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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog #THELOSTMAN by Jane Harper (@LittleBrownUK)(@caolinndouglas) (@GraceEVincent) (@janeharperautho) As good, if not better, than Harper’s previous books. Read it now! #TheLastMan

I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the launch of this fabulous book by an author whose two previous books I have loved so much. And I’m not the only one.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Two brothers meet in the remote Australian outback when the third brother is found dead, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

Two brothers meet at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback. In an isolated belt of Western Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbor, their homes four hours’ drive apart.

The third brother lies dead at their feet.

Something caused Cam, the middle child who had been in charge of the family homestead, to die alone in the middle of nowhere.

So the eldest brother returns with his younger sibling to the family property and those left behind. But the fragile balance of the ranch is threatened. Amidst the grief, suspicion starts to take hold, and the eldest brother begins to wonder if more than one among them is at risk of crumbling as the weight of isolation bears down on them all.

Dark, suspenseful, and deeply atmospheric, The Lost Man is the highly anticipated next book from the bestselling and award-winning Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/0349142130/

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper/dp/0349142130/

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper-ebook/dp/B07FM4HQ9N/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Man-Jane-Harper-ebook/dp/B07FM4HQ9N/

Author Jane Harper
Author Jane Harper

About the author:

Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry is an atmospheric thriller set in regional Australia.
The novel won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015 and rights have since been sold in more than 20 territories.
The Dry was a No.1 bestseller in Australia and has been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s production company, Pacific Standard.
Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her family.

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Harper/e/B001KI8MCE/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little, Brown Book Group UK, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. I’m also grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the launch of the book. After having read both of Jane Harper’s previous books, The Dry (you can check my review here) and Force of Nature (here is my review), I rushed to grab this one as soon as I saw it was available. And yes, although it is quite different from the other two, it is another winner.

The two previous books, two thrillers/mysteries, had as protagonist Aaron Falk, a federal investigator of fraud and related crimes, who somehow gets involved in cases outside his comfort zone, for different reasons. Here, there is no professional investigator (however loosely Falk’s credentials might relate to the mystery at hand). I had mentioned in my reviews of the two previous books the fact that the stories put me in mind of domestic noir, and this is even more the case here. It might sound strange to talk about noir when the setting is the Australian outback (the nearest town is Balamara, Winton, Queensland), but plot and character-wise, it fits neatly into the category. And it is atmospheric, for sure. Harper is masterful at making us feel as if we were there, in this unusual and totally unique place, where going out for a walk might end up getting you killed.

The story is set around Christmas time, (summer in Australia), and is told in the third person from the point of view of Nathan Bright, the oldest son of the Bright family, who lives alone in his farm after his divorce, four hours away from the rest of his family, and very far from his ex-wife and his son, Xander, who live in Brisbane. Xander is visiting his father for Christmas (he is sixteen and due to his studies it is likely this might be the last Christmas they spend together for the foreseeable future), and as they prepare to celebrate the holidays, Nathan gets a call. His middle brother, Cameron, has been found dead in pretty strange circumstances. His dead body was by the stockman’s grave, a grave in the middle of the desert subject of many stories and local legends, and a place Cameron had made popular thanks to one of his paintings. Bub, the younger brother, is waiting for Nathan and explains to him that their brother’s car was found nine miles away, in perfect working order, fully stocked with food and water. So, what was their brother doing there, and why did he die of dehydration? When the questions start coming, it seems that Cam, a favourite in town and well-liked by everybody, had not been himself recently and seemed worried. Was it suicide then, or something else?

Nathan is not the typical amateur detective of cozy mysteries, another aspect that reminds me of domestic noir. He is not somebody who enjoys mysteries, or a secret genius, and he only gets involved because he keeps observing things that don’t seem to fit in with the official explanation. As this is his family, he cannot help but keep digging and has to remain involved because, for one, he has to attend his brother’s funeral. The main characters in domestic noir tend to have troubled lives and be hindered by their problems, no matter how convinced they are that they have it all under control. As the book progresses, they learn how wrong they are. In this case, Nathan is a flawed character and lacks insight into his state of mind and that of his life. He has committed some terrible mistakes (perhaps even unforgivable ones), and he is the black sheep of the family, in appearance at least. As you might expect, things are not as they seem, and during the book he grows and learns, and not only about his brother’s death. Nathan might not be the most familiar of characters or the most immediately sympathetic to many readers due to his closed-off nature, but through the novel we also learn about his past and the circumstances that made him the man he is now.

The clues to the case appear at a slow pace and naturally, rather than feeling forced, and they do not require a lot of procedural or specialized knowledge. There are also red herrings, but most of them go beyond an attempt at wrong-footing readers, and provide important background information that helps build up a full picture of the people and the place. In style, the book reminds us of old-fashioned mysteries, without extreme violence or excessive attention being paid to the procedures of the police or to complex tests. No DNA tests and no CSI on sight here. This is a book about characters, motivations, and the secrets families keep.

In contrast to the first two novels written by Harper, this book is deceptively simple in its structure. The book takes place over a few days, around Christmas, and, as I said, it is all told from the point of view of Nathan. The story is told chronologically, although there are moments when we get some important background into the story, be it thanks to Nathan’s memories, or to episodes and events narrated to him by other characters. The book manages to keep a good balance between showing and telling and it is very atmospheric, although it moves at its own pace, meandering and perfectly suited to the setting. I’ve never visited the Australian outback and have never experienced anything like the extreme weather conditions described in the book, but I felt the oppressive sensation, the heat, the agoraphobia induced by the open spaces, and the horror of imagining yourself in Cam’s circumstances. The initial setting, with the lonely gravestone, made me think of a Western, and the life in the ranch, isolated and extreme, where surviving requires a daily fight against the elements, made the story feel primordial and timeless. Although the story is set in modern times (there is no specific date, but despite the distance from civilisation, there is talk of mobiles, internet, GPS, etc.), due to the location, people are forced to live as if time had not truly moved on, and they have to depend on themselves and those around them, because if your car or your air conditioning break down, it could mean your death.

Apart from her evident skill in describing Australia and everyday life in the outback (she refers to her research and sources in her acknowledgments), the author is masterful at creating characters that are multi-dimensional and psychologically and emotionally believable, as I explained when talking about the main protagonist. These are people used to living alone and not allowing their vulnerabilities to show. Even within the family, its members keep secrets from each other and don’t share their feelings, although they might all know about what has happened, because that’s what they’ve always seen and known, and perhaps they believe that if you don’t talk about it you can keep it contained. The secrets are slowly revealed, and although many readers will suspect the nature of some of them, that does not diminish their power and impact. The themes discussed are, unfortunately, very current, and although I won’t talk about them in detail, to avoid spoilers, I am sure they will resonate with most readers. Although the ending will probably not be a huge surprise to most readers, it is built up expertly, and I found it very satisfying.

I had to share a couple of samples of writing, although it was a hard choice:

In the centre was a headstone, blasted smooth by a hundred-year assault from sand, wind and sun. The headstone stood a metre tall and was still perfectly straight. It faced west, towards the desert, which was unusual out there. West was rarely anyone’s first choice.

The name of the man buried beneath had long since vanished and the landmark was known to locals —all sixty-five of them, plus 100,000 head of cattle— simply as the stockman’s grave. That piece of land had never been a cemetery; the stockman had been put into the ground where he had died, and in more than a century no-one had joined him.

There was something about the brutal heat when the sun was high in the sky and he was watching the slow meandering movement of the herds. Looking out over the wide-open plains and seeing the changing colours in the dust. It was the only time when he felt something close to happiness… It was harsh and unforgiving, but it felt like home.

In sum, this is a book for people who enjoy an unusual mystery and books focused on characters rather than fast-paced plots. If you love well-written books, and don’t mind investing some time into the story and its characters, especially if you are keen on an Australian setting, you should not miss this one. I will be on the lookout for the author’s next book.

Thanks to NetGalley the publisher and to this author I wholeheartedly recommend, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE VIOLIN’S MAN LEGACY by Seumas Gallacher (@seumasgallacher) If you enjoy well-researched international thrillers and love team-spirit, don’t miss this one #thriller #Iamreading

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book (an audiobook!) by an author I have known for a while and I follow on social media, but somehow I hadn’t read any of his fiction yet. Well, it was worth the wait.

The Violin Man's Legacy by Seumas Gallacher, narrated by C.C. Hogan
The Violin Man’s Legacy by Seumas Gallacher, narrated by C.C. Hogan

THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY (Jack Calder Crime Series #1) by seumas gallacher

Thriller with bloody twists and turns as ruthless killers meet their match in a former SAS hit squad.

Jack Calder is an ex-SAS soldier working with former colleagues at ISP, a specialist security firm. He is sent to investigate a murderous diamond heist in Holland, but swiftly learns that there is a very strong Far East connection. He then travels to Hong Kong where he meets the glamorous chief of ISP’s local bureau, May-Ling.

Together they begin to unravel a complex web of corruption. The twin spiders at the centre of this web are the Chan brothers, leaders of one of Hong Kong’s most ruthless and powerful triad gangs.

The trail of death and mayhem coils across Europe, Hong Kong and South America until all the scores are settled.

A Jack Calder Novel

https://www.amazon.com/VIOLIN-MANS-LEGACY-Calder-Crime-ebook/dp/B005D7JNCQ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/VIOLIN-MANS-LEGACY-Calder-Crime-ebook/dp/B005D7JNCQ/

Audio:

https://www.amazon.com/Violin-Mans-Legacy-Calder-Crime/dp/B077YN892M/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Violin-Mans-Legacy-Calder-Crime/dp/B077YMHNF7/

Author Seumas Gallacher
Author Seumas Gallacher

About the author:

SEUMAS GALLACHER escaped from the world of finance eight years ago, after a career spanning three continents and five decades.

As the self-professed ‘oldest computer Jurassic on the planet’ his headlong immersion into the dizzy world of eBook publishing opened his eyes, mind, and pleasure to the joys of self-publishing. As a former businessman, he rapidly understood the concept of a writer’s need to ‘build the platform’, and from a standing start began to develop a social networking outreach, which now tops 30,000 direct contacts.

His first four crime-thrillers, in what has become the ‘Jack Calder’ series, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY, VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK, SAVAGE PAYBACK and KILLER CITY have blown his mind with more than 90,000 e-link downloads to date. The fifth in the series, DEADLY IMPASSE, is due for launch in the third quarter 2016. When he reaches the 100,000 sales/downloads mark he may indulge an extra Fried Mars Bar to celebrate.

He started a humorous, informative, self-publishers blog, never having heard of a ‘blog’ prior to that, was voted ‘Blogger of the Year 2013’ and now has a loyal blog following on his networks. He says the novels contain his ‘Author’s Voice’, while the blog carries his ‘Author’s Brand’. And he’s still LUVVIN IT!

Here is the blog, which I recommend:

https://seumasgallacher.com/

My review:

I had read Gallacher’s Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales (you can check my review here) a while back and had several of his books waiting to be read but had not managed yet. But when his first novel, The Violin Man’s Legacy became available in audiobook format, I knew I had no excuse.

Although I tend to use the text-to-speech facility on my e-reader, I haven’t listened to many audiobooks (mostly my own) so I was intrigued by the experience. I found the narrator, C.C. Hogan, engaging, able to hold my attention, and very good at keeping the characters separate (and there are quite a few!) and individual. He is also very good at accents and managed the international locations and names without faltering. Unfortunately, my Kindle is quite old by now and could not accommodate the Whispersync option, that would have made it easier to check some things (like names and details), as I also had a copy of the Kindle version of the book.

I’m not a huge reader of spy novels, and although this book is classified within the crime and suspense thriller category, this international action-thriller reminded me in style of many spy/international conspiracy novel, although with a more European feel, and less frantic in pace than many American spy thrillers. There is plenty of action, and even some sex (and yes, the main character is incredibly skilled, can fight like the best of them, and outwit his opponents, although the brains behind the operation is his boss), but there are also slower moments when we learn the back story, not only of the main characters, like Jack and his teammates, but also of some of the people they collaborate with, and even some of their enemies. This allows us to get to know more about the players and to understand how they got to where they are. (The story behind the title and the way it relates to Jack’s past is particularly touching).

The book is narrated in the third person, from a variety of points of view. We mostly follow Jack Calder (as it should be, as this is his series), but we also are party to the thoughts of many other characters, although there is no confusing head-hopping, and even in the narrated version, it is clear which point of view we are being privy to at any given moment. This helps create a more complex story, with layers of information and to get a better grasp of what the different players have at stake. There are those who are only interested in money, others involved in power games and politics, and others for whom reputation and loyalty are the main objects.

The story takes us from London to Amsterdam, Hong-Kong, and South America, and the author is meticulous and well-informed, providing credible settings and a detailed exposition of the procedures and operations that brings to mind the best police procedural novels. But although we follow each detail of the investigations and the operations, there are always surprises to keep us on our toes.

Jack Calder, the central character, is a breath of fresh air in a genre where heroes are almost superhuman and can fight entire wars single-handedly. Although Jack, an ex-SAS captain, is indeed great at his job, he is traumatised by a family tragedy; he is self-deprecating and knows when to give credit where credit is due. He can follow orders and acknowledges his bosses’ superior planning skills. He is also a friend of his friends, and a loyal team-player and the novel highlights how important good relationships and contacts are in the world of international security firms and businesses.

I loved the fact that the characters talk like real people talk (yes, they use clichés sometimes, make bad jokes, and sometimes are lost for words), and, although there is violence and terrible things happen (justice and law are not always on the same side of the divide), there are also very funny moments.

The writing style is fluid and the pace ebbs and flows, with moments that are fast-paced and others that allow us to catch a breath and learn more about the ins and outs of the businesses and the characters involved. Readers need to remain alert, as there are many characters, locations, and plot threads, and, it is important to pay attention to the details.

I recommend this book to those who love spy and international intrigue thrillers, especially to readers who like complex situations and stories with plenty of twists and turns, but who don’t mind stopping to take a breath every so often. A great first book in the series and many great characters I hope to meet again.

Thanks to the author for his book (and to the narrator for his interpretation), thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

 

[amazon_link asins=’B01M0U7DR8,B008H45KJC,B01B7IMYES,B00JBL6K80,B01L25Y99Y,1500731927,B00G00GZEO’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’65c64a0b-0ff8-11e8-860b-13d0e057b68d’]

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE FOURTH MONKEY by J.D. Barker (@jdbarker) (@HQstories) A solid thriller, with an intriguing dynamic between the lead investigator and the killer

Hi all:

I read this novel a few weeks back but I decided to wait until it became available to share the review. It is doing quite well, so…

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

The Fourth Monkey: A twisted thriller – perfect edge-of-your-seat summer reading by J.D. Barker

Brilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

Review

“A talented writer with a delightfully devious mind.”
–Jeffery Deaver

“Not since Hannibal Lecter had a friend for dinner has a serial killer been so skillfully rendered on the page.”
―Taylor Elmore, Writer/Producer of Justified and Limitless

“Gripping, addictive, and devilishly clever. From its opening salvo The Fourth Monkey grabs you and never lets go. J. D. Barker is a stunning new talent.”
– Barry Lancet, award-winning author of Tokyo Kill and Pacific Burn

“A chillingly delicious page-turner.”
– NY Times Bestselling Author, Kelley Armstrong

“Creepy, scary… and impossible to put down! THE FOURTH MONKEY is everything a thriller should be―a must read!”
― Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author

“Gritty, masterful suspense. A dark ride into the mind of a genius killer, and those tasked with stopping him for good. Impeccably written with Barker’s trademark wit and penchant for killer detail. Lee Child, you’ve met your match.”
―Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Monkey-detective-edge-your-seat-ebook/dp/B01M2D5P3F/

https://www.amazon.com/Fourth-Monkey-detective-edge-your-seat-ebook/dp/B01M2D5P3F/

Author J. D. Barker
Author J. D. Barker

About the author:

J.D. Barker (Jonathan Dylan Barker) is an international bestselling American author who’s work has been broadly described as suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.

Early life and Career

Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public.

Barker’s indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

https://www.amazon.com/J.-D.-Barker/e/B005FCUYU4/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/J.-D.-Barker/e/B005FCUYU4/

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This novel ticks many of the boxes of successful thrillers: interesting and gruesome crimes (and a pretty bizarre serial killer), police procedural elements (and an investigating team easy to connect with and amusing at times), tension ticking (a girl has been taken by the 4MK [Four Monkey Killer] and she must be found before she dies), twists and turns (I suspect most avid readers of thrillers will guess some, at least, of them), red herrings… It is fairly long, although it keeps a good pace. If I missed anything, it was perhaps more psychological insight. And if we stop to think about it, the police force seems pretty ineffective but…

The story is told in chapters written in the third person from different points of view, mostly Porter’s (the lead investigator in the case although not fully back to work after some time off. We learn the reason later in the book) and Emory’s (the young victim), although there is the odd chapter from one of the other detective’s points of view, Clair. Interspersed with this we have fragments of the killer’s diary, which is found in the pocket of a man killed by a bus at the beginning of the book. The diary, that starts out pretty harmless, as the account of what seems to be a pretty normal childhood, gets creepier and creepier as it goes along and it provides an understanding (or justification of sorts) for the killer’s later behaviour (blood is thicker and all that, but there are also lies, secrets and betrayals. That is, if we are to believe the diary).  That and other aspects of the book (and I don’t want to say much to avoid spoilers) including the cat-and-mouse chase, provide us with some interesting insights into the mind of the killer and emphasise the fact that appearances can be very deceptive. A seemingly normal middle-class family can hide all kinds of dirty secrets. And upper-class families can too, as becomes evident through the book. The revenge/avenging aspect of the murders (the sins of the fathers are visited…) is not new, although it makes the murderer more intriguing.

The other parts of the book help move the story forward and the events are set chronologically, from the moment Porter is awakened by a phone call that brings him back to the police, as he’s been chasing the 4MK Killer for over five years. Although Porter’s point of view dominates the novel, I did not feel we got to know him all that well. Yes, something has happened to him (I guessed what it was early on) and he is suffering and unwilling to openly acknowledge that or discuss it; he is not keen on gadgets and seems utterly out of touch with new technologies and social media, and he is determined and driven, putting himself at risk repeatedly for the good of others. But, although I liked the fact that the team of detectives investigating the case were pretty normal individuals (not corrupt, not twisted and bitter, even when it would be more than justified, not morally ambiguous psychopaths), I still missed having more of a sense of who Porter really is. Clair has little page space and I got no sense of her own personality, other than knowing that she cares for Porter and her colleagues and she has an amusing love/dislike relationship with Nash (who is the character that provides the light relief throughout the book). In the case of Emory, who finds herself in a terrifying situation, we get to share her experiences with her, and it is one of the most effective portions of the book, adding to the tension and the need to keep turning the pages.

The style of writing is direct, with only the necessary descriptions to allow us to follow the investigation (including descriptions of clues and places. I particularly enjoyed the idea of the tunnels from bootlegging times that help bring the setting’s history into the novel). The chronological storyline and the signposting of the different points of view, make it a story dynamic and easy to read, and although it is perhaps longer than the norm in the genre it is a fairly quick read.

As I said, there are plenty of twists and turns, enough to keep one’s mind busy, although I suspect avid readers of the genre will guess a few of them, if not all. I have read some of the comments disparaging the fact that the police seem to be pretty ineffective and they only get to rescue the victim thanks to the clues left by the killer. Indeed, that is so (in fairness, Porter, who seems the most clued-on of the team and the expert on this case, is battling personal issues of his own and not at his best) but, if anything, that further emphasises the relationship between Porter and the killer. What attracts the killer to Porter? The ending (oh, yes, very satisfying, although, of course, it creates intrigue for the next book in the series) highlights that issue even more. I get the feeling that this series will improve as it goes along but only time will tell.

In summary, a story of evil hiding in unexpected places, of secrets and lies that are covered by a thin veneer of normality, and a solid police procedural thriller, with a main character and a killer whose relationship holds the key to more mysteries to come.  Ah, a word of warning. If you don’t like graphic violence and torture, you might want to give it a miss.

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

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Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Rosie's Book Team Review

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 2) by Jennifer S. Alderson (@JSAauthor) A well-paced mystery that takes us back to a fascinating and tragic historical era

Hi all:

I have another review I’ve written on behalf of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I think you’ll love this one!

The Lover's Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson
The Lover’s Portrait by Jennifer S. Alderson

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery (Adventures of Zelda Richardson Book 2) by Jennifer S. Alderson

When a homosexual Dutch art dealer hides the stock from his gallery – rather than turn it over to his Nazi blackmailer – he pays with his life, leaving a treasure trove of modern masterpieces buried somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably lost forever. That is, until American art history student Zelda Richardson sticks her nose in.

After studying for a year in the Netherlands, Zelda scores an internship at the prestigious Amsterdam Museum, where she works on an exhibition of paintings and sculptures once stolen by the Nazis, lying unclaimed in Dutch museum depots almost seventy years later. When two women claim the same portrait of a young girl entitled Irises, Zelda is tasked with investigating the painting’s history and soon finds evidence that one of the two women must be lying about her past. Before she can figure out which one it is and why, Zelda learns about the Dutch art dealer’s concealed collection. And that Irises is the key to finding it all.

Her discoveries make her a target of someone willing to steal – and even kill – to find the missing paintings. As the list of suspects grows, Zelda realizes she has to track down the lost collection and unmask a killer if she wants to survive.

** One of The Displaced Nation’s Top 36 Expat Fiction Picks of 2016 **

“Gripping mystery…the suspense is intensely magnetic and the characters equally captivating “ – BookLife Prize for Fiction 2016, No. 14 in Mystery category

“Well worth reading for what the main character discovers—not just about the portrait mentioned in the title, but also the sobering dangers of Amsterdam during World War II.” – IndieReader

“Jennifer S. Alderson delivers a mystery novel not quite like most. It’s not about stolen paintings, but about lives that were stolen… The Lover’s Portrait is a well-written mystery with engaging characters and a lot of heart. The perfect novel for those who love art and mysteries!“ – Reader’s Favorite, 5 star medal

“If you love history, a detailed mystery, and a lovely, yet not run of the mill heroine, then you will love The Lover’s Portrait.” – Author and blogger Vicki Turner Goodwin

“I highly recommend The Lover’s Portrait for artists, art lovers, history buffs, historical novel fans, and anyone else looking for a well-written, enjoyable read.” – Author Pamela Allegretto

This amateur sleuth mystery describes the plight of homosexuals and Jewish artists in Europe during World War II, as well as the complexities inherent to the restitution of artwork stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery draws on the author’s experiences gained while studying art history in the Netherlands and working for several Dutch museums.

Related subjects include: women sleuths, historical mysteries, amateur sleuth books, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), travel fiction, suspense, art crime, art theft, World War Two, art history.

https://www.amazon.com/Lovers-Portrait-Mystery-Adventures-Richardson-ebook/dp/B01EVVS0RI/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lovers-Portrait-Mystery-Adventures-Richardson-ebook/dp/B01EVVS0RI/

Author Jennifer S. Alderson

About the author:

Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After traveling extensively around Asia and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. There she earned degrees in art history and museum studies. Home is now Amsterdam, where she lives with her Dutch husband and young son.

Jennifer’s travels and experiences color and inform her internationally-oriented fiction. Her first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: adventures in backpacking, is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, her second book, is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam. Both are part of an on-going stand-alone series following the adventures of traveler and culture lover, Zelda Richardson.

Review and discuss her books on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/JenniferSAldersonAuthor), Twitter (@JSAauthor) or Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/JennifeSAlderson).

For more information about the author and her upcoming novels, please visit: http://www.JenniferSAlderson.com

My review:

Thanks to Rosie’s Book Review Team and to the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily chose to review. (If you are a writer and are interested in getting first-class reviews do check here).

I love art but cannot claim to be a connoisseur and I’ve never been to Amsterdam (well, I stopped at the airport to change planes once but that was that) but I can reassure you neither of those things prevented me from enjoying this solid mystery set within the world of big art museums and exhibitions, with a background story that would comfortably fit into the genre of historical fiction.

The story is written in the third person but from several characters’ point of view, although it is easy to follow and there is no head-hopping as each chapter, some longer and some shorter, is told from only one character’s point of view. There are two time frames. Some chapters are set in 1942 and tell the story of an art dealer from Amsterdam who is being blackmailed by one of the Nazi occupiers due to his homosexuality. In 2015, Zelda, the intrepid protagonist, is trying very hard to get into a Master’s Programme that will qualify her to work in museums and agrees to help with some very basic editing tasks for an exhibition of art objects confiscated by the Nazis that has been organised in an attempt at locating the rightful owners of the paintings. Readers get also a good insight into the thoughts and motivations of other characters (the evil nephew of the original Nazi blackmailer, Rita, the owner of one of the portraits in the exhibition, Huub, the curator of the exhibition…), although we mostly follow Zelda and her adventures. Although this is book 2 in the series, I have not read the first one and had no problem getting into the story. Zelda at times reflects upon how she got here and we learn that she moved from working with computers to a stay in Nepal teaching English and finally Amsterdam. In effect, I felt the novel was better at offering factual information about her than developing her character psychologically. I was not sure of her age but at times she seemed very naïve for somebody who has travelled extensively and has held important jobs, not only with the mystery side of things but also with her personal life, but she has the heart in the right place, and I appreciated the lack of romance in the story.

The different points of view and time changes help keep the suspense going, as we have access to more information than Zelda, but this can sometimes make matters more confusing (as we are not privy to everybody’s thoughts and there are a few red herrings thrown in for good measure). The author is also good at keeping us guessing and suspecting all kinds of double-crossings (perhaps I have been reading too many mystery books and thrillers but I didn’t trust anyone and was on the lookout for more twists than there were).

The setting of Amsterdam, both in the present and in the 1940s is very well depicted and, at least for me, the wish to go there increased as I read. I really enjoyed the description of the process of documentation and how to search for the provenance of artworks (the author explains her own background and its relevance to the subject [very] in an endnote that also offers ample bibliography)  that is sufficiently detailed without getting boring, and the background theme of the fate of art and the persecution of Jews, homosexuals and other minorities in occupied Europe is brought to life in the memories described by several of the characters and also the fictionalised entries of the art merchant. It is not difficult to see how a book about the research of actual works of art could be gripping too, and the fictionalisation and the mystery elements make it attractive to even more readers.

This is a gentle mystery, with no excessive or graphic violence, with an amateur sleuth who sometimes is far too daring and impulsive (although otherwise there would not be much of a story), with a great background and sufficient red herrings and clues to keep the suspense going. I suspect most readers will guess some aspects of the solution, but perhaps not the full details, and even if they do, the rest of the elements of the story make the reading worthwhile.

A good and solid book, an interesting intrigue that combines present and past, set in a wonderful Amsterdam and the art world, with likeable and intriguing characters,  but not heavy on the psychological aspects or too demanding.

Thanks so much to Rosie and the wonderful members of her team (don’t miss their reviews), thanks to the author, and thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK and REVIEW!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview THE PLANCK FACTOR by Debbi Mack (@debbimack) For readers with a good attention span who enjoy Hitchcockian suspense set within the world of science and books about writers

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book that I think will be of interest to a lot of you, especially the writers and those who like suspense thrillers. Another one of the discoveries through Rosie Amber’s Books Review Team (if you’re an author seeking reviews, check here).

The Planck Factor by Debbi Mack
The Planck Factor by Debbi Mack

The Planck Factor by Debbi Mack

“sharp, current and witty” — Terry Tyler (GoodReads Review)

On a dare, grad student Jessica Evans writes a thriller, creating a nightmare scenario based upon the theory that the speed of light is not a constant—one that has a dark application. Her protagonist (the fiancé of a scientist killed in a car crash) is pursued by those who want to use the theory to create the world’s most powerful weapon.
However, Jessica is soon running for her life when events mimic that of her protagonist. She’s threatened by terrorist conspirators who intend to use the knowledge to create an event that causes mass destruction. As the clock ticks down, Jessica must put the pieces together and avert a global catastrophe.

Inspired by a true story about a scientific challenge to Einstein’s theory of relativity.

“Thoroughly intriguing! A real page-turner.”
— Zoë Sharp, author of the best-selling Charlie Fox series

“Does art hold a mirror to life? Or does life mirror art? New York Times best-selling author Debbi Mack builds this surprising thriller layer upon layer with an ending that will make you want to read it all over again.”
— Donna Fletcher Crow, author of An All-Consuming Fire, The Monastery Murders

“Mack takes her reader on a roller-coaster ride with science, imagination, and a terrible possibility.”
— Peg Brantley, author of the Aspen Falls Thriller series

“[A] sleek tour-de-force exercise in Hitchcockian suspense about domestic terrorism, in which the McGuffin is a novel-within-the-novel and the novelist and her work intersect in unpredictable ways. Reality and fiction clash and spar for supremacy until the final paragraph.”
— W.D. Gagliani, author of Wolf’s Blind (The Nick Lupo Series) and Savage Nights 

Links: 

https://www.amazon.com/Planck-Factor-Debbi-Mack-ebook/dp/B01M19IP9Q/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Planck-Factor-Debbi-Mack-ebook/dp/B01M19IP9Q/

Author Debbi Mack
Author Debbi Mack

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbi Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sam McRae Mystery Series. She’s also published one young novel. In addition, she’s a Derringer-nominated short story writer, whose work has been published in various anthologies.

 Debbi is also a screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. Her first screenplay, The Enemy Within, made the Second Round in the 2014 Austin Film Festival screenplay contest and semifinals in the 2016 Scriptapalooza contest. 

A former attorney, Debbi has also worked as a journalist, librarian, and freelance writer/researcher. She enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies and espresso.

https://www.amazon.com/Debbi-Mack/e/B001K8UGIC/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely decided to review.

This thriller (technothriller according to Amazon) tells a complex story, or rather, tells several not so complex stories in a format that can make readers’ minds spin. A thriller about a student who decides, on a dare, to write a genre book (a thriller) and whose life becomes itself another thriller, one that seems to mix spies, conspiracies, terrorism, the possibility of the end of the world, and it all relates to quantum physics. (Or, as she describes it in the book: “…a suspense story with a hint of science fiction and a touch of espionage at its heart.”) The parallelisms between the story of Jessica Evans (the protagonist) and that of her fictional character, Alexis, become more convoluted and puzzling as the book progresses and the astounding coincidences will ring some alarm bells until we get to the end and… It is a bit difficult to talk about the book in depth without giving away any spoilers, but I’ll try my hardest.

This book will be particularly interesting for writers, not only because of its storytelling technique (talk about metafiction) but also because of the way the main protagonist (a concept difficult to define but Jessica is the one who occupies the most pages in the book and her story is told in the first person) keeps talking (and typing) about books and writing. No matter how difficult and tough things get, she has to keep writing, as it helps her think and it also seems to have a therapeutic effect on her. It is full of insider jokes and comments familiar to all of us who write and read about writing, as it mentions and pokes fun at rules (“Show, don’t tell. Weave in backstory. Truisms, guides, rules, pointers—call them what you will… And adverbs. Never use an adverb.”) and also follows and at the same time subverts genre rules (we have a reluctant heroine, well, two, varied MacGuffins and red herrings, mysteries, secrets, traitors and unexpected villains… and, oh yes, that final twist).

Each one of the chapters starts with the name of the person whose point of view that chapter is told about —apart from Alexis’s story, told in the third person, written in different typography, and usually clearly introduced, there are chapters from the point of view of two men who follow Jessica, so we know more than her, another rule to maintain suspense, and also from the point of view of somebody called Kevin, who sounds pretty suspicious— and apart from Jessica’s, all the rest are in the third person, so although the structure is somewhat complex and the stories have similarities and a certain degree of crossover, there is signposting, although one needs to pay attention. Overall, the book’s structure brought to my mind Heart of Darkness (where several frames envelop the main story) or the Cabinet of Dr Caligary (although it is less dark than either of those).

As you read the story, you’ll probably wonder about things that might not fit in, plot holes, or events that will make you wonder (the usual trope of the amateur who finds information much easier than several highly specialised government agencies is taken to its extremes, and some of the characteristics of the writing can be amusing or annoying at times, although, whose story are we reading?) but the ending will make you reconsider the whole thing. (I noticed how the characters never walked, they: “slid out”, “shimmied out”, “pounded”, “bounded down the steps”, “clamored down”…) As for the final twist, I suspected it, but I had read several reviews by other members of the team and kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. I don’t think it will be evident to anybody reading the story totally afresh.

The novel is too short for us to get more than a passing understanding and connection with the main character, especially as a big part of it is devoted to her fictional novel, (although the first person helps) and there are so many twists, secrets and agents and double-agents that we do not truly know any of the secondary characters well enough to care. Action takes precedence over psychological depth and although we might wonder about alliances, betrayals and truths and lies, there are no complex motivations or traumas at play.

Due to the nature of the mystery, the novel will also be of interest to those who enjoy stories with a scientific background, particularly Physics (although I don’t know enough about quantum physics to comment on its accuracy). A detailed knowledge of the subject is not necessary to follow the book but I suspect it will be particularly amusing to those who have a better understanding of the theory behind it. (The author does not claim expertise and thanks those who helped her with the research in her acknowledgements). The book also touches on serious subjects, including moral and ethical issues behind scientific research and the responsibility of individuals versus that of the state regarding public safety. But do not let that put you off. The book is a short, fast and action-driven story that requires a good attention span and will be particularly enjoyed by writers and readers who enjoy complex, puzzle-like mysteries, or more accurately, those who like stories that are like Russian dolls or Chinese boxes.

I enjoyed this book that is clever and knowing, and I’d recommend in particular to readers who are also writers or enjoy books about writers, to those who like conspiracies, spies and mysteries, especially those with a backstory of science and physics, and to people who prefer plot-driven books and who love Hitchcock, Highsmith and Murder She Wrote.

Thanks to Rosie and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, do leave a review if you read any books!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview BAUDELAIRE’S REVENGE by Bob Van Laerhoven (@bobvanlaerhoven) A dark, haunting and beautiful book #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As promised, I bring you some reviews. The author of this book contacted me and kindly offered to send me a paperback copy of his book (I must admit I don’t read many books in paper these days, but this one sounded so special I had to) and although it took me a while to get to it, it was well-worth it.

Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven. Cover
Baudelaire’s Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven

Baudelaire’s Revenge: A Novel by Bob Van Laerhoven

Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel – Winner of the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category Fiction: mystery/suspense

“A decadent tale. Commissioner Lefevre’s philosophical discussions with artists and poets and a creepy Belgian dwarf are fascinating.”–Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

Description:

It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil.

As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and séances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire’s controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet’s exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind’s Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III.

A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.

My review:

I was given a paperback copy of this book as a gift and I voluntarily chose to review it.

I’ve always admired the skill of writers who compose historical fiction, as together with the difficulty of creating a sound story that engages readers, they also have to accomplish the task of ensuring the setting is accurately rendered, the characters actions, dress, vocabulary and manners fit in the era chosen, without producing a dry work of scholarship marred by endless descriptions and explanations as to historical background.

I read plenty of thrillers and mystery novels (perhaps the genre fiction I read the most), but not so many within the historical fiction subgenre. This novel intrigued me for several reasons: the murders had a literary component (there were fragments of poems by Baudelaire left at the scene of the crimes, and there was a suggestion that the people murdered might have been Baudelaire’s enemies), they were set in the Paris of the 1870s, at a time of social and historical turmoil (with the Prussian invasion at its doors), and the protagonists sounded interesting in their own right. Both, Commissioner Lefèvre and Inspector Bouveroux are men haunted by their pasts and by their losses.

The author manages to create an oppressive and gothic atmosphere that reeks of lust, drugs, poverty, decadence, corruption, misery and illness. The wealthy and the aristocrats of the time stop at nothing to obtain pleasure, although some eventually come to pay the price for it, and there’s no safe refuge for virtue or right. There are no heroes coming to the rescue and even the characters we feel we should root for are deeply flawed. On the other hand, despite the subject matter that reflects Baudelaire’s choice of themes for his poems, and as happens with the poet’s own writings, the language is lyrical and beautiful in the extreme, and not only in the fragments of poems shared. I haven’t read the original novel in Dutch, but the translation by Brian Doyle is wonderfully written.

The story is told, for the most part, in the third person, alternating the points of view of the two main characters, Lefèvre and Bouveroux. Lefèvre is the more passionate of the two, a man tortured not only by the war in the North of Africa, that they both experienced together and has marked them but also by the loss of his sister, that we only get to fully understand very late in the story. Bouveroux is the rational one, a widower who still mourns his wife, but for whom books and research are a haven and, perhaps, the only way forward. He understands his superior better than others might and tries and cover up for him. Unfortunately, he´s not always a party to all of his adventures. He’s more of John Watson to Lefèvre’s Sherlock Holmes; his morals are less dubious and he appears to be less complex. Apart from those two characters’ points of view, there are also parts written in italics, in the first person, that seem to belong to the diary of a rather strange character who was brought up under difficult circumstances. I must confess to changing my mind about this character (and I’m trying to avoid spoilers) quite a few times throughout the novel, although, at least for me, that was one of the beauties of the book. And, being a psychiatrist and enjoying complex characters, this particular individual is one of the most disturbing and disturbed fictional creations I’ve read about.

I’ve seen comments that mention Poe’s writing, and there is a similar sense of oppression, atmosphere and claustrophobia, with the gothic setting of the background, although here Eros and Thanatos have a pretty similar weight in driving the narrative, perhaps more evidently so that in Poe’s stories.

Despite the beauty of the writing, the bizarre and atmospheric mystery, and the literary background, this is not a book for everybody. There is much that could offend sensibilities (child abuse, incest, prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, exploitation, violence…) and there is a grey area when it comes to who the good and the bad characters are (nothing is black or white and it’s more a matter of degree than of deeply held moral beliefs). Despite how well it captures the historical era, it is neither a biography of Baudelaire nor a treatise on the socio-political situation in France at the time, and some of the historical characters might be used as inspiration rather than accurately portrayed. The story is also demanding and challenging with regards to plot, so it’s not recommended for someone looking for a light and fun read. This is definitely not a cosy mystery. But if you’re looking for a complex and challenging historical novel and don’t shrink from dark subjects, this is a pretty unique book.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Baudelaires-Revenge-Bob-Van-Laerhoven/dp/160598700X/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baudelaires-Revenge-Bob-Van-Laerhoven/dp/160598700X/

A bit of information about the author:

Author Bob Van Laerhoven
Author Bob Van Laerhoven

Author Bob Van Laerhoven

Belgian (Flemish) professional author. Published more than 30 books in The Netherlands and Belgium. Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for best crime novel of the year in 2007 with “De wraak van Baudelaire” (Baudelaire’s Revenge). French translation “La Vengeance de Baudelaire” published in 2013 in France and in Canada. American edition “Baudelaire’s Revenge” published in April 2014 by Pegasus Books. Baudelaire’s Revenge won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category: Mystery/suspense. Russian and Italian translations in the making. Second novel in French translation: “Alejandro’s leugen” (Le Mensonge d’Alejandro) out in May 2014 in France and in Canada. Very recently published in Holland and Belgium my new novel “De schaduw van de Mol” (The Shadow of the Mole). The English translation is in the making and should be finished end 2015. The novel is set in 1916 in the Argonne-region of France during WW1. Short story “Paint it, Black” out in September 2015 in the anthology “Brussels Noir” in the famous Noir-collection of Akashic Books. In April 2015 The Anaphora Literary Press published “Dangerous Obsessions”, a collection of 5 short stories set in different countries and time-slots, with war-conditions as a general background, in paperback and in e-book, in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I consider “Dangerous Obsessions” to be an excellent introduction to my theme(s) and style(s). Recently, after “much ado about nothing”, I started a blog in which I talk with one of my beloved horses, the very intelligent Arabian purebred Archimeda, about life, love, death, violence and how horses can teach us a thing or two….If you would like to see what Archimeda and I are talking about, visit: http://goo.gl/tk7XLM

The author kindly sent me a copy of a detailed interview in PDF format. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to access it, but just in case, here it is.

Doctors.net.uk Webmail __ SOCIETY NINETEEN Bob van Laerhoven Interview.pdf

Thanks to the author for sending me such a fascinating book, in a fabulous translation, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you feel like it, please, like, share, comment, CLICK and keep reading!

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Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team

#RBRT TRUST ME I LIE by Louise Marley (@LouiseMarley) Mysteries, fairy tales, false identities and an unlikely couple. #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As you know August is #AugustReviews month and I decided to set an example by bringing you a review of a book I’ve just read. I’ve read it as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I’m thankful to her and all the members of the team for the great books are recommendations. And without further ado…

Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley
Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley

Book Title: Trust Me I Lie

Author: Louise Marley

Pages: 350 pages

Genres: Murder Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Humour

Publication Date: 20th June 2016

 

Trust Me I Lie

 

When Milla Graham arrives in the picture-perfect village of Buckley she tells everyone she’s investigating the murder of her mother, who died eighteen years ago. But there’s already one Milla Graham buried in the churchyard and another about to be found dead in the derelict family mansion.

 

Obviously she’s lying.

 

Detective Inspector Ben Taylor has no life outside the police force. Even his own colleagues think he’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. But now he’s met Milla and his safe, comfortable life has been turned upside down. She’s crashed his car, emptied his wallet and is about to get him fired.

 

He knows she’s a liar because she cheerfully told him so.

 

Unless she’s lying about that too …

And now that you’re utterly intrigued, my review:

Mysteries, fairy tales, false identities and an unlikely couple.

I am writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to the author for providing me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review and to Rosie for the opportunity.

I try to read in a variety of genres (it’s good to keep the brain on its toes, so to speak, and since I joined Rosie’s team I’ve been tempted by the varied offerings of titles I might not have come across otherwise). But whilst for some genres I have to prepare myself and be in the mood, mysteries and thrillers I am able to read in most circumstances.

I liked the title of the novel (I don’t like liars, but an honest liar… well, I prefer that to people who swear blindly they’re telling the truth when it’s obvious they are not) and when I read it was set in the UK and it involved a family whose business was to publish books (and pretty fancy fairy tales editions at that) I knew I had to try it. And it does deliver in spades.

The story is told in the third person from the two main characters’ points of view, Milla Graham (although if she’s really Camilla Graham or her cousin, or somebody else entirely is a big part of the puzzle), a reporter who writes features about musicians and musical events, and Ben Taylor, a detective, divorced, father of a young daughter, and a man always on a mission to rescue somebody (especially damsels in distress, even if they don’t want to be rescued). There are other fragments, in italics, also in the third person, that narrate the event at the heart of the mystery (the night when the Graham’s old house burned down and three children and their mother died), that took place eighteen years before the rest of the novel. The point of view these other fragments are narrated from is not clear as we read them (other than it is somebody who witnessed what happened) but by the end of the novel we have a clear picture of what really happened (although we will have been tripped and wronged in our assumptions many times along the way).

Both main characters are likeable in different ways. Ben is handsome, honest and a good guy, who, as many female characters tell him, seems to suffer from rescue fantasies. He lives in a chocolate box cottage and he meets the other protagonist in a traumatic manner (he runs her over) in the first chapter. His car ends up in a ditch and as he has no other option he invites the stranger, a young woman, to his house. She disappears with some of his money early next morning but she does not disappear from his life. At first sight Ben appears to be a type of character we’re very familiar with (a handsome detective somewhat disillusioned by his job and with his family life in tatters) but his immediate attraction and sympathy for Milla makes him do out of character things that surprise others around him as much as himself. And we get to discover some surprising things about him too.

Milla is, without discussion, quite unique. She lives hand to mouth, has adopted the identity of the dead daughter of a very rich family (it made me think of the stories about Anastasia, the Romanov tsarina who was supposedly still alive), and it’s difficult to know what her real motivations are. Does she really believe she’s Camilla Graham? Is it all part of a hoax to get money? Is she trying to help Patrick Graham, the man who was sent to prison for the murder of his wife (and the real Camilla’s mother)? Is she the cousin of the family now trying to create confusion? Or is she a fantasist who does not know what the truth is any longer? She is determined, resourceful and will stop at nothing to reach her goal. Whatever that might be. And she is open about her lies (and does surprise herself when she doesn’t lie).

The novel features charming English towns, an old mansion that has become a gothic castle in ruins, murders staged to imitate the illustrations of famous fairy tales (with designer clothing and four poster beds also thrown in), a murderer dressed and made-up like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, mysterious bracelets, and a world of fairy tales that turns very dark.

The main characters are fascinating and likeable and you can’t help but root for them, no matter how outrageous their behaviours. If you stopped to think about it, some of their actions definitely stretch one’s belief, but the pace is so dynamic and the story so intriguing and surprising, that you keep trying to guess what will happen next and enjoy the ride. The writing is descriptive and vivid and one feels a part of the story, or at least a very close witness of the events. Although the crimes described are horrendous, there is no gross attention to the details of the violence, no CSI-style descriptions, and although not a cozy novel, it’s not a hard-edged thriller either. Ah, and there is romance but no explicit sex scenes (or implicit even).

I had a great time reading the novel, enjoyed the satisfying ending and my only disappointment is that being a big fairy tale fan I would have loved to get my hands on the wonderful illustrated volumes of fairy tales described in the novel but unfortunately it won’t be possible. I recommend it to readers of mysteries that prefer an involved story rather than a hard-edged scientific investigation in dark, urban and grittily realistic settings. If you love quirky characters, do not hesitate and give it a try. And I’ll be keeping an eye on Louise Marley’s work for sure.

Links

AmazonUK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Lie-Louise-Marley-ebook/dp/B01HDYDJZ8

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lie-Louise-Marley-ebook/dp/B01HDYDJZ8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30715819-trust-me-i-lie

The author shared a bit of information about herself too.

Author Louise Marley
Author Louise Marley

Louise Marley

Louise Marley writes murder mysteries and romantic comedies. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window.

Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly.

Her latest novel is Trust Me I Lie.

You can connect with her in

Social Media:

Website: http://www.louisemarley.co.uk/

Blog: http://www.louisemarleywrites.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseMarley @LouiseMarley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMarleyAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LouiseMarley

Thanks to Louise for her great novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, thanks to Rosie for creating such a great group, and thanks to you all for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And this month, don’t forget to REVIEW!

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book promo Muestra de escritura Promoción de libros video

Familia, lujuria y cámaras en Libretería (@piedegato). #videofragmento y post

Hola a todos:

No sé si recordaréis que mencioné una nueva página de Facebook, Libretería, donde autores indies leen fragmentos cortos de sus obras para sus lectores.

El cerebro detrás del proyecto, Pedro Araque, un gran periodista y un profesional de la radio (ahora que me dedico a la radio de forma amateur, todavía les tengo más respeto) se interesó por mi novela corta Familia, lujuria y Cámara.

Por si no recordáis esta obra…

Familia, lujuria y cámaras de Olga Núñez Miret (portada Lourdes Vidal, foto Olga Núñez Miret)
Familia, lujuria y cámaras Portada Lourdes Vidal, foto Olga Núñez Miret

Familia, lujuria y cámaras

¿Os gusta espiar a los demás? ¿Creéis que no se hace daño a nadie con ello?

Pat creía que había dejado atrás su pasado y empezado una nueva vida. Pero uno no se libra del voyerismo, las obsesiones y la familia tan fácilmente. A veces hay que tomar medidas drásticas para sobrevivir el acoso de un hombre, especialmente de un hombre como Herman. Y esta vez Pat está decidida a ganar la partida, sea cual sea el precio que tenga que pagar.

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER      GOOGLE

Aquí está el enlace al post en el blog de Libretería (que os recomiendo que sigáis para estar la día de las obras de fantásticos autores independientes… Vale, no sé qué hago yo allí pero…)

http://lalibreteria.blogspot.com.es/

El canal donde están todos los videos en You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAy13n7EAGPa-qjD2u0OiA

Y podéis ver mi video en la página de Facebook y los de muchos otros autores. Por si acaso, os lo dejo aquí también…

Y si preferís verlo en You Tube, aquí está el enlace.

Muchísimas gracias a Pedro Araque y a Libretería por su interés, gracias a vosotros por leer y escuchar, y si os ha interesado, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC!

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GRATIS Una vez psiquiatra. Los inicios

#GRATIS El último capítulo de Una vez psiquiatra… Los inicios

Hola a todos. Sí, hoy comparto el último capítulo de Una vez psiquiatra… Los inicios. Aunque he completado el borrador (en inglés) de la siguiente historia en la serie, no planeo compartirla aún, no os preocupéis. Pero habrá reseñas, os pondré al día de lo que he estado haciendo, y seguro que alguna otra cosa se me ocurrirá (ah, y planeo una promoción de mis servicios de traducción).

Por si se os ha pasado Una vez psiquiatra… Los inicios ya está a la venta, gratis en todas partes (bueno, en las que me han dejado de momento. Por cierto, si véis que no lo estáis podéis hacerme el favor de informar a Amazon copiando el enlace de una de los sitios donde está disponible gratuito, ya que mucho caso parece que no me hacen).

Una vez psiquiatra. Los inicios. Olga Núñez Miret. Portada de Ernesto Valdés
Una vez psiquiatra. Los inicios. Olga Núñez Miret. Portada de Ernesto Valdés

Una vez psiquiatra… Los inicios Olga Núñez Miret

¿Hasta dónde llegaría un escritor por conseguir una historia única? Esa es la cuestión que le plantea a la psiquiatra Mary Miller el primer misterio/thriller de su carrera. Conoce a los personajes principales de esta serie de thrillers psicológicos GRATIS y pon a prueba tu intuición y tu ingenio con esta novela corta sobre el precio de la ambición.

La doctora Mary Miller es una joven psiquiatra que sufre una crisis de vocación. Su amigo Phil, abogado criminalista que trabaja en Nueva York, la invita a visitarle y a asesorar a su bufete en el caso de un escritor al que acusan de un grave asalto. Su víctima llevaba tiempo acosándolo y acusándolo de haberle robado la historia de su vida, que él había convertido en un best-seller. El autor lo niega y alega autodefensa. Cuando la víctima muere, las cosas se complican aún más. La frontera entre la verdad y la ficción se difumina y secretos y mentiras salen a la luz.

Una vez psiquiatra… Los inicios es la precuela de Una vez psiquiatra… un volumen que recoge tres historias en las que Mary, con su experiencia como psiquiatra, ayuda a solucionar una variedad de casos, desde asuntos de religión y raza, pasando por el asesinato de un policía, y en la última historia, Mary se enfrenta cara a cara con un asesino en serie.

Si os gusta esta novela corta, no os olvidéis de que podéis leer más aventuras de Mary. Y aún quedan muchas por contar.
Aquí podéis ver una muestra en vivo y en directo:

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Y ahora, como os había prometido, el último capítulo.

8.     La verdad 

Como parte de su formación continuada, Mary cambió de trabajo, y aunque solo estaba a unas millas de donde vivía, suponía algunos ajustes y acostumbrarse a una nueva rutina. Cuando sonó su teléfono una mañana a las 6:30, saltó de la cama, pensando que estaba de guardia. Entonces recordó que no lo estaba y se preguntó quién la llamaría tan temprano.

—Hola, Mary. Espero no haberte despertado.

—¡Phil! Creí que me llamaban del trabajo.

—¿Estás de guardia?

—No, pero tardé un poco en recordarlo. No me llama mucha gente a esta hora de la mañana. ¿Pasa algo?

—¿Eh?… No, no. Nada malo. ¿Estás siguiendo el juicio? ¿El de Fenton?

—No muy de cerca. He leído algún artículo sobre ello y algo vi en las noticias, pero no le he dedicado mucha atención. Hace poco que cambié de trabajo y siempre es algo frenético. ¿Cómo va?

—Es todo muy raro. Lance se fue a trabajar para la Fiscalía y está ahí sentado en la mesa del fiscal. No ha abierto la boca, pero es inquietante. Wright intentó hablar con la jueza para que lo echara, pero el nombre de Lance no aparece en ninguna de las declaraciones y no estaba en el listado oficial. Ella le advirtió al fiscal que no solo echaría a Lance de la sala, sino que desestimaría el caso por un tecnicismo si usaban cualquier información privilegiada a la que no deberían tener acceso. Pero eso ha dejado el juicio completamente abierto.

—Suena difícil.

—Bueno, yo no creo que ellos tengan un caso sólido con evidencia. Hay muchísimas pruebas del comportamiento perturbado de Green, y Fenton siempre intentó hacer lo correcto.

“Sí, ya”, pensó Mary.

—¿Y cuándo esperáis que se acabe todo?

—Nunca se puede ser muy preciso en estas situaciones, pero supongo que el viernes. Por eso te llamaba. ¿Podrías tomarte el viernes libre y venir? Quizás podrías llegar el jueves por la noche y quedarte el fin de semana, si te puedes escapar. Percy sugirió que quizás te gustaría estar presente, y me parece una gran idea. Especialmente si estás pensando en dedicarte a hacer de testigo pericial en el futuro. La mayoría de la gente cree que sabe cómo es porque lo han visto en series de televisión y en películas, pero no es así.

—No me toca trabajar este fin de semana. Intentaré conseguir que me den el viernes libre. Me gustaría ver cómo se resuelve el caso. Tengo la impresión de que será interesante.

—Probablemente te llevarás una desilusión, pero siempre podemos hacer algo que valga la pena el fin de semana, y estoy seguro de que a Ryan le encantaría volver a verte.

—¡Oh, Phil! ¡Déjalo estar!

—¡Solo era una broma! —Él se rio—. Llámame. ¡Que tengas un buen día!

Mary consiguió permiso para tomarse un día de vacaciones y el doctor que estaba de guardia el viernes accedió a ocuparse de sus pacientes. Llamó a Phil para confirmarle que iba a ir, y el jueves, como habían quedado, él fue a recogerla a la estación de tren. Durante el viaje en taxi, Mary preguntó:

—¿Así que mañana será el último día?

—Es muy posible. Les toca a ellos interrogar al agente de Fenton mañana por la mañana. Y después de eso… bueno, eso es todo. Los alegatos finales, y entonces ya todo queda en manos del jurado. Puede que no oigamos el veredicto mañana, pero no creo que tarde demasiado.

—¿Y cómo ha ido hasta ahora?

—Aparte de la evidencia de que cuando se defendió Fenton usó mucha fuerza, no hay nada en concreto contra él. Varios testigos hablaron sobre el comportamiento de Green y sobre cómo llevaba meses acosándolo sin parar.

Mary se quedó callada un rato.

—Siempre supuse que el verdadero protagonista de la novela, el verdadero David Collins, como sea que se llame en realidad, acabaría presentándose.

—¿Para qué?

—Supongo que aumentaría la credibilidad de la historia de que Green no estaba bien y que sus sospechas no tenían fundamento.

—Quizás no crea que haya el menor riesgo de que Fenton acabe viéndose metido en serios problemas. Autodefensa. Y si es una persona tan reservada, quizás no esté al alcance de los medios de comunicación y no le hayan llegado las noticias.

Mary negó con la cabeza.

—Muy poco probable. Hace tiempo que se habla del juicio. Y ha aparecido en todas partes. No importa, solo era una reflexión.

A la mañana siguiente fueron al juzgado. Percy y Steve estaban sentados a la mesa de la defensa con Fenton. Phil cogió a Mary del brazo y la hizo sentarse a su lado, en el banco detrás de ellos. Ryan apareció al cabo de unos minutos y se sentó a su derecha. Percy y Steve se dieron la vuelta y los saludaron.

En la mesa del fiscal se encontraba un hombre afroamericano muy atractivo, con un traje azul marino, hablando animadamente con Lance. Phil se dio cuenta de que Mary los miraba.

—El fiscal. Stanton —le dijo.

Wright miró de soslayo a la fiscalía.

—Me pregunto de qué estarán hablando. Uno no se imaginaría que las cosas les están yendo tan mal viendo lo animados que están.

Fenton se giró brevemente y saludó con la cabeza. A Mary le dio la impresión de que no estaba demasiado contento de verla. Pero el escritor tenía cosas más importantes de las que preocuparse y quizás era cosa de su imaginación.

La jueza Pearson, una mujer de unos sesenta y pocos años, pelirroja y con el pelo rizado, entró, anunciada por el secretario judicial, y se levantaron todos. Después de decirles que se sentaran, empezó el proceso. Aunque Mary no había llegado a conocer a Mike Spinner, el agente de Fenton, no esperaba nada nuevo de su declaración. Stanton le preguntó sobre su historial y luego lo que sabía sobre los orígenes del libro. También le hizo unas pocas preguntas sobre el comportamiento de Green. Todo parecía encajar con la versión de lo sucedido que había dado Fenton. El fiscal se acercó a su mesa, miró un papel que le mostraba Lance, y volvió andando lentamente al estrado de los testigos.

—Señor Spinner ¿se habló alguna vez de una orden judicial de alejamiento?

—¿Una orden judicial de alejamiento? Hablé con uno de mis abogados sobre el tema, pero era todo muy complicado debido a las giras y al viajar constantemente, que dificultaría fijar las condiciones. Y aunque se impusiera una condición de mantenerlo a una cierta distancia, si hubieran aceptado, con el interés del público y tanta gente yendo y viniendo… No hubiera sido posible implementarla. No hubiese funcionado. No valía la pena.

—Así que nunca oyó al señor Fenton o al señor Green hablando de una orden judicial —repitió Stanton.

—No. En realidad no.

—¿En realidad no? —Stanton, que se había dado la vuelta y se dirigía hacia su colega, se giró y fijó los ojos en el testigo.

—El testigo ya ha respondido a la pregunta, Su Señoría —protestó Steve.

—No, en realidad no —respondió la jueza Pearson, sonriendo—. Continúe.

Asintió, mirando a Stanton. Mary observó que a Fenton se le ponía el cuello rojo.

—Quiero decir… La última vez que Green vino a una sesión de firmas del libro, me llamaron para que fuera a hablar con el dueño de la librería, y los dos oímos un alboroto. Para cuando llegué allí, dos de los guardias de seguridad se estaban llevando a Green a rastras. Los guardas me contaron más tarde que Green había conseguido acercarse a la mesa, colocándose una identificación como las que llevaban los empleados de la librería, se puso al lado de Fenton y le susurró algo al oído. Ellos me dijeron que Fenton le respondió algo en voz muy baja, que ellos no pudieron oír, y les hizo gestos para que se acercaran, y mientras se lo llevaban, una vez fuera de la librería, Green dijo que ninguna orden judicial le impediría decir la verdad, o algo parecido. Nada nuevo, aunque no sé de dónde salió la idea de la orden judicial.  Más tarde le pregunté a Oliver, el señor Fenton, pero me contestó que Green le había dicho lo de siempre, que había usado su historia y que conseguiría que le indemnizaran. Nada más.

Steve parecía estar a punto de levantarse y protestar, Mary supuso que “testimonio de oídas”, pero Percy lo detuvo. Parecía intrigado.

—Gracias.  —Stanton cogió un papel que le ofrecía Lance. Volvió a dirigirse al estrado del testigo y le mostró el papel a Spinner—. ¿Reconoce este número de móvil?

—No. Pero no tengo muy buena memoria para los números de teléfono. Si quiere puedo comprobar la agenda de mi teléfono…

—¿No es el número del acusado?

—No, no. Ese número me lo sé de memoria.

Stanton sonrió y dijo que eso era todo. A Spinner le dijeron que se podía ir y bajó del estrado.

—Queremos volver a llamar al estrado a Oliver Fenton —anunció Stanton.

Percy, Steve y Fenton se miraron entre sí.

—Necesito consultar con mi cliente —dijo Percy, poniéndose en pie.

—Nos tomaremos un breve receso. Volvemos en media hora —dijo la jueza Pearson.

Una vez que la jueza se fue, Percy se volvió hacia Phil y Ryan.

—Venid con nosotros. Tú también, Mary.

—¿Al señor Fenton no le importa? —preguntó Mary.

Fenton se giró a mirarla y sonrió, con los labios tan apretados que se habían convertido en una línea blanca.

—Por supuesto que no me importa. ¿Crees que te tengo miedo? Sé que no tienes superpoderes y no puedes leer mi mente. Y de todas maneras, no tengo nada que ocultar.

Mary se encogió de hombros y les siguió. Fueron a una sala adyacente mientras el guarda se quedaba fuera.

—A ver. ¿Qué es todo eso de una orden judicial? —preguntó Percy tan pronto como se hubieron sentado todos.

—Yo no sé nada sobre ninguna orden judicial. Cualquiera sabe lo que pudo haber dicho. Alguna locura que debió metérsele en la cabeza —respondió Fenton, despectivamente.

—¿Y el número de móvil? —preguntó Ryan.

—¿Qué número de móvil?

—Evidentemente la fiscalía le preguntó a tu agente por un número de teléfono móvil. ¿Hay algo de lo que debamos preocuparnos? —preguntó Percy.

—¿Por qué no protestaron cuando Mike dijo todo aquel bla, bla bla? Todo eran rumores. Green susurró alguna cosa. Yo le dije alguna otra cosa. No quiere decir nada. ¿Qué podría haber dicho que venga al caso?

—Las sorpresas no son buenas en este negocio, Fenton —dijo Wright —. Podemos prepararnos para casi cualquier eventualidad, pero no para lo que no sabemos.

Fenton suspiró.

—Ya os lo he dicho. Siento mucho que haya muerto, pero el hombre estaba chiflado —dijo, bajando la mirada.

—De acuerdo —asintió Percy. Entonces se volvió hacia Mary—. ¿Alguna pregunta, doctora Miller?

—Me estaba preguntando… —Fenton levantó la cabeza y le lanzó una mirada de odio— ¿Por qué susurró Green? Había gritado a pleno pulmón diciéndole a cualquiera que le escuchase que habías usado su historia. ¿Por qué susurrarte al oído? No tiene sentido. Debe haberte dicho alguna otra cosa. ¿Por qué mencionaría contar la verdad y que nadie se lo podría impedir? Si se tratara de la misma acusación, ya había contado la verdad. Y no me respondas que estaba loco. Eso no lo había hecho con anterioridad y desde luego, había sido consistente y vociferante. Debía tener una buena razón. Una razón por la que acabó muerto.

Fenton se levantó de la silla tan de prisa que esta cayó al suelo, con un estrépito que resonó por toda la sala.

—Te crees que lo sabes todo. ¿Pero qué sabes en realidad?

—Ese hombre estaba obsesionado con la verdad. Debió descubrir algo, o sospechaba algo, pero sin saberlo a ciencia cierta. Por eso te lo susurró en lugar de gritarte como siempre. Tu reacción confirmó sus sospechas —respondió Mary, que seguía sentada mirándole, hablando en voz baja y con gesto tranquilo.

—¿Ah sí? ¿Y qué crees que era eso? Quizás tienes superpoderes de verdad —la desafió Fenton.

—No tengo ni idea, aunque si tuviera que apostarme algo… Te inventaste toda la historia. El libro es una obra de ficción. No, no usaste la historia de Green, porque no usaste la historia de nadie. Te limitaste a inventártela. Y él debió llegar a esa conclusión de alguna manera. Quizás te contradijiste en algún momento, o quizás hizo comprobaciones y descubrió que no habías estado de voluntario en ninguna línea telefónica de ayuda. Fueran las que fueran las circunstancias, cuando te lo dijo, tú le amenazaste con una orden judicial.

Fenton había palidecido y estaba temblando ligeramente.

—El acoso era una cosa, pero eso me podría haber costado la carrera. Siempre ha habido escándalos por plagio y por tomarse libertades con la verdad en el mundo literario pero eso… Habría supuesto el fin de mi carrera justo al principio. Conseguí un móvil sin registrar, y le llamé. Yo planeaba verme con él en algún sitio discreto y ofrecerle dinero a cambio de que mantuviese la boca cerrada y desapareciese, pero cuando le llamé me dijo que no perdiera el tiempo y que no lo podría comprar. Que quería convertirme en un ejemplo por explotar ese tema y aprovecharme de una mentira, de algo que había destruido y dañado a tanta gente. Entonces le dije que había obtenido una orden judicial contra él y que ya no podría seguirme por todas partes o presentarse en mi apartamento nunca más. Sabía que eso le provocaría y se presentaría allí. Y eso sería ideal para mí, ya que estaría invadiendo mi casa y podría alegar autodefensa. Envié al recepcionista fuera con una excusa y le esperé, escondido. Cuando llegó, le di la oportunidad de aceptar algo de dinero e irse, pero se negó. Se dio la vuelta diciéndome que iba a hablar con la prensa y…

Percy estaba horrorizado. Steve, Phil y Ryan se habían puesto de pie y se estaban mirando los unos a los otros, sin saber qué decir.

—Deben tener una grabación de la llamada telefónica… O por lo menos un registro —dijo Steve —. Y deben haberla conectado contigo. Es evidencia de asesinato. Lo habías planeado.

—¡Pero no murió allí en aquel momento! ¿No podemos ir a por el hospital, acusarles de negligencia? —preguntó Fenton.

Phil negó con la cabeza.

—La cadena causal es muy clara.

—¡Pero me había estado acosando!

—Sí, pero ese no fue el motivo de su acción. La autodefensa no funcionará si tienen la llamada —dijo Ryan.

—¡Me someteré a la evaluación mental! —gritó Fenton.

Mary negó con la cabeza.

—Puedes solicitar otra opinión, pero…

Percy se encogió de hombros.

—No vale la pena. Lance conoce a Fenton y estaba presente cuando hablamos de su estado mental. Sabe que se negó a que le evaluaran. Aunque no puede testificar sobre eso, no tendrán ninguna dificultad para encontrar un experto que diga que no hay evidencia de ningún trastorno mental. Por lo menos ninguno que pudiera librarlo alegando locura. Y no creo que nos vaya a ser demasiado fácil encontrar a alguien dispuesto a decir lo contrario.

—¿Y entonces qué hacemos?

—Tendrá que declararse culpable. Podemos alegar el exceso de trabajo, el estrés, el acoso, pero dependerá de lo generosos que se sientan. Intentaremos negociar una reducción de condena —dijo Phil.

El empleado del juzgado llamó a la puerta.

—Hora de volver a la sala.

Una vez dentro, cuando la jueza hubo vuelto a la sala, Percy se acercó a ella. Después de escucharle, llamó a Stanton. Los dos abogados charlaron unos instantes y la jueza suspendió el juicio. Esta vez Pearson, Stanton, Lance, Wright y Steve se reunieron en privado.

El público esperó fuera.

—¿Cómo lo supiste? —le preguntó Ryan a Mary.

—No lo sabía seguro. Se me ocurrió esa posibilidad cuando me puse a hablar. Y la reacción de Fenton me lo confirmó.

—Quizás tienes superpoderes —bromeó Phil.

Mary se rio.

Poco después, volvieron a la sala. Hubo un cambio de declaración y la jueza aplazó la sesión para dictar sentencia.

—Extraordinario —dijo Percy cuando salían, dándole la mano a Mary —. De veras confío en que trabaje para nosotros en el futuro.

—Muchas gracias. Estoy muy ocupada en mi trabajo actual, pero tengo que reconocer que esto es muy interesante.

—Y puedes hacer los cursos de formación que te parezcan necesarios, a nuestra costa.

—¡Gracias!

Phil vio como Lance se dirigía hacia la puerta y le llamó.

—Eh, Lance, ¿ya no te acuerdas de tus amigos?

—¡Hola chicos! Mary… —Le sonrió afectuosamente.

—Vamos, dinos. ¿Qué teníais? —le preguntó Ryan, dándole palmaditas en el hombro.

—No seas malo. Ya sabes que no puedo contarlo. Es información confidencial. ¡Hasta pronto!

Ryan masculló algo sobre secretos y salieron todos del juzgado.

 

El caso fue noticia importante en los medios de comunicación: televisión, radio, periódicos… Por supuesto también escribieron un libro sobre ello poco después.

Mary fue a varios de los cursos de formación, sobre cómo escribir informes, hacer de perito judicial, y estudió el funcionamiento del sistema de justicia criminal.

Aproximadamente un año después del juicio, Phil llamó a Mary.

—Tengo buenas noticias.

—¿Sí? Cuéntame.

—¿Recuerdas que te dije que Wright estaba pensando en ampliar el bufete? Ha accedido a que monte una sucursal del bufete en el Sur. No he decidido aún si en Savannah o Atlanta. Tengo que ir y comprobarlo todo a fondo. Me ha otorgado total independencia, así que planeo aceptar muchos casos gratuitos, contratar a abogados locales y…

—Ser más éticamente correcto.

—¡Exactamente! Lo mejor de los dos mundos. No dejo el bufete, pero tampoco apruebo sus prácticas ni las sigo.

—Suena perfecto.

—¿Qué me dices? ¿Te apetece un viajecito al Sur?

—¡Pensaba que no me lo ibas a preguntar nunca!

El fin (del principio)

Por si os habéis perdido alguno de los capítulos, aquí os dejo los enlaces (en cuanto pueda añadiré una página con los enlaces por si preferís volver con más tiempo en otro momento).

Capítulo 1

Capítulo 2

Capítulo 3

Capítulo 4

Capítulo 5

Capítulo 6

Capítulo 7

Y esta es la última semana en que Una vez psiquiatra… está disponible solo a $0.99. ¡Luego no digáis que no os he avisado!
Hoy en lugar de la descripción, podéis leeros una muestra directamente desde aquí.

Y unos cuantos enlaces:
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Gracias a todos por leer, y ya sabéis, dadle al me gusta, comentad, compartid y haced CLIC!

Categories
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings FREE Writing samples

#Free Last Chapter of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

This is the last week when I’m sharing the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Yes! We’ve got to the last chapter! Although  I have the draft of the next story in the series, I’m not going to punish you with it yet but I’ll be catching up on reviews, life and other projects…

First… A reminder. I finally published the prequel and it’s FREE, hopefully in most places by now . (If not, please report to Amazon adding the link to one of the other sites, as they need to be informed of links in each place it seems. I have reported links in the UK but they’re taking their time. Otherwise I’m happy to send it to you personally.)

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:

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And without further ado, here is Chapter 8

8.     The Truth

As part of her ongoing training, Mary moved to a different job, and although it was only a few miles from where she lived, it involved some adjustments and getting used to a new routine. It was also a busy job and she didn’t have much time to think about anything else. When her phone rang at 6:30 one morning, she jumped out of bed, thinking she was on-call. Then she remembered she wasn’t and wondered who’d be calling her so early.

“Hi, Mary. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”

“Phil! I thought it was a call from work.”

“Are you on-call?”

“No, but it took me a while to remember that. Not many people call me at this time of the morning. Is anything wrong?”

“Eh… No, no. Nothing like that. Are you following the trial? Fenton’s?”

“Not closely. I read a bit about it and I saw something in the news, but I haven’t paid it that much attention. I’ve changed jobs recently, and it’s always a bit hectic. How is it going?”

“It’s all very awkward. Lance went to work for the DA’s office and is sitting at the prosecution table. He hasn’t opened his mouth but it’s unnerving. Mr Wright tried to talk the judge into throwing him out, but Lance’s name wasn’t on any of the previous depositions and he wasn’t listed officially. She—the judge—warned the DA that she’d not only dismiss Lance but would throw out the trial on a technicality if they used any privileged information they should not have had access to. But it has opened the trial right up.”

“It sounds quite tough.”

“Well, I don’t think they have a case. There’s plenty of evidence of Green’s deranged behaviour, and Fenton always tried to do the right thing.”

‘Yeah, right,’ Mary thought. “So, when do you expect it to finish?”

“One can never be precise in these situations, but I imagine Friday. That’s why I was phoning you. Could you take the Friday off and come? Perhaps you could come on Thursday evening and stay over the weekend, if you can escape. Percy suggested you might want to be present, and I think it’s a great idea. Especially if you might become an expert witness at some point in the future. People always think they know how it is because they watch TV programs and movies, but it isn’t like that.”

“I’m not working this weekend. I’ll try to see if I can get Friday off. I’d like to see the resolution of the case. I have the feeling it will be interesting.”

“You’ll probably be disappointed, but we can do something nice over the weekend, and I’m sure that Ryan would love to see you again.”

“Oh, Phil! Stop that!”

“Only joking!” He laughed. “Give me a call! And have a good day!”

Mary managed to get a day off, and the doctor who was on call on Friday agreed to keep an eye on her cases. She phoned Phil to confirm she was going, and on Thursday, as arranged, he went to pick her up at the train station. As they were riding in a taxi, Mary asked, “So, will tomorrow be the last day, then?”

“Very likely. It’s their turn to question Fenton’s agent tomorrow morning. And after that…well, that’s it. Closings and then up to the jury. We might not hear the verdict tomorrow, but I don’t expect it will be long.”

“And how has it gone so far?”

“Well, other than the evidence that Fenton was very forceful when he defended himself, there isn’t anything else against him. There have been plenty of witnesses that have talked about Green’s behaviour and how he had been harassing Fenton non-stop for months.”

Mary was quiet for a while. “I always imagined that the real protagonist of the novel, the real David Collins, whatever his true name is, would have turned up.”

“What for?”

“Well, it would have given even more strength to the story that Green wasn’t well and his suspicions were unfounded.”

“Perhaps he doesn’t think there’s any danger that Fenton will get into serious trouble. Self-defence. And, if he’s such a private person, perhaps he’s out of reach of the media.”

Mary shook her head. “Unlikely. The case has been going on for a long time. And it’s everywhere. Anyway, just wondering.”

Next morning they went to court. Percy and Steve sat at the defence table with Fenton. Phil took Mary’s arm and made her sit next to him on the bench behind them. Ryan appeared a few minutes later and sat next to her. A handsome African-American man, wearing a blue suit, sat at the prosecution table, talking animatedly to Lance. Phil saw Mary looking at them and said, “The DA. Stanton.”

Percy and Steve turned to say hello. Percy looked sideways. “I wonder what they’re talking about. You wouldn’t have guessed things are going badly for them, looking at how animated they seem.”

Fenton looked back briefly and nodded in their direction. Mary had the feeling that he wasn’t terribly pleased to see her. But he had more important things to think about, so perhaps it was only her imagination.

Judge Pearson, a woman in her early sixties with curly red hair, entered, announced by the clerk, and they all stood. Once they were ordered to sit, proceedings started. Although Mary had not met Mike Spinner, Fenton’s agent, she didn’t expect anything new from his statement. Stanton asked him about his background and then what he knew about the origins of the book. He also asked briefly about Green’s behaviour. Everything seemed to fit in with the version of events Fenton had given. Stanton approached the table, looked at a piece of paper that Lance showed him, and then walked slowly back to the witness stand. “Mr Spinner, was there ever talk of an injunction?”

“An injunction? I did talk to one of my lawyers about it, but there was the complication of the tours and the continuous travelling that would have made it difficult to fix the terms. And even keeping him at a certain distance, if it had been agreed, with the amount of public attention and people coming and going… It would have been impossible to enforce. It wouldn’t have worked. There was no point.”

“So, you never heard Mr Fenton or Mr Green mention an injunction,” Stanton asked again.

“No. Not really, no.”

“Not really?” Stanton, who had been walking back towards the table, turned around quickly and fixed his eyes on the witness.

“The witness has already replied to the question, Your Honour,” Steve said.

“No, not really,” Judge Pearson replied, with a smile. “Proceed.” She nodded in Stanton’s direction. Mary noticed how Fenton’s neck reddened.

“I mean…the last time Green came to a book signing, I had been called away to talk to the bookshop owner, and we both heard a kerfuffle. Two of the security guards were dragging Green away by the time I got there. The security guards later told me that Green had managed to get close to the table by wearing a name tag like the bookshop employees and he had got right next to Fenton, and had whispered something in his ear.

“They told me Fenton had replied something very low, that they hadn’t heard and waved at them, and when they were taking him away, once out of the bookshop, Green had said that no injunction would prevent him from telling the truth, or something of the sort. Nothing new, although I don’t know where the idea about the injunction came from. I did ask Oliver—Mr Fenton—later, but he told me that all Green had told him was more of the same, that he had used his story and he’d get redress. Nothing else.”

Steve seemed like he was about to stand up and object, Mary imagined ‘hearsay’, but Percy stopped him. He seemed intrigued.

“Thanks.” Stanton picked up a piece of paper that Lance was offering him. He walked to the witness stand and showed the paper to Spinner. “Do you recognise this mobile phone number?”

“No. I don’t have a lot of memory for numbers, though. I could check my phone…”

“Isn’t it the accused’s number?”

“No, no. That number I know very well.”

Stanton smiled and said there was nothing else. Spinner was told he could leave and stepped down.

“We wish to recall Oliver Fenton,” Stanton said.

Percy, Steve and Fenton looked at each other.

“I need to confer with my client,” Percy said, standing up.

“Let’s have a brief recess. We’ll be back in half an hour,” Judge Pearson said.

Once the judge had left, Percy turned to Phil and Ryan. “Come with us. And you too, Mary.”

“But is it OK with Mr Fenton?” Mary asked.

Fenton turned to look at her and smiled, his lips pressed so hard that they had become a white line. “Of course I’m OK. Do you think I’m scared of you? I know you have no superpowers and you can’t read my mind. And anyway, I have nothing to hide.”

Mary shrugged and followed them. They went to a side room whilst the guard waited outside.

“So, what’s that about an injunction?” Percy asked, as soon as they were all sitting down.

“I know nothing about any injunction. Who knows what he might have said? Some mad idea that came into his head,” Fenton replied, dismissive.

“And that mobile number?” Ryan asked.

“Which mobile number?”

“Evidently the prosecution asked your agent about a phone number. Is there anything we should be worried about?” Percy asked.

“Why didn’t you object to all that blah, blah from Mike? It was all hearsay. Green whispered something, I said something. It means nothing. What could he have said?”

“Surprises are no good in this business, Fenton,” Wright said. “We can prepare for almost anything, but not for what we don’t know.”

Fenton sighed. “I’ve already told you. I’m sorry he died but the man was crazy,” he said, letting his head drop.

“OK,” Percy said. Then, he turned to look at Mary. “Any questions, Doctor Miller?”

“I was just wondering…” Fenton looked up and glared at her, “why whisper? He’s shouted about the fact that you’d used his story, loud and clear, and he’d told anybody who would listen to him. Why whisper it in your ear? It makes no sense. He must have told you something else. Why would he talk about telling the truth and how nobody would stop him? If it was the same allegation, he’d already told the truth. And don’t reply that he was just mad. He hadn’t done that before, and he’d been pretty vociferous and consistent. He must have had a reason. A reason that got him killed.”

Fenton stood up from the chair so fast that it fell on the floor, making an echoing sound. “You think you know everything. What do you really know?”

“That man was obsessed with the truth. He must have found something out, or suspected something, but had no confirmation of it. That’s why he whispered it to you. Your reaction confirmed his suspicions,” Mary said, still sitting down, looking up at him and keeping a low voice and a calm expression.

“Yes? And what do you think that was? Perhaps you really have superpowers?” Fenton said.

“I have no idea, although if I had to hazard a guess… You invented the whole story. The book is a work of fiction. No, you didn’t use Green’s story, because you didn’t use anybody’s story. You just made it up. And he must have worked it out somehow. Perhaps you contradicted yourself at some point, or perhaps he checked and discovered that you hadn’t really worked for a phone helpline. Whatever the circumstances, when he told you, you threatened him with an injunction.”

Fenton had paled and was shaking slightly. “The harassment was one thing, but that could have ended my career. There have been scandals for plagiarism and being economical with the truth in the literary world, but that… It would have been the end right at the beginning. I just got a phone, no contract, untraceable, not registered, and called him. I was planning on meeting him somewhere discreet and offering him money to keep his mouth shut and disappear, but when I phoned him he told me not to waste my time that he was not for sale. That he wanted to make an example of me for exploiting that topic and making a profit out of a lie, out of something that had hurt so many people.

“Then I told him I’d taken out an injunction against him and he wouldn’t be able to follow me around or turn up at my apartment ever again. I knew that would provoke him and he’d turn up. And it would be perfect for me, as he’d be invading my home and I could allege self-defence. I sent the receptionist out with an excuse and waited, in hiding. When he turned up I did give him a chance to take some money and leave but he refused. He turned around and said he would talk to the press and I…”

Percy looked aghast. Steve, Phil and Ryan had stood up too and were looking at each other, lost for words.

“They must have a recording of the phone call… Or at least a record of it,” Steve said. “And they must have tracked it back to you. It’s evidence of murder. It was planned.”

“He didn’t die there and then! Can’t we just go after the hospital, claim they mishandled it?” Fenton asked.

Phil shook his head. “The chain of causation is clear.”

“But he had been harassing me!”

“Yes, but that is not the motivation for it. Self-defence won’t cut it if they have the call,” Ryan said.

“I’ll have the mental health assessment!” Fenton shouted.

Mary shook her head. “You’re free to ask for another opinion, but…”

Percy shrugged. “No point. Lance knows Fenton, and he was there when we discussed his mental health. He also knows he refused to have an assessment. Although he cannot testify to that, they’ll have no problem finding experts who’ll say there’s no evidence of any disorder. At least nothing that would get him off on an insanity plea. And I can’t think it would be easy for us to find somebody who’d say the opposite.”

“What shall we do, then?”

“Change the plea to guilty. We can try to claim overwork, stress, the harassment, but it depends on how generous they are feeling. We’ll try to negotiate a plea bargain,” Phil said.

The clerk knocked at the door. “Time to go back.”

Once inside, after the judge had returned to the courtroom, Percy approached the bench. After listening to him, the judge called Stanton. The two lawyers had a few words and the judge adjourned. This time the judge, Stanton, Lance, Wright and Steve met in private. The public waited outside. Ryan asked Mary, “How did you know?”

“I didn’t know for certain. It just struck me as a possibility when I started talking. And Fenton’s reaction just confirmed it.”

“Perhaps you have superpowers,” Phil said.

Mary laughed.

Shortly after, they returned. There was a change of plea and the judge adjourned for sentencing.

“Extraordinary,” Percy said on the way out, shaking Mary’s hand. “I seriously hope you’ll work for us in the future.”

“Thanks very much. I’m very busy in my current job, but I must admit it’s been very interesting.”

“And you can undertake any formation you deem necessary, at our cost.”

“Thanks!”

Phil saw Lance walking towards the door and called out. “Eh, Lance, don’t you remember your friends?”

“Hi, guys! Mary…” he smiled warmly at her.

“Come on, tell us. What did you have?” Ryan asked him, patting his shoulder.

“Now, now, you know I can’t tell. Confidential. See you soon!”

Ryan muttered something about secrets and they all left court. The case made it big in the media: television, radio, newspapers… Of course, there was a book written about it not long after.

Mary did take up some of the training on offer, about writing reports, being an expert witness, and studied the workings of the criminal justice system.

Approximately a year after the trial, Phil called Mary. “I have good news.”

“Yes? Tell me more.”

“Do you remember I told you Wright was looking into expanding? He’s agreed to have me set up a new branch of the firm in the south. I’m not sure if it’s Savannah or Atlanta. I need to go and check in more detail. He’s giving me full independence, so I’m planning on doing plenty of pro-bono, hiring local lawyers and—”

“Being more ethically correct.”

“Correct! The best of both worlds. I’m not leaving the firm, but I don’t have to condone all their practices, or follow them.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“What do you say? Do you fancy a trip to the south?”

“I thought you’d never ask!”

The end (of the beginning)

Just in case you’ve missed the other chapters, here are the links (I’ll create a page with all the links so you can always go back to it at your own leisure).

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

And this is the last week Escaping Psychiatry is available at a special price, so, here it is! 
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 PAPER

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

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