Today I am delighted to share with you the opening extract of the latest novel by Susan Bacoyanis. The Judas Tree is an intriguing tale of a woman scorned who takes her revenge to scary new heights. When Mary moves to a small village she is hoping to put her ex husband and the bitter divorce behind her. When she befriends Jonas it seems that she is finally moving on, however it soon turns out that he isn’t the person she thought he was, and Mary is clearly not the quiet divorcee she at first seems.
This is an interesting tale that cleverly intersperses historical facts about Mary Tudor with the story of Mary Webster. If you like a tale with a serious amount of revenge then this is definitely the story for you. Read on for the opening chapter.
PART ONE: MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY
A story of betrayal
Oh! What a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive
Sir Walter Scott
Why do people lie? To gain attention? To elevate their status, or reinvent themselves? Is it perhaps the need to control? To instill fear, exercise power or cultivate friendship and love?
People who lie are the ordinary, uninspired immature adults who were ignored as children. Whose siblings stole their parents’ affection. Who underachieved in school, were patronised, humiliated and scolded more than praised. These emotionally crippled beings continuously seek attention to distract from their self-disgust, which allows no liberty in their skin.
We honest people are the unsuspecting audience, naively watching their performance… captivated by their practised script. We listen to their stories, their memories, their family history recited with affectionate anecdotes. We perceive them as gentle and kind, with values that are admirable. We hang on every syllable, listening in earnest as they boost their ego at our expense and with glazed eyes, we reflect an image of love, which they have cultivated. It is undeserving. It is a lie.
To be undetected, successful liars must be clever, cunning and well practised in their art. But most of all… they must possess a good memory.
You will be surprised to learn that I’ve written a book. I realise that I’m a mere novice compared with you – the famous author. So it’s with some trepidation that I’m sending you my manuscript for review.
It’s an account of a macabre episode in my life… and I warn you, it will be emotionally challenging as the raw facts I lay before you will chill you to the bone.
I sign the email ‘With love’, as siblings do, although I know I don’t feel it. There is a bond between us, but it is rivalry on my part.
I attach the manuscript and label it ‘For your eyes only’ and press ‘Send’. Fate will be the decider now, for there’s a chance that when she reads it I could be either incarcerated or dead.
To find out what others thought of The Judas Tree visit the other stops on the blog tour. The Judas Tree is available on amazon.
Today I am delighted to be able to offer a very exciting giveaway thanks to the lovely Pushkin Press, namely a copy of two novels from CWA Award shortlisted writer Emma Viskic.
If you haven’t yet tried her debut novel Resurrection Bay and its stunning sequel And Fire Came Down, then this is your chance to delve into the world of deaf detective Caleb Zelic. Caleb lives in Melbourne and has been deaf since the age of 5. We first meet him in Resurrection Bay where he discovers the body of a friend who has been brutally murdered. Determined to get to the truth and prove his innocence Caleb teams up with another friend Frankie, a former policewoman who struggles with addiction, to try and track down the killer.
I enjoyed Resurrection Bay, the Australian setting gives this novel a really original feel. The two main settings of big city and small coastal town gave a good contrast highlighting the differences between Caleb’s childhood and his grown up life. It was also interesting the way that Caleb is portrayed, he may have a disability but he is certainly not someone courting sympathy. The story was fast paced and kept me riveted.
I would highly recommend Emma Viskic’s novels and if you would like to give them a go then you can win a copy of both ‘Resurrection Bay’ and ‘And Fire Came Down’.
To enter simply comment below, retweet the tweet @cj_colbourn, comment on my facebook post or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be chosen at random on December 21st 2018and will win a copy of both books.
Please note your name and address will be passed to Pushkin Press to distribute the prize but all details will be deleted after the competition.
When Salt Publishing got in touch to see if I would like to read a copy of the latest by Christina James I jumped at the chance. It is not often that you get a novel set in the lovely(?) fen land near my home town of Peterborough. Gentleman Jack starts with an investigation into the theft of expensive farm machinery (this the fens after all so there has to be a farm involved!) However the story soon turns more sinister as a serial killer makes his mark. I am delighted to welcome Christina to Acrimereadersblog.
Hi Christina and thanks for joining me today. Have you always been a writer?
In a certain sense, I think all writers believe they have always been writers – or at least, have always been both inspired and tortured by writing dreams! I certainly intended to be a writer well before I left primary school, and was writing (very derivative) Angela Brazil style writing stories at that time.
Are your main characters such as DS Juliet Armstrong inspired by people you know?
All my characters except one – one of the more minor characters who occurs in only two of the books and is based directly on someone from ‘real life’ – are either entirely invented or composites of several people I have known. Juliet comes from my imagination only; Tim Yates, her boss, shares certain characteristics with a couple of people I know – but only traits – he is very much his own person as well.
Can you tell us what a typical working day looks like for you?
I have a day job which is quite demanding and involves a lot of travel. I therefore don’t have a ‘typical’ working day. But I expect you mean a typical day as a writer – and I do try to block out periods of time when I do nothing but write. Typically, then, I would write 1,000 – 2,000 words in the morning, revise them after lunch and then either write a post for my blog or do some work for other authors (I’m a part-time editor as well). The next day I would revise the previous day’s work again before starting on my next 1,000 – 2,000 words – revise, revise, revise is my mantra. (By this I generally mean ‘simplify’, rather than ‘embroider’.) Every few days I will also revise the previous block of about ten chapters or so, to make sure the tone is right and I haven’t committed to any contradictions. On days like this I will also fit in a brisk country walk.
How would you spend a perfect afternoon away from work?
Either going on a leisurely walk in the country or reading a good book. Or making a cake – I am a keen baker.
Are you an avid reader yourself? If so, which authors do you find yourself returning to time and again?
Absolutely! I always have several books on the go. The only author I read time and again is Jane Austen – I read her whole oeuvre every five years or so. I also return to some of the other classics sometimes – for example, I have just re-read The Moonstone. I read as many books by other Salt authors as I can. My all-time Salt favourite is The Clocks in this House all tell Different Times. I also think that The Litten Path is an outstanding debut novel; and there are other Salt authors with whom I am in frequent contact whose work I admire: Marie Gameson, Mark Carew and Catherine Eisner, to name but a few.
Finally can you tell us a little about what you are working on next?
Yes: it is a modern take on a country house crime novel, set on an island in the River Welland, near Spalding, which actually exists. One of my friends suggested the island as the setting for my next novel and I thought it was an inspired choice. The owner of the island has very kindly shown me round it since I started work on the book.
That sounds fascinating, I look forward to reading it.
Thanks very much for joining me today Christina. To find out more about Gentleman Jack please visit the other stops on the blog tour and pop over to Randomthingsthroughmyletterboxtomorrow for the last stop on the tour:
Alice is out running one morning and meets a man called Manfred on a bridge threatening to throw himself off. She manages to talk him down and after chatting returns home feeling unnerved but relieved that she has helped. When Manfred turns up at her house initially it is just a nice gesture to say thanks, however things start to take rather dark turn and she soon realises that her family might be in danger.
This was a really hectic ride of a story. Told only from the viewpoint of Alice this is a fast pace story that draws you in from the moment that Manfred comes into view. Personally I thought that Alice as a character was quite annoying, but this is partly what
draws the story along. A lot of her actions seem a bit suspect, such as getting in a car with a complete stranger and driving them miles. However we all love a flawed character and Alice is certainly one of those. The fact that the book is told only from the viewpoint of Alice means that you can’t tell how true things are as obviously she is biased. It also means that it gives the story a very claustrophobic feel, as you feel as though you are in Alice’s head.
Strangers on a Bridge is set against the background of the Swiss Alps. Alice is a loner in the village, an outsider who the police think is just being an hysterical English woman. There are some lovely descriptions of the place and the writing conjures up a wonderful atmosphere that adds to the tension of the novel as Alice get more and more desperate. The beautiful scenery is a terrific contrast to the dark obsession that fuels the story.
The story starts out as a seemingly simple tale of one man obsessing over a woman. However the twists soon turn this into something more unique. I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling read. The tale becomes more gripping as the obsession within it grows and the ending was one I really didn’t see coming. I’d highly recommend this novel that will keep you questioning who is right and who is wrong throughout.
This is a book that had been sat on my kindle for a while and for some reason it had never made it to the top of my list until a recent trip to Manchester. When I realised I was sat in a bar with no new books to read and no internet connection I opened this without really knowing what it was about.
The Marriage Pact follows newlyweds Jake and Alice who are given a mysterious wedding gift, a membership of a very exclusive club that guarantees they will never get divorced. They just have to sign an agreement that states they will live by the rules of the Pact. Of course that seems to be an easy enough statement when they are still in that honeymoon phase, rules include always answering the phone when your spouse calls, buying them a present every month, arrange a trip away every three months. However these rules all seem fine and a bit of fun, until one of them gets broken and the full force of the pact takes effect. The crimes they committee against the marriage pact start off small, lawyer Alice is late at work a few days on the trot, she puts on a bit of weight so is made to see a personal trainer at 5am every morning. All of these things seem relatively small yet as the punishments keep coming the fear of the consequences of the pact become much bigger.
The Marriage Pact is a cracking little read, although you do have to suspend belief a bit. The concept that perfectly sane educated people would join what is essentially a cult that dictates how they have to act in their own lives is clearly not something that would happen in real life. However when you put that to one side this was a story that kept me hooked through to the end. The characters whilst a little annoying are quite likeable, and you feel for Alice as she tries to keep the full force of the punishments away from Jake. Yet on the other side you do wonder why both her and Jake don’t just say no!
I enjoyed the plot of this novel and the writing is good. The story is told from the point of view of Jake, and I think that was made me prefer Alice to him. He works as a marriage guidance counsellor and yet seems to completely miss the signs that there might be problems in his own relationship.
The Marriage Pact is an intriguing little tale, and whilst it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to the unrealistic plot, personally I really enjoyed it. Thanks to netgalley for my copy.
I have a confession to make, when I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Lilja Sigurdardottir’s new novel Trap I jumped at the chance as there was a copy of her first novel Snare on the bookshelf and I had thoroughly enjoyed her appearance at the TOPCWF. However it wasn’t until I started reading Trap that I realised I had never actually got around to reading Snare (not a surprise if you knew the size of my ‘to be read’ pile. Well I might be reading them in the wrong order but Snare is definitely going to the top of the pile now I’ve read Trap.
Trap starts with Sonja and her son Thomas living in Florida, enjoying the sunshine but on the run and looking over her shoulder. The reason for this soon becomes clear as Thomas is kidnaped by his father. Sonja and Thomas have to return to Iceland where her lover Agla is waiting. Agla is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct, yet she also owes a lot of money to some rather unpleasant people. Sonja has a plan to bring down her ex-husband and the drug barons running the city, along with help from customs officer Bragi. However things don’t go to plan and Sonja is soon in more trouble than she can handle.
Trap is a fast paced crime novel that will keep you turning the pages (or pressing the kindle button) The title of the novel is a fitting description of both Sonja’s predicament and also the overall feeling you get when reading it. The writing draws you into the story and you feel the frustrations of the characters as they try to deal with the fallout and things don’t go to plan. I really enjoyed the characters within this novel, especially the relationships between Sonja and her son and also between Sonja and Bragi who is torn between doing his job and helping Sonja.
The setting is interesting, with the action mainly taking place in Reykjavik and the descriptions of the place add to the chilling tone of this novel. Some of the financial elements went a bit over my head but that in no way detracts from my enjoyment.
I absolutely recommend Trap if you are a fan of a fast paced Nordic set novel, I can’t wait to go back and find out how the series began.
Make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more about this fantastic series of novels.