Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract BLOG TOUR

Today I’m delighted to be on the Blog Tour for the new novel by Rod Reynolds, Cold Desert Sky and to be able to share an extract with you.

Cold Desert Sky is set in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas in 1946. Journalist Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie are hiding out in motels on the run from gangster Benjamin Siegel. Rather than just move away Yates is determined to stay until he has found out what happened to two missing girls. Nancy and Julie were both aspiring actresses who have been missing for days and Yates has become obsessed with finding them.

Cold Desert Sky is a very atmospheric novel, evoking a real sense of 1940’s American noir. The book tells of cities that are dark and dangerous, filled with gangsters and seedy bars. The story itself is fascinating, with twists and turns that just keep coming throwing the story backwards and forwards across the two cities. This is the third novel from Rod that features the character of Charlie Yates. Although it is the first one I’ve read it won’t be the last. To find out more read on for an extract from chapter one which follows the extract you can find at Bibliophile Bookclub’s blog: https://bibliophilebookclub.com/

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds – extract

‘Charlie?’

‘Have a seat.’

He glanced around as if looking for his real guest, then slid down the backrest, realisation dawning. ‘You a gumshoe now, or am I a mark?’

‘How’ve you been, Whitey?’

‘Better than you, what I hear.’

I sat back, a glance over his shoulder, wrong-footed by the remark. ‘And what’s that?’

‘You don’t need me to tell you. It’s on your face.’

‘Make like I’m dumb.’

‘You must be. Being in town when he’s looking for you.’

I shrugged. ‘I’m not a hard man to find.’

‘You ought to reconsider that.’

I traced a line across the table. ‘I didn’t come here to talk about Bugsy Siegel.’

‘No?’ He showed real surprise. ‘Hard to believe you got big­ger troubles.’

‘How’s your luck with the horses?’

He set his cup down on the Formica. ‘Some days are better than others.’

I took my money clip out – two tens and a twenty wrapped around a wad of ones to pad the roll. ‘I’m looking for informa­tion on a couple women. Hollywood-dreamer types.’

He made a point of not looking at the cash, a stool pigeon in a fraying suit clinging to the remnants of his pride. ‘I don’t know Hollywood from dirt.’

‘They were fresh off the bus. They were living in a boarding house in Leimert Park. Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins.’

He half-smiled. ‘Julie Desjardins from Kansas – sure. Real names?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘These are the missing dames your woman called me about?’ I nodded. ‘They’ve been gone more than a week.’

‘Were they turning tricks?’

My arms tensed.

‘What?’ he said. ‘How else would I hear anything about a couple starlets?’

I closed my eyes and flattened my free hand on the table again. The question was a fair one. ‘The names mean anything to you or not?’

‘Not. But you must’ve figured that, so my guess is you want me to ask around.’

I peeled a ten off.

He shook his head, held up two fingers. I breathed out through my nose and peeled the other one off.

To read more don’t forget to visit the other stops of the blog tour. COLD DESERT SKY_BLOG TOUR POSTER

Cold Desert Sky is available on amazon.

 

 

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Big Sister by Gunnar Staalesen – BLOG TOUR

Thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me onto the blog tour for Big Sister.

Big Sister is set in Norway and features Private Detective Varg Veum. Varg is visited by someone who he thinks is just a new client, until she arrives and introduces herself as his half sister.  However she doesn’t just want to meet new family, she actually wants him to try and find her god-daughter Emma. Emma is a student nurse who has gone missing from her student accommodation in Bergen. Varg starts his search but the further he delves into Emma’s background and her troubled home life the more he realises that this is much more than a simple missing persons case as he gets drawn into a world of biker gangs and family secrets.

This is the first of the series that I have read although is the 20th novel to feature the main character. Varg is an interesting person that is the archetypal gruff single private detective on the one hand, but shows a slightly softer intriguing side as well. Seemingly very lonely but through choice rather than circumstance. His life seems to be focused purely on his work with the odd personal relationship an afterthought. Personally I felt it was nice to read about an older character (Varg being in his 60s) which I have to admit I didn’t realise he was to start with.

I enjoyed the story and although it seemed rather slow to start with this was necessary to set the scene and introduce the other characters. The second half does pick up the pace though and there are frequent twists and turns. This is quite a dark feeling novel, with almost a menacing tone to some of the writing.  Although I think that it would help understand the main character more if you had read the previous novels, the actual story works well as a stand-alone too. Towards the end this is one of those books where you think it is about to conclude, but then suddenly another twist is thrown in and your thoughts change again.

I enjoy reading Scandinavian noir and this could well be the start of a great new series to try. Once again I think my ‘to be read’ pile is going to get bigger.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour. Big Sister is available now on amazon.

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Just by Jenny Morton Potts – Q&A BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Jenny Morton Potts to acrimereadersblog. Jenny is the author of Just, an intriguing story of ‘love and loss, terror and triumph’ Thanks for joining me Jenny. firstly what inspired Just?

It feels like the major problems of the complex modern world are very present among us. We’re filmed wherever we go and we watch everyone closely, for weapons at school, for bombs on the underground. Our threats walk alongside us daily. It’s inescapable. I wanted innocent characters to get caught up in all that, to be pawns in today’s global greed and prejudice.

 Have you always been a writer?

 Pretty much, since about nine years old, writing plays. Quite gory as I recall. Half the cast would be dead by the end of Act I. I loved every minute of it.

 Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?

My day is very 9 to 5. I don’t take a lunch break though. And I don’t take days off during a draft of a book. I have a cabin where I work. Animals wander in and out. Just domestic pets, nothing too hefty or predatory.

How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?

Probably at the theatre. I’ve got Wimbledon tickets this year, so that will be a favourite afternoon off

Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?

I have blasts of reading a lot and then not reading at all. It’s of course useful to see what other authors are up to, in a technical sense, but I’m quite instinctive and don’t like to be influenced during the draft of a book. I’m always receptive to new authors but there are certainly a few whose books are numerous on my shelves, E Annie Proulx, Paul Auster, Jane Smiley, Sheen Mackay, Lesley Glaister, Zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Martin Amis, Solzhenitsyn, Nabokov, Woolf

 Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on

I’m working on a triptych novel with three intertwining stories set in different times but they all have a cello link. It’s not necessary to know anything about the cello to enjoy the book. It’s structure is like The Hours, a book and film I loved.

I’m also working on a memoir for a ballet star from the golden era. This will ruffle a few feathers at The Royal Ballet

Then in the autumn, I’m back to thrillers!

 That all sounds like you are going be rather busy! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions today.

Just is out now and is available here.

 

 

 

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The Disappeared by Ali Harper – a review

I was offered a copy of this via netgalley and the premise sounded interesting. So on a recent trip to Prague I decided to put all the waiting around that goes hand in hand with air travel to good use and catch up on some reading. The Disappeared was at the top of my list.

The Disappeared features a new pair of protagonists, Lee and Jo. They are best friends and business partners having just set up their own private investigation firm. They are excited to get their first case which seems like a simple missing person case. However when they realise that their client is not who she says she is, things start to get a lot more complicated. They are soon in danger and risking not only their business but also their lives.

I very much enjoyed this book. I have to admit that it was not what I was expecting. I thought it would be a much more serious crime fiction novel. Instead this was a really humorous story despite its focus on addiction and drugs.

I really liked the characters of Lee and Jo. They are fun and strong characters who play really well off each other. They were intriguing and whilst I have to admit to being a little frustrated as to how many secrets they were hiding this probably just added to the tension within the story. The Disappeared is set in Leeds, and the descriptions really bring the city to life (albeit as a rather dark and dangerous place!)

This is a story with lots of twists and turns. There were a lot of characters to keep track of but it all seemed to flow easily. I did feel that there wasn’t maybe much background to some of the characters. This meant I didn’t really care that much about them or what happened to them. However I liked the main ones that much it didn’t matter and this was a great vehicle to introduce two new fantastic female leads.  I look forward to reading more about Lee and Jo.

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The History of Bees – a comment

For my birthday Mr F bought me a book called The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. Now as most people know if they read this blog I only read crime fiction. The clue is in the name. So when I opened this I was a little disappointed if I’m honest (the other book was called The Ice which looked much more like me so I didn’t get the locks changed straight away!)

However I do like bees, and I like reading, and sometimes I like Mr F so I thought I’d give it a go. Well I’m glad I did as this was one of the most thought provoking and gripping books I’ve ever read.

The History of Bees is a novel of three parts. In England in 1851 William is a seed merchant who has a vision for a new type of beehive that will make him famous. However he isn’t the only one who has ideas when it comes to bees. In America it’s 2007 and George has a bee farm that he hopes his son will one day inherit. His son however wants a different life from that of his family and wants to go to University. When colony collapse disorder hits the family farm they all have to revaluate their lives. Finally in China it is 2098 and Tao lives with her husband and young son. During the day her role is to climb into the trees and hand pollinate the fruit trees as all the bees have long died out. On a rare day off her son ends up in hospital and Tao is determined to find out the truth about what happened.

This is both an incredibly bleak, yet hopeful novel. Unfortunately the idea of the bees disappearing is not one that is too far into the realms of unbelievable. Colony collapse disorder is a real issue in America that fortunately hasn’t yet hit the UK, and it’s no surprise that without the bees pollination doesn’t happen. (Disney’s ‘B movie’ had it spot on!) This novel explores not only the environmental consequences with the lack of pollination, but also the effect that this has on people’s lives and families.

This is a book that takes a little getting into as the chapters are short and so you feel that the changing viewpoints happen very abruptly. However once I was into the rhythm I was absolutely hooked. The stories are seemingly disparate linked only by bees, but links start to emerge as the book progresses. The characters are all fascinating, and I thought they were all very well written. This really is a fantastic story with an added bonus of teaching you lots about bees.

For anyone with even a small awareness and care of the environmental impact that we are having on the planet this is a must read book, especially today as it is world environment day. This is the day that the UN uses to promote awareness of the impact our lives are having on the environment. This year the focus is on reducing plastic waste, as only around 10% of the plastic ever created is recycled, the rest ends up in landfill or washed up on beaches. So think before you buy things covered in packaging, read this book and then go and plant some flowers. The bees and our environment will thank you for it.

 

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Dead Lock by Damien Boyd – a review BLOG TOUR

I have to admit that I had actually never heard of Damien Boyd prior to receiving an email inviting me to the blog tour. However the premise of the book sounded too good to pass up so I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the novel Dead Lock.

Ten year old Alesha Daniels is reported missing by her father. Her mother is a  known drug user with a boyfriend that the police want to interview. However as the hunt for Alesha starts to become more desperate another girl goes missing. DI Nick Dixon is on holiday in the Lake District with his partner Jane. Alesha was known to social services and Jane is part of the safeguarding coordination unit so has to come home early. When a second girl is reported missing Nick knows the family so heads straight home and soon starts clashing with his superiors when he links the two cases.

This was a really interesting story that continually had me changing my mind as to the outcomes. Dead Lock is the 8th novel  from Damien Boyd and I believe they all feature Detective Nick Dixon. However there is enough back story that you don’t feel you are missing out. For me personally all it means is that I now want to go back and read all the novels. 

Although Dead Lock doesn’t start as a classic murder mystery this was a novel that sucks you in. The story is a slow burner but that isn’t a negative as this was one of those books that you realise you are still reading at 2  o’clock in the morning desperate to find out what happens. I enjoyed the characters and even though I’m new to them I soon cared about what happened and became engaged in their lives. I have to admit to there being the odd element that didn’t really fit, such as the police consulting with a hippy who has visions. However that may be me missing something from previous books. 

Overall this was a good read that introduced me to a new pair of protagonists that I will definitely be following in future.

Dead Lock is available on amazon  

Don’t forget to visit some of the other stops on the blog tour.

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The Good Twin by Marti Green – a review

I was invited to review this via the publisher and the premise certainly sounded interesting.

Two twins were born and one was given up for adoption. Mallory stayed with her mother who struggled to make ends meet. Now her mother is dead and Mallory is working as a waitress (am I the only person who can’t say that line without wanting to burst into song – if you are under 40 don’t answer that question and go and google The Human League instead) When someone mistakes  Mallory for someone else she tries to track down her twin sister. Charley was adopted into a wealthy family and is now married to Ben who works at her father’s company. Ben however has other ideas and has a proposal for Mallory that could change all their lives.

This novel was a real dilemma for me. On the one hand the writing and the story kept me enthralled until the end. I was instantly drawn into the characters of the twins and was interested to know how it would pan out. Ben is a great villain hatching a truly despicable plot in order to keep the lifestyle that he has become accustomed to. As the story progresses he gets more dastardly and the twists and turns keep coming..

However that’s why I’m in a bit of a dilemma with this review. As I’m afraid that some of the plot does require a bit of suspension of belief. Firstly someone tells Mallory that she looks the spitting image of their friend. From that she jumps immediately to the conclusion that she has a twin sister. Really? A few people over the years have told me they have seen my doppelganger in York, including people who know me extremely well. Now whilst I suppose there is a chance I have a twin sister around I think it’s probably much more likely that there is just someone who looks me.

Plus Ben as a villain was just a bit too cartoonish for me. The whole plot seemed so far fetched that it was comical rather than thrilling. However that is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did very much so. You just need to read it as it is, a piece of fiction with a good story!

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