Endgame by Daniel Cole – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A locked room. A dead body. A secret that went to the grave.

When retired police officer Finlay Shaw is found dead in a locked room, everyone thinks it’s suicide. But disgraced detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes isn’t so sure. 

Together with his former partner Detective Emily Baxter and private detective Edmunds, Wolf’s team begin to dig into Shaw’s early days on the beat. Was Shaw as innocent as he seemed? Or is there more to his past than he’d ever let on?

But not everyone wants Wolf back – and as his investigation draws him ever deeper into police corruption, it will not only be his career on the line – but the lives of those he holds closest as well…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Endgame is the final book in the trilogy that features among others Wolf, Baxter and Edmunds. Baxter has been my favourite character throughout. I love her temperament, her ability to make things much worse than they are and her humour. It is a series that I strongly recommend that you read in order. Whilst different stories, they are linked and this novel brings many answers. They are also very entertaining.

This is less gory than the other two books, but no less funny. It is a slightly different story, with focus on two of the main characters early on in their careers and how the events that happened then had consequences in the modern day. I was a little shocked by what was revealed.

What the author does well is making sure that all the characters have a voice. Joe and Maggie in particular I enjoyed reading about. A standout moment for Joe was when he was showing off his skills without knowing the identity of one of his audience.

A great finale, and I’m looking forward to future books by this author.

In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Michael Malone is one of those authors who always manages to tug on your heartstrings whilst delivering something that is shocking and real. This novel is my favourite so far.

John is a teacher, successful at his job but less successful in his private life. He adores his partner but struggles to make that final commitment. He is also aware that he drinks too much. But his life is turned upside down with his discovery in his family home which he is preparing to sell to pay for his mother’s care. This discovery results in events long forgotten to be revealed and threaten all who he loves.

There are some fantastic characters in this novel. I liked John instantly and as events from the past were explained I understood and liked most of the others more. So much felt real. The emotions, guilt, betrayal, fear and even jealousy. All of them had to come to terms with the past and as they did they learned to trust and be honest with each other. The strength of each of them became evident in the final pages. A perfect closure.

Law And Addiction by Mike Papantonio – Extract

About The Book

MIKE PAPANTONIO PULLS BACK THE CURTAIN ON AMERICA’S DEADLY OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN THIS SPELLBINDING THRILLER ABOUT GREED, CORRUPTION AND THE POWER OF PERSONAL CONVICTION.

One week before his law school graduation, Jake Rutledge is shattered. His fraternal twin, Blake, has died of a drug overdose. When Jake returns to his hometown of Oakley, West Virginia, he discovers that his brother was not the only person hooked on opioid painkillers. The entire region has been ravaged by an epidemic insidiously planned and carried out by one of America’s most powerful pharmaceutical companies.

Still wet behind the ears, Jake is determined to seek justice for all the victims of Big Pharma’s greed. He soon learns that the drug companies’ tentacles reach far and deep. His only hope is to get Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis to help. A partner at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, Deke’s “as tough as a two-dollar steak” and well-known for his winning tactics against corporate wrongdoers. With just enough persistence, Jake coaxes Deke to see Oakley’s devastation firsthand. Overwhelmed, Deke agrees to join forces with Jake.

And that’s when the real heat begins. Death threats, bribes, unlawful property seizure schemes – all are connected to the massive distribution of both legal and illegal drugs. Everyone is impacted, from the highest levels of corporate America to corrupt local officials to their lackeys and hapless victims. The complexity of the schemes is overwhelming.

Working tirelessly, the lawyers begin to uncover the truth. Along the way, Jake falls in love with Anna Fowler, a former homecoming queen who has succumbed to the power of opioids. With his support, she weans herself off the drugs. Hope begins to bloom ― when suddenly, Jake disappears. As Deke undertakes a desperate search to find him, questions swirl. Has Jake abandoned Anna and his crusade? Can the case against the evildoers move forward without him? Will Oakley and its residents survive? Law and Addiction is real-life drama at its finest ― a book that clears away the darkness page by page, spotlighting a profound truth about our society through expert storytelling.

Extract

PROLOGUE 

LITTLE BLACK TRAIN 

Blake snuck a glance over his right shoulder, trying to see into the darkness. There were three of them—no, now there were four. He vaulted over a streambed and raced up the hillside. That didn’t deter them. Their pounding footsteps marked their close pursuit. So far, he hadn’t been able to shake them, nor had they shown any sign of giving up their chase. 

His shoes dug into the dirt path, pushing hard with each step. The way was slippery, and for a moment Blake lost traction. He fought for balance, and with a sharp intake of breath, steadied himself. He didn’t dare slip. They’d be on him if he did. 

Blake reached the top of the rise and began sprinting. There was no way his pursuers should be able to keep up with him. Blake was fast. Few individuals could stay with him in a footrace. So how was it that he couldn’t shake them? 

He shifted his head and dared another quick look behind. The pack seemed to be gaining on him. Blake yelled, “What do you want?” Their silence was more frightening than an answer. He knew then that he was running for his life. 

“Help!” Blake screamed. “Help!” 

No one responded to his screams. Maybe they’d heard too many screams just like his. They were afraid to try and help, and for good reason. Oakley was looking more and more like a ghost town, especially at night. The citizens hunkered down when it got dark. Except for the ghosts and ghoulies. They came out at night. 

The streetlights were few and far between. Most were in disrepair. Blake ran through the darkness, trying to find the light. Even though he’d grown up in Oakley, it was hard to figure out exactly where he was. The darkness muted the colors, offering up a stark black-and-white landscape. The shadows had to be playing tricks with his eyes. The once-familiar roads and woods and hollows seemed to have changed. Skeletal branches from trees reached for him, snagging his clothing. 

The whistle of a train made him start. The sound was alien and out of place. You didn’t hear trains in Oakley. The nearest train tracks were ten miles to the west. That didn’t explain the whistle he was hearing, or the music. A man with a deep bass voice was singing. Blake could hear the words through the pounding footfalls of his pursuers. 

“There’s a little black train a-coming, better set your business right . . .” 

Blake realized the singer must have a toy whistle that sounded like a train. The whistle sounded again. 

“Help!” he screamed, but the man just kept on with his song. 

Blake thought the lyrics sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place them. The whistle screeched again. Now it sounded as if it were directly behind him, almost like it had joined the pack trying to run him down. 

Run, run, run. He couldn’t slow down. They’d catch him if he did. But the race was taking its toll on him. His breath was getting ragged. He dared not stop. Death was right on his tail, and death didn’t even seem to be winded. The train whistle sounded once more, and it was accompanied by the singer’s words: 

“God sent to Hezekiah, a message from on high, you better set your house in order, for you must surely die.” 

Little Black Train,” thought Blake. He’d grown up hearing that tune. But why was someone singing that song so late at night? And where was the singer? 

The shadows finally opened up enough for Blake to see that just ahead was the turnoff to downtown Oakley, marked by a familiar sign that read WELCOME TO OAKLEY. The sign had been around for all of Blake’s twenty-five years, but someone had defaced it the year before. The word Oakley had been X’d out with spray paint and replaced with Zombieland

Blake was in the race of his life, yet he felt disembodied, no longer in control of his person. He needed to run, but he could never outrun what was chasing him. 

Flight hadn’t saved him. Maybe he’d do better to fight. 

Blake slowly turned to face his pursuers. There was a part of him that was afraid to see exactly what was there. It was as if he knew it would be worse than he could even imagine. The pack was on all sides of him now. They were getting closer. He gasped at what he saw, at what was reaching for him. There was no wind in his lungs for him to scream. 

Zombies. 

Their faces were white, with huge dark circles, and their heads hung to the sides, jerking straight and then going slack, as if they were in between waking and nodding off. Eyes without pupils, and with no souls behind them, stared at him. Fingers with blue nails were aimed his way. The zombies reeked, and itched obsessively.

Blake knew there was something off in all of this. How had these lumbering zombies been able to run him down? 

The train whistle called, and the singer called to him: “Death’s dark train is coming, prepare to take a ride.” 

Blake knew he should grab a weapon or pick up a rock or branch, but he couldn’t move. He swayed back and forth; it was all he could do to not fall. As he steadied himself, he had a moment of clarity. The zombies didn’t exactly disappear, but they morphed—into the bodies of the four people sprawled around his own living room. 

Everyone was wasted, including Blake. 

He saw their pinpoint pupils and pale skin, watched them scratch at imaginary itches with blue-tinged nails, and forced himself to take a deep, shuddering breath. What a nightmare, he thought. He raised an unsteady hand up to his face. His nose and mouth were wet with a frothy fluid that had the consistency of snot. 

Shit, thought Blake. He’d taken what he thought was oxy, but it must have been fenny. Maybe that explained him imagining the zombies. Or maybe the reality of his life was even worse than his hallucination. He’d heard from others who had experienced the willies that you could have an opioid-induced hallucination. 

The train was whistling again. 

Blake sank a little lower into his chair. He needed to get off this shit. It was time to clean up his act. In just a few days he’d be going to Jake’s graduation. Luckily for him, Jake had visited only once in the last year. Blake had done his best to hide his addiction; he didn’t want to worry his brother or take Jake’s eyes from the prize. Good old Jake had done it. He was going to be a lawyer. 

In his stupor, Blake smiled. He was so damn proud of his twin brother. 

The thought of Jake’s success eased Blake’s mind. His panic subsided, as did his pain. He no longer heard the train whistle, no longer felt compelled to try and outrun the zombies, no longer strained to catch his breath. 

Blake’s lungs slowed to a stop, but his mind didn’t know it. 

“Jake,” he tried to whisper, but didn’t even have breath enough for a last word. 

Reprinted from Law and Addiction with the permission of WatersideProductions. Copyright © 2019 by Mike Papantonio

No Place Of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Giveaway..

About The Book

Amid a global crisis, one woman searches for justice…

The Syrian refugee crisis just became personal for Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing.

In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked.

Khattak and Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO…

Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?

Giveaway

Today I am thrilled that I can offer a giveaway. The Khattak and Getty series is a favourite of mine and this book is one I am eager to read. All you have to do to win a copy is either share this post or RT my pinned tweet and I will draw a winner using a random number generator at 5pm on Tuesday 17th September. I will pass on the winner details to the publisher, no information will be kept by myself.

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Spring 1944, the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment, wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men all drawn from different walks of life await the order to move. 

With an economy of language that belies its emotional impact, From the City, From the Plough is a vivid and moving account of the fate of these men as they embark for the beaches of Normandy and advance into France, where the battalion suffers devastating casualties. 

Based on Alexander Baron s own wartime experience, From the City, From the Plough was originally published to wide acclaim and reportedly sold over one million copies. This new edition of the 1948 classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds new light on the dramatic true events that so inspired its author. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read fiction concerning WW2 before but never anything that has felt so real as this book. I felt many times like I was reading non-fiction and this can only be down to the author reliving his own experience.

The first half concerned the training, the building of friendships, finding out who could be relied on, life in the local area, especially with the local women. And mainly pointing out the obvious to the reader. That this group of men were not soldiers. They were farmers, industrial and city workers who were prepared to do their duty but scared of what they faced. Just like any soldier though, they were husbands, fathers and sons whose loved ones had little idea of what they really faced.

The second half, mainly set in Normandy was where the narrative really hit home. Yes, there are accounts of the men marching through the villages with flowers in their helmets, singing and making the local children a little happier but there are also increasingly upsetting accounts of death, fear and exhaustion. Two things hit me. How chilling and ironic to read of soldiers fighting a war sheltering behind a war memorial for the last one and the strange acceptance of death. Where the loss of a food lorry had more significance than the loss of a friend. It demonstrated what these young men faced each and every day.

The ending was one that I thought about long after finishing. It was one which gave no hope for the men going into their next battle and left me thinking that the ones who’re injured early on were the lucky ones.

I feel honoured to have taken part in this blog tour. For information about the other books that have been republished to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the start of WW2 please read below.

About The Series

IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS LAUNCH FIRST WARTIME CLASSICS SERIES

Alexander Baron, David Piper, Anthony Quayle, Kathleen Hewitt

Published on 26 September 2019

“If poetry was the supreme literary form of the First World War then, as if in riposte, in the Second World War, the English novel came of age. This wonderful series is an exemplary reminder of that fact. Great novels were written about the Second World War and we should not forget them.”

WILLIAM BOYD

‘It’s wonderful to see these four books given a new lease of life because all of them are classic novels from the Second World War written by those who were there, experienced the fear, anguish, pain and excitement first-hand and whose writings really do shine an incredibly vivid light onto what it was like to live and fight through that terrible conflict.’

JAMES HOLLAND, Historian, author and TV Presenter

‘The Imperial War Museum has performed a valuable public service by reissuing these four absolutely superb novels covering four very different aspects ofthe Second WorldWar.‘                                                                                   ANDREWROBERTS

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics.

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances.

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced.

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’.

Each story speaks strongly to IWM’s remit to tell the stories of those who experienced conflict first hand. They cover diverse fronts and topics – preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy; the war in Malaya; London during the Blitz and SOE operations in occupied Europe and each author – three men and a woman – all have fascinating back stories. These are Second World War novels about the truth of war written by those who were actually there.

The Four titles are:

From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron – A vivid and moving account of preparations for D- Day and the advance into Normandy. Published in the 75thanniversary year of the D-Day landings, this is based on the author’s first-hand experience of D-Day and has been described by Antony Beevor as ‘undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War.’

Alexander Baron was a widely acclaimed author and screenwriter and his London novels have a wide following. This was his first novel.

Trial by Battle by David Piper – A quietly shattering and searingly authentic depiction of the claustrophobia of jungle warfare in Malaya described by William Boyd as ‘A tremendous rediscovery of a brilliant novel.

Extremely well-written, its effects are both sophisticated and visceral. Remarkable’, andVS Naipaul as ‘one of the most absorbing and painful books about jungle warfare that I have read’ and by Frank Kermode as

probably the best English novel to come out of the Second World War.’

David Piper was best known as director of the National Portrait Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The novel is based on his time serving with the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW. His son, Tom Piper, was the designer of the hugely successful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the First World War Centenary.

Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle – A candid account of SOE operations in occupied Europe described by Andrew Roberts as ‘As well as being one of our greatest actors, Anthony Quayle was an intrepid war hero and his autobiographical novel is one of the greatest adventure stories of the Second World War.

Beautifully written and full of pathos and authenticity, it brings alive the terrible moral decisions that have to be taken by soldiers under unimaginable pressures in wartime.’

Anthony Quayle was a renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star and during the Second World War was a Special Operations Executive behind enemy lines in Albania.

Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – a murder mystery about opportunism and the black marketsetagainst thebackdropofLondonduring the Blitz.‘Withadeadbodyonthefirstpageand adebonair

RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more. Andrew Roberts.

Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.

IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.