Son Of Escobar: First Born by Roberto Sendoya Escobar – Extract.

About The Book

Pablo Escobar was the most notorious drug lord the world has ever seen. He became one of the ten richest men on the planet and controlled 80 per cent of the global cocaine trade before he was shot dead in 1993.

This is the long-awaited autobiography of his eldest son, Roberto Sendoya Escobar.

His story opens with two helicopter gunships, filled with heavily armed Colombian Special forces personnel led by an MI6 agent, flying into a small village on the outskirts of Bogota in Colombia. The secret mission to recover a stolen cash hoard, culminates in a bloody shoot-out with a group of young Pablo Escobar’s violent gangsters. Several of the men escape, including the young Escobar.

As the dust settles in the house, only a little baby is left alive. His distressing cries can be heard as his young mother lies dead beside him. That baby is the author, Roberto Sendoya Escobar. In a bizarre twist of fate, the top MI6 agent who led the mission, takes pity on the child and, eventually, ends up adopting him.

Over the years, during his rise to prominence as the most powerful drug lord the world has ever known, Pablo Escobar tries, repeatedly, to kidnap his son. Flanked by his trusty bodyguards, the child, unaware of his true identity, is allowed regular meetings with Escobar and it becomes apparent that the British government is working covertly with the gangster in an attempt to control the money laundering and drug trades.

Life becomes so dangerous, however, that the author is packed off from the family mansion in Bogota to an English public school. Many years later in England, as Roberto’s adopted father lies dying in hospital, he hands his son a coded piece of paper which, he says, reveals the secret hiding place of the ‘Escobar Missing millions’ the world has been searching for!

The code is published in this book for the first time.

Extract

CHAPTER 1: THE SECRET MISSION

Facatativá, Colombia, late October 1965

The two helicopters appeared with the rising sun.

Each spanking new US Bell UH-1 ‘Huey’ was armed with two M134 miniguns capable of preset firing rates of 2,000 rpm, each linked to four thousand rounds of ammunition. They were also equipped with two M75 40-mm grenade-rocket launchers, both fed from a three-hundred-round magazine.

Aboard each were six newly trained Colombian special forces personnel. Sitting in the front passenger seat of the leading chopper was the man in charge. Pat Witcomb, a tall, powerful-looking Englishman, looked as incongruous as the two aircraft flying low over an otherwise peaceful countryside. They were three thousand metres above sea level, yet only five hundred metres above the ground. Pat could scarcely believe he was leading this mission. Before he joined De La Rue, a respectable banknote printer and security company established in London in the nineteenth century, he had barely set foot in a helicopter. Since then, the operations with which he had been tasked had grown increasingly dangerous. Almost of all of his training had been on the job itself.

He had swiftly discovered that Colombia was a violent country. Recently, one of his armoured cars had been blown up, killing two security guards and injuring others. This was one of the worst incidents to affect De La Rue, which had been tasked with securely printing Colombia’s currency and transporting it safely around the country. The vehicle had been destroyed in the course of making a delivery and the incident had major ramifications for the firm. It wasn’t just a question of the money that was stolen – although it wasn’t an insignificant sum, running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – but the message it sent out. The various gangs jockeying for power and influence would believe they could attack De La Rue with impunity and, by extension, they were hitting the heart of Colombia’s economy itself. There had to be a firm response and once the firm received intelligence about the gang’s whereabouts they were determined to strike back.

The pilot, sitting beside Pat, pointed to a cluster of dwellings on the hillside ahead. Pat compared the sight before him with the aerial photographs provided. He nodded. They were here. He glanced at the soldiers manning the machine gun and rocket launchers in the doorway and back to the other gunners in the second helicopter. He turned to the men behind, whose excited chatter had been constant since they left the country’s capital city, Bogotá, and gave a thumbs-up. They clocked Pat’s signal and as one fell silent, clutching their weapons in anticipation. Before they had set off Pat had thought the set-up he was commanding would be a sledgehammer cracking a nut and, as he looked again at the sleepy village ahead, his view was only confirmed. His targets wouldn’t know what hit them.

‘Hawk Two, this is Hawk One, over,’ Pat said in clipped tones over the radio.

‘Hawk One, Hawk Two, over,’ came the accented response from his counterpart in the aircraft behind, a stocky man with a heavily pockmarked face. This was Manuel Noriega, then just an officer with the Panamanian military, but even at that point extremely ambitious. Seconded to the intelligence efforts in Colombia, he had been a useful ally to Pat in the shadowy meeting place where state business and private enterprise shared a common interest. Now Noriega seemed to be relishing joining in on the action.

‘Hawk Two, we have visual on the target. Prepare to attack.’

‘Roger Hawk One. Out.’

They dropped to a hundred and fifty feet and Pat gestured towards a small clearing ahead of the first house, radioing his intention to Noriega, who he always referred to by his codename ‘JB’, a reference to his favourite whiskey brand, Justerini & Brooks. His eyes fixed on a rundown house with a single, small door to the street. Movement in the house next door caught his eye. Two shabbily dressed men appeared. He could see the terror on their faces as they scurried back inside.

The blast from the rotors kicked up a cloud of dust. As the choppers touched down, the soldiers jumped from the side and headed straight for the house. They only got a few yards when the two men reappeared in the doorway, this time with assault rifles. But before they had even cocked their weapons a round of gunfire from the advancing troops floored them. More gunfire followed, as a face at a window was greeted with an avalanche of bullets.

‘So much for minimal casualties,’ Pat shouted to JB above the roar of the blades, as they took in the action, standing to the rear and flanked by two, blue-uniformed, close protection officers, or bodyguards.

JB shrugged. ‘I told you, if they want a war, they’ll get one.’

The soldiers split up into groups, some heading to the rear of the target property, others charging through the front door, while other units tackled neighbouring buildings. Gunfire resounded.

Pat respected his enemy as he looked around. They had chosen an unlikely hideout. Yet the response from the gang told him without a doubt that their intelligence had been perfect. It might look like a backwater – unremarkable farmer country – but this was one harvest worth fighting for

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop – Audio Blog Tour Review.

Audio Clip

If you click on the link below you will be able to hear an excerpt from the novel that is narrated by Juliet Stevenson.

Link to Audio Clip

About The Book

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars. 

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade. 
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had enjoyed reading one of the author’s earlier books, The Island, a few years ago so was looking forward to reading this new one. 

It takes place in Athens and starts in the 1940s. Themis lives with her grandmother and siblings and almost straightaway you see how politics divided them. I had a lot of sympathy for their grandmother, having to cope with their disagreements on a daily basis. 

I felt at times like I was reading two different novels. One concerning Themis and her life throughout WW2 and the civil war that followed. Her experience as a prisoner and the friendships made at that time. And another about her family life, her childhood, her marriage and the fear that her previous life would catch up with her. It was the latter that I found easier to read, not because I enjoyed it more, but because the politics, brutality and fear was so convincing I felt like I was there.

Themis was an astonishing character. Loyal, brave and caring. All three strengths that weren’t evident with her siblings at first. It was only in the latter stages of the novel that they could be seen in her older brother.

I’m ashamed to say that I know nothing at all about Greek history and by reading this book I learned a lot. 

The Octopus by Tess Little – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

There’s more than one way to capture a life.

When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank. 

Come morning, Richard is dead.

In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new boyfriend, the manager, the cinematographer and the ex-wife, Elspeth herself. As stories of Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage, she begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.

From the LA hills to the Norfolk marshes, The Octopus is a stylish exploration of power: the power of memory, the power of perception, the power of one person over another.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Octopus was a novel that instantly appealed to me because it sounded so original. After all it’s not everyday you come across a novel where one of the suspects in a murder investigation is an octopus.   

When Richard is murdered at his own party the only culprit could be one of the handful of guests, or the octopus which had the ability to escape from its aquarium at night. It does sound strangely believable. But the more I read, and started to realise what a vile character Richard was I was more inclined to believe that it was one of the guests. I just had no idea who.

Elspeth, ex wife and chief narrator was the only one I really liked. She was the one who had more reason than most to want him dead, but the one I suspected least. Only because of what she kept hidden to protect their daughter from the truth. What she went through was terrible and to be able to cope alone showed a lot of strength. 

It was a little strange to read, even though there was only one narrator the story covers multiple periods of time and it switched from one to the other every few pages. It took me a while to adapt to this style but I became increasingly hooked. Especially after one of the characters was arrested and went to trial. 

I am amazed that The Octopus is a debut novel, it is definitely one of the best novels I have read this year. 

The Safe Place by Anna Downes – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A BEAUTIFUL HOME MIGHT HIDE DANGEROUS SECRETS

Emily Proudman has been offered the chance of a lifetime – leave her messy London life, move to a beautiful estate in France and help her boss’ wife take care of their daughter, Aurelia. It seems like the perfect opportunity to start again.

But once there, Emily soon starts to suspect that her charismatic new employers aren’t telling her the whole truth. That there are even dangerous secrets hidden beneath the glamourous facade. 

Rather than throwing herself headline into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool, Emily can’t help but ask questions. Why have the family been moved to this isolated house so far from home? Why does Aurelia refuse to speak or be touched? Why are there whispers in the night? 

The only problem is, the more Emily knows, the less chance there is she will ever be able to leave . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Emily is down on her luck. A failed actress, sacked from her temping job and soon to be evicted from her home. She isn’t close to her adoptive parents and doesn’t know what to do to escape her quandary. But then her ex boss appears, like a knight in shining armour and offers her the chance of a lifetime. To move to France, and be a companion to his wife and child. To Emily it is a chance to escape and she doesn’t mind that she can’t tell anybody her whereabouts or that she has to sign NDAs. She is just ecstatic, and when she sees her new home and builds up a good relationship with Nina and Aurelia she couldn’t be happier. But as Emily gets more settled she realises not everything is as it seems.

I didn’t think of this book as twist driven but there were a few surprises. The flashbacks at the end of certain chapters added to the intrigue and made me think about what might have occurred in Nina and Scott’s past. I thought I knew what had happened but I was completely wrong. 

Emily was a character who I didn’t warm to straightaway. At first I thought her to be petulant and self pitying but seeing her relationship development with Aurelia and the way she reacted when she realised what was happening in the family home I appreciated her more. 

The Safe Place is perfect for that holiday read. 

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Something old…

When Marcie met Jason Maddox, she couldn’t believe her luck. Becoming Jason’s second wife catapulted her into the elite world of high society. But underneath the polite, old money manners, she knows she’ll always be an outsider, and her hard-won life hangs by a thread.
 

Something new…

Then Jason’s widowed boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, beautiful, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Jason.
 

Something you can never, ever undo…

Marcie refuses to be replaced so easily. People would kill for her life of luxury. What will Marcie do to keep it?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read books by Sarah Pinborough before so knew I’d be reading something clever and slightly different. But this book is more than that, I have rarely cringed at so many repulsive characters. There are many phrases used throughout the novel but if I just select a few you will get the general idea. Entitled, judgemental, devious and atrocious. And these were people who were thought by many to be the great and good.

This book is about wealth, power, greed and obsession. There was only character in the novel, amongst the ‘great and the good’ who seemed to be genuine. I won’t say who, will leave it to your own judgement, it did take me a while to find them. 

I did have some sympathy for Keisha, she was upfront from the start about what she wanted but she was completely out of her depth with the people she was up against. I really appreciated how she was manipulated by her fear of voodoo and her past. I found the voodoo part of the story to be quite creepy and intimidating. 

There are not many characters in the novel and I had a very clear vision of what they were like. Greedy, spiteful and dangerous with their power. It showed a completely different life to what most have. My jaw dropped at one point, when a large sum of money was described as not very much. 

Many years ago I enjoyed watching American TV shows such as Dallas and Dynasty. If you watched them you would appreciate how the characters in this book made me remember those shows and laugh.