The Secret of the Cathars by Michael Hillier

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Philips Sinclair’s grandmother has recently died. She leaves him the unusual legacy of the translated journal of his ancient ancestor, who was one of the four Cathar perfecti who escaped from the castle of Montségur with the ‘treasure of the Cathars’ strapped to his back – a treasure which has never been found. She also leaves him a sum of money with the request that he travels to the Pyrenean fastness of le Bézu where she believes the treasure still lies.

Meanwhile the famous young French archaeologist Jaqueline Blontard has arrived at le Bézu to start excavations as part of her new television series about the Albigensian Crusade. She believes her team will have the summer to uncover the secrets of the place before they are disturbed by the press and the authorities.

However the Roman Catholic Church already knows about their plans and has arranged for their agent to join the archaeologists. Also a secret but very influential body in Paris is sending their man to watch the excavations. Furthermore a criminal gang in Marseilles has become involved in the search for the treasure.

The archaeologists are suspicious of Philip but allow him to join them. As they start to uncover the secrets of le Bézu they find themselves in a race to make the information public before they are overwhelmed in a maelstrom of violence caused by the forces trying to stop them so that they can claim the treasures for their own illegal ends. (less)

My thoughts:
I’m interested in the history of the Cathars so was looking forward to reading this novel. It took a while for it to get going, there were a lot of characters that all appeared over a few chapters. I had to keep reading back to get an understanding of who each one was and what they wanted. I persevered though and quite enjoyed it. The actual story isn’t that strong but it was engaging.The part of the novel that featured Philip and his inheritance was the best and most interesting.It’s one that I would probably enjoy more on a second read.

With thanks to Authoright for the copy received.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

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Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

My thoughts:

When I was reading the first chapter of Behind Closed Doors everything seemed normal. A successful dinner party hosted by a happily married couple. But just a few pages later I wanted to go back and read it again. So I could see how I was completely fooled. Jack is a monster. Never with his fists, with him it’s all psychological games and threats. The only reason that Grace kept going was her devotion to her younger sister Millie.
The novel switches between past and present so the reader meets Jack when Grace does. And just like Grace did, loves the way that he was with Millie. And also like Grace, believes everything that he says and does. It was a shock how swiftly he showed what he really wanted and the way that he did it. I liked both periods equally, reading the past became much easier to read as Grace learned how to play Jack at his own game.
There was nothing that I didn’t like about this novel, it was a very addictive read that I read in a few hours. It could easily be one of the biggest books of the year.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via NetGalley.

The British Lion by Tony Schumacher

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In this crackling alternate history thriller set in the years after World War II—the riveting sequel to The Darkest Hour—London detective John Rossett joins forces with his Nazi boss to save the commander’s kidnapped daughter as the Germans race to make the first atomic bomb.

With the end of the war, the victorious Germans now occupy a defeated Great Britain. In London, decorated detective John Henry Rossett, now reporting to the Nazi victors, lies in a hospital bed recovering from gunshot wounds. Desperate to avoid blame over the events that led to the shooting, his boss, Ernst Koehler, covers up the incident. But when Koehler’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by American spies, the terrified German turns to the only man he trusts to help him—a shrewd cop who will do whatever is necessary to get the job done: John Rossett.

Surviving his brush with death, Rossett agrees to save his friend’s daughter. But in a chaotic new world ruled by treachery and betrayal, doing the right thing can get a man killed. Caught between the Nazi SS, the violent British resistance, and Americans with very uncertain loyalties, Rossett must secretly make his way out of London and find Ruth Hartz, a Jewish scientist working in Cambridge. Spared from death because of her intellect and expertise, she is forced to work on developing the atom bomb for Germany. Though she knows it could end any hope of freedom in Europe and maybe even the world, Ruth must finish the project—if she, too, wants to survive.

My Thoughts:

The British Lion is the second alternative history novel that I have read recently. By far the better one but I still found it a difficult book to read at times. I have to admit that this due partly to my lack of knowledge regarding the people who were in power at the time and the events in the first few years after WW2. But it is also a very dark novel, full of characters who all had no hesitation at using violence and there were only a couple of characters who had any loyalty to others.
The author was fantastic at describing the darkness of England at the time. The level of mistrust, the bad weather and bleakness everywhere was very convincing and just a little claustrophobic.
It is the sequel novel and I hadn’t read the first but it didn’t matter. There were a few hints but no great spoilers.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

The Casting Couch- David Mark guest post

Today’s blog post is a little bit different. I am thrilled to welcome to my blog David Mark, creator of the fabulous detective series that features Aector McAvoy. As he says in his piece, the reader is often disappointed when a favourite book is made into a film or TV series with the wrong cast. But enough from me, this is David’s own selection for the cast of his new book, Dead Pretty.

David Mark assembles his dream cast – if and when his McAvoy makes it to the screen…
Readers often take umbrage when liberties are taken with their beloved literary heroes. Lee Child may be the greatest thriller writer of his generation but millions of people around the world seem intent on slapping him with a haddock for allowing Tom Cruise to inhabit the size 14 shoes of Jack Reacher.

I understand that level of ire. As readers, we have very clear ideas of what our favourite fictional characters look, sound and act like. I still sometimes weep over the decision to cast Michael Gambon as Professor Dumbledore.

As authors, it’s a different situation. A couple of years back, the rights to my first novel were snapped up by a major TV company and I enjoyed lots of lovely lunches with the sort of people who would ignore a telephone call from Kenneth Branagh so as not to be distracted from one of my rambling anecdotes. It was all rather jolly. The adaptation never happened, of course. I don’t think the guy in charge had even read the book. But it was quite exciting while it lasted. Since then, lots of people have asked me who I would cast, if given free rein, in a small-screen version of the Mcavoy books. This is the kind of thing that stops me sleeping, I hope you understand.

So, to coincide with the launch of the new McAvoy book, DEAD PRETTY, here’s my guide to who I would want to walk in the characters’ shoes, and why.

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Aector McAvoy – Rory McCann
“I’m learning from Lee here. When you write about a character who is enormous, it pays to cast an enormous man in the role – otherwise people get upset and bang on about it endlessly at every bloody event you agree to attend. McAvoy is big and hulking, but he’s also a total softie who blushes and talks like a poet. Rory McCann may not have shown much tenderness in Game of Thrones but I’ve watched his audition tape for his role as Clegane and he has the right kind of tired wisdom in his eyes. He’s also physically very able and generally rather handsome. He may be a few years older than Aector but I’ll forgive him that. Plus, he has the right accent. I’ve wanted him for the role since I wrote the first book.”

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Roisin McAvoy – Eleanor Tomlinson
“Roisin is Aector’s centre. She’s his heart. She’s gentle and loving and very shrewd. She’s also capable of cutting you off at the knees and burying you upside down in the garden. Eleanor Tomlinson has all that. She was mesmerising in Poldark and I would love to see her play a role that was an equal to the male lead – not subservient to it. With a Romany accent and a lot of leopard-print, she would be a fierce foil for Aector and there’s no doubt the camera loves her.”

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DSU Trish Pharaoh – Polly Walker/Jessica Hynes/Lisa Stansfield
“Trish is probably my favourite character. She’s clever, tough, motherly, sexy and ferocious. Nobody knows what’s going on inside her head unless she wants them too. She’s in her mid-forties and drinks too much and doesn’t have the kind of body that suggests she spends a lot of time on a treadmill. I’d like somebody of the right age to play her. I adored Polly Walker in Rome, but Trish is funny as well as hard and I’d love to see Jessica Hynes have fun with her lines. I’ve also got a bizarre idea that Lisa Stansfield would be ace.”

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DC Helen Tremberg – Gwendoline Christie
“Helen is the most likely to have her own series one day and she’s one of the most important characters so I’ve thought long and hard about this. Helen’s tall, physically formidable and enjoys each packet of crisps more than the last. She’s also a bit hopeless in love and worries that she’s likely to put her new baby in the oven and the Christmas turkey in the cot. I think Gwendoline Christie would be superb. She may play a swordswoman in armour in her most famous role but she has vulnerability about her and I’d love to see her in a Hull pub interrogating an armed robber over a pint of real ale.”

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Former DCI Colin Ray – Richard E Grant
“Stick with me here … Colin Ray is the ratty, feral, utterly disgusting former DCI whose whereabouts at the start of Dead Pretty are unknown. I adore Richard E Grant and I think he would be superb at the kind of snarling, bitter, bile-infused invective that Colin likes to spray.”

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Reuben Hollow – James Purefoy
“The character of Reuben Hollow is at the centre of Dead Pretty. He’s just had a conviction for murder overturned and is back living in his ramshackle house in the woods with his teenage daughter. He’s a sculptor and very handsome and poetic, and there is something connecting him to Trish Pharaoh that is causing McAvoy a lot of disquiet. James Purefoy would be perfect. He does gentle just as well as the psychotics he has played in the past.”

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Delphine – Mimi Keene
“Reuben’s teenage daughter may have a small role in the events that unfold but she’s important. She’s a scruffy but pretty teen; carefree in dungarees and welly boots and smelling of cut grass and crushed fruit. She needs to have a knowing innocence to her. Step forward Mime Keene.”

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Teddy and Foley – Jason Flemyng and Ben Drew
“The two London hitmen are a curious duo. There is a tenderness between them but they are capable of colossal acts of violence. Teddy is the older, more circumspect villain. He’s quiet and thoughtful. Foley wants to hurt people. He burps and scratches and snorts an spits and should remind you of every person you have crossed the road to avoid. Jason Flemyng and Ben Drew would be perfect as a twosome.”

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Doug Roper – Paddy Considine
“Since the very first book, the name of Doug Roper has cropped up again and again. He’s always been there in the shadows, curling around thinks like the ghost of a serpent. The former head of CID, he was responsible for so much of McAvoy’s misery and is now a very important figure in what is to come. He’s handsome, well-dressed, and evil to his bones. Paddy Considine is one of my favourite actors. He’d be amazing.”

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Director – Paddy Considine

“Paddy’s directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, was unquestionably bleak and horrible, but it was also a magnificent piece of film-making. It struck the tone it sought absolutely head-on: this world of people trapped by circumstance, seeking refuge or escape through vices that plunge them deeper into the abyss. McAvoy walks through a world like that. I would love to see Paddy’s vision of Hull.”

 

About the Book

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Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.

One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.

But some people have their own ideas of what justice means…

DEAD PRETTY is the stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers.

 

I would like to thank David for giving up his valuable time to pick his ideal cast.

24 Hours by Claire Seeber

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My best friend, Emily, is dead – killed last night in a hotel fire.

But it was meant to be me.

Now I have 24 hours to find my daughter.

Before he finds out I’m still alive.

24 Hours is a fast-paced, intelligent psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.

My Thoughts

If you like a book with plenty of twists you will find plenty of them in this novel. I was pretty much addicted straight away and there was only one section where it went a little slower. It didn’t stop me enjoying it though, it was just a little less frantic.
To say Laurie was a bit of a mess would be an understatement, a counsellor who could do with listening to her own advice. Separated from an abusive husband who still controlled her and she liked another man who was either a liar or his ex wife was.Just as I thought she would have a little luck something would happen and she would end up in more of a predicament. Most of the characters who featured could have been responsible for what happened, I had no idea at all who it could be.
The chapters alternated between ‘then and now’. I liked both equally and was glad that they were only short so I could see what happened next in just a couple of pages.
It’s easily a book that could be read in one sitting, although I read it over a few days.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.