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#TuesdayBookBlog FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper (@janeharperautho) (@LittleBrownUK) (@kimberleynyam) Steady-paced, beautifully written, and morally ambiguous #ForceOfNature

Hi all:

I am very pleased to take part on the blog tour for the book Force of Nature by Jane Harper. This is the follow-up of a book that got a lot of attention, especially as it was the debut novel of the author (The Dry). And although I had not read it, I remembered the reviews and could not resist…

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature: by the author of the Sunday Times top ten bestseller, The Dry by Jane Harper

The gripping new novel from the author of the Sunday Times top ten bestseller, Waterstones Thriller of the Month, Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month, and Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club Choice, The Dry.

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

Links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Force-Nature-Jane-Harper/dp/B071P6W7D9/

https://www.amazon.com/Force-Nature-Jane-Harper/dp/B071P6W7D9/

Editorial Reviews

I loved The DryForce of Nature is even better. Brilliantly paced, it wrong-foots the reader like a rocky trail through the bush. I adored it (Susie Steiner, bestselling author of Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown)

I loved The Dry by Jane Harper, I thought it was magnificent, like everybody else did…Fabulous! And her new book Force of Nature…such brilliance. From the first paragraph I was hooked – you just know you’re in the hands of a master. She’s such an excellent writer and the sense of place is so powerful (Marian Keyes)

Lord of the Flies in the Australian outback, with grown women in place of school boys. I loved every chilling moment of it. A blistering follow-up to The Dry from one of the best new voices in crime fiction (Sarah Hilary, author of the bestselling DI Marnie Rome series)

A major voice in contemporary fiction. Like Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series and Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels, Jane Harper’s deftly plotted mysteries double as sensitive inquiries into human nature, behavior, and psychology. And like The DryForce of Nature bristles with wit; it crackles with suspense; it radiates atmosphere. An astonishing book from an astonishing writer (A.J. Finn, bestselling author of The Woman in the Window)

Harper’s debut, The Dry, was The Sunday Times crime novel of 2017 and won the CWA Gold Dagger award. That makes this second outing from the Australian a very hot ticket indeed(Sunday Times, Books of 2018)

The Dry was one of the standout crime debuts of 2017; Australian author Harper follows it with a story of women hiking in the bush – five go out, but only four come back (Guardian, Books of 2018)

Once again, Harper manages to touch on something mythic in the Australian experience of the land…From Frederic McCubbin’s mournful painting…Lost, to Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock…getting lost in the bush was for a while every non-Indigenous Australian’s worst nightmare. Force of Nature plays on this fear and then some. Ratcheting up the sense of threat is the shade of a notorious serial killer lurking in the undergrowth (Sydney Morning Herald)

Force of Nature proves Jane Harper, author of The Dry, is no one-hit wonder. Its premise is instantly gripping (Herald Sun (Melbourne))

As thick with menace as the bush that seems to swallow the difficult Alice…Force of Nature cuts between past and present, corporate and domestic, and cements its author as one of Australia’s boldest thriller writers (Australian Women’s Weekly)

The narrative is finely constructed, with perfectly measured pace and suspense. So much so that it reminded me of another master of form, Liane Moriarty…Harper has also harnessed what captivates the Australian psyche – the landscape. The Dry is set in a small country town in drought, and this time she takes us into the bush. There are echoes of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Lord of the Flies as any appearance of civility slips away and the women lose direction in a hostile landscape. So does Harper’s new book live up to the first? I was thrilled to find that it does. The novel delivers and Harper writes like a dream (The Saturday Paper, Australia)

The best in compulsive literary crime, from the author of the Sunday Times top ten bestseller, The Dry.

Author Jane Harper
Author Jane Harper

About the author:

Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year, the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2017. Rights have been sold in 27 territories worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Harper/e/B001KI8MCE/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little, Brown Book Group for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I had not read Harper’s first acclaimed novel The Dry when I read her second novel (although I had acquired it after reading many good reviews of it) and although it seems that most people who have reviewed it so far have read the first, I can confirm that it can be read independently and you will not feel that you are missing a fundamental part of the story. Yes, there are brief allusions to events that you suspect might refer to the first novel, but the case itself is self-contained. I must confess I felt curious about the first novel after reading this one, in part because of the main character, but also in part because of the comments by the reviewers.

If you have read the first novel, you will know that the setting is Australia. This time, rather than a draught and dry landscape, the case Aaron Falk gets involved in takes place in a wet and cold area at that time of the year, the Giralong Ranges. Two teams from the same legal firm (one male and one female) have gone for a weekend hiking, as part of a teambuilding exercise. The two teams take different routes and on Sunday, when they are all supposed to meet, one of the women does not turn up. Aaron Falk, who is a federal investigator dealing with financial crimes, and his partner, Carmen Cooper, knew the woman who had gone missing, Alice Russell, because she was helping them (not without a certain degree of pressure/coercion) investigate the firm. At first, they wonder if her disappearance might have something to do with her undercover activities, but there are many mysteries, lies, and intrigues at play, the red herrings abound, and emotions run high.

The story is told in the third person, but each chapter is divided into two time frames, one following the actual investigation of Alice’s disappearance, from Falk’s point of view, and the other following, in chronological order, the events during the hiking trip, from the alternate points of view of the women who accompanied Alice (and, very briefly, of Alice herself).  It is an interesting technique, as it makes us compare the conjectures of the investigating team, with the reality, and it provides us an opportunity to learn more about the characters from their own perspective. The author excels at her descriptions of the landscape, the weather, and the psychological state of the women (and of the male investigator). Although the story develops slowly and I would not call it fast-paced, it has twists and turns, and enough clues to keep us hooked and intrigued. Also, although understated and not emotionally open, we are also intrigued by how personally challenging this case is for Falk, who carries his father’s rucksack and his legacy with him and learns a lot more than the expected about family relationships throughout the book.

None of the characters (except, perhaps Falk and Cooper, and maybe the girls) are particularly lovable or even likable but we get to understand their motivations and why they do what they do. I know there are readers who prefer books where there are characters we should clearly like or dislike, but life is a bit more complex than that, and this novel abounds in morally ambiguous characters that not intentionally all good or bad. (Personally, I have a soft spot for Beth, one of the twin sisters). Alice is perhaps one of the least likable of all the characters, although she, like the rest, has redeeming qualities. It is also true that she is a character we don’t get much of an insight into, as she does not get a voice, and we mostly reconstruct her personality and character based on other people’s judgements and takes on her. I noticed that the characters seem to be paired-up (there are two twin sisters, that at first seem to be complete opposites but we learn there are more similarities in their life-experiences than they realise; there are two childhood friends whose lives and even daughters seem to follow parallel paths; the CEO of the company has difficulties with his son, and there are other father-son relationships highlighted throughout the novel, including that of Falk with his father, and also that of a serial killer who was infamous for his murders in the area and his son) and family relations are at the heart of the story.

For some reason this novel made me think of the label “domestic noir”, because although most of the story develops outdoors, it is also about families, strange relationships, and twists and turns. It also reminded me of Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty that I reviewed a long while back (you can check my review here), not only because the author is also Australian, but because the mystery at the heart of the book (that in that case, we don’t discover until quite late) shakes and transforms deeply the lives of people who seemed to be getting on perfectly well, undisturbed in their domestic lives until they realise it was all a very thin veneer of normality. (After writing the review I noticed that one of the editorial reviews pointed at that too. Great minds…) Although it is true that the women get into survival mode when things get difficult, the comparison to Lord of the Flies is too extreme, in my opinion, as the characters’ motivations go beyond pure survival and are more complex and nuanced even when things get extremely ugly.

I enjoyed the book. Harper writes very well and can truly flesh out situations and landscapes, making us feel as if we were there with the protagonists. I agree with the reviewers who query some of the details of the story (yes, the organisation of the adventure does not seem to be very well-planned, for example), and I felt that some of the red-herrings and clues suggested more interesting directions than those finally explored (the previous murders committed there keep being hinted at but are not fully explained), and some I feel are possibly left open. The ending… Well, let’s say the resolution of the case itself is not a huge surprise, but I enjoyed the overall ending.

And after reading some of the reviews and the comments about Harper’s first novel, I have started reading it, so I’ll let you know what I think.

An author who’s made a deserved great impression and a mystery for those who prefer a slower pace and great writing, rather than a thrill a minute. Definitely recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley, to Little, Brown Books Group and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog LINDISFARNE (PROJECT RENOVA BOOK 2) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) That rare thing. A second strong book in a trilogy. #Bookreview #Post-apocalyptic

Hi all:

I bring you the review of book 2 in the Project Renova series. In case you haven’t read it, this is my review of Tipping Point, book 1 in the series. (Yes, I enjoyed it!)

Lindisfarne. Project Renova Book 2 by Terry Tyler
Lindisfarne. Project Renova Book 2 by Terry Tyler

Lindisfarne (Project Renova Book 2) by Terry Tyler

‘You’re judging this by the standards of the old world. But that’s gone. We don’t live there any more.’

Six months after the viral outbreak, civilised society in the UK has broken down. Vicky and her group travel to the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, where they are welcomed by an existing community.

New relationships are formed, old ones renewed. The lucky survivors adapt, finding strength they didn’t know they possessed, but the honeymoon period does not last long. Some cannot accept that the rules have changed, and, for just a few, the opportunity to seize power is too great to pass up. Egos clash, and the islanders soon discover that there are greater dangers than not having enough to eat.

Meanwhile, in the south, Brian Doyle discovers that rebuilding is taking place in the middle of the devastated countryside. He comes face to face with Alex Verlander from Renova Workforce Liaison, who makes him an offer he can’t refuse. But is UK 2.0 a world in which he will want to live?

Lindisfarne is Book 2 in the Project Renova series, sequel to Tipping Point (Book 1).
A book of related short stories, entitled Patient Zero, features back and side-stories from minor characters, and should be available in November, 2017. Book 3 is due in mid 2018.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lindisfarne-Project-Renova-Book-2-ebook/dp/B075WDTK9L/

https://www.amazon.com/Lindisfarne-Project-Renova-Book-2-ebook/dp/B075WDTK9L/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of fifteen books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Lindisfarne’, the second book in her new post apocalyptic series. She is proud to be self-published, is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and writes for one of their main fansites. She lives in the north east of England with her husband, and is still trying to learn Geordie.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM/

My review:

When I read (and reviewed) Tipping Point, the first novel in the Project Renova series, I guessed that setting the next story in Lindisfarne would bring things to the boil. If the first book introduced us to the main characters and set up the background of the story (how the population of the world had been decimated by a virus, the conspiracy that was behind what had happened, and a group of survivors set on creating a new life for themselves), the second one moves on from there and places a number of characters, with their personal crises, their problems, and their different origins and values, together in a very restricted environment. Lindisfarne is a wonderful place, but as I had observed before, is it not easy to hide there, and emotions are bound to ride high when people who would not normally have chosen to live together are thrown in close proximity to each other with no easy way out.

The author does a great job, again, of creating and developing characters that are real, with complex motivations (not all black or white), and whom we get to care about (well, some we get to truly dislike). The story is told the points of view of several characters. Some of the accounts are in the first person. Vicky, the woman who was the main character of the first book is still the central character here, but she shares her first-person narration with her daughter Lottie (who just becomes more and more fabulous as she grows, and she talks and thinks like a girl her age, even if a very strong and determined one) and Heath, the man she loves (but whom she has difficulty committing to). Some are in the third person. We are given a privileged insight into Wedge’s twisted mind (he is a biker who escaped prison in the first book and he reaches the island looking for revenge, and well, yes, he finds it), and the story of Doyle (a guy who was a data analyst and was involved in the running of the Renova project at a worker-bee level) who wanders alone most of the time until he stumbles across the next stage of project Renova is also included, although he is not part of the community. The stories of those two, Wedge and Doyle, are told in the third person, perhaps because they are the characters that are more closed-off and we are less likely to identify with (although we still see things from their points of view, not always pleasant, I might add). Doyle’s character also allows us to get a glimpse into what is going on in the world at large and what the forces pulling the strings are planning next. There is a chapter, a particularly dramatic one, where several points of view are used, for very good reason, but in the rest, it is clear who is talking, and there is no head hopping. The different points of view help give readers a better sense of the characters thanks to the varied perspectives and also provide us with some privileged information that makes us be less surprised by what happens than some of the characters are.

Vicky, who matured during the first book, continues to get stronger, but she goes through quite a few harrowing experiences in this book, she still finds it difficult to make decisions (she always thinks about everybody else’s needs first) and is sometimes two steps forward and one step back. When she comes face to face with the man she thought she could not live without again, she makes an understandable choice, but not one we’ll like. Later on, things take a turn for the better, but… The rest of the characters… I’ve mentioned Lottie. She’s great and I loved the chapters from her point of view. And we have an official psychopath baddie, but, well, let’s say he’s not the worst one of the lot. (To be truthful, I prefer an all-out ‘honest’ baddie to somebody who pretends to be good and do everything for others when he’s a lying, good-for-nothing… Well, you catch my drift).

I don’t want to give you too many details about the plot, but let’s say that we discover quite a few secrets, we come to meet characters we’d only heard about before and see them in all their glory (or not), there are strange alliances, issues of law and order, cheating, fights, and even murders. And we get a scary peep into what the future holds.

As I had said in my review for the first one, due to the care and attention given to the characters, and to the way the small community is configured (we get to know everybody and it is a bit like soap opera but in a post-apocalyptic environment), this book will be enjoyed also by people who don’t usually read this genre of novels. There is a fabulous sense of place and the author manages to use the island (its history, its landscape, and its location) to its utmost advantage. The books need to be read in order to truly understand the story, the development of the characters, and their motivation. If you haven’t read Tipping Point, I recommend you start with that one and keep reading.

I know there is a book of short-stories being published later in the year and the third novel next year. I can’t wait to see what will happen next after the epilogue (and what Dex will be up to next). A great series and one that makes us question what makes us human, what do we really need to survive, and what makes us civilised (if we are).

I was provided an ARC copy of the novel that I freely chose to review.

Thanks to the author for her great book (and looking forward to the rest), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!

[amazon_link asins=’B074LSCX5M,B01CXA2K8E,B006423HGW,B00M17PHGW,B01LXQISIY,B016WNEEQO,B00JX5ZU30′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’24f63217-b31c-11e7-b68a-c36c96136492′]

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Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview THE BLEEDERS (DAEMONS OF LONDON Book 1) by Michaela Haze (@MichaelaHaze) For lovers of paranormal romance with dark touches and a subtext of mental illness

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book that is not in one of my usual genres. This time it wasn’t the book for me.

The Bleeders (Daemons of London. Book 1) by Michaela Haze
The Bleeders (Daemons of London. Book 1) by Michaela Haze

The Bleeders (Daemons of London – Book 1) by Michaela Haze

The Bleeders is a Psychological, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance.
“This is one of the best books I have read in a LONG time” – Casey Ann Books, Goodreads
“Wow this is one of the darkest, sexiest, romantic novels ever” – Cassandra, Reviewer, Goodreads

All I wanted was to kill them. The people that murdered my sister.
Little did I know that the man I hired to do the job, Henry Blaire, was an incubus. A soul-sucking monster that can kill with one touch.
He’s dark, dangerous and addictive. Literally.
There is a word for people like me. People that drink daemon blood to become powerful, beautiful and strong.
They call us The Bleeders.

This story is not a typical HEA and it doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending.
It has themes of self-harm, mental illness, co-dependency, grief and addiction.

The Human Herders – Daemons of London – Book 2 – is now available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Bleeders-Daemons-London-Book-ebook/dp/B01M1MV2LG/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bleeders-Daemons-London-Book-ebook/dp/B01M1MV2LG/

Author Michaela Haze
Author Michaela Haze

About the author:

Michaela Haze is a dog lover, mum of one and a writer of paranormal, urban fantasy romance. She lives in Hertfordshire. Her ‘real life’ job is as a videographer for a well-known retailer. In her spare time, she eats copious amounts of Japanese food.

https://www.amazon.com/Michaela-Haze/e/B007RU1S0C/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to Rosie (check here if you’re an author seeking reviews) and to the author for sending me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

When the author contacted me, she made a very good case for me to read and review this book. A book where the protagonist self-harmed, had mental health problems and believed she was in love with an incubus and it was mutual, seemed very appropriate for me. I am not a big reader of paranormal books (I love horror, but have found that a lot of paranormal books focus more on romance and erotica, both genres, particularly erotica, that I don’t usually read). Unfortunately for me, the book had a fair amount of paranormal elements, well, the version of paranormal that I’m not so fond of and that outweighed (at least for me) the other aspects.

The story is told in several parts, always in the first person, from the point of view of Sofia (she prefers to be called Fia, and insists on it for much of the book). In the first part, we meet her when she is at a mental health facility and she is introduced to a new doctor that reminds her of a man from her past, Henry. At the insistence of this new doctor (she seems to be experiencing hallucinations, as she sees the Henry from her past and her sister, Melanie, who died some time back, while she is conversing with the doctor), she starts telling the story of how she got there.

Hers seems to be a story of grief and revenge. Sofia’s sister, Melanie, died in suspicious circumstances (of a Heroin overdose but the details are not straightforward), and she blames two men whom she is determined to get revenge on. To that effect, she visits a strange character, Henry. The rest of this part is the story of her obsession (that seems mutual) with this man she knows little about, but the more she learns, the weirder it gets. Sofia is grieving for her sister’s death, and self-harms (this part is graphic and realistic), smokes, drinks, hardly eats and seems to barely function. Her life is on a downward spiral until she meets Henry. And then things get… well, much worse. I know some readers don’t appreciate first person narrations, and although I normally don’t have any issues with them, this one I had difficulty with. Although I empathise with the protagonist’s predicament, her sudden love for a guy who is, at best a contract killer, and at worse… a demon, I did not find it that easy to understand (I know is standard fare in the genre, but perhaps that is one of the reasons why I don’t read it, as I find the suspension of disbelief a bit beyond me). Although we are not told her age, to me she seemed to act younger than the rest of the details of the story indicated she was. Perhaps it is to do with something she herself comments later in the book. She states she cannot remember who she was before all changed and we are not given any indication of the type of person she was, making it difficult to create a clear psychological picture in our minds. Of course, that is not helped by her mental state. Her constant mentions of the way the man looks, how attractive he is, his mahogany hair (I almost stopped reading when I read about it for the umpteenth time), and also the way she always describes herself by contemplating herself in a mirror and never just talks (but mutters, scowls, groans, hisses…), and uses adjectives and adverbs randomly (and some wrongly) made it a hard read for me. (It made me think of much of the advice written about how to improve one’s writing that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.) I appreciate the author’s note saying that she did the correcting herself and that this was the second edition, but it would benefit from some professional editing. (I have noticed that the book has now a new cover, so it might be that there is a more recent version that has corrected some of these issues).

Part 2 shows us (after a brief interlude in the present day) Sofia a year later when Henry has left her life and she has become a Bleeder. I won’t describe the entire plot in detail, but let’s say that Henry isn’t quite gone and she ends up near Doncaster and…

Part 3. We are back in the mental health institution and Sofia makes some interesting discoveries about the doctor she has been talking to that make her question her insanity.

If you follow my blog and my reviews, you’ll know that I am always intrigued by narrators, especially unreliable narrators, and due to her mental state, Sofia is very unreliable. I have mentioned my difficulties with the writing style (that might have been solved and I know some of the issues are personal, so, do check the book and see what you think). It is difficult to talk about the characters as everything is filtered through Sofia’s disturbed mind. I have already talked about her. Henry, well, due to her adoration it is difficult to get any clear sense of what he is like (a dark hero, I guess). I liked his friend William much better. He is politically incorrect and has a sense of humour, something that gives us a bit of breathing space from the emotionally charged story that dominates most of the book. Some aspects of the plot are intriguing, and the UK locations and the idea of folds in space where our world connects to ‘Hell’ I found interesting, but I felt that the book would be better appreciated by younger readers and those more interested in the romantic and paranormal aspects of the story.

From the point of view of the mental health issues, I think the book might be difficult to read for people who self-harm and who have lost somebody recently. Some of the descriptive writing is well achieved, especially when Sofia finds herself lost in the woods, and the first person writing makes us share in her confusion and fear. As a psychiatrist, I must clarify that some of the events described would never take place in a hospital, but this is a novel.

From reading the reviews I know that many readers love this novel and the series, so don’t let me put you off. I would advise you to check a sample of the book and to try it if you enjoy paranormal novels with a big dose of romance and you don’t mind first-person narrations. Ah, there is some sexual content, although not extremely explicit (and it does not take up much of the book).

Thanks to Rosie and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

 

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Book launch Escaping Psychiatry launch FREE Writing samples

#Booklaunch. It’s out! FREE chapter 6 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #Tuesdaybookblog

Hi all:

I finally published the prequel in a few places last week and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . If you find it is not, could you do me a big favour and report that you’ve seen it free elsewhere? That will make them change the price. Thanks!

 

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret

How far would a writer go for a killer story? This is the question psychiatrist Mary Miller must answer to solve the first mystery/thriller of her career. You can get to know the main characters of this psychological thriller series for FREE and test your own acumen and intuition in this novella about the price of ambition.

Dr Mary Miller is a young psychiatrist suffering a crisis of vocation. Her friend Phil, a criminalist lawyer working in New York, invites her to visit him and consult on the case of a writer accused of a serious assault. His victim had been harassing him and accusing him of stealing his story, which he’d transformed into a best-selling book. The author denies the allegation and claims it was self-defence. When the victim dies, things get complicated. The threshold between truth and fiction becomes blurred and secrets and lies unfold.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.

If you enjoy this novella, don’t forget to check Mary’s further adventures. And there are more to come.
Here you can check a preview live:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE  SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY
But as I promised you to publish the whole of the story in my blog, here is Chapter 6. But don’t forget to download the story, to tell people about it, and if you like it, to review it too if you can.

6.     The Surprise

Phil had always considered himself a keen observer and used to joke with Mary that he was an amateur psychologist. It was true that such skills as he had were very useful in his line of work. He watched Ryan and Mary’s interaction on the drive back to New York. He’d secretly wondered if those two would hit it off, but worried that asking directly would scare Mary off. She didn’t take interference in those kinds of matters too kindly. Still, once they had dropped Ryan off at his apartment, on the way back to his, Phil asked Mary, “So, what do you think?”

“What do I think about what? Your boss’s place is amazing, although I wouldn’t say I necessarily liked his guests or the highly artificial lifestyle. I doubt anybody there has expressed their true feelings even once in the whole weekend. Well, perhaps one person.”

“Are you talking about…”

“Lance. I think you were too far away, but a woman seating opposite us made some pretty  unkind comment about Miles Green and he became quite angry and gave her a piece of his mind.”

“Oh…I thought you were talking about Ryan.”

Mary smiled. “Ryan always speaks his mind, it seems. Even when it would be to his advantage not to. I like him.” Phil wondered what his expression was like, because Mary looked at him and shook her head from side to side. “No, no, don’t you start trying to pair me up with Ryan. It will never work. I think we might get to be good friends but I can’t imagine it going anywhere.”

Phil sighed and looked at Mary before manoeuvring to park the car. “I could try to fix you up with Lance, but I know he’s in very high demand. It might be difficult.”

“Oh, don’t go around trying to fix me up with anybody, please. And, are you insinuating that Lance is too good for me?”

“No, of course not! You’re far too good for him, but you know that certain girls only go after the flashy individuals.”

Mary looked at Phil sideways but eventually smiled. Phew! He’d got a reprieve.

“Well, I’ll finish packing and I should get going. I’m working tomorrow. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been interesting.”

“I’m sure it will carry on being interesting. And I’m sure Percy will want your help in future cases, if not this one.”

“I think Oliver Fenton is a lost cause, at least in regards to a possible assessment. Not to worry. It’s better that way. I wouldn’t have liked to have to go and give evidence about him. I suspect I would have done more harm than good to his cause. Although perhaps that’s not necessarily bad.”

Phil accompanied Mary to the train station and they said goodbye before Mary got on the train.

“Thanks again, Phil. And keep me posted on any news.”

“I will. Of course I will. And don’t forget to give me a call once you get home. Let me know you’re well.”

“Yes, Mom.”

They kissed and Phil watched as Mary walked down the platform and climbed into a carriage. He went back home wondering why Mary was so stubborn about relationships. It was true that perhaps his personal example hadn’t done much to encourage her to try but…

The next few days at work were incredibly bizarre, and Phil hardly had any time to think about anything that wasn’t work related. On Thursday evening he decided to avoid another after-work drink to unwind and went home. He had to stop to do some food shopping on the way, as he had hardly spent any time at his apartment since Mary left, other than a few hours to sleep. He had a shower, ate something, and as he was going to turn the TV on, decided to phone Mary first. He wanted to know what she’d made of the news. She answered quickly.

“Hi, Mary.”

“Hi, Phil.”

“You’re not on call or anything, are you?”

“No, no, don’t worry. I’d been thinking about you. I was reading an interview with Oliver Fenton yesterday, and yes, I couldn’t help but think about you, Fenton…well, the whole firm.”

“Well, there have been a few changes.”

“Really? Are you at liberty to talk about it?” Mary’s voice sounded mocking.

“You’re in Percy’s confidence, so I guess it’s OK. The truth is it will all be common knowledge soon, although I doubt you’d hear about it yourself.”

“OK, OK. You got me intrigued. Tell me the news.”

“Lance… You’ll never guess. Lance went and—”

“Left the firm.”

Phil was flabbergasted. How on earth had she guessed?

“Did you know? You must have known. You’d never in a million years have been able to guess such a thing. It took all of us by surprise! Did Ryan phone you?”

“Ryan? He doesn’t have my phone number. No, of course not.”

“How did you know, then?”

“You should already know I have a crystal ball. That must have been a shock for everybody.”

Phil was intrigued, but suspected that the more he asked, the less likely he’d be to get a straight answer. It might be better to just carry on with the conversation and perhaps it would slip out. He knew he was clutching at straws but he couldn’t think of anything else to say to convince Mary to spill the beans.

“Yes. Absolutely. And the way he did it, too. He just turned up quite early on Monday, walked into Percy’s office unannounced, leaving the door open, and said that he was quitting. That he’d made a mistake and he cared too much for ethics and morality to carry on playing games. That he didn’t want to side with the rich and powerful any longer. And he walked out. Percy was left there, opening and closing his mouth like a fish. It was a sight!”

“I would love to have seen it. And what’s happened with the case? Who has taken the lead?”

“Percy doesn’t seem prepared to let any more surprises come his way and has decided to take charge personally. His name was already on the papers anyway. Of course, that means that the rest of us are running around him, carrying and fetching like headless chickens. But still…”

“Will he have enough time to prepare?”

“There’s a month left until the official date of the trial, but with the change in the team he was talking about asking for an adjournment. A couple of weeks or so.”

“Yes, that would be handy. And how is everybody else?”

Phil was on the phone to Mary for a few more minutes, but she kept him distracted talking about all kinds of things, never referring back to Lance or her mysterious knowledge. Perhaps next time.

Just in case you’ve missed the previous chapters and prefer to read them in my blog, here are the links:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99 until the end of February. Rather than give you the description, you can have a look a read and preview it directly from here:

And a few links:

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE   SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER  GOOGLE PAPER

It’s also available in audio and you can check it here (not at $0.99).

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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