Mr Jones by Alex Woolf

Ben hears noises in his basement and witnesses weird goings-on in his local park. His eight-year-old daughter Imogen starts receiving messages from someone claiming to be her missing mother. And then there is Mr Jones —the man who haunts the imaginations of the children at Imogen’s school. But they are just stories, surely? Ben soon develops a creeping suspicion that someone is out to kidnap his daughter. Are his fears real or a result of his own stress-induced paranoia?

Alex Woolf’s psychological thriller explores loss, fear and an overwhelming desire to keep those we love safe from harm.

My Review

I desperately wanted to give this five stars for the wonderful writing, the creepiness, the originality etc. Unfortunately the ending was not what I expected or needed and it left me finding my own metaphorical interpretation, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked for me.

The blurb says ‘Alex Woolf’s psychological thriller explores loss, fear and an overwhelming desire to keep those we love safe from harm.‘ In a lot of ways I didn’t need the plot being explained to me or turned into something physical or even metaphysical – I was happy for my imagination to take me there.

As readers I think we need everything tied up at the end in its own little box, but I think Mr Jones goes beyond that. You hear people say – this is so good, all the loose ends were tied up very neatly thanks, but in this case I didn’t want them tied up. I didn’t want an explanation for everything (albeit natural or supernatural). I rather like Shakespeare’s ‘he descended into madness’ for absolutely no apparent reason (you’ll need to read the book for that to make sense). I don’t need to know that the fairies at the bottom of the garden are actually aliens (God help us) – note there are no aliens here (thank goodness) or fairies.

Ben’s wife has disappeared and he appears to find it easier to believe that she was murdered (or at least died) than accept that she walked out on him and his eight-year-old daughter Imogen. Right at the end Ben muses that ‘…maybe she just didn’t love Imogen that much. There is no iron law of the universe, ‘he says’ ‘that a mother has to love her child.’

In the meantime, a totally separate character called Roy is writing a book based on a horrific event that occurred in 2003. But are they in some way connected? And who is Amy and why is she so keen for her son Alex to be Imogen’s best friend?

The bizarre plot and Ben’s memory lapses are very confusing but in a way that makes you want to read more – if I wasn’t reading in ‘staves’ with the Pigeonhole bookclub I’d have devoured the whole lot in a day.

To hell with it. I’m going to give it five stars anyway.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Alex Woolf was born in London in 1964. He has worked as a writer and editor for over 20 years and has published over 40 works of fiction and non-fiction, mainly for young adults. His fiction includes the Chronosphere series, a science-fiction trilogy published by Scribo, and Soul Shadows, an interactive e-novel published by Fiction Express, and shortly to be published in print by Capstone. His short fiction has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. He lives in Southgate, North London, with his wife and two children.

Sweet Singing in the Choir by Cat on a Piano Productions / Theatrephonic

Here is a special minisode for you this Friday (Christmas Eve)

‘Sweet Singing in the Choir’
A Christmas Case

It’s our friend DI Arthur Meadowes and his long-suffering wife Deirdre again with another exciting tale of burglary and carol singing.

Deirdre needs to practice her singing but Arthur has a case to crack. How will it all turn out? I love this pair – I hope we see lots more of them in the future.

Written by Barbara Jennings
Directed by @ebraefield

Starring Helen Fullerton @helenfullertonactor and Jonathan Legg @jondlegg

Music:
Silent Night, performed by Amicantus Choir
Hark! The Herold Angels Sing, performed by Amicantus Choir
Oh Come All Ye Faithful, performed by Amicantus Choir

Lucky patrons got this episode early, on Wednesday. If you fancy getting early episodes as well as bloopers, Q&As and bonus episodes, visit www.patreon.com/theatrephonic

Produced by Cat on a Piano Productions

The Theatrephonic Theme tune was composed by Jackson Pentland
Performed by
Jackson Pentland
Mollie Fyfe Taylor
Emmeline Braefield

Cat on a Piano Productions produce and edit feature films, sketches and radio plays.

Their latest project is called @Theatrephonic, a podcast of standalone radio plays and short stories performed by professional actors. You can catch Theatrephonic on Spotify and other platforms.

For more information about the Theatrephonic Podcast, go to catonapiano.uk/theatrephonic, Tweet or Instagram @theatrephonic, or visit their Facebook page.

And if you really enjoyed this week’s episode, listen to Theatrephonic’s other plays and short stories and consider becoming a patron by clicking here…

The Murder Mile (Dr. Jo McCready #1) by Lesley Mcevoy

Evil never dies…

Forensic Psychologist, Jo McCready is assisting DCI Callum Ferguson on a murder inquiry, when one of her patients is found brutally murdered. 

Jo was the last person to see Martha Scott alive. She was helping Martha unlock a repressed memory. But during the session, Jo unlocked more than she bargained for. An alter personality introduced himself as the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper – and thanked Jo for setting him free to kill again.

As Ferguson’s team race to find Martha’s killer, a series of copycat killings begin, replicating ‘The Autumn of Terror’ in 1888. But if Jack is just a figment of Martha’s damaged mind, who killed her?

As the body count rises, Jo must construct a profile to stop the murderer recreating the terror of the most infamous serial killer of all time.

But not everyone is on Jo’s side. The Police Intelligence Unit have their own profiler, Liz Taylor-Caine, who resents Jo’s involvement as a contributing expert in the case.

Suspicion about Jo’s involvement in the killings increases when someone close to the team becomes one of Jack’s victims.

And as the anniversary of the final and most gruesome of all the killings looms, Jo discovers that the killer has one murder on his mind that is far closer to home…

My Review

OMG I want to see this as a TV series – pleeease. It would be so good. I can even help cast it (as I often do on here). Maybe Keeley Hawes as Jo?

Do you remember the series Whitechapel starring Rupert Penry-Jones? The first series was broadcast in 2009 and was about the search for a modern copycat killer replicating the murders of Jack the Ripper.

In The Murder Mile, the killer actually believes he is ‘Jack’ and that he is on a mission to act out the gruesome crimes committed in 1888 over an area of London that became known as ‘the murder mile’.

But back to the beginning. Forensic Psychologist, Jo McCready is asked by DCI Callum Ferguson, with whom she is/is not having a bit of a fling to help profile the Towpath killer, but this causes ripples in The Police Intelligence Unit as they have their own profiler, Liz Taylor-Caine, who resents Jo’s involvement as a contributing expert in the case. Anyway to cut a long story short, Jo is right and Liz is wrong – more animosity between them.

In the meantime Jo has been visiting a young woman called Martha who is trying to unlock a repressed memory, but when Martha is murdered, we know we have another killer on the loose. And so the story unfolds and the body count rises, each crime being an exact copy of Jack the Ripper’s murders, albeit in another city.

This book was just brilliant. It’s so exciting with so many twists and turns and a wonderful dog called Harvey who we all came to love. Well drawn characters with Jo’s work as a profiler adding more depth to the suspects. I loved it.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Lesley McEvoy was born and bred in Yorkshire and has had a passion for writing in one form or another all her life. The writing took a backseat as Lesley developed her career as a Behavioural Analyst / Profiler and Psychotherapist – setting up her own Consultancy business and therapy practice. She has written and presented extensively around the world for over 25 years specialising in behavioural profiling and training, with a wide variety of organisations. The corporate world provided unexpected sources of writing material when, as Lesley said – she found more psychopaths in business than in prison! Lesley’s work in some of the UK’s toughest prisons was where she met people whose lives had been characterised by drugs and violence and whose experiences informed the themes she now writes about. Deciding in 2017 to concentrate on her writing again, Lesley produced her debut novel, The Murder Mile published by Bloodhound Books in May 2019. In December 2019, she was signed by Rogers, Coleridge and White Literary agency in London and is represented by Jon Wood.

The Last Checkmate by Gabriella Saab

Readers of Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz and watchers of The Queen’s Gambit won’t want to miss this amazing debut set during World War II. A young Polish resistance worker, imprisoned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, plays chess in exchange for her life, and in doing so fights to bring the man who destroyed her family to justice.

Maria Florkowska is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and, as a member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, a young woman brave beyond her years. Captured by the Gestapo, she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, but while her family is sent to their deaths, she is spared. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch, decides to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of exploiting her skills, he has every intention of killing her.

#TheLastCheckmate @GabriellaSaab_ @Harper360UK #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief, vows to avenge the murder of her family, and plays for her life. For four gruelling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive.

By cleverly provoking Fritzsch’s volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him punished for his wickedness.

As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch—and her past—one last time.

My Review

I often cry at the end of a book, especially if the ending is sad, but I have to admit I cried throughout most of The Last Checkmate. After so many years have past since the holocaust I still struggle with the notion that there are people out there who can do these things to one another. And those who not only believed the killing and torture was OK but that it was actually justified – the destruction of an entire race was justified. But this story is not about the Jews, it’s about one 14-year-old girl who joined the Polish resistance in Warsaw with her ‘friend’ Irena and got caught, and how she survived the horrors of Auschwitz.

My Polish father was 16 when the war broke out, but he didn’t live in Warsaw. He was ‘lucky’. He joined the army and was taken prisoner in freezing, northern Russia until he escaped and found his way to the UK.

The Last Checkmate is one of the most moving books I have ever read, if not the most. And Maria is such an inspiring character. How she survives the horror is anyone’s guess, especially without hope. Because we know from the very beginning that her mother, Tata, nine year old sister and four year old brother were murdered as soon as they arrived at Auschwitz. She knows because she recognises her sister’s golden curls amongst the piled up bodies, ready for disposal in the crematorium. That image of her sister’s golden curls is the one that will never leave me.

Then there’s the guilt. She believes that it is her fault that her family were arrested, because she got caught on one of her assignments. It is only after meeting a humble Catholic priest that she understands that what she needs to do for her family is to ‘live, to fight and to survive’. And she does this by playing chess against the sadistic camp deputy, Karl Fritzsch. She knows that eventually he will tire of her and she will be shot like the rest of her family. Unless she can devise a plan to have him removed to another camp.

This book is amazing. It’s hard to believe it’s a debut. The images of the concentration camp, the treatment of prisoners, the cruelty, the torture, the killing of children, it doesn’t bear thinking about. But we must never forget and it’s our duty to make sure it never happens again.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours

About the Author

Gabriella Saab graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor of business administration in marketing and now lives in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, where she works as a barre instructor. While researching The Last Checkmate, she travelled to Warsaw and Auschwitz to dig deeper into the setting and the experiences of those who lived there. The Last
Checkmate
is her first novel.

Her Perfect Secret by TJ Brearton

It’s him. Tom. The boy whose mother I helped put in prison for life.

I recognise the sharp nose and flare to the nostrils. His thick eyebrows and defined cheekbones. But mostly it’s the eyes. Sea green. But my daughter, Joni, keeps calling him Michael. And they’re here at the lake house telling us they’re getting married.

It can’t be him. But even if it is, what can I say? Suddenly I’m thrust back fifteen years, looking through photos of a violent and bloody crime scene. I can’t be sure.

We haven’t been the perfect family. Joni went through a rebellious phase. Her dad had an affair. But we got through it together. I will do anything to protect us, to protect the life we’ve fought for. Anything…

My Review

This is a book full of secrets, suspense and unexpected twists from one of my favourite authors. It’s so good you’ll gasp out loud at some of the goings on.

It may be called Her Perfect Secret but they are far from the perfect family. Is Emily an unreliable narrator? I wasn’t sure. She certainly knows more than she’s letting on. And what about husband Paul, who had an affair, although she insists they’ve worked their way through it – together.

Then we have Tom, “I recognise the sharp nose and flare to the nostrils. His thick eyebrows and defined cheekbones. But mostly it’s the eyes. Sea green,” but daughter Joni keeps calling him Michael and tells mum and dad that they are engaged to be married. So is Michael really Tom, the damaged boy who Emily treated 15 years ago after the violent murder of his father by his own mother. And if he is, then how did he meet Joni? Was it a coincidence? There are no coincidences in good thrillers -and this is far too sophisticated a thriller to resort to that old trick. So did Michael/Tom plan it and could his mother be behind it? I had no idea, but in a good way.

And if he is Tom then is Emily safe with him in the remote lake house knowing what she knows and is Joni safe with him? But is he the real danger? I was exhausted trying to work it all out! What a rollercoaster!

Many thanks to the author for allowing me to be the ‘first brave’ reader (his own words) and giving my honest opinion along the way. My review is totally unbiased. 4.5 stars.

About the Author

T.J. Brearton’s books have reached half a million readers around the world and have topped the Amazon charts in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. A graduate of the New York Film Academy in Manhattan, Brearton first worked in film before focusing on novels. His books are visually descriptive with sharp dialogue and underdog heroes. When not writing, Brearton does whatever his wife and three children tell him to do. They live happily in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Yes, there are bears in the Adirondacks. But it’s really quite beautiful when you’re not running for your life.

Christmas at No 5 by Cat on a Piano Productions / Theatrephonic

Merry Christmas!
It’s the season of giving with ‘Christmas at No. 5’
Friends are the family you choose.

Four people (and one child) living in a block of flats in separate apartments. They speak to each other occasionally, even know each other’s names, but they never socialise, never even borrow the sugar or drop in for a cup of tea. Well it’s hard to admit you are lonely, especially at Christmas, when you should be out with friends or spending time with family.

Christmas at no 5 is also about judgement and misconceptions.

This is such a lovely play as each person’s story is gradually revealed. I loved it.

Written and directed by Danielle Lade

With:
Emmeline Braefield as Rachel
Sam Jordan as Simon
Jayne Lloyd as Jan
Lydia Kenny as Taylor
and
Scarlett Lade as Holly

Produced by Cat on a Piano Productions 

Music:
Sussex Carol by Vaughan Williams, performed by Amicantus Choir
12 Days of Christmas by Jingle Punks
Holly Dazed by RKVC
Christmas Homecoming by Aaron Kenny
Christmas Village by Aaron Kenny
Deck the Halls by E’s Jammy Jams
Holiday Brass Ensemble by Doug Maxwell, Media Right Productions
Prizefighter by Norma Rockwell
O Christmas Tree by Jinhle Punks
Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky
O Little Town of Bethlehem, performed by Amicantus Choir.

Produced by Cat on a Piano Productions

The Theatrephonic Theme tune was composed by Jackson Pentland
Performed by
Jackson Pentland
Mollie Fyfe Taylor
Emmeline Braefield

Cat on a Piano Productions produce and edit feature films, sketches and radio plays.

Their latest project is called @Theatrephonic, a podcast of standalone radio plays and short stories performed by professional actors. You can catch Theatrephonic on Spotify and other platforms.

For more information about the Theatrephonic Podcast, go to catonapiano.uk/theatrephonic, Tweet or Instagram @theatrephonic, or visit their Facebook page.

And if you really enjoyed this week’s episode, listen to Theatrephonic’s other plays and short stories and consider becoming a patron by clicking here…

The Wakening by JG Faherty

Fifty years ago, Father Leo Bonaventura, a young exorcist, cast a demon out from a young boy in Central America. The demon, Asmodeus, vowed revenge.

Now the demon has returned, in the same town where Bonaventura is a retired priest nearing the end of his life. At the same time, the possession of a young girl brings together an unlikely group of people, all of whom are linked in their pasts in some way: A group of paranormal investigators, including twin psychics.

#TheWakening @jgfaherty @flametreepress @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

Robert Lockhart, a defrocked priest with a dark secret that only the twins know. A father whose dead wife was a college girlfriend of Robert’s and once conjured an evil spirit with him through a Ouiji board. Now they must all join forces and help Father Bonaventura rid the town not only of Asmodeus, but also the plague of poltergeists that have followed the demon into our world.

My Review

It’s a long time since I’ve read a book in this genre. It’s like Dennis Wheatley meets Ghostbusters with a bit of The Exorcist thrown in for good measure. Anyone in my age bracket will remember the scene in A Devil Rides Out where the protagonists form a protected circle and fight off a giant tarantula – ‘don’t leave the circle’, finally throwing holy water at it. The film ends with Christopher Lee reciting the final words of the ‘Susamma Ritual’ to cast out the devil. Great stuff!

But in The Wakening, instead of the ‘Goat of Mendes’ ie the devil himself, we have one of his minions, a demon called Asmodeus, except this one has five heads (one of which happens to be a goat), who has returned to get revenge on Father Leo Bonaventura (the priest and exorcist, who originally cast him out) by possessing the body of a young girl and making the townspeople hold orgies, jump off cliffs and kill each other.

Robert Lockhart, a defrocked priest, has conducted numerous unofficial exorcisms, but he has a very dark and sinister past. Together with a group of reality show ghosthunters and twin psychics, Bobby and Father Leo must band together to fight the evil which is gripping the small town of Hastings Mills. But why this town in particular? It appears there are links to a number of other incidents of demonic possession over the years.

And did I mention poltergeists? Lots of them and they seem to be attracted to Asmodeus and enjoy throwing pictures, toys and furniture around.

This is not a book for the squeamish or faint-hearted. It can be quite graphic at times and includes demonic possession, orgies, weeping and gnashing of teeth, extreme violence, sex and nudity. So if that’s just up your street, go for it.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award® (THE CURE, GHOSTS OF CORONADO BAY) and ITW Thriller Award (THE BURNING TIME), and he is the author of 8 novels, 11 novellas, and more than 75 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and as a child his favorite playground was a 17th-century cemetery. Which explains a lot.

Follow him at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jgfaherty
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jgfaherty/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jgfaherty
Website: www.jgfaherty.com

Buy Links:
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wakening-JG-Faherty/dp/178758593X/
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/Wakening-JG-Faherty/dp/178758593X

My Name is Jensen by Heidi Amsinck

Guilty. One word on a beggar’s cardboard sign. And now he is dead, stabbed in a wintry Copenhagen street, the second homeless victim in as many weeks.

Dagbladet reporter Jensen, stumbling across the body on her way to work, calls her ex lover DI Henrik Jungersen. As, inevitably, old passions are rekindled, so are old regrets, and that is just the start of Jensen’s troubles. The front page is an open goal, but nothing feels right….. When a third body turns up, it seems certain that a serial killer is on the loose. But why pick on the homeless? And is the link to an old murder case just a coincidence? With her teenage apprentice Gustav, Jensen soon finds herself putting everything on the line to discover exactly who is guilty …

My Review

Firstly let me say that I really enjoyed this book but I have one or two reservations. It took me a while to get into it but once I did, I found it really exciting.

However, I’m still not sure why everyone finds Jensen so attractive. She’s annoying and appears to have very little or no moral compass in her personal life – her relationship with Henrik plus some poor sod in London who she likes for his money. Or is that typical of journalists? I hope not.

Oh yes, Henrik. Uncouth, uneducated, untidy, rough and bald. What’s not to like? Ha! What is to like? Not a lot it would appear. I wouldn’t fancy him in the dark while wearing a blindfold. In fact the main Danish men in this story – Henrik, Ebsen, Christian – are all portrayed as womanisers – is that typical of Danish men? The nice ones are immigrants – Aziz, Liron. I once worked for a lady who had a butler called Aziz – brought back so many memories.

But back to the plot. Three bodies, no obvious links, or are their deaths political, designed to implicate the government because of cut backs? Or is there a serial killer on the loose, randomly picking off homeless people? I never believed the latter for a moment as it wouldn’t make such a good story. And then there are too many coincidences and Jensen, like me, doesn’t believe in coincidences. She just won’t let go. She’s like a terrier with a dead rabbit in its jaws. She’s determined to solve this, even if the police are getting nowhere.

Lots of twists and turns and some very exciting moments.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

About the Author

Heidi Amsinck, a writer and journalist born in Copenhagen, spent many years covering Britain for the Danish press, including a spell as London Correspondent for the broadsheet daily Jyllands-Posten. She has written numerous short stories for radio, including the three-story sets Danish Noir, Copenhagen Confidential and Copenhagen Curios, all produced by Sweet Talk for BBC Radio 4. A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, Heidi lives in London. She was previously shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize. Last Train to Helsingør is her first published collection of stories. Her crime novel My Name is Jensen, set in Copenhagen, was published in August 2021.

The Visitors by Caroline Scott 


Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost. While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms.

Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.

#TheVisitors @CScottBooks @simonschusterUK #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours #blogtour

But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.

Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.

My Review

This is such a beautiful book. Exquisitely written using sensitive, evocative language, we really feel we are there in Cornwall and in the trenches in France during the Great War.

It’s 1923 and Esme has been widowed for seven years. Her husband of only a few months went to war in France but after two years of regular letters, they suddenly stopped. Then one fateful day the letter she dreads arrives and she is informed that he has died.

His death turns her life upside down and she has to sell their house and take a position with Mrs Fenella Pickering, whose brother Gilbert Edgerton lives in a community of ex-servicemen in a large house in Cornwall. Sharing the property and land with him, this group of young men fought alongside him in France during the First World War and are both mentally and physically scarred by their dreadful experiences.

It’s a scorching hot summer and Mrs Pickering has asked Esme to travel down to Cornwall to check out the state of Gilbert’s house – her previous visit did not go well – before she embarks on the journey herself. The sea air will be good for her health but the previous lack of facilities will not.

Esme is welcomed by the men and soon finds herself relaxing in their company. I loved the part where she learns how to swim for the first time in her life.

Esme also has a side job – she writes a weekly article for the Huddersfield Courier called ‘Nature Diary’ and it is here that we read about the beauty of her surroundings in Cornwall.

Can Esme finally put the past behind her and find happiness again? This story will have you wrapped up in its beauty. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Many thanks to @annecater for inviting me to be part of #RandomThingsTours and to The Pigeonhole and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read

About the Author

Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

Songbird (Jax Diamond Mysteries#1) by Gail Meath

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets killed.
 
Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective.  Or is he?  Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorises criminals into submission.  Well, maybe not.

 
But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look.  And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

#Songbird @GailMeathAuthor @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

 Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it.  Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.
 
Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

My Review

I’m not sure why but initially I couldn’t help imagining Jax sounding like Columbo, with his rumpled raincoat and unassuming demeanour. I even did the voice in my head. Maybe it’s the wrinkled brown suit. But once we learn more about him, we discover that Jax is younger and much better looking!

From the Jazz Clubs of the Roaring Twenties to the Broadway musicals and the famous Coney Island funfair, Songbird is a breathtaking ride through the streets of New York. But it’s not all fun and games. It opens with the demise of musical playwright Samuel Sanders – his death slow and painful. The police think he died of natural causes, but our intrepid private detective Jax Diamond has a nose for these things – a bit like Ace the German Shepherd has a nose for tracking people. But if Sanders was murdered, what was the motive?

Beautiful singer, Laura Graystone, nicknamed Songbird, recently took over the main part in a musical after the previous lead was murdered in a random break-in that went horribly wrong. But was it random and are the two deaths linked? And is Laura in danger too?

Well that’s for Jax to find out, with the help of his furry sidekick Ace, songbird Laura herself, and police officer Tim Murphy. It’s a rollicking ride with lots of red herrings and delightful twists and turns, and the two protagonists’ blossoming romance is a joy to read, without being soppy or sentimental.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://facebook.com/Gail-Meath-Author-121289219261348
Instagram: https://instagram.com/gailmeathauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GailMeathAuthor
Website: https://www.gailmeath.com

Buy Links
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/SONGBIRD-JAX-DIAMOND-MYSTERIES-Book-ebook/dp/B09HMRCVCL
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/SONGBIRD-JAX-DIAMOND-MYSTERIES-Book-ebook/dp/B09HMRCVCL/



Death in The Last Reel by Paula Harmon

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away.

#DeathInTheLastReel @Paula_S_Harmon @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist.

But enquiries in wealthy Hampstead and then assaults in poverty-stricken Whitechapel lead unexpectedly back to Glassmakers Lane. How can such a quiet place be important? And is the dead young woman Margaret a critical link or a coincidental irrelevance?

Margaret and Fox need to work together; but both of them are independent, private and stubborn, and have yet to negotiate the terms of their relationship.

How can Margaret persuade Fox to stop protecting her so that she can ask the questions he can’t? And even if she does, how can they discover is behind the threat to London when it’s not entirely clear what the threat actually is?

My Review

This was a jolly romp through pre-first world war London, a tale full of intrigue, espionage, murder and early moving pictures. There is also an uncurrent of terrorist threats from anarchists, plus references to the beginnings of the suffragette movement. The history of the movies and a series of true events is very interesting.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s different from my usual genre though I sometimes venture into historical fiction, but this had the added enticement of sharp humour and witty repartee between the two main protagonists Margaret and Fox. They are both really interesting characters. Margaret Demeray, widowed and in her mid-thirties, is a doctor. That was very rare for women at the time, but Margaret isn’t just any doctor, she’s a pathologist at St Julia’s, where she helps the police uncover suspicious causes of death.

Fox on the other hand is a spy. He is trying to find out, with the help of his friend Charles, if the major threat to London is a plot by anarchists or is it part of something much bigger, something that could mean war between Britain and Germany. Much of the time they must work undercover and Fox’s whereabouts are a secret, kept even from Margaret.

In the meantime, Margaret is inadvertently being drawn into a web of espionage. She believes that the death of a young woman which she witnessed in Paris was not natural causes, but does she realise how much danger her ‘obsession’ with the woman is putting her in.

However, my favourite plot revolves around the involvement of a new moving-picture studio opposite the doctor’s surgery where Margaret is working part-time. Here we have a cast of interesting characters who appear to be innocently making silent films, but are they all as innocent as they appear?

This is such a good story and I really couldn’t put it down.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulaharmonwrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paulasharmon/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paula_S_Harmon
Website: https://paulaharmon.com

Buy Links
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09FZS54ZF
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09FZS54ZF

A Crown of Sonnets About My Death by Cat on a Piano Productions / Theatrephonic

It’s a takeover! This week the amazing Ashley Shiers is performing two incredibly different pieces:

A Crown of Sonnets About My Death
Written by Nancy Fons – instagram: @a_daily_sonnet
and
The Tale of Ol’ Sandy Jack
Written by Ashley Shiers

I’m actually speechless. A Crown of Sonnets… was so beautiful, emotive and lyrical and the Scottish accent enhanced the listening experience.

For those who don’t know, a sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines of fixed structure (there are variations in the rhyming patterns but we won’t get that complicated). A ‘corona’ of sonnets is where the last line of one sonnet becomes the first line of the next. It reminds me of the Creative Writing part of my OU degree where we had to write poems in various structures – a sonnet, a villanelle (my personal favourite), a pantoum etc.

The following is the very last sonnet and I love it.

Whoever comes to take my soul from me,
Whether they be Jesus Christ, fae, or fate,
I’ll tell them, all filled with smiles and glee
“I’m sorry my friend, you are far too late,
For I’ve already hidden it away,
And made my own heaven here on this earth,
In a place I hope forever to stay.
Take my apologies, for what they’re worth.
You cannot take it through force, fear, or threat,
My soul is bound here, and forever safe,
So no more will it panic, fear, or fret,
Never will it leave my favourite place;
It’s peaceful, content, and safe from all harms;
Lying sweetly here in my lovers arms.

Music:
Lifting Dreams by Aakash Gandhi
Pachabelly by Huma-Huma

The Tale of Ol’ Sandy Jack 

When our intrepid hero tells the drinkers in a local pub that he’s going to camp that night, there is an audible gasp. Have you not heard the tale of ol’ Sandy Jack they ask? When the moon comes up you can hear him singing Sexy Boy – both parts. He moves like the wind and taps you on the shoulder. Don’t look him in the eye – he’ll offer you a digestive biscuit with NO chocolate, the monster, and he lulls you into a false sense of security with the theme from Jurassic Park.

‘And he steals your toes.’

This was hilarious. Absolutely brilliant.

Music:
Sexy Boy by JJ Maguire, Jimmy Hart & Shawn Michaels

Produced by Cat on a Piano Productions

The Theatrephonic Theme tune was composed by Jackson Pentland
Performed by
Jackson Pentland
Mollie Fyfe Taylor
Emmeline Braefield

Cat on a Piano Productions produce and edit feature films, sketches and radio plays.

Their latest project is called @Theatrephonic, a podcast of standalone radio plays and short stories performed by professional actors. You can catch Theatrephonic on Spotify and other platforms.

For more information about the Theatrephonic Podcast, go to catonapiano.uk/theatrephonic, Tweet or Instagram @theatrephonic, or visit their Facebook page.

And if you really enjoyed this week’s episode, listen to Theatrephonic’s other plays and short stories and consider becoming a patron by clicking here…