Apr 212017
 

I Love You Today

by Marcia Gloster

on Tour April 17 – June 17, 2017

I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster

Book Details
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Number of Pages: 402
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Synopsis:

Maddie Samuels is a woman of – and ahead of – her time. She knows she doesn’t belong in the kitchen, and she refuses to become trapped in a secretarial pool. In mid-sixties New York City, she’s not only determined to succeed in a man’s world, but to prove her work is as good – or better – than any man’s.

With “free love” redefining relationships with head-spinning rapidity, Maddie learns how to push the accepted boundaries of established old-boy networks while refusing to accept the all-too-pervasive harassment by men in power. And yet as a woman in love, she discovers that beliefs and actions are often very different things – especially when it comes to a man like the seductive and charismatic Rob MacLeod.

Set in the era of Mad Men, I LOVE YOU TODAY is passionate, sexy, liberating and deeply moving. With a story as relevant today as it was then, this is a novel that readers will take to their hearts and their souls.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This was the first time I read anything by this author but really enjoyed her descriptive writing style.

Maddie, a strong, career oriented woman of the late sixties meets handsome and charming Rob at her new job as an art director. As the synopsis states, it’s the decade of free love, and even though Rob is married with 2 children, an illicit affair begins. One they can’t stop and it doesn’t. (vague to not include spoiler).

The characters are well developed. The story fluid and kept my interest from the very first page to the last word.

I found myself not liking either character. Rob was, when he couldn’t control his drinking, an emotionally abusive, arrogant, lying, entitled man that continued to give idle promises. I rooted for Maddie, however, even though she was a strong and talented career woman, her love for Rob was so overwhelming that she became complaisant with matters of her heart.

I enjoyed the reminders and norms of that time. The fashion, pay phones, smoking cigarettes in offices/restaurants, the Viet Nam War, the Beatles, the landing of the first astronaut on the moon.

I definitely recommend this compelling novel, however, there is some adult language and content that may be distasteful to some. I didn’t find it offensive because I felt it was true to the time frame that the story takes place in.

An intense and powerful read!!!

Reviewers Are Loving I Love You Today!:

“Love, sex, lies, and advertising in the era of Mad Men. Compelling and provocative.” – James Wiatt, former Chairman and CEO, William Morris Agency

“A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.” – Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief, Town & Country

“Marcia Gloster paints an intimate portrait of life in 1960s Manhattan… Readers looking for a peek into the magazine publishing and advertising world of that era will be intrigued!” – Marilyn Brant, New York Times bestselling author

“I Love You Today pulled me right in, from the wrenching love story that could never have a happy ending, to the ultimate strength shown by the main character. An overall compelling journey.” – Andrea Hurst, author of Always with You

Read an excerpt:

Maddie exited the subway and walked a block to the Status offices, arriving just at three. The stark simplicity of the reception area surprised her: a white leather sofa and a glass coffee table stood on a small beige area rug with two matching Barcelona chairs on either side. The only color came from large fashion photos that covered the walls behind the couch and reception desk. She had expected a bit more glitz.

The receptionist was tapping rapidly on her typewriter while talking equally as rapidly on the phone. Seeing Maddie, she looked up with an impatient expression on her heavily made-up face and whispered that she’d call back. Maddie told her she was there to see Mr. MacLeod. After an appraising glance, the receptionist unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit, popped it in her mouth and dialed an extension. Maddie straightened her skirt, suddenly wondering if she should have worn something other than a suit.

Have a seat,” the girl said in a bored voice, indicating the couch. “His secretary will be right out.”

Maddie sat, feeling nervousness creep in and her earlier, all-too-fragile confidence beginning to fade. A few minutes later, a short dark-haired young woman in a miniskirt came in and introduced herself as Tara, Mr. MacLeod’s secretary. Maddie followed her along a corridor lined with several windowed offices on the left and a bright open bullpen area on the right where it looked like some assistants worked in different sized cubicles. On the far side she saw two more large, sun filled offices. In one of the doorways two men stopped talking and glanced at her.

Tara stopped at the second to last office, looked in and grinned. “Rob, this is Miss Samuels, your three o’clock appointment.” There seemed to be an inside joke somewhere in there, but Maddie didn’t get it. Not then.

As she walked in he stood up, buttoned his suit jacket and stepped forward to shake her hand. She caught her breath; not only was he attractive, he had bright emerald green eyes and perhaps the longest eyelashes she had ever seen. Wasted on a man, she thought, trying not to stare. Or, perhaps not. His dark brown hair was cut short with long sideburns that framed his handsome face.

She sat down on one of the metal and leather chairs that faced his desk. A large drawing board, covered in layout sheets, rolls of galleys and photo stats was to his right. On the left, flat files were piled high with books of typefaces and stock photos. The office wasn’t designed for so much furniture; there was little room to move around.

He sat back and asked her to tell him about herself. Interviews generally didn’t faze her, but this time she was unusually flustered. She began by mentioning Today’s Bride, saying that she had liked working there.

“Why did you leave? You weren’t fired were you?”

“No. Not at all. It was just becoming uncomfortable. I’m not sure it’s something I should talk about.”

Her answer seemed to intrigue him. A smile lit up his eyes and he leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “Now you have to tell me, Miss Samuels. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Was it some sort of conspiracy?”

“No,” she stammered, wishing she had never brought it up. “Nothing like that. I was very close to Joan, the art director who hired me. She was a great teacher, actually a mentor for me. I was a kid just out of art school. But after two years her husband was offered a job at Publicis, the big ad agency in Paris and they decided to move there. Before she left she tried to have me named as art director. By then I was doing half the work on the magazine anyway. But the publisher told her he had already decided to bring in a well-known art director from a rival publication.” She stopped, unsure how to proceed.

“So what was the problem?”

“Well,” she took a breath, “not only was he hiring her, but his weekly meetings with his so-called ‘investors’ were really long afternoons at the Biltmore, a few blocks away.”

He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You had to leave because the publisher was screwing…pardon me, sleeping with the new art director?”

She bit her lip, sorry she had mentioned it and realizing she had backed herself into a corner.

“It wasn’t quite so simple. Over the first couple of months she did everything she could to make my life miserable. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to cover photo shoots and then she didn’t even want me doing layouts. She began quietly bringing in her own team. By the time everyone realized what was going on, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. I spoke to the publisher who I knew liked me, but he said it was now up to her. It was out of his hands. So I resigned.” Taking another big breath, she looked at him, hoping she hadn’t said too much.

He shook his head. “Too bad. It sounds like you were happy there.”

“Yes. I was.”

He asked her to tell him more: what her goals were and did she really want a career or just a job until she found the right man to marry.

His questions didn’t surprise her; she had been asked the same things at every interview.

“Mr. MacLeod. I have no desire to be married. I’m focused on my career. I hope to be an art director one day.”

“And how do you plan to become one?”

She looked back at him wide eyed. It was a question she had never been asked. “I guess I’ll just have to keep on working and learning. I’m very motivated, Mr. MacLeod. If something needs to get done, I’ll make sure it happens.”

He nodded, green eyes flashing. “I’ll bet you will. Let me have a look at your portfolio.”

As she stood up, she noticed him glance at her legs. She wondered if her skirt was too short but not wanting to appear self-conscious she stopped herself from smoothing it down. Standing next to him, she answered his questions as he leafed through the pages.

“Miss Samuels, can you leave the portfolio with me? Unless, of course, you have other interviews today.”

“Yes. I mean, no.” She wanted to kick herself. What is wrong with me? “Yes, I can leave it, and no, I don’t have any more interviews today.”

He smiled, amused at her obvious discomfort. “Good. I’d like to show it to the managing editor. I’ve already seen several potential candidates and I expect to make a decision later today.”

She thanked him and he shook her hand, holding it she thought, a bit longer than necessary.

Excerpt from I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster. Copyright © 2017 by Marcia Gloster. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Marcia Gloster

Meet Marcia Gloster!

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, Marcia Gloster built a career in New York City as an award-winning book designer and art director. A decade later, she founded and ran a boutique ad agency specializing in fashion. Gloster is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Studio Montclair and exhibits her paintings in the New York area. Her first book, 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION, was published in 2014.

Visit Marcia Gloster on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook pages!

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these tour hosts for great features, interviews, guest posts, reviews, & giveaways of Ms. Gloster’s first novel 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION!


Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Propotions for Marcia Gloster and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of 1 eBook copy of 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION by Marcia Gloster. The giveaway begins on April 17th and runs through June 19th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.
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REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 202017
 

Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

on Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Book Details:

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Shelley Shepard Gray

Author Bio:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Q&A with Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I rarely write anything that I’ve had personal experience with, beyond being able to identify with the emotions the characters might be feeling. For my Amish novels especially, I incorporate the setting and the area into the plot. For example, Hart County, KY is riddled with abandoned caves and lots of isolated, hilly farmland. It seemed a perfect place to stage a series.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
As much as I yearn to be an organized plotter, I’m definitely a writer who starts a book with only the bare minimum in mind. It makes for a frustrating process, but it’s also a lot of fun for me.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
No. I always make up my characters. I almost always write about people who I would want to know, however. It’s rare for me to develop a particularly awful character. Usually even my antagonists have a lot of redeeming qualities.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I try my best to write ten pages a day Monday through Friday. I write another five on Saturday or Sunday. Yep, I definitely have an idiosyncrasy! I write down the ten page numbers I hope to get to each day and cross them off as they’re accomplished. I literally have a dozen notebooks filled with numbers and X’s. On a positive note, it’s very helpful for my family to see how my day is going. If I only have 2 Xs at four o’clock, they know it’s going to be a long night.

Tell us why we should read this book.
I love to write books about the Amish that are unexpected. HER SECRET is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance. It’s all interwoven with a thread of inspiration and features well-researched Amish characters. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that the book surpassed a reader’s expectations.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I really love to read and I read a lot. I love to read fiction. My favorite mystery author is Anne Perry. I’m also a fan of Anne Cleeland. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Linda Howard, Lorraine Heath, and Karen Kingsbury. Boy, I could probably name another 20 authors. If I find an author who makes me care about the characters, I’m happy.

What are you reading now?
I just judged the RITAs, so I’ve been reading a slew of romances from all different genres. I’m also reading Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I always write more than one book at a time. I’m currently writing HIS RISK, which is the fourth book in the Hart County Series. I’m also working on a contemporary single title romance for a brand new series. The next novel in the Hart County series is called HIS GUILT. It releases in July and features an Amish man who returns to Hart County with a dark past. I’m excited about it!

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie.
Oh, I’m never good at naming actors! I think Chris Pratt would be a terrific Isaac and a young Anne Hathaway for Hannah.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
We are dog people, so I love taking our dachshunds out for a long walk. I also love to bake.

Favorite meal?
I grew up in Texas, so my favorite dinner is always steak and a baked potato. Beyond that, I’m always up for a really good slice of coconut cream pie.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thank you for inviting me, Cheryl! This was a lot of fun!

Catch Up With Ms. Gray On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 2 winners of one $25 Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 15th and runs through May 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Apr 182017
 

Pitch Black

by Alex Gray

on Tour: March 20 – April 20, 2017

Synopsis:

Pitch Black by Alex Gray

DCI Lorimer is back in the next gripping atmospheric police procedural by international bestselling author Alex Gray.

When Chief Inspector Lorimer returns from holiday on the island of Mull, he feels a welcome sense of calm. But that doesn’t last long. Kelvin Football Club’s new star midfielder is found brutally stabbed to death in his own home, and with his wife apprehended trying to leave the country, a seemingly straightforward new case begins. But the grisly murder of a referee after a Kelvin match throws light on some dark secrets. And when the newest player who signed to the club becomes the latest victim in a string of killings, Lorimer knows there’s a serial killer on the loose—one that’s only beginning to show his true colors. As lies emerge and tensions build, Lorimer must discover the truth before one of the players or managers become the next Kelvin fatality.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I recently read THE RIVERMAN by Alex Gray and loved it giving it a 5 star review. So when I had the opportunity to read the next book in this series, I jumped at it. However, I was a bit leery, as I always am when I read a 2nd book by the same author, will it be as good or better? The answer….YES…bring on the next book!!!

Even though this is the 5th book in the series, it reads easily as a stand alone.

DCI Bill Lorimer is back and this time is investigating the murders of Kelvin Football (soccer) Organization. Two players and a referee are killed and another player is missing. And a journalist investigating the case has been shot in broad daylight. Who is the Kelvin Killer?

Alex Gray has a very descriptive writing style, which allows the reader to vividly create images, and in this book, even dialect.

Once again, the suspense had me turning the pages trying to guess who the suspect was. And once again, the ending was surprising.

Another great read by AlexGray!!! Highly recommend!

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780062659149
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3

The dust motes swirled round, captured in the one beam of light that filtered through a gap in the blinds. Behind him an insect buzzed drowsily against the window, seeking to escape from the confines of the room. Listening to its feeble struggles, Lorimer felt some empathy for the tiny creature. At that moment he would have given a great deal to walk out into the warm air of the city streets. Before him on the videoscreen were pictures of the deceased, not happy snaps at all. The scene-of-crime photographer had managed to convey each and every aspect of the man’s death, from the bread knife sticking out of his chest cavity to the open-mouthed grimace portraying that final scream of agony. Close-ups of blood spatters surrounded the main pictures, adding graphically to the image.

‘It was hot,’ Mitchison commented, somewhat unnecessarily, releasing the stills and letting the film pan in on the body. The black patches around the wound showed a moving mass of flies. Lorimer could almost smell the scent of corruption and was glad for once that he had not been first on the scene. But now Mitchison’s peremptory call had stolen the final day of Lorimer’s break and he had to be brought up to speed if he were to take charge of this case.

‘We’ve got the woman in custody and she’ll appear in court in the morning,’ the superintendent began, ‘but there are some problems.’

Lorimer raised his eyebrows.

‘She says she didn’t do it, of course, despite the fact she drove all the way up to the Hebrides…’ Mitchison’s drawl tailed off.

‘So, the problems are . . . ?’

‘We need to have some forensic evidence to connect her to the crime. There’s been nothing on her person and we couldn’t find anything else in the house. Either she was extremely forensically aware and managed to remove any traces of blood from the scene, or she’s telling us the truth.’

Lorimer, fixing his gaze on the images of a man who had bled to death, wondered what had provoked the attack. ‘What’s your own opinion, sir?’

Mitchison frowned. ‘She certainly had the means to do it. There was a huge rack of knives on one of those magnetic strips. It was one of these that was the murder weapon. No prints, I’m afraid. No residual traces, either. And the door was locked. There was no sign of a forced entry.’

‘Just circumstantial evidence, then?’

Mitchison nodded and screwed up his eyes in the half-light, then blinked. He’d probably been working through the night, Lorimer realised.

Method, means and opportunity, a familiar voice intoned in Lorimer’s head. It had been old George’s mantra. A wave of nostalgia for his former boss washed over him just then. Weary or not, George would never have delegated a case like this. He’d have ferreted away at it, looking for something more than the obvious. Though a runaway wife was a fairly obvious place to begin, Lorimer had to admit to himself. The method was straightforward enough and, despite his level of athleticism, the victim might have been taken by complete surprise. His expression alone was testament to that theory. She’d had the means easily to hand. And the opportunity? Who could say? Knife attacks were usually random affairs undertaken in a moment of frenzy.

‘What d’you reckon, then? A domestic gone wrong?’

The super made a face. ‘Janis Faulkner’s saying nothing. No plea for mitigating circumstances. Just a persistent refusal to admit she’d had anything to do with her husband’s death.’

‘Anything else suspicious?’

Mitchison paused for a moment then looked past Lorimer. ‘What would I call it? A strange absence of grief, I suppose.’

Lorimer gave a non-committal shrug. You couldn’t charge the woman for failing to mourn her dead husband, but still . . . His thoughts wandered for a moment to the sight of Janis Faulkner’s face as she’d glanced up at him on Fishnish pier. Had she been showing remorse? That haunted look had stayed with him since he’d seen her yesterday.

‘What do we know about her own movements before she scarpered?’

‘Says she was down at the gym. We’ve checked and her signing in and out times tally with her story. But as for simply setting off afterwards and not returning home first, well that was fairly unlikely, don’t you think? A few rounds on an exercise bike then she suddenly decides to leave her husband. It doesn’t make sense.’

‘So she’ll be charged?’

‘Yes, first thing tomorrow. There’s not another shred of evidence to show anyone else was in the house. I don’t care what Janis Faulkner claims; she did it, all right.’

Lorimer looked at his boss. The vehemence in Mitchison’s tone surprised him. Or was it simply that he was afraid Lorimer would see things in a different light, take away his prime suspect and cause problems? There was a past between these two senior officers that had never been adequately resolved. Mitchison had been promoted to superintendent when everyone’s expectations had been on Lorimer stepping into his old boss’s shoes, but it was their different attitudes to police work that had been the real cause of friction between them. Mitchison did everything by the rule book, creating masses of paperwork for everyone, while his DCI preferred a more handson approach. Lorimer remained silent. He was being officially designated as SIO and unless something new emerged, Janis Faulkner’s guilt or otherwise remained a matter for the jury.

‘Her solicitor is bound to ask for bail to be granted, pending a full investigation. We’ll see what happens in court tomorrow, but I have my doubts.’ Mitchison passed over the case file. ‘Don’t expect you’ll have too much bother with this one.’

Famous last words, Lorimer told himself as Mitchison left the room. Whether it was that quirk of fate placing him at the scene of her arrest on Mull or the victim’s high profile, the DCI had a strong feeling that this case was going to be anything but straightforward.

The woman had been brought back from Mull and placed in the police cells for one more night until she could be brought to court and officially charged with Nicko Faulkner’s murder. Lorimer waited outside as the duty officer unlocked the cell and stood aside. The first thing he noticed was the smell. It wafted towards him, a mixture of stale sweat and something more pungent that he recognised as menstrual blood. He’d smelt it before from women banged up over long weekends without any facilities to shower or change their clothes. Janis Faulkner was sitting in a corner of the bunk, feet together, head down and clutching her stomach. A movement as the cell door was opening made him realise she had looked up for a split second but now her expression was hidden under that curtain of damp hair.

‘Anyone thought to give her some paracetamol?’ he asked the uniformed officer.

‘Hasn’t asked for it,’ the man shrugged. ‘What’s she want it for anyway?’

‘Just go and get some,’ Lorimer told him, ‘and a drink of cold water.’ He let the man close the cell door behind them and stood waiting for the woman to look his way.

‘Feeling bad?’ he asked, as if she were an old acquaintance and not a stranger who was also his prisoner. He heard the sigh first, then Janis raised her head and looked at him. There was a brightness in her eyes that spoke of unshed tears. Her little nod and a flicker of recognition were all Lorimer needed to know he’d begun to win her confidence.

The door clanged open and the uniform strode in, proffering a tumbler of water and a strip of foil containing two painkillers. Both men watched as she unwrapped them, her fingers shaking as she clutched the glass and tilted back her head, then swallowed.

‘Thanks,’ she said, her voice hoarse. But it was to Lorimer that she spoke, to Lorimer that she handed back the empty tumbler.

‘You’ll have been told that we have to keep you here till tomorrow?’ he asked quietly, a hint of apology in his voice. She nodded again, but her head had drooped once more and Lorimer sensed she was withdrawing into herself, just as Mitchison had described. ‘You can talk to me if you want to,’ he told her. There was no response at all this time and as the minutes ticked past he realised that there was little point in trying any longer.

As he turned to leave, the silence inside that cell was redolent of misery.

Excerpt from Pitch Black by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Q&A with Alex Gray

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I draw from both personal experience and current events. I think all writers use their own experience of life to a greater or lesser extent.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I start from the beginning and see where it takes me.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Most of my characters are imaginary but Maggie Lorimer is rather like my best friend and she also has some of my own personality. George parsonage, the Riverman of the same title, is however, a real person.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I begin early in the morning and sometimes get up during the night to make notes if an idea strikes me. No real idiosyncracies except sometimes don’t get dressed for hours! The neighbours are used to seeing me in my PJs and dressing gown!

Tell us why we should read this book.
Read this book as it is a real page turner and (I am told) well written. I refuse to write rubbish and edit like crazy just to get the right word or phrase. My own standards are pretty high.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love loads of writers but current favourites include Louise Penny and Christopher Brookmyre.

What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Scottish debut author, Les Wood. It is utterly hilarious.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on book 15 in the Lorimer series and am about three quarters way through. It is set in Glasgow and involves people trafficking and a disputed murder.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
My novel a movie? Hm, Is Gerard Butler available to play Lorimer? He is a local boy, you know, and came from Paisley, near to where I live.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Favourite leisure? Reading of course but also gardening and cooking. I enjoy watching crime dramas on TV during the winter months and birding all year round.

Favorite meal?
Favourite meal? Lobster with a nice glass of (very) chilled Chablis.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website 🔗 & on Twitter 🔗.

Tour Participants:



Check Out This Awesome Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and Harper Collins. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Pitch Black by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on March 20th and runs through April 21st 2017.

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REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 122017
 

Bone White

by Wendy Corsi Staub

on Tour April 1-30, 2017

Synopsis:

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub

In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows… or did they?

“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.

A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

In BONE WHITE, the 3rd book in the series of Mundy’s Landing, we return a year after the Sleeping Beauty Murders were solved. But there are more secrets in this quaint town including a suicide or was it murder?

What I love about Mr. Staub’s books is that there are multiple mysteries interweaved into the story and this book did not disappoint.

Emerson Mundy, after her father’s death, travels from CA to NY to find out about her history after her father makes a deathbed confession and a secret that should never be told. And then there is Aurora Abrams, curator of the Mundy Museum, who is holding a secret from the 1666’s of the Mundy settlers who also made a pact to never let a secret be known.

The ending culminates in an OMG didn’t see that one coming!!!!!

A definite 5 star read!

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Mass Market
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774)
Series: Mundy’s Landing #3 (Stand Alone)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

July 20, 2016
Los Angeles, CA

We shall never tell.

Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.

Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.

Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.

The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.

The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.

Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.

“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.

“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.

“That’s it? Just nope?”

“What else do you want me to say?”

“How about yes?”

“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.

“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”

She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.

Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.
X marks the spot.

Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.

X marks the spot…

No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.

And now, her father.

The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.

The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.

Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.

Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.

When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.

But she didn’t necessarily move on.

Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.

It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.

He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.

Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?

Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?

She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.

Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.

Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be tempted to marry.

But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.

Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.

Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.

There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.

Exhibit B: Trustworthy.

Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.

“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”

She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.

Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.

Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.

***

Excerpt from Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub. Copyright © 2017 by Wendy Corsi Staub. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow Mass Market. All rights reserved.

Wendy Corsi Staub

Author Bio:

New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels. Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

Catch Up With Wendy Corsi Staub On Her Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:

Visit the other hosts on this tour for more reviews, guest posts, interviews, & giveaways!


Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners of one (1) Print copy of Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub. The giveaway begins on March 30th and runs through May 2nd, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
DISCLAIMER

I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM

I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Apr 092017
 

Secrets of Death

by Stephen Booth

on Tour April 3 – 30, 2017

Synopsis:

Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth

Residents of the Peak District are used to tourists descending on its soaring hills and brooding valleys. However, this summer brings a different kind of visitor to the idyllic landscape, leaving behind bodies and secrets.

A series of suicides throughout the Peaks throws Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team in Derbyshire’s E Division into a race against time to find a connection to these seemingly random acts — with no way of predicting where the next body will turn up. Meanwhile, in Nottingham Detective Sergeant Diane Fry finds a key witness has vanished…

But what are the mysterious Secrets of Death?

And is there one victim whose fate wasn’t suicide at all?

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Fiction
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062690353 (ISBN13: 9780062690357)
Series: Cooper & Fry #16 (Each is a Stand Alone Novel)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

And this is the first secret of death. There’s always a right time and place to die.

It was important to remember. So important that Roger Farrell was repeating it to himself over and over in his head by the time he drew into the car park. When he pulled up and switched off the engine, he found he was moving his lips to the words and even saying it out loud – though only someone in the car with him would have heard it.

And he was alone, of course. Just him, and the package on the back seat.

There’s always a right time and place to die.

As instructed, Farrell had come properly equipped. He’d practised at home to make sure he got everything just right. It was vital to do this thing precisely. A mistake meant disaster. So getting it wrong was inconceivable. Who knew what would come afterwards? It didn’t bear thinking about.
Last night, he’d experienced a horrible dream, a nightmare about weeds growing from his own body. He’d been pulling clumps of ragwort and thistles out of his chest, ripping roots from his crumbling skin as if he’d turned to earth in the night. He could still feel the tendrils scraping against his ribs as they dragged through his flesh.

He knew what it meant. He was already in the ground. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Wasn’t that what they said at your graveside as they shovelled soil on to your coffin? The dream meant his body was recycling back into the earth. In his soul, he’d already died.

Farrell looked around the car park. There were plenty of vehicles here. Although it was the middle of the week, a burst of sunny weather had brought people out into the Peak District in their droves. They’d come to enjoy the special peace and beauty of Heeley Bank, just as he had.

Of course, in many other ways, they weren’t like him at all.

He let out a sigh of contentment. That was the feeling this scenery gave him. The green of the foliage down by the river was startling in its brightness. The farmland he could see stretching up the sides of the hills was a glowing patchwork between a tracery of dry-stone walls. Cattle munched on the new grass in the fields. Further up, a scattering of white blobs covered the rougher grazing where the moors began.

The sight of those sheep made Farrell smile. He’d always associated them with the Peaks. This landscape wouldn’t be the same without sheep. They’d been here for centuries, helping to shape the countryside. And they’d still be here long after he’d gone.

It really was so green out there. So very green.

But there’s always a right time and place.

A silver SUV had pulled into a parking space nearby. Farrell watched a young couple get out and unload two bikes from a rack attached to their vehicle. One of the bikes had a carrier on the back for the small girl sitting in a child seat in the car. She was pre-school, about two years old, wearing a bright yellow dress and an orange sun hat. Her father lifted her out, her toes wiggling with pleasure as she felt the warm air on her skin. The family all laughed together, for no apparent reason.

Farrell had observed people doing that before, laughing at nothing in particular. He’d never understood it. He often didn’t get jokes that others found hilarious. And laughing when there wasn’t even a joke, when no one had actually said anything? That seemed very strange. It was as if they were laughing simply because they were, well . . . happy.

For Roger Farrell, happy was just a word, the appearance of happiness an illusion. He was convinced people put on a façade and acted that way because it was expected of them. It was all just an artificial front. Deep down, no one could be happy in this world. It just wasn’t possible. Happiness was a sham – and a cruel one at that, since no one could attain it. All these people would realise it in the end.

With a surge of pity, Farrell looked away. He’d watched the family too long. Across the car park, an elderly man hobbled on two sticks, accompanied by a woman with a small pug dog on a lead. She had to walk deliberately slowly, so that she didn’t leave the man behind. The pug tugged half-heartedly at its lead, but the woman yanked it back.

These two had probably been married for years and were no doubt suffering from various illnesses that came with age. Did they look happy? Farrell looked more closely at their faces. Definitely not. Not even the dog.

He nodded to himself and closed his eyes as he leaned back in his seat. His breathing settled down to a steady rhythm as he listened to the birds singing in the woods, the tinkle of a stream nearby, the quiet whispering of a gentle breeze through the trees.

As the afternoon drew to a close, he watched the vehicles leave one by one. People were taking off their boots, climbing into cars and heading for home. All of them were complete strangers, absorbed in their own lives. They could see him, of course. An overweight middle-aged man with a receding hairline and a distant stare. But they would never remember him.

A few minutes later, a young man jogged past on to the woodland path, checking his watch as he ran, as if he knew the time was approaching. A black Land Rover eased into a spot opposite Farrell’s BMW, but no one emerged.

And finally, the lights went off in the information centre. A woman came out and locked the front doors. She took a glance round the car park, seemed to see nothing of any interest to her, and climbed into a Ford Focus parked in a bay reserved for staff. Farrell watched as she drove away.

When it was quiet and there were only a few cars left, he leaned over into the back seat and unzipped the holdall. Carefully, Farrell lifted out the gas canisters, uncoiling the plastic tubing as it writhed on to the seat. He placed the canisters in the footwell. They looked incongruous sitting there, painted in fluorescent orange with their pictures of party balloons on the side.

It had taken him a while to find the right brand of gas. Some manufacturers had started putting a percentage of air into the canisters, which made them quite useless for his purpose. That was when things went wrong, if you didn’t check and double-check, and make sure you got exactly the right equipment.

Still, you could find anything on the internet, as he well knew. Information, advice, someone to talk to who actually understood how you were feeling. And the inspiration. He would be nothing without that. He wouldn’t be here at Heeley Bank right now.

And this is the first secret of death. There’s always a right time and place to die.

Farrell said it again. You could never say it too often. It was so important. The most important thing in the world. Or in his world, at least.

He reached back into the holdall and lifted out the bag itself. He held it almost reverently, like a delicate surgical instrument. And it was, in a way. It could achieve every bit as much as any complicated heart operation or brain surgery. It could change someone’s life for the better. And instead of hours and hours of complicated medical procedures on the operating table, it took just a few minutes. It was so simple.

With black tape from a roll, he attached the tubing to the place he’d marked on the edge of the bag, tugging at it to make sure it was perfectly secure. Everything fine so far.

Farrell had spent days choosing a piece of music to play. The CD was waiting now in its case and he slid it out, catching a glimpse of his own reflection in the gleaming surface. He wondered what expression would be in his eyes in the last seconds.

Despite his reluctance to see himself now, he couldn’t resist a glance in his rearview mirror. Only his eyes were visible, pale grey irises and a spider’s web of red lines. His pupils appeared tiny, as if he were on drugs or staring into a bright light. And maybe he was looking at the light. Perhaps it had already started.

The CD player whirred quietly and the music began to play. He’d selected a piece of Bach. It wasn’t his normal choice of music, but nothing was normal now. It hadn’t been for quite a while. The sounds of the Bach just seemed to suit the mood he was trying to achieve. Peace, certainly. And a sort of quiet, steady progression towards the inevitable conclusion.

As the sun set in the west over Bradwell Moor, a shaft of orange light burst over the landscape, transforming the colours into a kaleidoscope of unfamiliar shades, as if the Peak District had just become a tropical island.

Farrell held his breath, awed by the magic of the light. It was one of the amazing things he loved about this area, the way it changed from one minute to the next, from one month to another. Those hillsides he was looking at now would be ablaze with purple heather later in the summer. It was always a glorious sight.

For a moment, Farrell hesitated, wondering whether he should have left it until August or the beginning of September.

And then it hit him. That momentary twinge of doubt exploded inside him, filling his lungs and stopping the breath in his throat until he gathered all his strength to battle against it. His hands trembled with the effort as he forced the doubt back down into the darkness. As the tension collapsed, his shoulders sagged and his forehead prickled with a sheen of sweat.

Farrell felt as though he’d just experienced the pain and shock of a heart attack without the fatal consequences. His lips twitched in an ironic smile. That meant he was still in control. He remained capable of making his own mind up, deciding where and when to end his life. He was able to choose his own moment, his own perfect location.

There’s always a right time and place to die.

Roger Farrell took one last glance out of the window as the light began to fade over the Peak District hills.

The place was here.

And the time was now.

***

Excerpt from Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth. Copyright © 2017 by Stephen Booth. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Stephen BoothA newspaper and magazine journalist for over 25 years, Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the Lancashire coast at Blackpool, where he attended Arnold School. He began his career in journalism by editing his school magazine, and wrote his first novel at the age of 12. The Cooper & Fry series is now published by Little, Brown in the UK and by the Witness Impulse imprint of HarperCollins in the USA. In addition to publication in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, translation rights in the series have so far been sold in sixteen languages – French, German, Dutch, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Japanese and Hebrew.Stephen left journalism in 2001 to write novels full time. He and his wife Lesley live in a village in rural Nottinghamshire, England (home of Robin Hood and the Pilgrim Fathers). They have three cats.

In recent years, Stephen Booth has become a Library Champion in support of the UK’s ‘Love Libraries’ campaign, and a Reading Champion to support the National Year of Reading. He has also represented British literature at the Helsinki Book Fair in Finland, filmed a documentary for 20th Century Fox on the French detective Vidocq, taken part in online chats for World Book Day, and given talks at many conferences, conventions, libraries, bookshops and festivals around the world.

Q&A with Stephen Booth

Welcome!

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both, I think. Everything is material for a writer. I spent 25 years as a newspaper journalist covering all kinds of stories – and meeting a lot of police officers. But I also want to make my books as contemporary as possible and deal with current issues.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Definitely the latter. When I start a new book, I don’t know how it will end, or even much of what’s going to happen in the plot. I start with the characters (and a place the belong to, since the locations are very important). Then I devise a situation which puts them under pressure, with a murder happening or a body being found, and I watch how they behave. So the characters create the story, and what subsequently happens might surprise even me. For me, that’s a much more interesting and exciting way of writing than knowing what’s going to happen all the time. Of course, I rely heavily on Cooper and Fry and their police colleagues to do their part of the job and find out what happened. After all, they’re the detectives and I’m just the writer!

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
I think there’s a bit of me in every character. And of course everyone I meet is likely to influence me too. When we create a character, we use aspects of several people, including ourselves, to produce something new and hopefully unique.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I’m sure everyone is different, but this process works for me. I write a book a year, and in the early stages I might not be putting many words on the page because I’m developing the characters and locations, and the themes of the book. The actual writing can happen quite quickly later on. Although I may be at my desk during the day, there are lots of other things involved in being a writer other than the actual writing. My most creative time is in the evening and late at night, when there are fewer distractions. I work from home, but I’ve converted part of a stable block into an office. So I do physically leave the house to go to work, though I only have to cross the yard!

Tell us why we should read this book.
I think it explores series issues we might not have thought about too much, but in a gripping story that involves mystery, intrigue and some fascinating characters, all set in a beautiful and atmospheric location.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are so many. One of my great crime writing heroes was Ruth Rendell, who we lost a couple of years ago. She had the ability to come up with someone fresh and exciting, no matter how long she’d been doing it. I like series with a strong central character, so I’d include on my list Peter Robinson, John Harvey, Michael Connelly, Ann Cleeves, and Laurie King. There are lots of wonderful new authors coming through too.

What are you reading now?
Deborah Crombie’s ‘No Mark Upon Her’. I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind a bit on her Kincaid and James series!

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
There’s a new Cooper and Fry novel already written, called ‘Dead in the Dark’. I like to keep the dynamic between the characters moving forward, and there are changes ahead for both Ben and Diane. A lot of readers have been hoping for good news for Ben, and I think he’s finding some happiness now. Diane is always living on the edge, and with the return of her sister Angie into her life I’m afraid she has a crisis coming! Meanwhile, I’m starting work on number 18 in the series, so I’m anxious to see how Diane deals with that crisis

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
We’re in development for a Cooper and Fry TV series at the moment, so I’m often asked about casting. I thought Aidan Turner might make a good Ben Cooper. Diane Fry is much more complex and difficult…

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Walking in the Peak District national park (where my books are set)
And I’m just learning to play the guitar!

Favorite meal?
Chinese Probably a nice Dim Sum.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

Thank you for inviting me! It’s been a pleasure.

Catch Up With Stephen Booth On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Stephen Booth and WitnessImpulse. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth. The giveaway begins on March 30 and runs through May 1, 2017.

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