Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver – Blog Tour – Extract.

About The Book

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Extract

Other People 

The trick to running a cult is to get other people involved. Not new members or followers. Not more subscribers or a greater mailing list. It doesn’t matter if there are six people who think someone is Jesus or there are a million admirers hoping for a seat on the spaceship that will fly them away as Earth implodes with greed and apathy. 

It’s not the apostles that make the cult. 

It’s everybody else. 

What is needed are the other people. Because other people always fuck things up. 

Take the small town of Antelope, Oregon. A smudge on a map. Fifty people looking for quiet. They need a post office, a general store, a school and a church to exist. Not to survive. They haven’t moved here for that. Everybody knows everybody and everybody wants to be alone. Because they’ve come here to see out their years in peace. Then die. 

Drop in four thousand disciples adhering to the philosophies of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Watch as they are welcomed as a peaceful people, renouncing a world of materialism in favour of a spiritual life. Embrace their desire to establish their own community. 

Now get other people involved. 

See how the word ‘community’ transforms into the word ‘commune’. Now wait as tensions rise and hostility grows. Wait a little longer. Because here come the other people. And it’s easy to take other people and make them fear something. Soon, a school teacher or postal worker or bar owner or dairy farmer has used the word ‘cult’. 

Sit back and bask in your success as civilians are weaponised and cafes are poisoned and phone lines are tapped. 

This is other people. 

Take a student pastor at the Somerset Southside Methodist Church, Indiana. Tell him that he can’t integrate black people into his congregation. Piss him off. Give him a crusade. 

Watch as he moves on and gives people hope. See his drive for racial equality. You don’t call the healings fake. Not yet. You call them Baptists. You say they are a church. He calls them the Wings of Deliverance. 

Now let him open a soup kitchen for the poor, then watchas other people become involved. Because other people have an innate ability to take something good and turn it straight to shit. 

Migrate that church to Guyana. Call it a compound. Call it Paradise. Call it Jonestown. Say that members did not travel there of their own free will. Get other people to interfere. Intervene. Get shot at. Wait a moment while everything is ruined. While nine hundred men and women take cyanide to kill themselves. Let them poison their children. 

Now you can call it a cult. 

And feel safe that you’re not one of them. 

You. 

Other people. 

Take David Koresh. Take Waco. Tell the world he has several wives and fucks his kids. Set fire to buildings. Smoke him out. Kill twenty of those kids while you’re there. 

Get involved. 

Take the Manson Family. Take Scientology. Take any passage from any holy book out of context. 

Take the unknown and drop in some fear and insecurity. 

What have you done? 

You. 

The other people club

You. At arm’s length. Outside looking in. With your judgement and your free choice and your safety. You don’t understand. 

Not one of these people thought that they were part of a cult. 

And you, you’re no different. You could be part of a cult right now and you don’t even realise. You think you have a choice. 

So, put that rope around your neck. 

Now wait. 

Here come the other people.


Violet by SJI Holliday – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I see many thrillers described as psychological and often I’m disappointed. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t with Violet, my new favourite novel by this author. It had it all. Violet was an unreliable, unsettling and at times creepy narrator, and Carrie her new friend and travel companion has just become her new obsession.

But Carrie also has issues, and not just the ones that involve heavy drinking and drug taking. Most of what you learn about her is through her emails home to family and the best friend who couldn’t be with her. It is these that also show what she really thinks about Violet and also what occurred back home.

Everything about this novel works. The setting in countries that are completely different to the UK. The descriptions of the customs, some of which were really eerie. And the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Violet that had me wondering what she would do next.

It is very clever with characters that scared me at times, but strangely ones I could also feel sympathy for. As the story progressed there was insight into why they behaved like they did, especially with Violet.

As I read this novel I also enjoyed seeing daily photographs on the author’s website of her trip that inspired the novel.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Photographer Of The Lost was a book that I couldn’t wait to read. I knew it would upset me, books like this always do, but I was upset for different reasons than I expected. The story about those who want to find missing service men is one I knew would affect me, families desperate for answers about husbands and sons who they knew deep down had lost their lives and wanted to see their resting place. For proof and some form of closure.

It is something, to my shame, that I had never given much though too. It is easier to think that it concerned just a handful of people, but the author shows how many thousands of families never had their answers. The other thing I never really thought about was the rebuilding of the communities after the war. You often see images of the trenches on the news, followed by images of the pristine cemeteries. I have never seen anything about the time when houses and churches were being rebuilt, the cemeteries being prepared. All with respect, dignity and pride by local men.

Many things will stay with me. The nightmares experienced by Harry, his siblings and friends lost. The pride of the workmen and ex service men who were trying their best. And the description of a recently abandoned home that still had a vase of fresh flowers.

Absolutely stunning, The Photographer Of The Lost is one of the best books I have read this year.

Cage by Lilja Sigurdardottir – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The prison doors slam shut behind Agla, when her sentence ends, but her lover Sonja is not there to meet her.

As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Cage is the third book in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy. Unlike Trap and Snare this book mainly focuses on Agla and María. Agla is serving time in prison for banking fraud, she has a fairly easy life there, has certain privileges and is happy to help a younger prisoner, Elísa who is an addict. But when she is released from prison she soon releases that she is hated by many. And she realises the true extent of how bad Elísa’s life is.

María is struggling to rebuild her life after the collapse of her marriage and career. Reluctantly she agrees to work for Agla, she blames her for everything that went wrong, but she needs the money. It was María and Elísa who I had the most liking for, Elísa especially, and as her story is revealed the reader had a clear image of how destructive addiction is.

As well as the regular characters there was also Anton. He was a character who made me more unsettled every time he appeared. I did misunderstand him to some degree but just thinking about what he was planning terrified me.

It is a fantastic finale, I appreciated getting to see more of Agla and a more sympathetic side to her. She obviously missed Sonja, who only features briefly in Cage, but knew she had to move on. These are novels that I do recommend you read in order, if only to appreciate the character development. They aren’t people you would like to meet but you start to understand what forces a decision, whether it be the correct one or not. Nobody more so than Anton, young and in love, but I struggled to comprehend his way of proving that love. He is a character who I will think about for some time.


The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. 

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself.  When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last.

But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules.  By the end of that summer everything has changed.

A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future. 

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Glittering Hour is a stunning novel that I struggled to put down. With Selina in 1925 and Alice in 1936 I couldn’t decide which narrative I preferred. Selina is a Bright Young Thing, an embarrassment to her family but loved by the media. There were parties, alcohol and drugs but she wasn’t as wealthy as the others and struggled at times to keep up. And go with her heart. One of the reasons she behaved like she did was because of her older brother’s death in WW1, there were just the right amount of references to those who came back and were reduced to selling matches on street corners. It made me consider what a strange time it must have been to live in. So much heartache but also the desire for a carefree life.

Alice is her daughter, nine years old in 1936 and left with her grandparents whilst her parents were away. Missing her mother, she is encouraged to do treasure hunts so she can discover more about her mother. Whilst I liked the hunt and reading the letters from her mother I enjoyed the friendships she built more, especially with Polly. 

Whilst most of the novel concerns Selina and Alice there are also short chapters that tell the reader what the minor characters are feeling. Some likeable, some not, but they are all important in both of their lives.

It’s an astonishing novel, one that I will definitely like to read again. And next time I will have the tissues ready.