Promised Lies #BlogTour @msashton_writer @EndeavourPress #CharacterSpotlight @emmamitchellfpr

I am delighted to be joining in with Marguerite Ashton’s Promised Lies blog tour! 🙂

Promised Lies BT Banner

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for the opportunity to take part.

Character Spotlight…..

Lily Blanchette is a complex creation. She is a second-generation detective whose sister was murdered six months ago. She is getting her first case as lead detective and the similarity to her sister’s death is disturbing. She recently married a local newspaper reporter, trying to escape her overbearing mother’s influence and the tensions between her mother and father. She is of mixed race in a predominantly white community, where her white father has been a long-time detective. Her marriage is also a rebound from a co-worker, with whom she had a long-term relationship.

Did you write the book to accommodate Lily or Lily to accommodate the book?

Initially, I craft a storyline that Lily has to react to. During the editing and rewrites I add scenes that bring out the best and worst in my characters.

What do you like most about her?

I like that Lily has an ability to think outside of the rules and test her leadership to find the guilty party, while setting aside strife in her personal life.

What do you like least about her?

She left her dog, Max behind with her ex. She gave that up for her husband who was jealous of the previous relationship and doesn’t like animals. To try to appease her husband she gives up a part of herself, normally this is ok, but you need to read the book to know why this was such a poor choice.

Did your early readers/editorial team like her to start with or did you have to change her in any way?

Readers identified with Lily, but they wanted more depth, more connection to her and how she came to this situation. So, I went back into the story brought out her father’s character, who is the major influence in Lily’s life and career. My writing mentor wanted more emotion and drama to show Lily’s inner struggles, so I created additional scenes to bring the reader deeper into Lily’s life.

Do they have any similarities with anyone real? Who? What? Why?

This is a bit of a secret, Lily is my alter ego…She reflects a part of my life that I wanted to pursue, but my life changed in wonderful ways that re-directed me to be a stay at home mom this time, and really enhance my writing career.

What are your plans for them?

Lily has huge changes and challenges in her life in the next two books. Book two in the series Her Final Watch is due out in late 2017. Promised Lies sets in motion events that help readers get in touch with Lily and her family. It reveals connections that also continue on in the next two books, and even spawns two side stores that I’m also working on.

Would you be friends in real life?

Yes, she is a part of me, but because of our similarities we would probably butt heads because Lily is more hard-headed than I am.

Many thanks to Marguerite for introducing us to Lily.

Promised Lies cover

Detective Lily Blanchette has a lot on her plate. Her sister, Celine, was murdered, her parents are on the verge of divorce, and after a whirlwind romance, she married a man she barely knows.

When the bodies of two young women are found, it is clear that the killer is the same person who murdered her sister, Lily sets out to find out who that is.

As the investigation comes to life, Lily realises that all is not as it seems in her life, who can she actually trust and who is she?

Giveaway…..

For your chance to win of 1 of 2 e-book copies of Promised Lies, click here…..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you’re not lucky enough to win, then why not buy yourself a copy…..

About the author…..

Marguerite Ashton

When Marguerite Ashton was in her twenties, she took up acting but realized she preferred to work behind the camera, writing crime fiction. A few years later, she married an IT Geek and settled down with her role as wife, mom, and writer. Five kids later, she founded the Crime Writer’s Panel and began working with former law enforcement investigators to create; Criminal Lines Blog, an online library for crime writers who need help with their book research.

She’s a workaholic who hides in her writer’s attic, plotting out her next book and stalking Pinterest for the next avocado recipe.

A member of Sisters in Crime, Marguerite grew up in Colorado, but is now happily living in Wisconsin and playing as much golf as possible. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

 

The Eyes of the Accused #BlogTour @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #BookReview @sarahhardy681

I am absolutely over the moon to be joining in with Mark Tilbury’s The Eyes of the Accused blog tour! 🙂 

The Eyes of the Accused blog tour banner

Many thanks to Sarah Hardy, at Bloodhound Books, for the opportunity to take part.

My review…..

The Eyes Of The Accused is book 2 in the Ben Whittle Investigation series and, in my opinion, is even better than the first, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Revelation Room too! (You can find my review HERE) The series has recently been re-launched by Bloodhound books and you really should check them out if you love a good psychological thriller.

I would recommend reading the series in order.

This is quite a difficult book to review without spoiling book 1 for those who haven’t read it yet, but I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Ben Whittle again. He’s taken on more responsibility at Whittle Investigations after the trauma of their previous case in The Revelation Room. Maddie is now working with him and they are hired to search for Hannah, a pregnant girl who hasn’t been seen since leaving work. The investigation leads to Maddie being bait to try to gain information from a suspect. Nothing could prepare her for what she was about to discover and for the danger she soon finds herself in. Will Ben figure things out before it’s too late though? The truth is nothing short of shocking and part of the back story is just heartbreaking.

There are a couple of very disturbing characters in this book. Mark Tilbury certainly knows how to write them. They are as fascinating as they are terrifying!

Ben is a very likeable character and his self-confidence has improved slightly due to his experiences. He’s very sweet with Maddie.

There are twists and turns galore. The short chapters add to the tension, keeping it a fast-paced read. I was on the edge of my seat and almost held my breath towards the end. It is quite amusing at times though. Brilliant! Can’t wait for book 3!

Many thanks to Sarah Hardy, at Bloodhound Books, for my ARC and for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

EYES OF THE ACCUSED 2

Fresh from the horrors of their last case, private investigators Ben and Maddie are plunged into a disturbing world of terror as they search for missing pregnant girl, Hannah Heath.

Drawn to Frank Crowley, a suspect in Hannah’s disappearance, Maddie is about to come face to face with true evil. As she gets close to Crowley, Maddie will learn all is not what it seems.

Crowley is just a small part of something much larger. Something so terrible and deranged, it defies reason.

When Maddie disappears, Ben is left in a desperate race against time to find her and uncover the truth. 

But can Ben and Maddie both survive this time?

Buy your copy…..

About the author…..

Mark Tilbury author photo

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have his third novel, The Abattoir of Dreams, published, and The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused re-launched, by Bloodhound Books.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar,
and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Tilbury/e/B00X7R10I4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1493895837&sr=8-2-ent

https://twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor

http://marktilbury.com/

https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13926121.Mark_Tilbury

Previous posts featuring Mark Tilbury and his books…..

The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview

The Revelation Room #BlogTour #BookReview @MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook @sarahhardy681

 

#CoverReveal We Have Lost The Coffee by Paul Mathews @QuiteFunnyGuy @WeHaveLostBooks @emmamitchellfpr

#CoverReveal

We Have Lost The Coffee

by

Paul Mathews

We Have Lost the Coffee Cover

Pre-order your copy…..

Watch this space for a guest post from Paul Mathews, on 22nd June, as part of his blog tour!

About the author…..

Paul Mathews is a 40-something British guy who’s given up his 9-to-5 job in London to become a full-time comedy novelist. Why did he make this bold step? Well, he’d had enough of crazy managers and uncooperative printers. So one afternoon, after nearly 20 years working at the heart of the British Government, he shut down his computer, deleted all his emails and escaped the office – never to return. (Okay, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that, but he is a fiction writer, so please cut him a little slack.)

His two decades working as a Government press officer gave him an invaluable insight into all the key elements of modern government: bureaucracy, bungling, buffoonery, buck-passing and other things that don’t begin with the letter ‘b’ – such as politicians with huge egos and very little talent. He’s now putting that knowledge to use by writing about a British Government of the future – where, believe it or not, the politicians are even bigger idiots than the current lot.

Before becoming a PR guy, he was an accountant. But he doesn’t like to talk about that. And going back further, he went to Cambridge University and studied philosophy. Despite thousands of hours of thoughtful contemplation, he still hasn’t worked out how that happened. The highlight of his university years was receiving a £300 travel grant to visit Prague and ‘study philosophy’. It was a trip which ignited his love of Eastern Europe where he spends a lot of time writing and drinking black beer.

Other interests include wearing sunglasses and having his photograph taken. Visit his website for more info on this (allegedly) humorous man: http://www.iamthe.website

Check out Paul Mathews’ Amazon Author Page

 

The Flood (Sex, Love and Dating Disasters Book 2) @SteveScaffardi #BookReview

The Flood cover

Publisher: Lad Lit Press; 1 edition (30th April 2016)

One bet, four girls, eight weeks, multiple dates. What could possibly go wrong?

Following his traumatic eight month dry spell, Dan Hilles is back in the driving seat and ready to put his dating disasters behind him.

But if only it were that simple.

After a drunken afternoon in the pub, fuelled by the confidence of alcohol, Dan makes a bet with his three best pals that will complicate his love-life more than ever when he brazenly declares that he could juggle multiple women all at the same time.

With just eight weeks to prove his point, Dan is about to find out how hard it is to date a flood of women without them all finding out about each other, especially when they come in the shape of an ex-girlfriend, a stalker, the office ice queen and the one that got away.

The Flood is the hilarious follow-up to The Drought by lad lit author Steven Scaffardi, chronicling the adventures of unlucky-in-love Dan Hilles.

 

My review…..

Having read The Drought (Sex, Love and Dating disasters, Book 1) not so long ago (You can find my review here – The Drought) I just had to read The Flood as soon as I possibly could.

These books are just hilarious!! If you fancy a laugh, give them a go, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Dan, Rob, Ollie and Jack (amongst others) again, but especially Dan. I definitely have a soft spot for him. He really needs to chill out and go with the flow a bit more. He tries far too hard, in an attempt to impress the ladies, and in doing so gets himself into all sorts of awkward situations!! (The men’s toilet scene with Dan and Ronnie! LOL!!!!!! One of many hilarious moments.)

In contrast to The Drought, where Dan fails to get his leg over for what seems like an eternity, The Flood sees him trying to juggle four different women and not at all successfully, bless him. It makes for a highly amusing read though. I loved it!

Brilliantly written, character driven, laugh out loud funny….. Steven Scaffardi makes writing comedy look easy!

I can’t wait for Book 3!

Characters

Go buy the books for yourself, you won’t regret it! You will find them both here:

Steven Scaffardi’s Amazon Author Page

Steven Scaffardi

Previous posts featuring Steven Scaffardi and his books…..

#LadLitBlogTour – Q&A with author, Steven Scaffardi

#LadLitSunday The Drought by @SteveScaffardi #BookReview

The Silence #BlogTour @kjohnsonwrites @crookedcatbooks A Day In The Life #GuestPost @emmamitchellfpr

I am delighted to be one of three blogs kicking off Katharine Johnson’s The Silence blog tour! 🙂

The Silence BT Banner

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for the opportunity to take part and to Katharine Johnson for providing her guest post.

A Day In The Life…..

…..of your main character!

My main character is Abby. She appears in the novel as a child and an adult. If it’s ok I’ll let her speak:

My typical day involves getting my two little girls ready for school – they’re in reception and Year One – and dropping them at the before-school club at 8 a.m. before going into the surgery where I work as a GP. The surgery opens at 8.30 a.m. and it’s pretty full-on. The morning goes really quickly as there are so many patients to see. It’s hard making sure everyone gets the time and attention they need. I also have to fit in a couple of visits to patients who can’t make it into the surgery.

Lunch is usually a sandwich at my desk and a chance to catch up on admin, such as writing referral letters, checking on test results and checking emails. In the afternoon, I see more patients and usually stay late to catch up on paperwork.

I pick up the girls from their after-school clubs or the childminder. Their bath and bedtime is very precious to me. James usually gets in late after a day in London and we catch up on each other’s day over a glass of wine.

Although I only work three days a week I need my days off to keep up with the rest of the paperwork.

Obviously, things have changed lately. I have to squeeze in visits to my hypnotherapist on those days off. I also scour the internet for any news about the villa…..

The Silence Cover

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books (8th June 2017)

A gripping tale of secrets and lies remembered long after the last page.” – Amanda James, author of Behind the Lie.

Doctor Abby Fenton has a rewarding career, a loving family, an enviable lifestyle – and a secret that could destroy everything.

When human remains are discovered in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan holiday home she is forced to confront the memories she has suppressed until now and relive the summer she spent at the villa in 1992. A summer that ended in tragedy. The nearer she gets to the truth the closer she comes to losing her sanity.

In order to hold onto the people she loves most, she must make sure they never discover what she did. But the reappearance of someone else from that summer threatens to blow her secret wide open.

Pre-order your copy…..

About the author…..

Katharine Johnson

Katharine Johnson is a freelance writer and editor and has worked for a variety of magazines. She has a passion for crime novels, old houses and all things italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. When not writing she plays netball badly and is a room guide in a stately home. Her next novel The Silence, a psychological/coming of age story set in Tuscany will be published on June 8th.

For Katharine’s latest news, writing advice, book releases and gossip follow her on
twitter @kjohnsonwrites
Facebook.com/katharinejohnsonauthor
website/blog http://www.katyjohnsonblog.wordpress.com

http://www.crookedcatbooks.com

Winter Downs #BookLaunch @Jancoledwards @SoTLibraries @penkhullpress @sot2021

Yesterday I attended Jan Edwards’ book launch for Winter Downs at City Central Library, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, along with my Mum, Gill and friend, Gayle 🙂  

Those who I am friends with on Facebook may have already seen my photos but I thought I would share them in a blog post as it was such a lovely event!

The launch had a 1940’s tea and cakes theme which was lovely 🙂 (All homemade too!)

It started at 11.30am, where we were greeted with a selection of hot and cold drinks as well as delicious cakes…..

…..We bought our books ready for signing…..

Winter Downs

…..then we were treated to a couple of lovely readings…..

…..before the lady herself, Jan Edwards, read us the opening of Winter Downs…..

Afterwards, there was a lovely Q&A. Lots of interesting questions with very articulate answers and some discussion around the room amongst a friendly and supportive audience…..

…..before we all got chance to have our lovely books signed and eat more cake! 🙂

Thank you, Jan, for the invite to your book launch. We thoroughly enjoyed it and wish you every success with Winter Downs!

I highly recommend Winter Downs, if you haven’t read it already. If you wish to, you can read my review HERE 

You will find the link to buy in my review post, otherwise you can click to buy here…..

Enjoy!

Winter Downs launch @RadioStoke #Winter Downs #crime #winterdowns @BBCRadioStoke @jenqoe @thesentinel @bellaboobos11 @stokelibrary

A lovely book launch……

Jan Edwards

The day began with an early-bird visit to the Radio Stoke Saturday Breakfast with Stuart Ellis and Jodie Looker at 7.45.  I don’t do morning so that was a shock to the system but  Stuart and Jodie are lovely people and it seemed to go well despite my shock at being up before 6am!

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Joffe Books – accepting submissions. What their Authors have to say: — Books n All

Do you write crime fiction? If so are you looking for a publisher? Joffe Books are accepting submissions http://www.joffebooks.com Helen Durrant “My books would never have enjoyed the success they have without Joffe Books. They do an excellent job from start to finish. The editing, book covers, marketing and finally, the liberal sprinkling […]

via Joffe Books – accepting submissions. What their Authors have to say: — Books n All

One To Watch #BlogTour @RachelAmphlett @emmamitchellfpr #Extract

I am thrilled to be joining in with Rachel Amphlett’s One To Watch blog tour! 🙂

One to Watch BT Banner

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for the opportunity to take part.

Extract…..

ONE TO WATCH (A DETECTIVE KAY HUNTER NOVEL)

© Rachel Amphlett 2017

CHAPTER ONE

Eva Shepparton cried out once, her voice swallowed by the music and loud voices that emanated from the white marquee at the top half of the garden, and flung out her hands to keep her balance.

She steadied herself, cursed the damp grass from the morning’s rain shower and stood with her hands on her hips, breathing hard while she glared back up the slope towards the party.

In hindsight, she should’ve asked where the toilet was – or water closet, as Sophie’s mother would have insisted – except she couldn’t bring herself to approach the officious woman, or her husband.

Sophie was nowhere to be found – Eva hadn’t seen her since the speeches, so instead, she’d decided that the thicket of rhododendron bushes would have to do instead.

She sighed. If it weren’t for the fact that Sophie was such a good friend, she’d never have agreed to be here in the first place.

The sweet scent of freshly mown grass filled the air around her, whilst smoke from the flaming braziers set around the edges of the garden wafted over her head. She’d seen the gardeners when they had turned up that morning, followed half an hour later by the florist. Between them, they’d pruned and plucked the garden to within an inch of its life.

They’d finished moments before the marquee hire company truck had arrived. Now, the large white tent took up most of the lawn space, its timber flooring echoing the footsteps of a crowd of enthusiastic dancers.

Eva’s ears still rang from the noise of the disco. The roof of the marquee swam with multi-coloured lights from a gantry set up above the DJ’s booth, and she could hear him now, encouraging the older members of the group to get up and dance to a Seventies disco hit.

She held up her hand and squinted at her watch face, tilting it until the faint light from the braziers shone on the dials.

Ten o’clock.

She snorted. No wonder everyone was drunk.

For a bunch of devout Christians, you sure do know how to knock back the drink,’ she slurred, then hiccupped.

She covered her mouth and giggled.

Sophie had told her that the pastor of the small private church group she and her parents belonged to had suggested the ceremony be held at the church after hours; however, Sophie’s mother had poured scorn on that idea.

She’d cast her eyes over the other parishioners before murmuring, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea, Duncan. I think I’d rather keep this private. It’s more in keeping with my family’s position in society, don’t you think?’

The religious man had shuffled in his chair, blushed, and conceded the point.

The next logical step had been for Sophie’s mother to offer the use of her own home.

Eva’s top lip curled.

When Sophie had told her, she’d hidden her immediate reaction from her best friend, but couldn’t contain her disgust when she’d returned home, venting her frustration at her mother instead.

It’s like she’s always having to prove herself,’ she’d grumbled. ‘I know she probably means well for Sophie, but since the engagement announcement, she’s got worse. All because she’s some distant cousin thirteen times removed from the Royal family or something.’

Now, Eva gazed up at the house, its imposing outline towering over the marquee below.

Sophie had told her the original house had been built in the Regency era, with subsequent owners adding and extending its footprint over the years.

Eva shook her head, and wondered why on earth a family with one child would want such a huge property, before she giggled again, then hiccupped.

Of course, Sophie’s mother loved the prestige that came with it, and the title.

Have the ceremony at the house,’ Eva muttered, mimicking Diane’s voice. ‘Matthew and I can organise a party afterwards. It’ll be fun.’

She sighed. The ceremony had been okay, she supposed, but fun?

Diane had spent most of the time holding a handkerchief to her face, dabbing at her eyes.

Sophie, of course, looked gorgeous. Her mother had arranged for a hairdresser and make-up artist to attend to her daughter’s every need, although Eva strongly suspected it was more to do with Diane wanting to keep up appearances than for Sophie’s benefit.

Eva had made her way down the hallway to the spare room she’d been allocated for the weekend and had spent the time before the party changing into the dress she’d bought especially for the event and doing the best she could with her thick wavy hair, which had taken on a life of its own over the summer.

When she had returned downstairs, the other party guests were starting to arrive, spilling across the hallway, through the substantial living area and out through French doors to the patio beyond.

Caterers had appeared in Eva’s absence, and she’d wandered along the tables of food with Sophie, picking at canapés and clutching a glass of champagne while making small talk with the other guests.

Josh Hamilton had turned up with his parents an hour later.

Eva had to admit, he wasn’t bad looking at the best of times and tonight, he shone.

Josh charmed complete strangers with the ease of someone used to being the centre of attention, shaking hands with the men and making small talk with the women, working the small crowd while his father, Blake, grinned as he draped his arm around his wife’s shoulders, their American accents cutting through the gathering of well-wishers.

Eva bit her lip.

She had no idea what would happen tomorrow, once Sophie’s secret was revealed.

Because it would have to be, wouldn’t it?

She’d agreed.

Of course, by then it would be too late. Everything Sophie had set in motion would culminate in the events of this evening.

She wished, in hindsight, Sophie had never told her.

It would have been easier that way.

The music paused for a brief moment, and the sound of the stream at the bottom of the hill reached her ears. The urge to pee dragged Eva from her thoughts, and she tottered towards the rhododendron bushes at the bottom of the slope.

Her foot slid out from under her again, and she swore under her breath. Checking over her shoulder, she could still see the tops of some of the guests’ heads, the ones who had ventured away from the marquee to smoke cigarettes, and there was no way she was peeing within sight of someone.

The ground began to level out, and Eva spotted a large rhododendron to her right.

She hiccupped, then groaned as she stepped into a large puddle left by the morning’s rainfall.

I’m having one more glass of champagne, then I’m calling it a night,’ she muttered as she squatted behind the shrub.

She sighed with relief, and then straightened and tried to wipe as much of the muddy water off her sandals as she could, swearing as she recalled she hadn’t even paid her credit card bill yet, and here she was with damaged shoes that she’d only purchased a week ago.

Eva sighed, and resolving to leave as soon as possible, she turned to make her way back up the slope, and stopped.

At first, she couldn’t work out what she was seeing.

A form lay stretched out behind one of the other rhododendron bushes several paces away from her position. Only the legs were visible, white and unmoving.

She swallowed, and moved closer, squinting in the poor light.

It looked like a person, and as she wobbled her way towards it, she recognised the skirt of the dress.

Sophie? That you? You pass out or something?’

Concerned, she quickened her pace.

She’d done a first aid course at school, and knew that if someone had passed out, you were meant to check their airway and then put them in the recovery position. If Sophie had passed out drunk, then she needed help.

Soph?’

As she rounded the corner of the shrub, she gasped.

Her best friend lay motionless, a dark splattered pattern now strewn across her new dress, her body twisted at an impossible angle where she’d fallen, one leg tangled behind the other and her face turned away from where Eva stood.

Sophie?’

She moved around her friend, fighting down the urge to panic. If her friend needed first aid, she had to keep calm.

As she stepped over Sophie’s feet to crouch down next to her, she stopped.

Sophie’s eyes were wide open in terror, a thick trickle of the same dark splatter covering her cheek, a gaping recess where her nose had splintered into her face.

Eva screamed.

CHAPTER TWO

Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter swung her car through the gated entrance and kept a steady distance behind Detective Inspector Devon Sharp’s vehicle.

She wasn’t on call that evening, but within minutes of her mobile phone ringing and taking down the address from Sharp, she’d hastily dressed and hurried out to her car.

I’m going to need your help with this one,’ he’d said. ‘Uniform have three cars on site, but there are a lot of people to deal with.’

She’d driven north out of town for at least fifteen minutes before turning into a narrow lane. Sharp’s vehicle had been parked over to the left in a lay-by and she’d slowed as she approached to let him pull out and take the lead. Five minutes later, they’d arrived at the property.

She knew the area – a golf course swept beyond the trees that lined the opposite side of the lane, and most of the houses were centuries old, passed down through families that suffered the expense of the upkeep rather than experience the humiliation of their family homes being sold to developers by a common property agent.

As the narrow driveway curved and widened out, she realised what Sharp had meant by the number of people.

Cars littered the gravel apron in front of the large house, while groups of men and women in formal wear milled about the space.

Kay braked next to Sharp’s vehicle and grabbed her bag, then joined him next to his car and ran her eyes over the gathered partygoers.

Most wore expressions of disbelief. A distraught woman sobbed while the man accompanying her guided her to a wooden garden seat before kneeling beside her and talking to her in low tones.

Kay rubbed at her right eye, unable to conceal the sigh that escaped her lips. ‘They’re all drunk, aren’t they?’

Most of them, I would expect,’ said Sharp. ‘If they weren’t to start off with, then they will be now, given the circumstances.’

Kay sighed. Trying to collate witness statements within the first few hours of a murder investigation was imperative, before people’s memories became hazy or influenced by talking to others and comparing what they’d seen. Add alcohol to the mix, and it made an already difficult job near impossible.

Who’s in charge of the guest list?’

Gavin Piper’s working with uniform – he’s here, somewhere,’ Sharp added, casting his eyes over the people gathered around. ‘Get your bearings – I’ll meet you out the back on the terrace in ten minutes, and then we’ll speak to the victim’s parents.’

Okay.’

Kay wandered through the house, her eyes sweeping over the uniformed officers that had spread out amongst the rooms interviewing one guest at a time, their faces patient as they tried to coax coherent information from the intoxicated partygoers.

The statements would be analysed in the morning by the assembled team, and then the hard work of filling in the gaps would begin.

She passed by the living area, and found a side door that had been left open that led out to a paved terrace, abutted by a large white marquee.

At the outer edges of the terrace, braziers smouldered while a small team of uniformed officers guarded each one, their stance enough to put off anyone thinking of approaching the iron frames.

At first, Kay wondered what they were doing, the question quickly dying on her lips as she realised the fires had been smothered by the quick-thinking first responders, in order to preserve the remains of any murder weapon that might have been thrust into the flames.

She hoped for the sake of the uniformed guards that the tablecloths from the marquee had been used rather than water, otherwise they’d never hear the end of it from the crime scene investigators.

She lifted her gaze to the disco lights that pulsed against the plain backdrop, the speakers silent.

Kay moved across to the marquee and peered through the drawn-back flaps into the abandoned space.

Here and there, a chair had been upturned, the occupants no doubt leaving their tables in a hurry once the alarm had been raised.

She turned towards the DJ’s booth as a man straightened from a crouching position, a fistful of cables protruding from his fingers.

He visibly jumped, then recovered.

Sorry, didn’t see you there,’ he said.

Kay held up her warrant card. ‘Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter.’

He offered his free hand. ‘Tom Williams. I’ve already given my statement to one of your colleagues.’

Good, thanks.’ Kay’s gaze travelled over the equipment laid out as he unplugged a cable from the back of one of the speakers, the PA system dying with a soft pop. ‘How long were you here for, before the party started?’

Got here about four o’clock,’ said Williams. ‘Lady Griffith wanted my van out of sight well before any of the guests started to arrive.’

So where did you go until the disco started?’

Same as I always do at gigs like this. Sat in the van, listened to the radio. Read the paper.’ He shrugged. ‘It’s not very glamorous, is it?’ He sniffed. ‘As it is, it’s going to take me all day tomorrow to try and get the smell of smoke out of the equipment from those bloody braziers out there.’

He picked up another cable and began to coil it around his hands before dropping it into a black box next to Kay’s feet.

Notice anyone hanging around or acting suspicious today?’

Williams shook his head. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Like I told the policeman that took my statement, I didn’t spot anything weird while I was setting up. I fell asleep in the van for a couple of hours before my phone alarm went off. Sorry.’

Kay handed him one of her cards, and deciding she wasn’t going to learn any more, left the DJ to his packing up and walked back out to the terrace.

She noticed Sharp at the far end, talking to an older couple and a young man, their voices wafting on the breeze towards her.

She recognised the twang of an American accent and, intrigued, made her way across the terrace to them.

The elder man stood a couple of inches shorter than Sharp, but with his legs planted squarely in front of the detective inspector, his eyes earnest as he spoke in hushed tones. His hands remained clasped in front of him, as if he wouldn’t waste his time with pointless gestures.

A younger version of him stood at his side, eyes downcast, a picture of misery.

Kay’s eyes travelled over the wife with interest – it appeared the woman had been under the knife at least once, and her features bore little natural expression. Immaculate in appearance, she kept a protective arm around her son, and lifted her chin as she noticed Kay.

Sharp glanced over as she approached. ‘Ah, Hunter – good timing,’ he said. He gestured to the couple. ‘This is Blake and Courtney Hamilton, and this is their son, Josh.’ Sharp’s tone softened. ‘Josh was to be engaged to our young victim, Sophie.’

Kay shook hands with the parents, offering her condolences before she turned her attention to Josh.

Hello, Josh. I’m DS Hunter.’

Red-rimmed eyes met her gaze, pure anguish emanating from the man before he spoke.

You need to find who did this,’ he said, his voice breaking.

Sharp stepped forward. ‘We’ll do everything in our power,’ he said before turning back to the parents. ‘We have your statements, so please – take Josh home, and we’ll be in touch again tomorrow.’

Thank you,’ said Blake. He rested his hand on his son’s arm. ‘Come on, Josh.’

Kay watched as the small family moved away, their figures retreating to the shadows as they followed the garden path around the house and out to the assembled vehicles in the driveway.

Poor kid must be heartbroken,’ said Kay. She glanced over her shoulder at the desolate marquee. ‘Some engagement party. They must be doing all right for themselves.’

Sharp cleared his throat. ‘It wasn’t simply an engagement party. Apparently the Hamiltons and the Whittakers – Lady Griffith and her husband – belong to a small religious group that encourage the teenage girls to take “purity pledges” until they marry. They held the ceremony here earlier today, and then had the engagement party afterwards.’

They what?’ Kay realised her jaw had dropped open, and clamped it shut. ‘What’s a “purity pledge”?’

Sharp’s lips thinned. ‘I hadn’t heard of it, either. Seems to be an American trend that found its way over here a few years ago.’

Oh.’ Kay blinked, and gestured at the lavish surroundings. ‘So, all of this was for a vow of chastity, huh?’

Yes.’

Wow.’

Sharp shoved his hands in his pockets and nodded towards the rear of the marquee where a team of crime scene investigators led by Harriet Baker was setting up a swathe of floodlights.

The ambulance crew confirmed the death when they arrived here with uniform,’ he said. ‘The victim, Sophie Whittaker, was found at the bottom of a slope just beyond those rhododendron bushes. Harriet reports the girl’s been hit with a blunt object with enough force to crack her skull wide open.’

So, we’re looking for blood spatter on guests?’

Sharp nodded. ‘As well as the caterers, the wait staff, the bartenders—’ He broke off and ran a hand over his head.

Where are the parents?’

In one of the guest bedrooms with an officer in attendance – Debbie West. Two of Harriet’s team are processing their own bedroom before they can be granted access.’ Sharp checked his watch. ‘In fact, let’s go talk to them now, and then you and I can come back down here and discuss strategy.’

Sounds like a plan.’

Kay followed him through the house and along a wide corridor with four windows that gave the residents a sweeping view over their driveway, then up a flight of carpeted stairs.

A woman met them at the top of the stairs, her grey hair tied back into a severe bun and her hands clasped in front of her.

Can I help you?’

Detective Inspector Devon Sharp. I’m here to speak with Mr and Mrs Whittaker. You are?’

Grace Jamieson. I’m Lady Griffith’s housekeeper.’

Kay peered around Sharp’s shoulder as a door was wrenched open, and Debbie West stepped out of a room, looking harassed.

Sir, great timing,’ she breathed. ‘Mr and Mrs Whittaker are getting a bit—’

Thanks, Debbie.’ Sharp brushed past Mrs Jamieson and led the way into the guest bedroom.

The housekeeper began to follow, before the young police officer held up her hand. ‘You’ll need to wait here with me, Mrs Jamieson.’

Kay followed Sharp, gave Debbie a quick nod, and steeled herself.

Dealing with the family of a murder victim was never easy, let alone when that victim was only sixteen years old.

The mother, Diane Whittaker, Sharp had informed her on the way from the terrace, was known as “Lady Diane Griffith”, and was somehow, through a myriad of cousins, reportedly related to the Royal family.

She sat, bolt upright, on a pale green velvet ottoman, her dark hair held back from her face with what Kay realised were real tortoiseshell hair ornaments. She wore a navy-coloured dress that bared her shoulders, although she adjusted a wrap over her collarbone before raising pale blue eyes to Sharp as he stood before her and her husband.

Mr Whittaker, Lady Griffith, I’d like to introduce you to DS Kay Hunter, who will be co-managing this investigation with me.’

Kay took the woman’s hand, fought down a sudden panicked thought as to whether she should curtsey, discarded it almost immediately and returned the firm handshake.

She turned to Matthew Whittaker.

As he was taller than her by at least four inches, she had to lift her chin to make eye contact.

Dark brown irises peered out from under bushy eyebrows and the faint whiff of alcohol reached her as he introduced himself.

Inspector, I hope you’re not going to keep us from our own bedroom much longer,’ he said. ‘My wife is obviously upset, and it’s quite outrageous that we have to be kept in here.’

I’m sorry, Mr Whittaker,’ said Sharp. ‘We’re working as fast as we can.’

Kay noticed that he made no mention of the Whittakers’ bedroom being methodically searched by two of Harriet’s team at the present time.

Well instead of standing around here, you should at least go and speak to that despicable boy that was always hanging around here,’ said Diane, her voice full of venom.

Kay spun round to face her, surprised. ‘Josh Hamilton? I though Sophie was going to get engaged to him?’

Diane rolled her eyes. ‘Not Josh, for goodness’ sake. The other boy that was always turning up and making a nuisance of himself.’ She clicked her fingers while her eyes roamed the ceiling. ‘Peter… Peter—’

Peter Evans,’ said Matthew. He turned his attention to Sharp. ‘She’s right. You should talk to Peter Evans. He hated the idea of Sophie marrying Josh one day.’ His face darkened. ‘Last time he turned up here, I had to threaten him with calling the police. The lad’s a bloody nuisance. Like a lovesick puppy.’

Kay pulled out her notebook. ‘What’s his address? Do you know?’

Matthew rattled off the flat number and street name with the anger and precision of a machine gun.

Kay glanced at Sharp.

Go,’ he said. ‘And get uniform to go with you in one of their cars. Hurry.’

Kay spun on her heel and raced from the room.

I really need to bump these books up my TBR list!

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2

Publisher: Saxon Publishing (6th June 2017)

Pre-order here

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

One to Watch is a gripping murder mystery thriller, and the third in the Detective Kay Hunter series.

1. SCARED TO DEATH

2. WILL TO LIVE

3. ONE TO WATCH

4. HELL TO PAY (out 2017)

About the author…..

Rachel Amphlett

Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017

Rachel Amphlett’s Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!

 

Winter Downs #BlogTour #BookReview @Jancoledwards @penkhullpress @BunchandDodo

I am over the moon to be joining in with Jan Edwards’ Winter Downs blog tour! 🙂

Today is Launch Day too!!

winter downs tour date 2

My review…..

(written 15th May)

Happy Launch Day to Jan Edwards and Penkhull Press! 🙂

If you enjoy historical fiction and/or a good murder mystery, then you will love Winter Downs. I haven’t read much historical fiction, as yet, but I do generally enjoy it when I do and I have thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Bunch is a feisty character! (She very much reminds me of Mary from Downton Abbey.) She has been used to a certain way of life which has been totally turned upside down since the start of the second world war. Having to give up her home to accommodate soldiers and having to move in to the Dower house with her Grandmother doesn’t thrill her, but she accepts it’s her duty to contribute to the war effort. She is very protective of her sister, Dodo, who lost her husband to war, having only been married for a few months. The sisters are like chalk and cheese, but devoted to each other.

As their small rural community in Sussex try to adjust to rationing, black outs and other such consequences of war, they also find themselves faced with a killer on the loose. When Bunch discovers the body of her friend, Jonathan, it looks like he has taken his own life, but Bunch knows him well and is convinced he has been murdered. It will be a struggle to prove it though without getting in the way of the official investigation, which already has it’s limits due to the ongoing war. As the investigation progresses, all sorts of secrets are revealed and they are faced with more tragedy. Will they discover the truth before the body count rises?

Brilliantly written with a great mix of interesting characters and beautifully descriptive language. I was transported to rural Sussex and totally immersed in the story. I could almost feel the chill of the snowy countryside and I was as desperate as Bunch to prove her friend was murdered and to see his killer brought to justice. The conclusion is one I definitely didn’t see coming!

Oh, and I love the Sussex dialect used, although it took me a couple of re-reads to understand on occasion! 😉

Many thanks to Jan Edwards for my ARC of Winter Downs and for the opportunity to be a part of her blog tour.

***I’m looking forward to Jan Edwards’ book launch at City Central Library (Stoke-on-Trent) this morning. 1940’s tea & cakes + books. What more could you want!? 🙂 Can’t wait!***

Winter Downs by [Edwards, Jan]

Publisher: Penkhull Press; 1 edition (29th May 2017)

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

Buy a copy…..

About the author…..

Jan Edwards

Jan Edwards is a Sussex-born writer now living in the West Midlands with her husband and obligatory cats. She was a Master Locksmith for 20 years but also tried her hand at bookselling, microfiche photography, livery stable work, motorcycle sales and market gardening. She is a practising Reiki Master. She won a Winchester Slim Volume prize and her short fiction can be found in crime, horror and fantasy anthologies in UK, US and Europe; including The Mammoth Book of Dracula and The Mammoth Book of Moriarty. Jan edits anthologies for The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Press, and has written for Dr Who spin-offs with Reel Time Pictures.

Her crime novel Winter Downs will be out 3rd June 2017.

http://janedwardsblog.wordpress.com/

Jan Edwards’ Amazon Author Page

Enjoy!