Blog Tour Extract ~ Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds

Hi everyone,

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Rod Reynolds’ latest book, Cold Desert Sky. I’ll be sharing an extract with you all further down, but first here’s the all-important bookish information 🙂

About the author:

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After a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, Rod Reynolds took City University’s two-year MA in crime writing, where he started The Dark Inside, his first Charlie Yates mystery. This was followed by the second book in the series, Black Night Falling, in 2016. He lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

About the book:

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No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.

Late 1946 and Charlie Yates and his wife Lizzie have returned to Los Angeles, trying to stay anonymous in the city of angels.

But when Yates, back in his old job at the Pacific Journal, becomes obsessed by the disappearance of two aspiring Hollywood starlets, Nancy Hill and Julie Desjardins, he finds it leads him right back to his worst fear: legendary Mob boss Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a man he once crossed, and whose shadow he can’t shake.

As events move from LA to the burgeoning Palace of Sin in the desert, Las Vegas – where Siegel is preparing to open his new Hotel Casino, The Flamingo – Rod Reynolds once again shows his skill at evoking time and place. With Charlie caught between the FBI and the mob, can he possibly see who is playing who, and find out what really happened to the two girls?

Cold Desert Sky by Rod Reynolds

Extract:

CHAPTER ONE

DECEMBER 1946

No one wanted to say it to me, that the girls were dead. But I knew.

Maybe the desperation showed on my face. No one wants to disappoint a zealot when he’s coming at you, demanding answers and looking for a sign that his search isn’t futile. The ninth day since they went missing, and every street rat and lowlife I could collar told me just enough to get me off their back: no clue/they probably split town/I’ll ask around. Walked out thinking they’d soaped me and that I didn’t know how this would end, the same as ever – two broken bodies in a funeral home or some godforsaken alley in this bullshit City of Angels.

Sunlight came at me between two buildings; late afternoon, already low in the sky – winter’s touch on an otherwise bright day. I bought a newspaper from a vendor, leaned against the wall and pretended to skim the headlines, front and back. I’d already been through it for real that morning, found no mention of them. Now it was just cover to scope the diner across the street. The joint was a corner dive on North La Brea, name of Wilt’s, nothing going for it save for the pretty broad dressed in Mexican getup out front, peddling the brisket special and looking like she’d sooner be someplace else.

 


Most everything I’d done so far was conducted in the hours of darkness; this was the first daylight meet I’d risked. Not my choice, but short notice was Whitey’s condition when we’d arranged it that morning. Whitey Lufkins – a lifetime losing gambler who stemmed his losses turning snitch for anyone with enough green. I knew him from my stint at the LA Times when he was a bottom-rung stop for every legman looking for street talk. Now that same street talk held that he was in over his head with his bookmaker – and his readiness to meet suggested it was true. He didn’t know it’d be me on the other side of the table, though; caution came first. Whitey thought he was seeing a private dick on the missing girls’ trail; I had to ask Lizzie to make the calls to set it up, and she played the dispassionate secretary without much call for pretence.

I was early but I spotted Whitey through the window, already inside. I stayed where I was, waiting and watching, looking for anything out of place. It was automatic now, had been since we returned to LA three weeks before.

I’d felt it as soon as we set foot back in the county, and Liz-zie the same. It’d taken less than a day to confirm that Bugsy Siegel was searching for us. Buck Acheson, my editor at the Pacific Journal, was the one to break the news; a rushed call from a payphone on Wilshire the day we got back, Buck saying he’d picked up on it a week before, while Lizzie and I were still upstate. His voice, his words – he played it all as low key as he could in the circumstance, but his sign off was resounding: ‘I’m pleased you’re back and your job’s still yours ifyou want it, but Charlie, it’s best ifyou stay away from the officesfor now.’ Buck wasn’t one to worry for himself, so the meaning was clear: don’t make it easy for him to find me.

 


The city that used to be mine, and now I couldn’t move for looking over my shoulder.

I let five minutes go by. Whitey fidgeted with his cup and checked his watch twice. Two men left the diner but no one else went in. About half the tables were occupied, more seated along the counter. No one that worried me on first glance, but who the hell knew any more? After Hot Springs. After Texarkana—

Whitey checked his watch again, looked ready to bail. I cracked my knuckles and crossed the street, went inside. He was facing the door, saw me as soon as I did. He had a pallor about him, where the name came from, but worse than I remembered and accentuated now by pockmarks on his cheeks. He made to get up then stopped himself halfway, caught in two minds. I slid in opposite him.

‘Charlie?’

‘Have a seat.’

Previous reviews:

Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds

Check out the blog tour:

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Under Water by Casey Barrett

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*Many thanks to the author for my review copy!*

About the author:

Casey is the author of the Duck Darley crime series. The first in the series, UNDER WATER, will be released by Kensington Books on November 28th, 2017. Book two – AGAINST NATURE – will come out eight months later on July 31st, 2018. And Book three – THE TOWER OF SONGS – is slated for mid-2019 release.

Casey is also a Canadian Olympic swimmer and the co-founder and co-CEO of Imagine Swimming, New York City’s largest learn-to-swim school. He has won three Emmy awards and one Peabody award for his work on NBC’s broadcasts of the Olympic Games.

About the book:

Duck Darley should have been a winner. Once a competitive swimmer destined for Olympic gold, he drank away his gilded youth and followed his fraudster father’s footsteps into prison. Barely scraping by as an unlicensed private investigator, Duck now chases down cheating spouses for the same Manhattan elite who once viewed him as equal, and drowns bitter memories with whatever fills his glass.

Duck’s lost glory days resurface when he’s tasked with finding the teenaged sister of a former teammate turned Olympic champion. Privileged Madeline McKay vanished over Labor Day weekend, leaving behind a too-perfect West Village apartment and a promising athletic career of her own. Duck thinks he’s hunting for a self-destructive runaway—until Madeline’s film student ex is savagely murdered, and the media spins her as the psycho who killed him.

As Duck searches for Madeline, he’s plunged back into the dark underbelly of Olympic swimming—a world rife with wild lies and terrible violence. And he soon learns that no matter how hard he tries to escape his past, demons still lurk beneath every surface . . .

Under Water by Casey Barrett

My thoughts:

Under Water is the first book in a Casey Barrett’s Duck Darley series, and it’s definitely off to a good start!

Darley used to have promise as an Olympic swimmer, but for various reasons, he ended up going to prison instead. This lead to Darley working as a PI in Manhattan, where he exposes cheaters and the usual PI fodder. Until he is contacted by the mother of his old swim team mate.

Madeleine McKay is missing but Darley thinks she’s run away and that there’s nothing untoward about her disappearance. Until her ex is murdered, and she becomes the prime suspect.

From here, Under Water really picks up the pace. Darley gets into trouble on occasion, but all in his pursuit for the truth. At times violent and gritty, Under Water has an almost hard-boiled crime kind of feel to it. It’s noir-ish and quite old school but it’s quite pacy!

It’s been a while since I read a crime book like Under Water. There is a seedy undertone throughout the narrative, but it lends itself well to the investigative work Darley has to do. One for fans of James Ellroy maybe? It’s got that kind of vibe going for it at times. One worth adding to your list!

Recommended for sure!

~Blog Tour Review~ Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson trs by Quentin Bates

Hi guys,

I’m taking part in the blog tour for Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson today, and I’ll be re-sharing my review with you all!

About the author:

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Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

About the translator:

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Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as one novel (Gudlaugur Arason’s Bowline).

About the book:

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Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Click the link below to order your copy:

Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson

My thoughts:

I have been waiting (im)patiently for Whiteout ever since I finished reading Rupture. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how much of a big fan I am of this series. So you can imagine my absolute glee in getting to read Whiteout before publication 😊

In Whiteout, we are back with Ari Thór and Tómas, both of whom are tasked with investigating the circumstances in which a young woman ends up at the bottom of the cliffs at Kálfshamarvík. Only a couple of days before Christmas, the men must work quickly and effectively to try to find out what has happened and how the woman ended up dead.

Whiteout is a really well-written mystery. With a large cast of characters, it really makes the reader work hard to try to figure things out alongside Ari Thór. I love Ragnar Jónasson’s writing style. There is something almost poetic in the way he describes the Icelandic location. The stunning visual imagery is second to none in terms of creating a clear location in the reader’s mind.

The author has assembled a really interesting cast of characters for this one. There are many of them, all with their own secrets that they are holding close to their chest. I found myself suspecting everyone at one time or another, such is the unreliable nature of the narrative Jónasson has created in Whiteout.

There is a haunting element to Whiteout as well. The cliffs, the lighthouse and the old abandoned house almost seem to become characters as well due to how well the author describes them. This creates a sense of foreboding as the reader gets drawn more into the story. It is quietly chilling and there seems to be a sinister element in the background when they are investigating in and around Kálfshamarvík.

I don’t want to say any more because the joy of reading these books is often found in unravelling the mystery alongside Ari Thór. Whiteout is another superb instalment in the Dark Iceland series. It has left me wanting more, and has also made some questions arise. So Ragnar, if you’re reading this, you and I need to have a bit of a chat 😂

I cannot recommend this series, and this book highly enough. Always atmospheric, often chilling and with plenty to keep the reader turning the pages, Whiteout is definitely a book to add to your TBR. The whole series is though, to be honest. If you haven’t read them, then you really should get on it!

I could keep rattling on about how much I enjoyed Whiteout. And the whole series in general. But I would be here all day, and still not do justice to my fave Icelander and his awesome books.

So yeah, Whiteout is all kinds of brilliant. Great characters, a gripping plot and a hauntingly atmospheric location. Another book added to my all time favourites list.

Highly recommended.

All the stars, always.

#AriThór

Previous reviews for the series:Snowblind by Ragnar JónassonNightblind by Ragnar Jónasson Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson Rupture by Ragnar JónassonFollow the blog tour:Whiteout BT.jpg

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

 

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*Many thanks to Orenda Books for my review copy!*

About the book:

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it?

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

My thoughts:

Exquisite is a long-awaited domestic noir thriller published by Orenda Books. In it, we meet Bo Luxton and Alice Dark, both of whom share a common interest in writing. Bo is a bestselling author, and Alice has aspirations to write a book. Meeting eachother at a writers retreat ends up with some interesting consequences. 

I had been really looking forward to reading Exquisite. It ticks all the boxes in terms of the kinds of things I enjoy in books. Dark, unreliable narrator, secrets and lies, so I was eager to get stuck into it when I picked it up last month. 

It’s very hard to discuss Exquisite without giving away anything in terms of the plot. There is no denying Sarah Stovell is a superb writer. The prose and cadence in Exquisite is beautiful. Even the mundane is made exceptional, and that’s all down to how well the author writes. 

If you enjoy clever domestic noir, then Exquisite is the book for you. Compelling, menacing and fraught with tension, definitely one to add to your list!

Recommended! 

The Harbour Master by Daniel Pembrey

About the book:

Henk van der Pol is a 30-year-term policeman, a few months off retirement. When he finds a woman’s body in Amsterdam Harbour, his detective instincts take over, even though it’s not his jurisdiction. Warned off investigating the case, Henk soon realises he can trust nobody, as his search for the killer leads him to discover the involvement of senior police officers, government corruption in the highest places, Hungarian people traffickers, and a deadly threat to his own family…

Click HERE to get your copy!

My thoughts:

I’ve decided to cheat on my TBR a little and I’ve had Daniel’s book on my TBR for ages. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at an event in Goldsboro Books so I figured it’s high time o read this book. Especially as the follow-up, Night Market, has been released this year and I’m on the blog tour for it late next month.

The Harbour Master follows Henk van Der Pol as he finds himself in the vicinity of the discovery of a young woman’s body in Amsterdam Harbour. What follows is a story of murder, corruption and human traffickers and Henk is unsure of who he can trust.

I really enjoyed the sense of place in The Harbour Master. I’ve never been to Amsterdam but Daniel Pembrey paints a very vivid picture with his words and it sounds like a city that I would love to visit.

The story itself is actually deceivingly detailed. There are many different threads, and when woven together, form a much bigger picture that the reader couldn’t possible come up with on their own. At times, I found this hard to follow, but it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the story at all. I was highly intrigued as to the why and the who throughout.

The Harbour Master goes in directions I wasn’t expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised. I read it in less than 24 hours, the time passes very quickly once you become immersed in the book.

I look forward to reading Night Market and catching up with Henk van der Pol. For fans of Eurocrime with a noir undertone, The Harbour Master is definitely one to add to your list!

Recommended!

Thomas Enger Cursed Cover Reveal

Today I’m delighted to be able to share a cover reveal with you all courtesy of Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books. Orenda are one of my favourite publishers as they have a dearth of wonderful authors and novels in their catalogue and this latest addition is no different!

About the author:

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.


About the book:

What secret would you kill to protect?

When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-­‐wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-­‐wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history. Taut, chilling and unputdownable, Cursed is the fourth in the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned by always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers.

And without further ado, feast your eyes on this beauty… 


Cursed will be available to buy in ebook format in December, and in paperback in early February 2017!

I’m already excited… 😊

Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds *Blog Tour*

Today, I’m thrilled to be the closer for Rod Reynolds on his Black Night Falling blog tour! I’ve been racking my brain to make sure that I can do him and this superb book justice with my review!!!

Black Night Falling was published in ebook by Faber & Faber on the 4th of August and you can pick up your copy by clicking the link below:

Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds

 

About the author:

Rod Reynolds was born in London and, after a successful career in advertising, working as a media buyer, he decided to get serious about writing. He completed City University’s Crime Writing Masters course and his first novel, THE DARK INSIDE, was published by Faber in 2015. The sequel, BLACK NIGHT FALLING, published in August 2016. Rod lives in London with his wife and two daughters. Contact him on Twitter: @Rod_WR

Rod Reynolds
About the book:

‘And now I stood here, on a desolate airfield in the Arkansas wilderness, a stone’s throw from Texarkana. Darkness drawing in on me. Cross country to see a man I never imagined seeing again. On the strength of one desperate telephone call…’

Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

My thoughts: 

In the interest of full disclosure, I *still* haven’t gotten to read Rod’s first book, The Dark Inside (I know!!!!) but after reading Black Night Falling I will definitely be reading it sooner rather than later!

Black Night Falling picks up after the events in TDI, yet it can easily be read on its own and not leave the reader with many questions. We meet Charlie Yates, who gets a call from someone he used to know. This call is enough to make Charlie go back to the South and back towards his past.

What follows is one of the best examples of American Crime Noir that I have ever read. The reader is instantly drawn in and engaged in the story. Charlie is such a great character and so likeable that you will be cheering him on through the whole book.

There are plenty of unsavoury characters and more than enough action to keep you gripped and turning the pages as fast as possible. I found myself stumped on more than one occasion because I just didn’t see where the story was going! This is what I love about books like this, you think you have everything sussed and then in comes a punch from leftfield and you are knocked sideways!

Black Night Falling is an all round excellent novel. Brilliant characters with various different story arcs coming in to play and the exceptional location make it a very atmospheric and tense book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Rod Reynolds has created a wonderful thing here, in every sense, Black Night Falling is perfection.

If you want to catch up on previous dates in the tour here’s the poster:

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