Blog Tour: Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley

Hi everyone,

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley and I have a great post from Mary-Jane for you all further down. First though, the all-important bookish information!

About the author:

mary-jane riley

Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.

DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin.


Twitter: @mrsmjriley

Instagram: maryjanerileyauthor


About the book:

Cover Dark Waters

Secrets lie beneath the surface…

Two men, seemingly unconnected, are discovered dead in a holiday boat on the Norfolk Broads, having apparently committed suicide together.

Local journalist Alex Devlin, planning an article on the dangers of internet suicide forums, starts digging into their backgrounds.

But Alex’s investigation soon leads her to a much darker mystery – one that will hit closer to home than she could possibly have imagined, and place the lives of those she loves in terrible danger.

Dark Waters by Mary-Jane Riley

And now, over to Mary-Jane…

I can’t believe DARK WATERS is my third book and that it’s been three years since my agent called me to say that Killer Reads/Harper Collins had offered me a contract for my first book, THE BAD THINGS (now I’ve just got to think of a  way of squeezing the name of my second book, AFTER SHE FELL, into that sentence…). Writers often talk about the long and winding road to publication – the difficulties, the rejections, the blood, sweat and tears, and all that is true (except for those who strike it lucky first go … grrr), but do you know what? What? I hear you cry (I hope). I have learned even more over these last three years that I would like to share with you….

  1. Trust your instinct.

I wrote a book to send to agents. I wrote a prologue for said book, then I read a lot of stuff about how agents/publishers/uncle Tom Cobbley and all didn’t like prologues. I took the prologue out. The lovely person who was to become my agent asked for some revisions on the manuscript, then said ‘I think you need a prologue”. Reader, the prologue went back in.

An extreme example of not following my instinct came some time after the prologue incident. I wanted to get my book to my agent (a different one). My instinct was telling me, nay screaming at me, that I should read the whole thing again because the book wasn’t ready, wasn’t polished enough. I knew it in my gut. But what did I do? I sent it. It was returned with a very stiff admonishment and a long bruising phone call. I polished that book.



Don’t fret about other people’s deals/success/prizes.

Therein lies madness and the waste of several hours on social media and Amazon stalking the author and wondering why your book isn’t racing up the charts/in the Sunday Times/the subject of a bidding war (actually, a little boast here: my first book was the subject of a bidding war in Germany and it was very exciting!). You have to remember that people put their best faces on Facebook, and the best bits of their writing lives on Twitter. No-one talks about falling sales or publishing deals falling through in a public space… if they do, point me at ‘em! No, the best thing to do is put your head down and write your book and make it the very best you can. Ignore the success stories, they really are few and far between.



Turn off the WiFi

This advice is everywhere, but it does bear repeating. Social Media is a total time-suck. If I leave the wifi on, I find that I look at social media every two minutes when I’m writing a difficult scene or I don’t know where I’m going next. As if watching a BGT performer from Romania will help! Turn it off, keep it off. Of course, it’s a bit difficult when you need to do some research – I do mine as I go along – because it has to go back on. And then it’s just a little look at a couple of cute cat/dog/baby videos….



I can call myself an author


Yes, I can! Three books in and it starts to feel as though I’m not the biggest imposter in the world. Possibly.




Every. Step. Of. The. Way. (I usually hate seeing separate words punctuated by full stops, but it seems appropriate in this case). This was my agent’s very good advice. It’s a huge thing, writing a book. When you finish, celebrate. When you get an agent, celebrate. A publisher? Celebrate. Self-published? Celebrate. Finished editing? Celebrate. You get my drift?



The support of readers and bloggers

Invaluable. I didn’t realise how many people would see my books, would read my books, and it has been so exciting. It is always fabulous to get reviews (as long as they are nice, thank you very much). It was lovely after the first book was published to get messages from people I had worked with saying how great it was to read my books (especially as I had plundered their names for characters) and friends I hadn’t seen for many years got in touch to say they were buying my books (whether they read them is another matter, but they have bought all my books so far).

And as for book bloggers, your enthusiasm and hard work is amazing and I can’t thank you enough. You treat each book you review/read/host on a tour as though it was the only book in the world at that moment. I don’t know where you get your time and energy from, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



Huge thanks to Mary-Jane for such an insightful post, and I wish you all the best with Dark Waters 🙂

Check out the other fab blogs taking part in the tour:

Blog Tour - Dark Waters

Blog Tour Review ~ Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield

Morning all,

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield and I get to share my review with you!

About the author:

James S1

James Stansfield grew up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and now lives in Cardiff with his wife and daughter.  He began his writing career contributing features and television reviews to the website Den of Geek, covering shows such as The Killing, Banshee and Archer.

His action thriller debut, Anaconda Vice, will be published in February 2018.

About the book:


When Lucas Winter, a retired professional wrestler, runs out of gas on a dark and desolate road, his only thoughts are on getting to the lights of the small town up ahead, getting some gas, and getting out of there…only things aren’t quite what they seem in the tiny town of Anaconda.

Before he has a chance to solve his transport problem, Lucas finds himself in trouble with the law after a local man picks a fight with him…and then ends up dead. Innocent, Lucas fights to clear his name, tangling with the local law enforcement and the family of the dead man, who seem set on taking their revenge. Can Lucas get out alive? And just what is it that the residents of Anaconda are hiding….

Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield

My thoughts:

I’m a sucker for small town claustrophobia, so needless to say, Anaconda Vice is right u my street. So much so, that I devoured this book in a handful of sittings over 24 hours. I just couldn’t put it down!

Lucas Winter is a fantastic character. Retired from wrestling, Lucas is returning home from an event when his car decides to give up on him on the side of a road. Seeing lights in the distance, Winter finds himself walking into Anaconda, a seemingly deserted town that is all shut up for the night.

Hanging around in the hope of getting his car towed to a garage, Winter unwittingly finds himself in trouble with the law after an altercation, and when the other person turns up dead, well then he’s in real trouble.

What follows is a dark journey into how far a place will go to keep outsiders away and the lengths they will go to protect their own. Finding it hard to clear his name, Winter finds himself in big trouble. It’s really hard to review this one without going into too much detail!!!!

I genuinely loved this one. Lucas Winter is a fresh new addition to the list of characters I will want to read about forever, up there with Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch even! A story full of surprises, showing the extremes to which people will go to keep secrets buried. Anaconda Vice is an absolute thrill ride. Exciting, clever and action-packed. A superbly written thriller, it has a quiet menace that builds with intensity until the explosive end.

Highly recommended!

Make sure to check out the blog tour posts:


Blog Tour~White Midnight by Daniel Culver

Hi guys,

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for White Midnight by Daniel Culver and I get to share my review with you all!

About the author:


Daniel Culver is a writer and editor, currently living and working in east London, having spent his formative years fluttering between the council estates of Essex and the wilds of Asia and the Americas.

He is an alumnus of both Faber Academy and Curtis Brown Creative and his quirky, crime debut will be published in March 2018.

About the book:

White Midnight.jpg

Elizabeth Nowicki, a British woman and self-confessed stoic, settles down in the seemingly idyllic American town of Midnight, with her new husband and his two children. Six months on, life as a step mom is harder than she thought, and the shine of the American Dream has already worn off.

Bored and lonely, Elizabeth is drawn into a nightmare when someone in a duck mask murders two local cops…and the investigation reaches her new neighbourhood. When this is followed by strange happenings across the street, leading to another death, Elizabeth starts to conduct her own investigation….but can she find the killer before the killer finds her?

Published by Manatee Books on March 15th, you can pre-order your copy by clicking the link below:

White Midnight by Daniel Culver

My thoughts:

White Midnight is one of the quirkiest books I’ve read in a long time, but those quirks are definitely what made it stand out from the crowd for me.

Set in a quiet American town called Midnight, it follows British woman Elizabeth Nowicki as she settles in with her new husband and his two kids. All is not what it seems in Midnight though. When two local cops are murdered by someone in a duck mask, Elizabeth becomes tangled up in the investigation, putting herself firmly in the sights of a dangerous killer.

White Midnight is a superbly-written debut. It is weirdly wonderful, with a very interesting cast of characters, There is a tension that bubbles under the narrative the whole way through, adding a sense of foreboding as to what could happen. I couldn’t put this book down, and more than once it actually made me shudder. Who knew ducks could be so malicious!

Daniel Culver has written a very clever first novel. Highly entertaining, humourous in parts, but always dark. White Midnight is one of the best, most original debuts I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.

Highly recommended!

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Blog Tour: Burnout by Claire MacLeary

Hi all,

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Burnout by Claire MacLeary and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all!

About the author:


Claire MacLeary lived in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Fife, before returning to her native Glasgow. She describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies.

About the book:


“My husband is trying to kill me.” A new client gets straight to the point, and this line of enquiry is a whole new ball game for Maggie Laird, who is desperately trying to rebuild her late husband’s detective agency and clear his name. Her partner, “Big” Wilma, sees the case as a non-starter, but Maggie is drawn in.

With her client’s life on the line, Maggie must get to the ugly truth that lies behind Aberdeen’s closed doors. But who knows what really goes on between husbands and wives? And will the agency’s reputation – and Maggie and Wilma’s friendship – remain intact?

Click HERE to order your copy!

Burnout, by Claire MacLeary

The woman leaned in. ‘I’ll get straight to the point. I think my husband is trying to kill me.’

Wow! Maggie jolted upright. That’s a first!

She struggled to maintain eye contact whilst her mind worked overtime. If their initial telephone conversation was anything to go by, this Mrs Struthers promised to be a profitable new client for the agency. But a threat on her life? That was a whole new ball game.

Maggie re-lived the dressing-down she’d had from DI Chisolm earlier that year when she got herself involved in an active murder investigation. What on earth was she going to do now?

Maggie took another squint at Sheena Struthers. Small-boned. Short hair. Good skin. Not much make-up. Pretty in an old-fashioned sort of way. And ages with herself, she reckoned, or thereabouts. In short, the realisation hit home, like Maggie in another life.

Poor woman looked a bag of nerves: eyes staring, fingers picking relentlessly at her cuticles. Almost as fraught as Maggie had been when she’d first picked up the reins of her husband’s private investigation business. Still, the woman would be frightened, wouldn’t she, if someone really was trying to top her?

‘That’s a very serious allegation, Mrs Struthers,’ Maggie continued.

‘Sheena, please.’ The woman opposite pushed her cappuccino to one side.

They’d met in Patisserie Valerie in Union Square. Maggie had passed it often enough but never been inside. In her straitened position, she couldn’t afford to stump up nearly three pounds for a cup of something and the same again for a pastry. But the easy parking suited both her and her prospective client, and the cafe was low-key, more private than Costa Coffee or Starbucks.

‘Sheena.’ Maggie started to smile, then, remembering the subject matter, hastily rearranged her face. ‘On what grounds, might I ask, is this allegation based?’

Lord, would you listen to yourself? Since becoming a PI, Maggie had schooled herself to think like a detective. Now she was beginning to talk like one.

‘Just a feeling, really. It’s hard to explain, but…’

‘It’s this time of year.’ She cut the woman off mid-flow. ‘The run-up to Christmas puts a strain on the most solid of marriages.’ What she wouldn’t give, now, to have a man at her side, strain or no.

‘You’re so wrong.’ Sheena Struthers looked her straight in the eye. ‘I’ve done my homework, Mrs Laird. Looked into other agencies, in Aberdeen and further afield. For one thing they’re much too big. You’ll appreciate that in my situation…’ She cast a furtive glance around the cafe. ‘Discretion is paramount. With companies that size, one can never be sure.’

‘But the police,’ Maggie interjected. ‘Shouldn’t you…?’

‘My dear…’ Keen brown eyes gazed into Maggie’s own. ‘One gets the impression they’re stretched enough, don’t you agree?’

Maggie offered a non-committal, ‘Mmm.’

‘And besides,’ Mrs Struthers insisted, ‘you must realise that any police involvement could endanger my marriage.’

For the second time that afternoon Maggie was caught on the back foot. Make your mind up, woman: your marriage or your life? ‘Oh, yes,’ she murmured, ‘I see what you mean,’ though she was at a loss to follow this line of reasoning.

‘Nor could I take the matter to a solicitor,’ Sheena Struthers continued. She leaned in close, dropped her voice. ‘My husband is an accountant, you see. Moves in rather a closed circle. And Aberdeen, it’s small enough, still. Word gets around,’ she looked to Maggie for reassurance. ‘Doesn’t it?’

‘It certainly does.’ Maggie buried her nose in her cup. She knew only too well what the woman was alluding to. The police were as much a closed circle as any other professional body.

‘From what I’ve heard, you are a person of some integrity. And operate outwith,’ she raised a questioning eyebrow, ‘what one might loosely call “the establishment”. In short, Mrs Laird, your firm seems the perfect fit.’

Oh, to Hell! Maggie had intended to bring the meeting to a close. Now she’d let this Struthers woman take control. She straightened in her seat. ‘It’s kind of you to say so, but I really don’t think I’m the right person.’

‘You will help me, won’t you?’ Sheena reached across the table, clutched at her arm. ‘Please?’

Burnout, by Claire MacLeary is published by Contraband. Available as an ebook from 8 March, price £5.99. Available in print from 29 March, price £8.99.

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BuO_Blog_tour (1)

Blog Tour: We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard

Hi everyone,

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard, and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all. First though, here is all of the bookish information you will need!

About the author:

Roxanne Bouchard reads a lot, but she laughs even more. Her first novel, Whisky et Paraboles, garnered an array of prestigious awards in Quebec and caught the attention of British researcher, Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, of the University of Westminster, who saw for herself how Roxanne weaves poetry and geography together to delve into her characters’ intimate worlds. This desire for intimacy permeates all of Roxanne’s novels, as well as her play, J’t’aime encore, and her published essays, which have focused on the human aspects and impacts of the military. In 2013, the publication of her private correspondence with Corporal Patrick Kègle, entitled En terrain miné, started quite the conversation.

This thought-provoking discussion about the need for weapons was a stepping-stone for Roxanne to undertake unprecedented research at Quebec’s largest military base. Meeting and speaking with dozens of women and men who served in Afghanistan in 2009 inspired her to write a collection of hard-hitting short stories, Cinq balles dans la tête, slated for publication in autumn 2017.

We Were the Salt of the Sea is Roxanne Bouchard’s fifth novel, and the first to be translated into English. As much a love story and a nostalgic tale as it is a crime novel, it was shortlisted for a number of crime fiction and maritime literature awards in Quebec and France. It haunts people’s memories, ties seafarers’ hearts in knots and seeps its way into every nook and cranny, but most importantly, the sea in this book is a calling for us all to set our sails to the wind. Roxanne Bouchard is currently writing an essay on literary creativity and plotting Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès’s next investigation.

About the book:


As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…

Published by Orenda Books, click HERE to order your copy!


Dredgers and trawlers
‘Well, let me tell you, mam’zelle, that hotel and bar over by Caplan
beach – burned to the ground, it did!’
He opened the dishwasher too early, allowing a scalding cloud
of steam to escape. He slammed it shut again and turned to me.
Leaning over the counter, he tried to catch a glimpse of the letter
from Key West I had reopened to remind myself what it said, but I
pulled it away.
‘And let me tell you, quite the fire it was and all! The whole village
came out for a ganders in the middle of the night. Folks even came
up from Saint-Siméon and Bonaventure to see! I made the most of
it and opened up the bistro. It didn’t let up for two days! The flames
were licking all up the walls, and bed springs were popping all over
the place. Had the firemen running around in circles, it did! You
should’ve seen the ashes all over the beach! And let me tell you, it all
went up in smoke! The hotel, the bar, even the slot machines! You’re
not too disappointed, I hope?’
I smiled. If I’d driven for ten hours to feed the slots at the Caplan
beach hotel, then yes, I probably would have been disappointed.
‘Over there, see? It was just the other side of the church – a bit
further west. But now there’s nothing left of it. Must’ve been about
two months ago, I’d say. Everyone knows what happened. I can’t
believe you didn’t hear about it – it made the front page in the Bay
Echo. They even did a special feature about it, with colour pages and
everything! They say it was probably arson, and the insurance won’t
pay up. Cases like this, they’re always looking to point the finger. But
let me tell you, it’s funny they told you to go sleep there, you know…’
I checked the date. The letter had been mailed from Key West
We Were the Salt of the Sea.indd 10 23/01/2018 17:20
we were the salt of the sea 11
two months ago. I put it back in my bag. I had nothing to hide, but
nothing to say either. He cleared away my leftover pizza, tossed it
into the bin and took a step to the side, not entirely satisfied.
‘Let me tell you just one thing, the best place to stay is at Guylaine’s,
right here, just across the way. You’ll be a lot more comfortable
there than up at the hotel that burned down!’
Keeping his distance this time, he opened the dishwasher again,
which was still rumbling away. He picked up a red-chequered tea
towel and started flapping the steam away like a matador struggling
to tame a mad bull. Then, brimming with local pride, with the tip of
his chin he pointed out a big house to the east of the bistro, nestled
against the cliffside, looking out to sea in quiet contemplation. A
charming auberge that promised a warm welcome.
‘It’s the finest one around! Quiet too. Guylaine doesn’t have kids
or a husband. And further down, over there, that’s the fishermen’s
wharf and the Café du Havre is right alongside. If it’s fishermen you
want to meet, you should go there for breakfast mid-morning, when
they come back in. Guylaine will be out for her walk right now, but
she’s sure to stop by later. She always comes in to say hello.’
He visibly softened. Without thinking, he picked up a scalding
glass, juggled with it then flung it onto the counter like a curse. He
gazed out towards the auberge again, then turned to me with a sigh.
‘How about a coffee while you’re waiting?’
I’ve never really liked those bed and breakfasts where you’re
expected to make chit-chat, tell people who you are, where you’re
from, where you’re going and how long you’re staying, and listen to
the owners spouting on about their country-home renovations. But
it sounded like I might as well forget about finding another hotel
around here, and I’d never been one for camping, so Guylaine’s was
beginning to look like my only option.
He cleared my plate and empty glass away and placed a mug on the
counter in front of me before charging back for more, index finger
pointed questioningly at my bag. ‘If you’re looking for someone
around here, I can probably help.’
We Were the Salt of the Sea.indd 11 23/01/2018 17:20
12 roxanne bouchard
I hesitated. Swivelled my chair around to face the other end of the
bistro. As I recall, the sea was the only thing on my mind right then.
The thick smell of it. The breakwater darkening into shadow, ready
to slip beneath the heavy blanket of night. With no lights out here,
how much could you see along this coast?
‘Let me tell you just one thing, though, I know plenty of folk
around here.’
I still didn’t have the words to talk about her. She had always been
unpronounceable; but now, all of a sudden, I had to casually drop
this woman’s name into conversation. Should I roll it seven times on
the tip of my tongue, swish it around my mouth like a vintage wine
or crush it with my molars to soften it?
‘Spit it out, then. Who are you looking for?’
I figured I’d have to get used to the name, for a while anyway. Put
on a brave face and add it to my vocabulary at least, if not my family
tree. So for the first time, contemplating the sea, I said it. I took a
deep breath in and let it all out.
‘Marie Garant. Do you know her?’
He recoiled. All the sparkle in his face fizzled out, as if I’d blown
out a candle. Suddenly on his guard, he looked at me suspiciously.
‘She a friend of yours?’
‘No. I don’t actually know her.’
He picked up the glass again and started rubbing the heck out
of it.
‘Phew! You had me worried there. Because let me tell you, that
Marie Garant, she’s no woman to get close to. Especially not you, if
you’re a tourist that is. I wouldn’t go around shouting about her if
you want to make any friends around here.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘But you’re not from around here, so you weren’t to know, of
‘No, I wasn’t.’
‘Is she the reason you’re here?’
‘Er … No.’ It was barely a lie. ‘I’m on holiday.’
We Were the Salt of the Sea.indd 12 23/01/2018 17:20
we were the salt of the sea 13
‘Ah! So you are a tourist! Well then, welcome! I’m Renaud. Renaud
Boissonneau, dean of students at the high school and businessman
with business aplenty!’
‘Er, pleased to meet you.’
‘Let me tell you, we’ll take good care of you. How did you like the
pizza? Most of the tourists haven’t arrived yet – this place is usually
full of them. That’s right, it’s always packed here. People think it’s
nice and rustic. Did you see the decor? This place has history, let me
tell you. Because you might not have noticed, but we’re in the old
rectory. That’s why the church is right next door! The patio wraps all
the way around, so anyone who wants to avert their eyes from the
steeple while they’re drinking their beer can go and look at the sea
or the fisherman’s wharf instead. Oh, and the curate lives upstairs.
Which means, let me tell you, that when you’ve had a couple of
drinks and you’re ready to confess your sins, you can just go right
on up!’
Having successfully tamed the dishwasher, he was now noisily
unloading some mercifully unbreakable plates.
‘I do pretty much everything around here, I do. How about that
decor? … See. I was the one who did it all. Let me tell you, I brought
up everything I could find in the basement. See how original it is?
There’s wagon wheels up on the ceiling with oil lamps hanging from
them, clogs, little wooden birdhouses, tools, saws, cables and rope,
and I hung some old oilskins in the corner. Do you need a rain
jacket? I suppose it’s been a nice day today. But it has rained a lot the
last little while, don’t you think?’
‘I hadn’t noticed.’
‘Ah, a city girl!’
As if the distance gave him permission to confide in me, he leaned
in to whisper something. ‘And let me tell you, I do all the decor, wait
tables and wash the dishes, but you’ll never guess what – soon I’m
going to be cook’s helper as well! At fifty-three! Never too old to be
young again, mam’zelle!’
He straightened up and slammed the dishwasher shut again.
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14 roxanne bouchard
‘Everything you see over there, it’s all from our place. That globe,
them old cameras, the marine charts, the grandfather clock, the twohanded
saw, the horseshoes. Do we say horseshoes or horse’s shoes?
Let me tell you, I reckon you can say either. Oh, and them bottles,
the clay pots, them mismatched mugs, even the recipe books! So
tell me, which way did you come? Through the valley or round the
‘Er, through the valley.’
‘Good on you, not going out of your way for nothing!’
He rubbed the counter like he was trying to make his rag all dizzy.
‘Out of my way for nothing?’
‘The point! Percé, the Northern Gannets, Bonaventure Island …
talk about going out of your way for nothing, mam’zelle! Think you
want to go there?’
‘I don’t know. I haven’t made any plans yet.’
‘Because we just got some tourist brochures in today! I haven’t
read through them yet, but … Ah! If it isn’t the fair Guylaine herself!’
All at once, he flung the rag away into the sink as if he had dirt
on his hands.
Guylaine Leblanc, to look at her, must have been at least sixtyfive.
With salt-and-pepper hair pulled up into a loose bun, she had
about her that air of goodness that grandmothers in American family
movies exude. She laughed tenderly with a twinkle in her eye for
Renaud, who was clearly putty in her hands.
‘Have you met our new tourist, Guylaine? What was your name
‘Catherine what?’
‘Day. Catherine Day.’
‘Catherine Day wants to stay at yours; you have a room for her,
don’t you?’
Renaud kissed Guylaine on both cheeks and then she walked me
over to her sewing shop, Le Point de Couture, on the south side of
Highway 132, where she sold clothes and did alterations. The auberge
We Were the Salt of the Sea.indd 14 23/01/2018 17:20
we were the salt of the sea 15
was at the rear of the shop, well away from any road noise. The
vast ground floor was decorated in the same fashion as Renaud’s
bistro with a surprisingly comforting hodgepodge of antiques and
easy chairs, and there was a deep veranda overlooking the shore.
Guylaine had three rooms for tourists upstairs; she must have slept
somewhere at the top of the staircase that led to the attic. She gave
me a room facing the sea – her favourite, she said – all decked out
in white and blue, with driftwood trim and a hand-stitched quilt on
the bed. It was a very nice room.

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We Were The Salt of the Sea BT Banner .jpg


Blog Tour: A Known Evil by Aidan Conway

Hi all,

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for A Known Evil by Aidan Conway and I get to share an extract with you all!

About the author:

Aidan Conway was born in Birmingham and has been living in Italy since 2001. He has been a bookseller, a proofreader, a language consultant, as well as a freelance teacher, translator, and editor for the United Nations FAO. He is currently an assistant university lecturer in Rome, where he lives with his family. A Known Evil is his first novel.

About the book:


A serial killer stalks the streets of Rome…

A gripping debut crime novel and the first in a groundbreaking series, from a new star in British crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin.

A city on lockdown.
In the depths of a freakish winter, Rome is being torn apart by a serial killer dubbed The Carpenter intent on spreading fear and violence. Soon another woman is murdered – hammered to death and left with a cryptic message nailed to her chest.

A detective in danger.
Maverick Detective Inspectors Rossi and Carrara are assigned to the investigation. But when Rossi’s girlfriend is attacked – left in a coma in hospital – he becomes the killer’s new obsession and his own past hurtles back to haunt him.

A killer out of control.
As the body count rises, with one perfect murder on the heels of another, the case begins to spiral out of control. In a city wracked by corruption and paranoia, the question is: how much is Rossi willing to sacrifice to get to the truth?

Click HERE to get your copy!


They’d found the body in the entrance to their block of flats where, sometimes, bleary-eyed,
they would avoid treading on the dog shit some neighbour couldn’t care less about cleaning up
– teenagers on the way to school at eight in the morning. They’d been the first to leave the
building, apparently, although it was now known the victim didn’t live in the same complex.
Paola Gentili, mother of three, a cleaner, on her way to work. Multiple blows to the cranium.
No sign of sexual assault. No attempt to appropriate money or valuables. No sign of a struggle.
So, it seemed she had been taken completely unawares. Better for her. Husband had been
informed. Distraught. Had given them the few preliminary details they required without the
need for any formal interview. That would have to wait until they got the go-ahead from the
presiding magistrate. But the guy seemed clean enough going by the checks the new
‘privatized’ IT system had given them in record time. What social media access she had was
regular and only moderately used. Meanwhile, they’d started looking into the other stuff. No
particular leads. No affairs. No money issues. No links to known families in the organized
sector. Worked in a ministry in the centre of the city. No unexplained calls. Just waiting now
on the forensics guys to come up with something more concrete to work with.
Inspector Michael Rossi had only just driven through the gates in the Alfa Romeo. He
had known immediately that something big was coming by the urgency of Carrara’s steps as
he’d emerged from the baroque archway leading from the Questura’s offices to the car park. If
Rossi had bothered to switch his phone on before it would have got him out of bed, what?
Twenty minutes earlier? But that wouldn’t have saved anyone’s life. Now, the debris of
takeaway espressos and sugarsachets violated the bare desk space separating them in his office.
Their own cleaner had just been in, chatty as ever, oblivious as yet to the news.
“Other than that,” said Carrara, “we’re totally in the dark on this one. But it does look like
there’s a possible pattern emerging.”
“You’ve been busy,” said Rossi.
The second such killing in as many weeks. The modus operandi and the victim profile
bore distinct similarities but no one had dared yet to use the term. Serial? Was it possible? In
Detective Inspector Luigi Carrara. Five years Rossi’s junior, several years under his belt
in anti-mafia, undercover, eco-crime, narcotics, now on the Rome Serious Crime Squad.
Recently married, he had the air of one of those men who neverseem to have overdone anything
in their lives: hardly a wrinkle, haircut every month, bright, fluid in his movements. Just the
man Rossi needed on a Monday morning like this one.
“How similar?” said Rossi, still struggling to form what he considered decent sentences,
though his mind was already whirring into action. “The weapon, for instance?”
“Blunt instrument. Iron bar or hammer, probably.”
“Who’s on the scene?”
“A few boys from the local station. They got the magistrate there sharpish though.
Hopefully they’ll have disturbed as little as possible. She was carrying ID, so we got to work
with that straight off, once the news came in on the police channel.”
“Press know?”
“Not officially. But they will.”
“Out of town, I think.”
“Good. Let’s go,” said Rossi grabbing his battered North Face from the coat stand, feeling
more vigorous and even a little bit up for it. “I want to see this one for myself.”

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Blog Tour~Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield

Morning all,

Let’s try this one again, shall we? And do the correct blog tour post on the correct day! I’m blaming it on the cabin fever, haha! Anyway, today is my stop on the blog tour for Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield and I have a Q&A with the man himself!

About the author:

James S1

James Stansfield grew up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and now lives in Cardiff with his wife and daughter.  He began his writing career contributing features and television reviews to the website Den of Geek, covering shows such as The Killing, Banshee and Archer.

His action thriller debut, Anaconda Vice, will be published in February 2018.

About the book:


When Lucas Winter, a retired professional wrestler, runs out of gas on a dark and desolate road, his only thoughts are on getting to the lights of the small town up ahead, getting some gas, and getting out of there…only things aren’t quite what they seem in the tiny town of Anaconda.

Before he has a chance to solve his transport problem, Lucas finds himself in trouble with the law after a local man picks a fight with him…and then ends up dead. Innocent, Lucas fights to clear his name, tangling with the local law enforcement and the family of the dead man, who seem set on taking their revenge. Can Lucas get out alive? And just what is it that the residents of Anaconda are hiding….

Anaconda Vice by James Stansfield

Q&A with James:

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Of course, but first, thank you for having me on the blog.  I grew up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire but I’ve been in Cardiff, Wales for 13 years now following 5 years in Scotland.  I live with my wife Genevieve and daughter Lily.  In my day job I’m an I.T. Support Analyst and Programmer, which is nowhere near as interesting as writing.

How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes, pretty much, in one way or another.  I’ve always written something.  I used to steal blank exercise books from school and fill them with stories or film reviews.  I suppose I started taking it seriously when I began writing for the website Den of Geek in 2012.  They gave me a chance and it was a big confidence booster.  

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Anywhere and everywhere.  I think one of the major plot points in Anaconda Vice came from a newspaper article I read one morning on the bus.  Other times it can be a hint of an idea or character from something on TV or a line in a song.  It all gets thrown together to hopefully form something that resembles a story.

How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your book?

I’m aiming to entertain.  I want people to look forward to perhaps settling down at the end of the day with it and being able to forget everything else that they’ve got going on.  There’s enough doom and gloom going on in the world right now that I think everyone needs some escapist fun and that’s what I hope Anaconda Vice delivers.  That’s how writing it felt so I hope that translates to the reader.

Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?

Definitely, especially Twitter.  I’ve been quite overwhelmed by how supportive the book community has been on Twitter and it’s certainly helped news of Anaconda Vice reach people.  I’ve been a big Twitter user for a number of years and it’s a great tool for connecting with people you share common interests with.  I do think that you need to temper the promotional stuff with some personal bits too.  People want to know what you’re doing, watching, reading and enjoying, not just to be hit with a sales pitch several times a day.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

In terms of the actual writing, probably when you’re working on a chapter and without realizing it you’ve done a thousand words as it’s just flowed so naturally.  That always feels pretty good.

Away from the keyboard, I’m still getting used to the idea that people are reading a book that I’ve written, so whenever anyone tells me they are, or that they’re excited to read it, that’s something that’s been really encouraging.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

I suppose the worst thing that’s happened to me so far was having to throw away an entire book after working on it for seven months.  It was only a first draft and I know everyone says that first drafts are supposed to be terrible but I think you know when something is never going to work.  It was a learning experience if nothing else.

Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?

I’d like to continue writing books about Lucas Winter, the protagonist of Anaconda Vice.  He’s a lot of fun to write and if people enjoy the character then I’d like to have another three or four of his adventures out by 2023.  I’m working on the follow up now and I’ve got at least another couple of plots in mind for him.

What’s next for you?

Immediately, that’ll be the second draft of Lucas Winter 2.  I recently sent a synopsis of the story to Liz and Lisa at Manatee Books and thankfully, they gave it a double thumbs up.

I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?

Absolutely.  I try to read for an hour before going to sleep most nights, though I sometimes don’t last that long if I’m tired.  I’ll read anything that takes my fancy, though in recent years crime fiction and thrillers in one shape or another have dominated most of my choices.  I like horror, YA and occasional bit of fantasy too.  I’m one of the many still waiting on that sixth A Song of Ice and Fire book.

Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?

My very favourite book is Alex Garland’s paradise gone wrong thriller The Beach.  I first read it when I was at university and it was like nothing else I’d come across before. I read it again every couple of years.  I don’t think I’ve ever identified with a character as much as I do Richard.  It’s simply a stunning book.

Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you had written?

Loads but right at the top of the list would be Futuristic Violence & Fancy Suits by David Wong.  It’s a future set thriller with some incredible world building and is so effortlessly cool.  It’s also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.  More recently, I would love to have written Six Stories or Hydra by Matt Wesolowski.  Those books are jaw-droppingly brilliant and I can’t wait to read what he does next.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Aside from the day job, parenting, writing and reading, I like to watch wrestling both live and on TV, which will probably come as no surprise given Lucas Winter’s background.  There’s a great promotion called Attack Pro Wrestling who run shows in Cardiff and Bristol so I go to see them about once a month.

I follow American Football between September and February.  I’m a New England Patriots fan which, well, our season didn’t end quite as we’d have hoped this year.  I also try to get out for a half hour run three times a week, which is a brilliant way to take some time out to solve nagging plot problems.  You’d be amazed what you can figure out whilst jogging along to Slipknot.

Have you any hobbies that aren’t book-related?

Our household is pretty heavily into gaming so Friday and Saturday nights are usually spent on the PlayStation.  My wife and I have just finished playing a fantastic game called Danganronpa – Trigger Happy Havoc.  It’s an interactive Japanese anime where you have to solve murders in a mysterious high school.  Games have played a pretty big influence on my writing.  When I wrote Anaconda Vice I was playing the first three Uncharted games and there’s definitely a bit of Nathan Drake in Lucas Winter.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

New York City.  It’s the best city in the world with just the most amazingly friendly people.  On our last visit, my wife and I saw Pearl Jam play two consecutive nights at Madison Square Garden, the second show being the best concert I’ve ever attended.  I also love the Madives.  We spent two weeks there in a villa over the water and I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed in my entire life.

Favourite food?

I’m a total crisps fiend but saying Doritos seems rather lame.  There’s a place in Cardiff called the New York Deli which does the most incredible hoagies so I’ll go with those.  Oh, and my wife’s vanilla cupcakes are out of this world.

Favourite drink?

It’s a toss up between a good strong coffee and a glass of Shiraz.

Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?

I want to give some deep and meaningful answer here but the truth is, I just enjoy doing it.  Even when I was writing things that nobody but me would ever read, I always liked coming up with phrases, descriptions and stories.  And besides, I tried being in a band for years only to be forced to admit in the end that I had not one shred of musical talent, so writing it is.

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