Book Review: Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill

It’s my turn on the Blackthorn Book Tour for Gumshoe Blues by Paul D. Brazill!

Gumshoe Blues

Following the breakdown of his marriage, in a booze-addled flash of inspiration, Peter Ord decides to become a private investigator. Dark farce and tragicomedy soon ensue. Peter must tackle many challenging cases, and when he comes under the radar of a local crime lord, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. With sidekicks, like boozy hack, Bryn Laden, failure is not an option – it’s compulsory.

My Thoughts

What a corker of a volume this is! Four stories, one a novelette in length, all told from the perspective of washed-up, hard-boiled private investigator and former English teacher Peter Ord. The opening scene of ‘Gumshoe Blues’ find Peter waking up on New Year’s Day after a night of binge drinking. I can hear U2 playing in the background, I can smell the fetid air in the grotty room. The sleaze continues on into pubs and Velvettes, a nightclub for ‘gentlemen’. We soon meet the  supporting cast of barmen, dancers, and underworld bosses make up the northern UK town of Seatown.

Throughout the volume, Brazill’s originality and imagination shine. ‘Mr Kiss and Tell’ finds a wife-beating loser and Ord as a store detective at Poundland – one of Britain’s cheap discount stores. I am reminded of ‘World of Quid’ in the opening episode of the new season  of Birds of a Feather. Stores existing to let the poor believe they can afford to shop. ‘Who Killed Skippy’ finds Ord paid to protect Craig Ferry, from himself. The mystery is solved in the end, but it is hardly the point to the story, which is rather to spotlight the iniquitous Ferry family and particularly the  loser-behemoth, Craig. ‘The Lady and The Gimp’ is an oddly charmingly bleak tale of former lead singer of a punk rock band Lightning Jones – who belongs to Spammy Spampinato doing time for a string of murders –  and Barry Blue, ‘The Gimp’, doing some handyman work at Harry Shand’s bar. His gaze lands on Jones and he falls in lust. Meanwhile, Jones hires Ord to track down his mother.

Brazill crafts strong, believable and quirky characters. The jump cuts walking us through vignettes and backstory work well. A healthy use of colloquialisms lends a gritty authenticity. Told masterfully with tremendous wit and realism in taut, punchy prose, Gumshoe Blues contributes a work of considerable merit to the noir crime stable. In all Brazill offers his readers a window on northern Britain’s underbelly, the everyday humdrum banality of struggle street existence and wrecked lives. Definitely a book to look out for.

 

About the Author

Paul D. Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England and now lives in Bydgoszcz, Poland, where he’s been TEFL teaching for more than a decade.

His books include Last Year’s Man, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, Small Time Crimes, and Kill Me Quick. He’s had stories published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8,10 and 11, and his writing has been translated in Italian, Polish, Finnish, German and Slovenian.

You can usually find him on Twitter @PaulDBrazill and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pauldavidbrazill/

Website: https://pauldbrazill.com/

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Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Tour: Chance by Carolym M Bowen

About Chance

High-powered Atlanta attorney Sydney Jones never backs down from a case. So when her bodyguard and boyfriend is accused of murder, she’s determined to fight for him in court. Instead, the charges are suddenly dismissed, and he vanishes without a trace…

Suspecting CIA involvement, Sydney takes on a lawsuit with Chinese Black Society ties and finds a startling connection to her missing man. But as she digs deeper, she discovers that someone may kill to keep the secret.

Will this dangerous cat-and-mouse game reveal the truth or put a bullet in Sydney’s head?

Chance is the second book in the Sydney Jones psychological thriller trilogy. If you like fearless heroines, page-turning action, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Carolyn Bowen’s gripping story.

My Thoughts

Chance is a gripping psychological thriller that takes the lid off the underbelly of Atlanta, Georgia, the various cultures at play, the sleaze, the Chinese mafia. Adding to the intrigue, the involvement of the CIA. Meet tough, no-nonsense lawyer Sydney Jones, her beefy bodyguard-lover Walker and washed-up rock star Roxanne who attempts to lure Walker back to her side and ends up accidentally dead for her trouble. I particularly enjoyed the complexity of Sydney’s unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.

The narrative has a strong forward drive that makes for very fast reading. Written in third person personal, the story flits seamlessly from character to character in a fluid jump cut style, an approach that takes a moment to get used to but works well. Bowen’s pastiche of character-led vignette’s adds to the tension, lending a sense of urgency. Sacrificed is the deep point of view of the contemporary thriller – this technique applies especially to psychological thrillers – and Chance is light on dialogue and long action scenes, again, key drivers of the thriller genre. Nevertheless, Bowen has deployed a narrative style that captures the reader and keeps them turning the pages until the very end. Well written with good plotting and pacing and enough intrigue and twists to keep you on your toes, Chance will keep you guessing, waiting for the pay off at the end. Recommended to those after a lighter read in the thriller genre. Chance will also appeal to those after strong female leads.

 

CAROLYN BOWEN is a mystery author who calls on her life escapades and an adventurous, imaginative spirit to inspire and entertain. Bowen uses travel as a muse to explore cultures and dialogue to bring her stories to life. Her writing credits include: Cross-Ties, a romantic adventure; The Long Road Home, a contemporary crime fiction mystery; The Sydney Jones Series Mystery Thrillers; Book 1: Primed For Revenge, and Book 2: Chance – A Novel.

Link – Amazon Exclusively – http://bit.ly/CBChance

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/CBNovels

Carolyn M. Bowen – Website – http://bit.ly/CMBNovels

Twitter Handle: @cmbowenauthor

 

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Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

 

Book review: Inside the Secret Life of Fairies: Where Dreams Come True by Maggie Hamilton

What is it about fairies that enchants us so? Where do these elusive beings live, and what do they do? Why is it some see fairies and others do not? What’s the truth about glamour? And why when they promise your dreams will come true, do fairies grant three wishes?

Maggie Hamilton has spent a decade exploring the rich world of the fairy. Having talked with people from all walks of life, she captures their astonishing, sometimes poignant encounters with fairies here. Read about the fairies found in people’s homes and gardens, deep in nature, and in city streets and parks.

On this mesmerising journey deep into this achingly beautiful otherworld, you’ll discover the many exquisite possibilities present at dawn and dusk, and why the fairy kingdom has an ecology all of its own. Learn about the notes plants sound, and why some indigenous peoples no longer need to pick a plant to access its healing properties. Find out how to work with fairies to heal the earth and your own bruised spirit, and how this quest can transform you inside and out.

For those with their own fairy stories to tell, and fairy lovers everywhere.

 

My Thoughts

What an absolutely enchanting this book is! Exquisitely told in a genuine, heartfelt and inquiring fashion, Inside the Secret Life of Fairies sets out to enchant and delight while inviting readers to make that deeper connection with nature that is our birthright – a too often unrecognised gift of being. Hamilton takes us on a journey of discovery at a time in our history when humanity has disconnected from nature. Smart phones, urbanisation, the pressure and pace and demands all pull us all away from simple acts such as observing a flower or a meadow. We live in a time when even our holidays are fake and constructed. Just simply reading Inside the Secret Life of Fairies acts like a salve.

In gentle and uplifting prose, Hamilton coaxes all of us into accepting the existence of the fairy realm: fairies are nature spirits of the plant and animal kingdoms, fairies are loving light energy, fairies are divine portions of the Creator. We may see or feel fairies when we see the world as sacred, when we indwell in nature. Fairies can be experienced anywhere but we are more likely to encounter their energy in the wilderness. I am reminded of a recent experience of my own, when I stood in the Valley of Fire in Nevada. Desert, fringed by mountains with breathtaking rock formations. I felt expansive, at one with the environment, a profound connection I couldn’t make sense of, and an overwhelming sense of belonging. It was as if I could hear the silence. The feelings were so powerful, all-consuming, and yet subtle. I had to pull myself away. Then I read this fed back to me by Hamilton:

‘This, I’ve discovered, is what the fairy realms do. They help us connect more profoundly to ourselves and to the whole of life.’

Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is fundamentally spiritual and refreshingly unpretentious. I especially appreciated Hamilton’s honesty, her questioning, her doubts. And then, her revelations. Written in part as memoir and part informative, the author gifts us a valuable lesson; to take time out and really connect with nature. Following in the footsteps of the Caddys and Dorothy MacClean of Findhorn, and of all those who have gone before and live today in communion with nature,  Inside the Secret Life of Fairies is a very special self-help book, a survival guide in this crazy, artificial reality most of us now live in. Ultimately, Hamilton has penned a book that, through the lens of an overlooked spiritual reality, encourages us all to care for our world.

I’m off to clean my house! If you want to know why, read this truly exceptional book. No superlatives do it justice!

https://www.maggiehamilton.org/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy

I am delighted to have been invited to join Rachel’s Random Resources book tour of Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy.

About Hallowed Ground

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy skeleton coasts; buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space. They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.
Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a uniquely spotless, golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will they discover beneath this hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

My Thoughts

Hallowed Ground is a rendering of the Namibian myth of fairy circles into a mystery involving a group of teenagers and their families. The author is clearly passionate about his subject, something that shines through the pages. The writing is good, the pacing considered. I admit I found the character introductions at the beginning of the novel rather tedious and would have preferred a different approach.

Hallowed Ground is an ambitious novel, blending as it does ancient myths and present day issues, held within the mystery narrative. The novel is presented as YA, the protagonists are teenagers, and I surmise Twivy has an educational purpose in mind.

It is commendable that the author brings to the attention of those who do not know a country with a rich culture, fascinating geography and brutal history of genocide.

 

Paul Twivy and his book can be found at these websites

www.thefairycircles.com and https://hallowedground.co.uk

 

 

Blackthorn Book Tours Review: Rose by Rami Ungar

 

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

My Thoughts

At first Rose seems like the sort of light horror novel that will also appeal to fans of YA. Very fast, punchy writing, the narrative action packed and filled with the angsts and worries and conflicts typical of those in their late teens. The story opens with sociology graduate Rose Taggart, who awakes to find herself lying on a table in a greenhouse and realises she has partial amnesia. In a few short paragraphs the horror of her new circumstances unravels as she finds she has been the subject of a spell from ‘The Forest God’s Record’, a grimoire that fell into the hands of her apparent boyfriend Paris. A playful wit vibrates behind the words, Ungar taunting his readers with the absurd, the ridiculous, Rose a hat tip to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Instead of finding herself transformed into an insect, Rose is part plant, a rose no less. Somehow Ungar renders Rose’s metaphysical calamity plausible.

The playful wit soon gives way to a descent into the ominous and the spooky, Rose’s situation unraveling, the lens pulled back bit by bit, the suspense building and building, culminating in an unexpected ending. Rose contains good characterisation, enough descriptions to offer a sense of place and Ungar demonstrates a keen talent for plotting.  In all Rose makes for very entertaining and disturbing reading.

About Rami Ungar

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, will be released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

https://ramiungarthewriter.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46374205-rose

https://www.facebook.com/RamiUngarWriter/

@RamiUngarWriter

Buy Link

 

 

Book review: Stone Circle by Kate Murdoch

About Stone Circle

Is the Ability to Read Minds a Blessing or a Curse?

When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status and Antonius has limited opportunities.

When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son.

The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.

My Thoughts

Stone Circle is a classic, romantic tale suited to young adult and adult audiences. Set in Renaissance Italy, the story is brimming with the esoteric practice of the era  – geomancy, astrology and ‘seeing’ are especially prominent. The inclusion of such practices might for some place the novel in the fantasy genre, but I would dispute that. Esoteric practice is not fantasy! This novel might just as well be termed visionary fiction or magic realism.

The story is simple. When seer Savinus needs a new apprentice, he devises a simple test to find one. Two applicants show the necessary attributes and Savinus decides to take them both on, making the poor and lowly and very talented Antonius his primary apprentice, and the rich and spoilt and lesser talented Nichola his secondary. Any reader will predict the tensions to follow. Nicholas shows himself to be jealous and spiteful, and Antonius of fine character. Yet he is a man with burdens and troubles and might not make the best decisions. Both young men are also attracted to Savinus’ beautiful and intelligent daughter, Giulia – also a seer – and competing for her affections. Giulia cannot practice her talents as she is female and would be classed a witch and persecuted if she did. Yet she is always there, always at the edge of being exposed.

The plot is as old as storytelling but Murdoch fills it with a unique complexity the result of her intriguing cast of lovingly crafted characters and the esoteric theme. Add to this an evocatively portrayed historical setting and the result is a captivating and gentle read that progresses at a measured pace with numerous delights and insights along the way. Stone Circle is a novel filled with charm, a story that envelopes the reader and takes them far from everyday reality. Highly recommended.

Book review: Burning Crowe by Geoff Smith

About Burning Crowe

Two teenagers, both alike in indignity. Will they be civil? Or will there be blood?

Bartholomew Crowe is 18 years old. His dad dead, and deserted by his stepmother, he’s running seriously low on justice. And when he is hired to find a rich kid gone AWOL, it isn’t just a job; it’s a chance to do good, a chance to fix things up, to make things right.

Handsome and loaded, Zack Richards has it all. A beautiful girlfriend. A burgeoning sideline in music management. Hell, he’s even semi-famous! But for all his good fortune, Zack Richards is angry. He’s addicted to trouble. And he’s gone into hiding.

But Bart isn’t the only one with Zack in his sights.

And as tensions rise and bullets fly, Bartholomew Crowe learns that the only things he can count on are friendship, and love.

My Thoughts

Burning Crowe is one of those thrillers that is impossible to put down. Smith draws the reader into the dark underworld of Margate and Ramsgate, two coastal towns in Kent, England – all sandy beaches and fun parks on the pier –  that were once primary holiday destinations for Londoners, and later infamous for gang violence. The author takes his readers into clubs and pubs and squats and cheap hotels, on the waterfront, the beaches, the arcade and there’s even a fabulous scene in the Turner Gallery. I enjoyed this realistic backdrop; Smith’s portrayal of these towns, through the youthful eyes of his protagonist, is well-executed and appropriately noir.

Smith’s private investigator is as unlikely as it gets, an eighteen year old not yet out of school, setting off on his first case, his solution to all the hurt he is feeling after the death of his father and his step mother’s apparent rejection. This is not a criticism; Bartholomew Crowe is a well-rounded and thoroughly endearing if hapless PI, bumbling and stumbling along, the most ineffectual hero, yet a hero turns out to be.

Smith deploys all the elements of a really good thriller, the twists and turns of the plot as the various players reveal their hand in a slow game of bluff, deceit and lies, play out convincingly. The pacing is good, the characters sharply defined. I particularly enjoyed the exchange of emails between Crowe and his granddad and seeing how that played out in the end. Satisfying complex, Burning Crowe is in essence a coming of age tale of love and relationships and the tensions in blended families. It is also a story of malice and greed and vengeance. This novel held my attention the the very end.

Find Burning Crowe here

 

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. Her Canary Islands’ collection begins with The Drago Tree and includes A Matter of Latitude and Clarissa’s Warning. Her interest in the occult is explored in The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey and the dark mystery A Perfect Square. Even her first novel, Asylum, contains a touch of the magical. Isobel is at work on her fourth Canary Islands’ novel, a sweeping historical work based on her own family history. You can find her novels here on her website.