herself drawn back to the feelings she thought she had left behind.

It has been released today (19th September) so is available to read now.

 

A Patchwork Family: Taking Chances by Cathy Bramley is part three in a four-part serial and is due to be released on 3rd October.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly

Lake Union Publishing, February 2019

Hello May. 

Here we are, into May already. This month, I have chosen One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly as the focus for our book club.

Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.

First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?

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Novel Kicks Book Club: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

a discovery of witchesOctober is here. Autumn is arriving, the clocks go back and of course, Halloween is approaching. 

It’s one of my favourite months (although I am a little biased with it being my birthday in October.) I am sad to be saying goodbye to summer but at the same time, I love the colder nights. It’s a great reason for the warm blankets, tea and books. Not that I’ve needed an excuse.

Our book club is open to everyone. It’s online so no need to step out of the warm socks or comfy sofa. I’ve posted a question below to get the discussion going. I hope you can join me.

This month, the featured book we shall be reading is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I have been really excited to read this book especially having watched some of the new tv series that is based upon it.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.

Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist.

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A Moment With…Dean Mayes

Artisan heartA big Novel Kicks welcome today to Dean Mayes. His novel, The Artisan Heart is due to be released by Central Avenue Publishing on 1st September.

“Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant pediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organised by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, Genevieve, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.”

 

Dean is himself an Intensive Care nurse and he is with us today to talk about how he portrays Medicine in fiction. 

It is often said that, as a writer, our best writing comes from what we know. I’ve tried to buck that trend over the course of my published works, but there’s an inevitable truth I’ve come to accept – that maxim definitely holds true.

Having been an Nurse for over two decades now – with most of my career focused in Intensive Care – both Adult, pediatric and Neonates – along with Accident & Emergency – I’ve seen things and gained experiences as a clinician that translate well into the realm of gritty fiction. There’s compelling character moments to be found and situations that offer high drama. At the same time, I have to be mindful that I’m writing for a general audience who may not be well versed in the minutiae of medicine. There’s definitely a high wire act to master in writing engaging scenes.

My soon to be released novel “The Artisan Heart” is probably the most comprehensive example of me using my career experience to craft characters and situations.

In the story, we are introduced to Hayden Luschcombe, a brilliant pediatric emergency doctor who has an uncanny ability in diagnosing his patients quickly, efficiently and accurately. He has saved many lives as a result and, as a clinician, he is held in high regard – even if, as a person, he is seen as socially awkward and “on the spectrum” as some colleagues point out in their interactions with him. In one scene, early in the novel, Hayden’s acute sense of observation proves to be life saving for a new-born baby who presents with a stricture of the intestine. In another powerful moment, further on, Hayden correctly suspects a child has been deliberately scalded in boiling water by her parents. During the scene there is a highly charged confrontation between the child’s step father and Hayden that serves to illustrate the variation in presentations to the department and the dramatic circumstances that can spill off from those presentations.

While I won’t blow my own trumpet here and compare myself to Hayden Luschcombe, I did I craft Hayden as an amalgam of my own clinical experiences, working in a busy, inner city children’s emergency department. There are probably two or three other doctors in Hayden, medicos who I’ve worked alongside and watched over the past 10 years. The two examples I cited above are based on real clincial presentations, the latter of which was indeed as emotionally charged as it appears in the novel.

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Upcoming Books Releases: May

the burning chambersHello May. 

I am not entirely sure how we’re already in May. The weather doesn’t help. It’s very confused right. To help escape this weather or enjoy basking in the sunshine (I can hope,) the list below is a few of the new releases coming this month.

 

The first book I want to feature is The Burning Chambers which is the new book from Kate Mosse. I haven’t read any of her books (and I am not sure why,) but this book is a great reason to start. 

Carcassonne 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.

Toulouse: As the religious divide deepens in the Midi, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as sectarian tensions ignite across the city, the battle-lines are drawn in blood and the conspiracy darkens further.

Meanwhile, as a long-hidden document threatens to resurface, the mistress of Puivert is obsessed with uncovering its secret and strengthening her power . . .

(Released 3rd May by Mantle.) 

 

the castThe second upcoming release on my list is The Cast by Danielle Steel. It is due to be released by Macmillan on 31st May. 

Kait Whittier has built her magazine column into a hugely respected read followed by fans across the country. She loves her work and adores her grown children, treasuring the time they spend together. But after two marriages, she prefers to avoid the complications and uncertainties of a new love.

Then, after a chance meeting with television producer Zack Winter, everything changes. Inspired by the true story of her own grandmother, Kait creates the storyline for a TV series. Within weeks, Kait is plunged into a colourful, star-studded world of actors and industry pros who will bring her vision to life, from the reclusive grand dame to LA’s hottest bad boy actor.

As secrets are shared and revelations come to light, friendships deepen. But in the midst of this charmed year, Kait is forced to confront the greatest challenge a mother could ever know and this unforgettable cast becomes more important to her than she ever could have imagined.

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Book Extract & Review – Part Two of the Ottercombe Bay Series by Bella Osborne

Ottercombe Bay Part 2A lovely big hello to Bella Osborne who is returning to the blog today with the blog tour for Ottercombe Bay: Gin and Trouble, part two in a four-part serialisation. 

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

To celebrate the release of Gin and Trouble, Bella and Avon have shared an extract. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

 

**** Start of Extract.****

Jason was turning out to be a useful person to know. As the local bobby, everyone knew him and therefore he had a wide network he could tap into, particularly as he had a colleague with an uncle working in the local planning department. After a warm-up phone call from Jason he was happy to meet Daisy for a chat. She had made an effort, steered clear of both espresso and Bug’s furry patch on the sofa, and she felt ready for her meeting.

An older-looking gent with thinning hair and thick glasses collected her from the waiting area at the council offices and they did introductions.

‘Thanks for meeting me,’ said Daisy, starting to feel a little less prepared as she followed him into an office and saw a mountain of paper on his desk.

‘No problem but you will need to submit a formal application through the proper process. Anything discussed here today does not in any way constitute agreement of any changes to the property or land we are discussing. I hope you appreciate this?’

Daisy swallowed hard. With formal wording like that he would get on well with Great Uncle Reg’s solicitor. She hadn’t even suggested anything yet and she was being told off. ‘Yes, of course. I’m just looking for guidance. Some ballpark areas that may be worth exploring.’

‘This is the last application we received for the property,’ said the planning officer, passing Daisy a pile of papers. She had a quick flick through and spotted some blueprints – it looked like her grandfather had taken the whole thing seriously and spent some money in the process.

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Cover and Chapter Reveal: The Things We Need To Say by Rachel Burton

Rachel BurtonIt’s a very good day here at Novel Kicks. I was very happy when I was asked to take part in an exciting cover and first chapter reveal for The Things We Need To Say which is the upcoming release from Rachel Burton.

Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.

Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.

Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.

As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

OK, first, the cover. Drumroll…….

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February’s Novel Kicks Book Club: Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

dream a little dream

Penguin, June 2015

Well hello to you February. It’s good to see you.

I don’t know about you but I found January seemed to go on forever!

February is finally here. I always feel that February is quite a romantic month because of Valentine’s Day.

This month, I have chosen a book that has romance galore and it’s Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher. Even the cover is romantic. Aww, I love it.

Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).

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Book Review and Extract – Close To Home by Cara Hunter

Carahunter close to homeClose To Home is the new novel from Cara Hunter and her blog tour is stopping by Novel Kicks today. 

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Cara and Penguin have shared an extract from Close to Home. Enjoy! 

Phone interview with David Connor

20 July 2016, 6.45 p.m.

On the call, Acting DS G. Quinn and (listening)

DC C. Gislingham

GQ: Thank you for phoning, Mr Connor, and our apologies for disturbing your holiday.

DC: No problem – I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you before. It’s such a shock, hearing what’s happened. My wife saw it on BBC World News in the hotel room.

GQ: Were you aware that the flower costume your daughter wore at the party was the one Daisy Mason should have been wearing?

DC: I wasn’t but it seems my wife was. Millie had some of her friends round after school the afternoon before –

GQ: So Monday afternoon?

DC: Er, was it Monday? Sorry – I’m a bit jet- lagged. You’re right, it must have been Monday. Anyway, Julia says they all brought their fancy dresses over and tried them on. And then tried each other’s on – you know what girls that age are like. It seems that at some point in the ensuing chaos Daisy decided that she preferred Millie’s costume, and Millie said they could swap.

GQ: Do you know if Daisy’s mother was aware the costumes had been switched?

DC: I have no idea. Let me ask Julia . . . [muffled noises] Julia says Daisy assured her that her mother wouldn’t mind. But obviously she doesn’t know if Daisy actually spoke to her about it.

GQ: We found the tights in a bin on the estate but the blood on them doesn’t match Daisy’s

DC: Ah yes, sorry about that. Millie fell over and as it was getting late and she was a bit whiny we decided to call it a day. The tights were a write-off so we just ditched them. Apologies if it caused you a problem.

GQ: What costume was your daughter originally going to wear, Mr Connor?

DC: A mermaid, so my wife tells me. I never saw it but apparently it had a flesh- Coloured top thing and a tail with shiny blue and green scales.

GQ: And any sort of headdress or mask?

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Extract: In The Dark by Andreas Pflüger

In the DarkA big lovely welcome to author Andreas Pflüger and the blog tour for his latest novel In The Dark which was released by Head of Zeus on 2nd November. 

She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth…

Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany’s most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever.

Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she’s still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run?

Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person…

 

Thanks to Andreas and Head of Zeus, we have an extract from In The Dark. Enjoy. 

 

‘How old was Dr Breuer?’

The murder victim’s colleague has been crying a lot. Her voice is hoarse, dull, empty. ‘Thirty-three. Her birthday was in December. She invited all her colleagues to go to the cinema.’

‘How long had she been working in the correctional facility?’

‘Three years. We knew each other from university. Then I started here, for a bit of security. Melly always wanted her own practice. But it didn’t work. She waitressed part-time, it wasn’t a life. When the job here came up I was on at her until she applied.’

Tears start to come, but get stuck in her throat.

‘Did she like the job?’

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