Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.
After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream of owning her own bookshop become a reality.
She hopes opening ‘Once Upon A Book’ on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.
When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?
I have reviewed the book below but first, Libby and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. I hope you enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
Libby knew the bag for life at her feet, crammed with cleaning products, would be just as woefully inadequate for the task ahead as a spoonful of Calpol would be to a woman in labour, but still she insisted on bringing it with her. She’d use everything in it, and more – much more – over the coming months, but bringing it with her gave her a sense of making the place her own before she even picked up the keys. Her plan, after all, was to move into the flat upstairs as quickly as possible so that she could work on the refurb morning, noon and night. A teeny, tiny, hopelessly optimistic part of her held on to a glimmer of hope that the flat would be a stylish time capsule of a home, ready to move in to bar the flick of a duster and a quick spray of Zoflora.
‘Are you sure we can’t come with you?’ her dad asked as they sat around the breakfast table. Just like Libby, both Jim and Linda Quinn had been unable to lay on in their beds and had been fizzing with a sense of shared excitement.
‘I need to put on my big-girl knickers and do this myself,’ she told them. Which wasn’t exactly true. Her boyfriend of eight months, Ant O’Neill, was going with her to pick up the keys from her solicitor’s office. An accounts manager for a nationwide banking chain, he exuded an air of calm and professionalism which none of the Quinn family seemed to be in possession of at that moment. He would be able to help her keep her emotions in check and not sob all over the young solicitor who had finalised the paperwork for her. ‘You can meet us there in a bit,’ she said. ‘When I’ve had a moment to adjust. Maybe eleven or so?’
Jim nodded. ‘Of course, pet,’ he said. ‘Your grandad would be very proud, you know,’ he said, his voice cracking, and Libby was forced to wave him away, unable to say anything else for fear of her own floodgates opening.by
Here’s a little about the book…
A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.
For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.
Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.
When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…
To celebrate publication day for Little White Secrets, Carol and Lake Union Publishing have shared an extract with us. Comfortable? Got that drink? Biscuit? Excellent. Enjoy.
***** beginning of extract*****
Emily Rossi’s life was just fine, until her daughter Zara brings home a new best friend. Emily senses that Bethany Brown is trouble from the very minute she finds Bethany all cosy with Zara in her kitchen – just a couple of weeks after Bethany came door-to-door collecting with her mother, for a domestic violence charity. But, in the spirit of not wanting to judge her just because she comes from the other side of the tracks, Emily invites them both for dinner. And while it feels like the evening from hell, little does she know it’s nothing compared to what’s to come…
‘As I was saying to Charlotte, until you’ve been a single mother, you really have no idea. Bethany was a nightmare from the day she drew her first breath. But you’ve got no choice, have you? No part-time options for you.’
I stop and look at her now as she stares out at the garden, thinking how blithely she just referred to my friend by name as though we were a cosy little trio of pals. ‘So no help at all from Bethany’s father, then?’
She makes a disdainful sound effect. ‘You know what men are like. They tend to think that supporting their kids is your right but their option.’
‘But surely he has to pay child support?’
‘You’re never going to get blood out of a stone. Or out of a man when he wants to be a bastard.’ She stares at our wedding picture on the sideboard for a moment or two, then looks me straight in the eyes. ‘You know, I’m a good person. I don’t want to cause him harm. He’s got his problems and I did once love him . . . A part of me has only ever wanted him to wake up and realise his responsibilities.’ She looks off, solemnly, into the distance. ‘I always say to Bethany, “Treat people how they treat you. And if people want to walk away from you, you have to let them walk.” But then on the other hand, if they owe you something, they should pay up, shouldn’t they? Then you need to hunt them down the rabbit hole.’
‘How true,’ I say, suddenly thinking, God, you wouldn’t want to get on her wrong side, would you? Despite her words, she doesn’t seem malicious, though; more like actively dejected.
‘I don’t know why it never works out for me . . . All I ever wanted was a kind, reliable man. Like you have. But they always treat me like I’m just a nothing with no feelings, like I’m not a real person . . .’
‘You must have some nice friends in the store,’ I say. Anything to be a bit more upbeat.
‘It’s mostly men in accounting. Married men. And – oh! – keep me away from the randy wedded letch . . . I mean, if single ones are the misery they always are, why would I want one that has a wife in tow? And the sales associates are really just a pack of hens. You think they’re your friend one minute, and then one day you see the judgement in their eyes. And you think, Hmm . . . I wonder what terrible crime I’ve supposedly committed now?’
I let out a tight sigh.
‘Oh, they think they’re better than you, because they own their own homes and have solid marriages, and model children. They think it’s because they made good choices and you made shitty ones, but it’s not as simple as that, is it? Sometimes people just land on their feet, whatever they do.’ She is back to looking around our house again, appraising our stuff like it’s up for auction.
I pull the casserole out of the oven and contemplate putting my head in there instead. ‘Where did you live before here?’ I ask her.
‘Preston for years. Then when Bethany was ten I decided to move back nearer to my parents, Harrogate way. I just thought, What am I doing? I’d got nobody to pick her after school or do anything to give me a break, given her dad just decided he could take what he wanted from me then slope off.’ She absently fingers the fringe on a green velvet cushion. ‘Bethany had to change schools a few times. People were never very appreciative of what she had to offer. They only looked for the bad, as people will do.’
‘Where do your parents live, then?’
‘In heaven.’ She looks at me bluntly.by
Here’s a little about the novel…
Amy Piper is a loser. She’s lost her confidence, her mojo and her way.
But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…
What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.
Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…
Beth and Boldwood Books have shared an extract from How Not To Be A Loser today. Cup of tea or coffee? Check. Biscuit? Check. Comfortable chair? Check. Right, all set. Enjoy.
***** beginning of extract*****
Stop Being a Loser Plan
It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.
In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.
I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.by
If there was ever a time to stay in, curl up in a comfortable chair and find a good book, this is it.
So, without further ado, I wanted to share some upcoming March releases with you all.
The first one up is one I am very excited for and that is Hamnet, the latest from Maggie O’ Farrell.
The plot sounds right up my street. It goes something like this.
On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl falls ill. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches for help but there seems to be no one home.
Their mother is a mile away in her garden which is full of medicinal herbs. Their father is in London. Neither parent know that one of their children will not survive the week.
This is due to be released on 31st March.
The second book on my list is Tiny Pieces of Us by Nicky Pellegrino.
You know when you read the blurb of a book and you know it’s something you have to read but it is also going to make you cry. This is one of those books for me.
Also due for release on 31st March, Tiny Pieces of Us focuses on Vivi Palmer. She knows what it’s like to live life carefully. She was born with a heart defect and although she’s now had a heart transplant, she’s not dared to make the most of it.
When she comes face to face with Grace, the donor’s mother, she wants Vivi to help her find the other people who have pieces of her son.
Vivi may just find a whole new world waiting for her.
The next book on the list is The Silence by Daily Pearce. This book was released on 1st March (you can read my interview with Daisy here,) and it sounds amazing.by
Minnie Price married late in life. Now she is widowed. And starving.
No one suspects this respectable church-goer can barely keep body and soul together. Why would they, while she resides in the magnificent home she shared with Peter?
Her friends and neighbours are oblivious to her plight and her adult step-children have their own reasons to make things worse rather than better. But she is thrown a lifeline when an associate of her late husband arrives with news of an investment about which her step-children know nothing.
Can she release the funds before she finds herself homeless and destitute?
Fans of ‘The Hoarder’s Widow’ will enjoy this sequel, but it reads equally well as a standalone.
Allie has shared an extract today. Grab that cuppa, a comfortable chair, a biscuit and enjoy. First, Allie gives us a little introduction.
Allie: Writing a novel about bereavement brought all kinds of issues into the limelight. Apart from exploring the emotional corollaries – what does grief feel like, how and when does it strike? – death brings practical consequences that had to be studied. How does being, suddenly, alone feel and what differences does it entail in day-to-day life? There must be a hundred small divergences that impact everything from the ironing pile to the shopping list, the signing of birthday cards, holiday choices, TV viewing.
Then there are the landmark occasions, previously shared, but that now must be faced alone.
Here, a group of single women discuss their plans for Christmas
***** beginning of extract*****
‘What are you all doing for Christmas?’ Gloria asked, helping herself to the last sausage roll.
‘We always do a Christmas lunch at church,’ Gwen said, gathering the dirty plates and tea cups back onto the tray, ‘for those who find themselves alone. Last year there were twenty or so of us – we barely had enough turkey. The helpers get there early to start the prep, and then there’s the meal and the clearing up afterwards. It was gone four by the time I got home, so the whole day had gone by pretty well.’
Minnie felt the familiar swell of sadness press her throat and behind the eyes. She had not thought about Christmas. Last year she and Peter had spent it at a hotel in the country. Lots of log fires and mulled wine. Artfully decorated trees in every room. A local choir singing carols on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas day, a big breakfast followed by a brisk walk. An exquisite lunch at a table for two. The chef had dressed up as Santa – she had glimpsed the chequerboard pattern of his kitchen trousers beneath the furred hem of his cloak. Peter had given her a gold watch set with diamonds round the face. Her hand pushed back her cardigan cuff to reveal it. She had not sold it although she was sure it was worth several hundred pounds. She could not believe that this year she would be reduced to lunch in the draughty church hall with the rest of the lonely old souls who were not wanted elsewhere. The very thought of it made her eyes well. In and of itself it was so pitiful, but in comparison to last Christmas it was tragic. Dolly [her dog], always so sensitive to Minnie’s emotional compass, made a whimpering sound. Thankfully Gloria had followed Gwen out of the room to help with the dishes so Minnie was able to wipe her eyes and pull herself together before the others reassembled.by
Meet Carmen, Polly and Dana – all happy and successful women, with very different views on relationships.
Carmen has made a life with Elliot for the past eight years. She’s ready for the next step but a proposal seems to be as far away as ever.
Polly is devoted to her family. But after her parents’ bitter divorce, she’s wary of marriage – even after sharing twenty years and one son with Fraser.
Single mother Dana longs for companionship, despite her dedication to raising her son Luke. Finding the right person to bring into their lives feels impossible – until a unique way to select a potential Mr Right comes along.
With 29th February fast approaching, will they each take the chance this Leap Year to take control of their fates?
The perfect feel-good book for a Leap-Year; albeit, with a twist.
This is the tale of three women, Carmen, Polly and Dana, all with different expectations on their relationships with their men.
We are taken on a roller-coaster of a ride with all having to endure unexpected complications along their journeys.by
Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.
At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.
Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.
Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?
J.S. Monroe and Head of Zeus have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
Kate glances across at Rob’s smooth, sleeping body and slips quietly out of bed, wrapping a cotton dressing gown around her as she steps out onto the terrace. It’s a warm August evening and no one can see her here. The isolated house, all glass and oak and concrete, is cut deep into the Cornish hillside and faces out to sea, which is empty tonight, apart from the winking lights of tankers moored in the distance off Falmouth.
‘You OK?’ Rob calls out.
She swings around. It’s too dark in the bedroom to see him properly.
‘I couldn’t sleep,’ she says, turning back towards the bay, where a ribbon of moonlight has been laid across the water.
A moment later, his arms are wrapped around her from behind. ‘Come back to bed,’ he whispers in her ear.
She can feel him against her, a familiar swelling. She rests her hand on his smooth forearm and thinks again about the necklace he gave her earlier, his insensitive response to her squeal of pain. It still niggles.
‘Thank you for the present,’ she says. He must have just been tired. Hardly surprising after a long week at work and then the flight down.
‘Not too tight?’ he asks.
Back inside the bedroom, they snuggle up in the darkness. In all other respects, he’s played it well this evening. He ran her a bath with Moroccan rose oil and brought in two glasses of chilled champagne. Her exhaustion of earlier slipped away. Afterwards, he was the one who fell asleep almost instantly, like a laptop closing.
‘Talk to me,’ she says now, quietly. ‘Tell me about your week.’
She still doesn’t understand exactly what Rob does in London. One of the articles she read about his meteoric career described him as a serial ‘techpreneur’, the youngest ever founder of a British ‘unicorn’ company and a pioneering champion of something called ‘direct neural interface’ technology – the interaction between brain and machine. She likes the sound of unicorns. The ‘disruptive’ tag is less appealing. He also runs a charity on the side that puts on art shows in hospitals, which is how they met.by
One December wedding. One runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.
Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle. But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy ever after.
Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels, before it’s too late.
Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret?
On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…
The Last Day of Winter focuses on an ensemble of characters on a day just before Christmas. On the day Caro and Cammy are meant to go down the aisle, Caro’s past makes her doubt that this is her happy ever after.
The fate of the wedding is further put into question when Stacey returns to LA to tell Cammy how she feels about him.
Can love find its way within these 24 hours?
Shari, you made me cry again! I am not too proud to admit it either.
Oh, this novel.
First, the amazing characters. Each of them have their own, complicated feelings. All were developed well and nothing with any of them was black and white. Even where Caro is concerned, I felt enormous sympathy and empathy. This is a terrific ensemble of different personalities and they all fit together so well.
Plot wise, a lot is placed within the 24 hours in which it’s set but nothing feels rushed. The description of Glasgow sounds so incredible and it’s set at Christmas so it gave me all the early festive feels.by
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.
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.by
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*****
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…by
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.
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.by
I am very happy to finally be welcoming Jo Lambert back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her new novel, A Cornish Affair.
Here’s a little about the book…
In the close-knit community of Carrenporth in Cornwall everyone knows everyone else’s business. Luke Carrack is only too aware of this. He’s been away for two years but nothing has changed – from the town gossips who can’t see past the scandal of his childhood, to the cold way he is treated by some of his so-called family.
The only person who seems to understand is local hotelier’s daughter Cat Trevelyan, although even Luke’s new friendship with her could set tongues wagging.
But Carrenporth is about to experience far bigger scandals than the return of Luke Carrack – and the secrets unearthed in the process will shake the sleepy seaside town to its core …
Luke Carrack is back in Carrenporth after a couple of years away.
He soon discovers that in the two years he has been away, not much as changed. There are still the village gossips and his Aunt and Cousin don’t like him much.
There is only one person he seems to connect with, Cat, who is the daughter of the local hotelier.
This book immediately pulled me in. This is partly down to the writing style and how it so easily got me absorbed into the story. Told from both Luke and Cat’s point of view, I really got an idea of what each one was thinking and feeling. The setting also sounds beautiful. I could see myself in this little Cornish town.by
Hello Friday! It’s almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate its arrival than a visit from Paul Finch and the blog tour for his new novel, Stolen.
How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?
DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.
Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their every day lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.
Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…
I’ve reviewed the novel below but before that, Paul and Avon have shared an extract.
***** beginning of extract*****
Lucy was still in the thick of the action, though it was mostly over. On all sides, cautions were being issued, and the responses, mainly f-words and other more imaginative profanities, being recorded on dictaphone as the jostling, cuffed men were frogmarched to the farm cottage wall and held there, each by his individual arresting officer, while others commenced searching them. One resisted more than the rest, kicking out and spitting, and was given a backhander across the mouth for his trouble. Lucy wasn’t worried. When the evidence was finally presented, she doubted there was a magistrate in the land who’d be swayed by farcical complaints about police brutality.
Quite a bit of that evidence was on display inside the barn itself, when she went in there. The centrepiece was a purpose-built pit, squarish in shape, about ten yards by ten, dug to a depth of five feet and lined with brick, with a steel ladder fixed in one corner and a camera mounted on a tripod overlooking it, alongside an upright chalkboard scribbled with betting information.
Two dogs still occupied the pit. One, an American pit bull, charged crazily back and forth, jumping up to snap and snarl at the officers, despite the excessive blood dabbling its jaws and jowls. The other one, whose breed was uncertain, lay in a quivering, panting heap, gashed and torn and spattered with gore.
‘We need one of the vets in here,’ Lucy said to a PC at her shoulder. ‘And a handler . . . to control the other one, yeah?’by
It’s the weekend, the sun is shining (mostly,) and P.R. Black is here with the blog tour to his latest novel, The Family.
The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.
Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’.
The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.
Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.
Will Becky avenge her family or join them?
I’ve reviewed The Family below but first, P.R. Black and Aria have shared an extract.
***** beginning of extract*****
‘Let’s turn to the perpetrator – who is it we’re looking for?’
‘I’m afraid that clues are few and far between, which is why it’s taken so long to find him. He never showed his face, but what we can say is that the man we’re looking for was around six feet tall or more, well-built, and probably aged between 25 and 40 – certainly a young, fit man. That means he’d be between 45 and 60 today, of course. He had a strong accent – not English, and, we think, not French, but perhaps Eastern European.’
The presenter faced the camera. ‘I apologise to viewers in advance, as this is a particularly distressing detail. But we have to talk about the mask.’
Becky looked away.
‘Yes,’ said Inspector Hanlon. ‘As far as we can tell, it was this mask.’
‘We should stress, this is an artist’s interpretation,’ the presenter added.
‘Yes. This object seems to have been created by the killer himself. We believe it’s made of real bone, attached to some dark cloth. It’s nothing that was available in fancy dress shops, but it is just possible that someone, somewhere, might remember a man buying this mask from a specialist shop.’
‘It’s difficult to imagine what that poor girl must have gone through.’
Becky toasted the TV screen. ‘Don’t have nightmares,’ she said, remembering the final words uttered by the presenter who hosted an earlier series of Crimewatch.
On-screen, the presenter said, ‘Inspector, what more can you tell us about what the killer was wearing?’
‘When he arrived at the cottage, he wore all-black clothing. The only other clue we have is that he had size-fourteen feet, going by footprints left at the scene. He was wearing these shoes…’
The man beside Becky said, ‘I bet he wasn’t wearing all-black clothing when he got going. He might have kept his shoes on, though, for a quick getaway.’
She glanced at him for a moment – and then he was wearing her G&T.
Rivulets meandered down his jowls like tears, and a sliver of lemon clung to his chin like a slug on a bannister losing its fight with gravity.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ he spluttered.
‘Hey.’ The barman pointed at her. ‘You’ve had enough, love. Out.’
‘I was just going. Love.’ Becky lurched to her feet, clinging to the counter until her shoes found purchase, and then strode out the door.
The bar was set in the basement of a refurbished tenement block, and Becky had got halfway up the stairs to street level when the man who’d sat beside her gripped her shoulder. She gasped and clung onto the railings to avoid falling backwards.
The man’s hair was still plastered to his forehead with her gin. He looked like a young boy grotesquely groomed by his mother for church.
‘I dunno who you think you are, freak,’ he snarled, ‘but you’re lucky I don’t kick you up and down this street.’by
Hello and welcome to Linda Green. Her novel, The Last Thing She Told Me has been released today.
Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…
Moments before Nicola’s grandmother dies, she whispers in her ear that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.
Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense, however when a bone is found in the garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place and there’s a family secret to be unearthed that has the power to tear the family apart.
This is an incredibly emotional and page-turning novel set in Yorkshire, bridging the gap between domestic noir and up-lit that deals with generations of families and the secrets they keep.
To celebrate publication day for The Last Thing She Told Me, Linda and Quercus have shared a chapter. Enjoy.
(content warning. Potentially distressing for some readers.)
***** beginning of extract*****
For all the women and girls who have been made to feel shame
It was the shame, you see. The shame I brought on my family. Sometimes it is easier not to believe than to accept something so awful could have happened. That is why people bury things far beneath the surface. Deep down, out of sight and out of mind. Though not out of my mind. I carry the shame with me always. The shame and the guilt. They do not go away. If anything, they weigh heavier on me now than they did back then. Dragging me down, clawing at my insides. And when people say that what’s buried in the past should stay there, they mean they don’t want to have to deal with it. They’re scared of the power of secrets to destroy lives. But keeping secrets can destroy you from the inside. Believe me, I know. And even the best-kept secrets have a habit of forcing their way to the surface.
The house appeared to know that its owner was about to die, shrouded, as it was, in early- morning mist, the downstairs curtains closed in respect, the gate squeaking mournfully as I opened it.
If there was such a thing as a nice house in which to end your days, this certainly wasn’t it. It was cold, dark and draughty, perched high on the edge of the village, as if it didn’t really want to be part of it but was too polite to say so. Behind it, the fields ‒ criss-crossed by dry-stone walls ‒ stretched out into the distance. Beyond them, the unrelenting bleakness of the moors.
I shivered as I hurried up the path and let myself in.
‘Grandma, it’s me.’ The first thing I thought when I didn’t hear a response was that maybe I was too late. She’d been weak, drifting in and out of sleep when I’d left the previous night. Perhaps she hadn’t made it through till morning.
But when I entered the front room – in which she’d lived, eaten and slept for the past year – she turned her face to give me the faintest of smiles.
‘Morning,’ I said. ‘Did you manage to get some sleep?’
‘It’s not too late to change your mind, you know. We could get you to hospital, or the hospice
said we could call them at any time.’
She shook her head. She’d remained adamant she would leave the house only in a coffin. She’d also refused medication to relieve the pain. It was as if she thought she somehow had a duty to suffer.
‘Well, at least let me stay over tonight. I hate the thought of you being on your own.’
‘I won’t be here tonight.’ Her words were faint and difficult to understand. She’d taken her teeth out several weeks previously and refused to put them back in since.
‘Come on. You’ve been saying that for weeks.’
‘I’m tired. It’s time to go now.’
There was something about the look in her eye as she said it that told me she meant it. I sat
down on the end of her bed and took her hand. Her skin was paper-thin, revealing the bones and blue veins beneath it. She’d once said she liked me coming to visit because I was the only one who let her talk about death without getting upset or pretending it wasn’t going to happen.
‘Is there anything I can get to make you more comfortable?’
She shook her head again. We sat there for a while saying nothing, listening to the ticking of the clock and her shallow breaths. I tried to imagine what it must be like knowing you are about to die. I would want my family around me, I knew that.
‘Do you want me to give Mum a call?’ I asked. She managed to raise her eyebrows at me. It was as near as I’d get to a telling off at this point. She had always been very accepting of their distant relationship. It was me who struggled with it.
‘I could ask James to bring the girls over.’
She shook her head again and whispered, ‘I don’t want to upset them. They’re good girls. Anyway, I’ve got them with me.’