Blog Tour: The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery

Release date: March 15, 2022

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

One woman discovers the beauty in chaos in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold family together from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery.

With her divorce settlement about to run out and a mortgage she can’t afford, Robyn Caldwell needs a plan for her future. She nurtured her family and neglected herself. But how’s she supposed to think when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could bring everything crashing down on Robyn’s head? So when her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane.

But it’s hard to run away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she left behind follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more she sees the appeal in taking chances—on dreams, on love, on family. Life is meant to be lived on purpose. All she has to do is muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Good morning! I’m so happy to participate in the blog tour for The Summer Getaway today! Check out the excerpt below.

Excerpt:

He reached out, inviting her close. When she’d moved next to him, he laced his fingers with hers.

“I don’t want to fight,” he said. “It’s just Austin has so much potential. It’s hard to see it wasted.”

She knew what he meant, but somehow his words made her feel defensive. Or like a bad mother.

“I’m giving it some time. I’m hoping working for his dad isn’t the thrill he’s expecting. Austin can get stubborn, and I don’t want him making decisions because he feels trapped.”

“I get that.” He leaned back against the sofa. “Have you decided what to do about the house?”

“I’m still leaning toward selling. It’s too big and expensive. I haven’t talked to Harlow or Austin yet. I might start looking for something first. If I find a suitable replacement, then the idea of me moving will be less upsetting to them.”

Jase looked at her quizzically. “They’re adults with their own lives. Why do they get a say?”

“They don’t get a say, exactly. But Austin will be living with me for a while longer, and—”

Jase shifted away from her. “I thought he was moving out.”

“It’s just for the summer.”

“Since when?”

Since he’d told her yesterday, but she didn’t say that. “He’s not ready to be on his own permanently. He’ll be back in the fall.”

“You’re letting him move in and out? So, when he’s forty, he can move back? You’re letting him run your life?”

She put down her drink and told herself to stay calm. “He’s not running my life. He’s my kid, and I love him. If he wants to stay for a couple more years, that’s fine. He’s eighteen, not forty.”

“You’re making a mistake, letting him think you’ll always be his fallback plan.”

“Why do you have so much energy on the topic? It shouldn’t matter to you if Austin lives with me or not.”

“What does that mean?”

The sharp question surprised her. “I have my own place. Why do you care if my kids live with me? It doesn’t affect you.”

“I’m not ready for us to live together.”

Blog Tour: The Fields by Erin Young

Hey everyone and happy Tuesday! Im sharing some info on a new thriller that’s out next week and I’m really excited to start it.

Release date: January 25, 2022

Publisher: Flatiron

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

A breakneck procedural that is beautifully written and masterfully crafted, Erin Young’s The Fields is a dynamite debut—crime fiction at its very finest.

Some things don’t stay buried.

It starts with a body—a young woman found dead in an Iowa cornfield, on one of the few family farms still managing to compete with the giants of Big Agriculture.

When Sergeant Riley Fisher, newly promoted to head of investigations for the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office, arrives on the scene, an already horrific crime becomes personal when she discovers the victim was a childhood friend, connected to a dark past she thought she’d left behind.

The investigation grows complicated as more victims are found. Drawn deeper in, Riley soon discovers implications far beyond her Midwest town.

Doesn’t that sound good?!

Review: Stolen Ones by Angela Marsons @bookouture @writeangie

Goodreads

Release date: November 11, 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

25 years ago he took a girl. Today he takes another.
One August afternoon, eight-year-old Grace Lennard skips into the garden of the childcare centre she attends and vanishes into thin air.

Hours before, Steven Harte walks into Halesowen police station and confesses to having information that will lead Detective Kim Stone to Melody Jones – the little girl who was taken from a playground exactly twenty-five years ago. But something about his confession is off and Kim dismisses his claims.

Arriving at the scene of Grace’s disappearance, Kim finds a chilling piece of evidence: the heart bracelet belonging to Melody. Now Kim must play Steven’s twisted game if she is to find Grace alive. But they’re going to play by Kim’s rules.

With only twenty-four hours to make every second of Steven’s interrogation count, and scan his behaviour for hidden clues, Kim and her team soon link Steven to the abduction of several vulnerable girls – two were kept for a year and then released, unharmed – but where are Melody and the others?

Then small bones are discovered in the grounds of a local park, and Kim fears the worst.

Kim may be close to convicting a killer, but there’s another who wants revenge against her – Dr Alex Thorne – the evil woman Kim did her best to keep behind bars. Alex is about to reveal a shocking secret to Kim that will hit her where it hurts the most. And if Kim lets Alex mess with her head, she might not be able to save Grace and find the other missing girls in time.

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will leave your heart in your mouth. You will be totally hooked on the utterly addictive, number one, multi-million-copy bestselling Detective Kim Stone series.

Review:

Ahh it feels SO good to be back with Kim and the team again but there is a downside to being reunited with the gang. Now it’ll be months before a new book is released so I’ll have to wait!! At book fifteen though maybe it’s time for a series reread while I’m impatiently waiting. 🤔 The whole series is so strong and each book separately is a powerful read so maybe I’m onto something…Anyhow, enough of my tangent but maybe my rambling has you intrigued about this series (hopefully!) and although I’ve said it fourteen times let’s make it fifteen, this is my new favorite Kim Stone book!

Have you ever read a crime novel where someone willingly drops into a police station to offer help as to information on a crime? I sure hadn’t and that wasn’t even the most original part of the plot here. So needless to say I was intrigued immediately and if you know an Angela Marsons book you know that the intrigue just keeps on building as you read, along with the tension too. Maybe you’re thinking that revealing the who in a thriller would be a bad move but you would be wrong because when you’re in the hands of an incredibly talented author like AM you know she will have not only a solid reason for letting a story unfold in a certain manner, but she’ll also have several tricks up her sleeve. Besides the unusual start you also have a deep look into interrogation techniques which was a facet of police work that I hadn’t given much thought before maybe besides the standard good cop/bad cop routine. Little did I know until reading this but there are so many things a suspect can reveal about themselves during an interview and things I never would’ve guessed. I don’t want to ramble on too much about that aspect but it was fascinating and per usual I learned something new due to the authors impeccable research. Before I wrap this up I always have to talk about the characters because while I loved everything about this book I adore the characters the most. While the Kim and Co. are incredible the subplot with Alex Thorne laid some seriously interesting groundwork for subsequent books and she’s the ultimate love to hate character for me. Overall another flawless read from one of the best, highly recommended!

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Spotlight: The Desire Card by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Amazon

Release date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Fahrenheit

Genre: Thriller

Blurb:

Any wish fulfilled for the right price. That’s the promise the Desire Card gives to its elite clients. But if the Card doesn’t feel like they’ve been justly compensated, the “price” will be more menacing than the clients could ever imagine.  

 

Harrison Stockton learns this lesson all too well. Harrison has lived an adult life of privilege and excess: a high-powered job on Wall Street along with a fondness for alcohol and pills, and a family he adores, yet has no time for. All of this comes crashing to a halt when he loses his executive job and discovers he has liver cirrhosis with mere months left to live.

 

After finding himself far down on the donor list, Harrison takes matters into his own hands. This decision sparks a gritty and gripping quest that takes him to the slums of Mumbai in search of a black market organ and forces him under the Desire Card’s thumb. When his moral descent threatens his wife and children, Harrison must decide whether to save himself at any cost, or do what’s right and put a stop to the Card.

 

THE DESIRE CARD is a taut international thriller that explores what a man will do to survive when money isn’talways enough to get everything he desires. It’s the first book in a series followed by PREY NO MORE that focuses on other people indebted to this sinister organization, where the actual price is the cost of one’s soul.

 Excerpt:

HARRISON STUMBLED INTO CENTRAL PARK CLUTCHING THE SILVER BRIEFCASE, HIS BODY SHAKING FROM BEING HUNTED. Clouds clogged the sky. The trees seemed like creatures towering over him. He turned around to see the man in the Humphrey Bogart mask running toward the entrance, a gun bulging from the guy’s inside pocket. The man’s cold eyes scanned the park, zeroing in. Harrison took off down a dirt path until he was alone with only the wind ringing in his ears. 

He wanted to collapse; he begged himself to just give in. Nature would destroy him soon anyway, and his shins were starting to feel like they’d been repeatedly stabbed. He coughed up an excess of blood and mucus that spilled down a rock. Now he’d gone so far down the trail that he couldn’t see where he entered. The sound of footsteps came from all directions. A distorted laugh caused all the nearby pigeons to shoot toward the sky. The laugh was followed by an eerie whistle that became louder and louder as he spun around expecting to see his pursuer. 

A shadow passed behind a tree, bigger than any animal. He propped himself up against a rock, too exhausted to move any farther, closing his eyes and waiting to die. He could see tomorrow’s headlines declaring his death as a mugging gone wrong. 

“Gracie,” he cried, trembling. “Brent, my boy…oh God.”

He had pissed himself now, the urine hot and sticky as it trickled down his pants leg. He still held the silver briefcase close to his chest, resolving not to let it go without a fight.

The man in the Bogart mask emerged from behind a tree holding a gun.

“Just hand it over, Mr. Stockton,” the man said. The voice box attached to his mouth made him sound robotic, weirdly calm. “You don’t want this to get any more complicated than it already has.”

The man made a grab for the briefcase, but Harrison held on tight.

“You’ll kill me anyway,” Harrison yelled, spooking any pigeons that hadn’t already flown away.

“Only if you force me to do so.” 

The man kicked Harrison in the shin, causing him to nearly buckle over. Harrison was thrown to the ground, the man pinning him down. He still managed to hold onto the briefcase as if it was fused to his hand. 

“The Boss doesn’t know about what you’ve done yet,” the man said, hitting Harrison’s head against the hard dirt. “Do you understand what that means? That means you can still live. And he’ll never find out as long as we get what we’re owed.”

“Why would you do that for me?” he asked, seeing four masked men spinning around.

The man stepped back and pointed the gun between Harrison’s eyes.

“The Boss doesn’t like when things don’t go according to plan. I could be in as much trouble as you for letting this slip-up happen. So let’s make this easy for both of us.”

Harrison got on one elbow and hoisted himself up.

“Do I have your word?”

The man nodded.

“And my family? My wife…my kids? I wouldn’t have to worry about them being hurt?”

“As much as you might think that you are our sole concern, we have an entire organization to run beyond your pithy life. Now I will count to ten and if you don’t hand over the briefcase, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes.”  

Harrison thought about what his life had really amounted to. All the hours he’d slaved at Sanford & Co., making rich people boatloads richer. Getting into the office before dawn and often heading home in the middle of the night. Sacrificing his family, his youth, his sanity. How it had made him into a drinker, a serial gorger of all vices, just so he could forget about what he was losing. After all of that, what did he have left to show? 

“…8…9…10,” the man said, about to pull the trigger. 

“All right, all right.” 

Harrison handed over the briefcase. The man opened it up and appeared to be satisfied, a smirking grin visible through his mask. 

“I’ll leave you with this nugget of wisdom,” he said, without putting the gun away. “If what you did manages to compromise us in any way, if there are any rippling after-effects, be prepared to come across the Boss. He’s known to wear a Clark Gable mask.” The man’s smirk had disappeared. “He only appears when he’s ready to bloody his hands. Good day, Mr. Stockton.”

“Who are you people? Under the masks…who are you really?”

The man raised the gun over Harrison’s head.

“I doubt you’ll ever find out,” he said, and struck Harrison on the forehead with the handle. 

A trickle of blood spilled down Harrison’s nose and felt cold on his tongue. He slunk down and rested his cheek against the dirt, watching the man in the mask take off through the trees, the silver briefcase shining like a beam of light snaking through the leaves. And then the man finally disappeared—as if he was nothing more than a nightmare brought to life and extinguished once the fitful dreamer finally woke.

Harrison pressed against his rib cage and felt for his engorged liver. Cursed at it. Wanted to tear it from his stomach. He’d been poisoned from within for too long, his unending punishment for all of his crimes. Blood zigzagged into his eyes as the wound on his forehead opened up even more. With his other hand he reached into his pocket and removed his wallet. A thin metallic card fell from out of a sleeve and sat in a puddle of blood that had collected in the dirt. 

He crumpled it up in his fist since it was responsible for letting these psychopaths into his life. He knew he’d never feel completely settled again, always worried that they might come after him and his family. The Desire Card had caused him to seek out gruesome and despicable wishes. From the instant this devil’s temptation had been placed in his hands, his moral compass never stood a chance. So he chucked it into the air and watched it sail over the rocks for some other fool to find. 

“I’m sorry, Helene,” he mumbled to the wind. He knew he’d have to come clean about everything. His head throbbed, and he recalled a memory from twenty-five years ago. Spying her in the quad at Chilton College drinking a cherry Coke, tan and shapely from field hockey, the entire campus becoming muted except for her. He took a chance by flirting miserably and changing the course of their lives. 

She would’ve been better off if they had never met. In such a short amount of time, he’d fallen so far. Now because of him people had been sliced up, left for dead, and soon he’d follow them to his own grave. As he drifted off into unconsciousness, he remembered that it all began to spiral out of control on his last day at Sanford & Co. over a month ago, this treacherous path he embarked on, his dark and dried-up destiny.  

Blog Tour: After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott @franwritesstuff @TitanBooks

Release date: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Titan

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out. 

Good morning everyone! As part of the blog tour for After the Eclipse I have a fabulous guest post from the author to share about powerful places!

Guest Post:

Powerful places

 

As part of my research for After the Eclipse, which is set in a small English town cobbled from some of my favourite Derbyshire villages (and which also has a strong preoccupation with the superstitious) I spent a lot of time reading about common superstitions people hold, and how they differ around the world. For instance, did you know that many 19th century Vermont farmhouses were built with slanted windows so witches couldn’t fly in? Or that in Egypt leaving scissors open is bad luck? And sleeping with them beneath your pillow is believed to prevent nightmares? Superstitions are a part of most cultures, and they vary from place to place.

 

Solar eclipses, it seems, are viewed differently from culture to culture but the consensus is generally negative. In Bishop’s Green they have become synonymous with loss and grief. But on a lighter note: below is a fun collection of what I like to call Powerful Places located around the world. These are places you’d definitely want to see for yourself if you were nearby.

 

1. The Charles Bridge – Prague, Czech Republic

The 14th-century bridge that connects Old Town and Mala Strana is lined with statues – an impressive sight to behold. Perhaps most interestingly, a travel superstition that endures is that rubbing the plaque below the statue of the martyred St. John of Nepomuk will bring you good luck and a safe return to the city. I visited Prague a few years ago and even I wasn’t immune. I’ll think myself very lucky if I get to go back!

 

 

(photo credit: https://www.amazingczechia.com/sights/charles-bridge/)

 

2. The Blarney Stone – Cork, Ireland

Here’s one for the introverts among us. An old superstition says that if you climb the steps of Blarney Castle, lean backwards and upside down, and kiss the Blarney stone (a rock that’s been in the castle since 1446) then you will be blessed with the gift of the gab. That is, the ability to flatter and speak with eloquence – perfect for salesmen, or booksellers, might I add! It used to be that visitors would risk life and limb to kiss the stone, hanging precariously over the edge with the aid of an assistant, but now there’s a very sensible guard rail. Clearly a research trip to Ireland is in order, though I don’t fancy the upside down part…

 

3. Carnac Stones – Brittany, France

In Brittany more than 3,000 stones have stood in careful rows since as early as 4500 BCE. One popular legend has it that when the Roman army was marching on Brittany the wizard Merlin appeared and turned them to stone. Or they could simply have existed to delineate a sacred space and lead people towards an area of worship, but where’s the fun in that? As with many of these megaliths, it’s the mystery that has always intrigued me.

 

 

(Image credit: https://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/06/the-carnac-stone-alignments.html)

 

4. Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

Christian cathedral, Ottoman mosque, and now modern museum, the Hagia Sophia is renowned for its stunning mosaics and revolutionary dome. But perhaps what intrigues me most is the legend that if you stick your thumb in a small hole in the “Weeping Column” and it emerges damp then all of your illnesses and ailments will be cured! Mhmm maybe I won’t do that.

 

5. Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England

No list on Powerful Places would be complete without it! I went here one summer and it was stunning. The size of the stones is remarkable (each one is 7 feet high and weighs 25 tons!), and you do feel a little buzz, although whether that’s just the reverent atmosphere is hard to tell. Once again some legends credit that fabled wizard Merlin with its creation, but any which way you look at it, it’s something special. The Triplet Stones in After the Eclipse have nothing on this beauty but they’re certainly inspired by it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Image credit:  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/06/20/stonehenge-builders-used-pythagoras-theorem-2000-years-greek/)

Excerpt: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.

This is worse.

When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

I’m excited to be participating in the excerpt tour for I Invited Her In today! This one sounds so good, it’s definitely on my TBR.

Excerpt:

When I told Abi that I was pregnant, she was, obviously, all wide eyes and concerned. Shocked. Yes, I admit she was bubbling a bit with the drama of it all. That was not her fault—we were only nineteen and I didn’t know how to react appropriately, so how could I expect her to know? We were both a little giddy.

“How far on are you?” she asked.

“I think about two months.” I later discovered at that point I was officially ten weeks pregnant, because of the whole “calculate from the day you started your last period” thing, but that catch-all calculation never really washed with me because I knew the exact date I’d conceived.

Wednesday, the first week of the first term, my second year at university. Stupidly, I’d had unprotected sex right slap bang in the middle of my cycle. That—combined with my youth—meant that one transgression was enough. And even now, a lifetime on, I feel the need to say it wasn’t like I made a habit out of doing that sort of thing. In all my days, I’ve had irresponsible, unprotected sex precisely once.

“Then there’s still time. You could abort,” Abigail had said simply. She did not shy away from the word. We were young. The power, vulnerability and complexity of our sexuality was embryonic, but our feminist rights were forefront of our minds. My body, my choice, my right. A young, independent woman, I didn’t have to be saddled with the lifetime consequences of one night’s mistake.

There had been a girl on my course who’d had a scare in the first year. I’d been verbose about her right to choose and I’d been clear that I thought she should terminate the pregnancy, rather than her education. The girl in question had agreed; so had Abi and pretty much everyone who knew of the matter. She hadn’t been pregnant, though. So. Well, you know, talk is cheap, isn’t it?She’s the chief financial officer of one of the biggest international fast-moving consumer goods corporations now. I saw her pop up on Facebook a couple of years ago. CFO of an FMCG. I Googled the acronyms. She accepted my friend request, which was nice of her, but she rarely posts. Too busy, I suppose. Anyway, I digress.

I remember looking Abi in the eye and saying, “No. No, I can’t abort.”

“You’re going ahead with it?” Her eyes were big and unblinking.

“Yes.” It was the only thing I was certain of. I already loved the baby. It had taken me by surprise but it was a fact.

“And will you put it up for adoption or keep it?”

“I’m keeping my baby.” We both sort of had to suppress a shocked snigger at that, because it was impossible not to think of Madonna. That song came out when I was about five years old but it was iconic enough to be something that was sung in innocence throughout our childhoods. The tune hung, incongruously, in the air. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the irony hit me: an anthem of my youth basically heralded the end to exactly that.

“OK then,” she said, “you’re keeping your baby.”

Abigail instantly accepted my decision to have my baby and that was a kindness. An unimaginably important and utterly unforgettable kindness. She didn’t argue that there were easier ways, that I had choices, the way many of my other friends subsequently did.

Nor did she suggest that I might be lucky and lose it, the way a guy in my tutorial later darkly muttered. I know he behaved like an arsehole because before I’d got pregnant, he’d once clumsily come on to me one night in the student bar. I was having none of it. I guess he had mixed feelings about me being knocked up, torn between, “Ha, serves the bitch, right” and “So, she does put out. Why not with me?” I tell you, there’s a lot of press about the wrath of a woman scorned, but men can be pretty vengeful, too.

 

Review: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @Lilja1972 @OrendaBooks

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 30, 2018

Publisher: Orenda

Genre: Crime Fiction

Blurb:

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi, on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Trap today!

Review:

This is the second book in a series, I loved the first, Snare and highly recommend reading that before this one as it’s awesome and you’ll be properly caught up because the first book really sets the stage for what takes place in the second. It picks up soon after the first book ends and is just as tense and exciting as it’s predecessor.

You hear from Sojia, Bragi and Agla again and I was thoroughly invested in each of their stories, especially as they’re all connected in complex and interesting ways. While some of Sonja’s issues may have been resolved in the first book there are still many dangers to be found this time around and it had that same great sense of intensity and action. Once again, this was highly atmospheric both in the setting of Iceland but also in the great sense of paranoia and sheer panic that the author creates. She always manages to make me feel the same emotions and feelings as her characters, Sonja’s fear and desperation was a palpable thing that consumed me.

I cannot wait to see how things end in the third book and expect it to be another wild ride. If you’re a fan if Nordic Noir, don’t miss this and if you’ve never read this sub genre before this series is an excellent place to start.

Trap in three words: Exhilarating, Intense and Compelling.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Ancient Nine by Ian Smith

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 18, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fall 1988

Spenser Collins

An unlikely Harvard prospect, smart and athletic, strapped for cash, determined to succeed. Calls his mother—who raised him on her own in Chicago—every week.

Dalton Winthrop

A white-shoe legacy at Harvard, he’s just the most recent in a string of moneyed, privileged Winthrop men in Cambridge. He’s got the ease—and the deep knowledge—that come from belonging.

These two find enough common ground to become friends, cementing their bond when Spenser is “punched” to join the Delphic Club, one of the most exclusive of Harvard’s famous all-male final clubs. Founded in the nineteenth century, the Delphic has had titans of industry, Hollywood legends, heads of state, and power brokers among its members.

Dalton Winthrop knows firsthand that the Delphic doesn’t offer memberships to just anyone. His great-uncle is one of their oldest living members, and Dalton grew up on stories of the club’s rituals. But why is his uncle so cryptic about the Ancient Nine, a shadowy group of alums whose identities are unknown and whose power is absolute? They protect the Delphic’s darkest and oldest secrets—including what happened to a student who sneaked into the club’s stately brick mansion in 1927 and was never seen again.

Dalton steers Spenser into deeper and deeper recesses of the club, and beyond, to try to make sense of what they think they may be seeing. But with each scrap of information they get from an octogenarian Crimson graduate, a crumbling newspaper in the library’s archives, or one of Harvard’s most famous and heavily guarded historical books, a fresh complication trips them up. The more the friends investigate, the more questions they unearth, tangling the story of the club, the disappearance, and the Ancient Nine, until they realize their own lives are in danger.

I’m so excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Ancient Nine today. I have a Q & A with the author and a sneak peek at the book, enjoy!

Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Halloween Night, 1927

The Delphic Mansion

Cambridge, Massachusetts

EMPTY ROPES CLATTERED against flagpoles, and street signs flapped

helplessly in the shadowy night. Two boys sneaked down a cobblestone path

crowded with heavy bushes and enormous signs that warned against trespassing.

They stood there for a moment, their bodies dwarfed by the gigantic

brick mansion

“That’s enough, let’s turn around,” Kelton Dunhill whispered. He had large competent hands and knots of compact muscles that bulged underneath his varsity letter sweater. He carried a long silver flashlight he had borrowed from the superintendent’s office of his residential house.

“I’m going all the way,” Erasmus Abbott said firmly. “I didn’t come this far to chicken out. Just a few more minutes and we’ll be inside.”

Dunhill looked up at the tall wrought-iron fence that had been reinforced with solid wood planks to obstruct any potential view into the rear courtyard. He was a tough, scrappy kid, a varsity wrestler who had been undefeated in almost three years of college competition. He was many things, but a quitter was not one of them. Very little intimidated Dunhill, the son of a banker and elementary school music teacher, but when he looked up at the mansion’s towering spires and turrets set against the ominous sky and the royal blue flag that snapped so loudly in the wind, something made him feel uneasy. At that very moment, if Erasmus Abbott had not been standing next to him, he would’ve turned on his heels and run like hell. The only thing that kept his feet planted was his greater fear of the humiliation he would face once the others got word that the scrawny Abbott had showed bigger nerve.

“If we get caught, we’ll be fried,” Dunhill said in his most persuasive voice, trying to sound rational rather than scared. “Technically speaking, we’re trespassing, and they can do anything they want to us since we’re on their property. I don’t need to remind you of what happened to A. C. Gordon.”

Erasmus Abbott took the milk crates they had been carrying and stacked them in a small pyramid against the fence, then slipped on his gloves and pulled his hat down until it settled just above his eyes. He was dressed all in black. Now completely disguised, he turned and faced Dunhill.

“There’s no proof Gordon ever made it this far,” Abbott contested. “And besides, I never believed the whole business about his disappearance anyway.” Abbott turned toward the platform of milk crates, then back at Dunhill, and said, “So what’s it going to be? I’m making history tonight with or without you. The answer is in there, and I’m not gonna stop till I find it.”

“Jesus Christ,” Dunhill mumbled under his breath before pulling down his own skullcap and stepping up to the fence. It all started out as a dare, but Abbott had taken it more seriously than anyone expected. This would certainly not be the first time a student had tried to break into the well-guarded Delphic mansion. There had been many attempts over the years, but according to legend, the farthest anyone had gotten was the external foyer. No one had ever penetrated the interior. What most worried Dunhill, however, was that few had lived to share their story.

“And what’s your plan once we get on the other side of the fence?” Dunhill said.

Abbott ran his hand over the small canvas bag strapped to his waist. “Everything we need is in here,” he said. “Once we get to the back door, I’ll have the lock open in well under a minute.”

Abbott had been practicing on diferent doors all over Quincy House in the middle of the night. His best-recorded time was twenty-nine seconds with a blindfold covering his eyes and a stopwatch hanging around his neck.

Abbott was not particularly athletic, but he scaled the crates easily and in one motion hoisted himself over the top of the fence and its row of pointed spears. Dunhill heard him land hard on the other side, then made a small sign of the cross over his heart, climbed onto the crates, and hurled himself over the fence. He landed on the firm slate tiles with a jolt.

They stood on the perimeter of a large courtyard dotted with elaborate marble sculptures and a fountain whose water sat motionless in a wide, striated basin. There were no lights to guide them, but moonlight cut through the heavy canopy of trees that towered overhead. A formidable, sturdy brick wall that was even taller than the fence they had just climbed surrounded them on two sides. Abbott had correctly chosen their entry point into the yard.

A gust of wind sent small piles of leaves flying sideways from one corner of the courtyard to the next. The mansion was eerily dark except for the dull flicker of a light in a small window just underneath the sloping angle of the tiled roof. The enormous building looked cold and menacing and unforgiving.

“She’s massive,” Abbott whispered. “I didn’t think she’d be this big. Must’ve cost them a king’s fortune to build it.”

“It’s not empty,” Dunhill said, pointing at the lighted window. “I still say this isn’t a good idea. We’ve already proved our point. Let’s get the hell out of here while we still can.”

Abbott pretended he hadn’t heard a word Dunhill said. He walked quietly across the courtyard toward a set of stairs that led to a large door with small panes and a brass doorknob that glistened under the moonlight’s glow. He cupped his face to the glass and looked inside. He turned and waved Dunhill over, but Dunhill remained motionless underneath the fence, still not believing they had actually gotten this far.

Abbott unzipped the canvas bag, pulled out a couple of tools, and quickly went to work on the lock. That’s when Dunhill glimpsed a shadow moving across the courtyard. He looked up toward the lighted window and saw something that he would never forget. It was the ugliest, scariest, blackest face he had ever laid eyes on. His heart tightened in his chest, and his lungs constricted. He tried to scream but couldn’t get the air to move in his throat. He turned to Erasmus to warn him, but it was too late. The door was open, and he was already inside.

1

Harvard College

Cambridge, Massachusetts

October 2, 1988

IT SHOULDN’T HAVE been enough to wake me, but I had just drifted off on the couch in the common room that separated my bedroom from my roommate’s. It was a short scratchy sound: a pebble or sand being dragged across the linoleum floor. I looked toward Percy’s bedroom. His door was closed and his light off. I sat up on the sofa, swiveling my head in the darkness to see what could’ve made the noise. Mice were not exactly uncommon sightings in these old Harvard houses, some of which had been built more than a century ago, so I was preparing myself for vermin out on a late-night scavenge. But when I turned on the lamp and looked down at the floor, what sat there took me completely by surprise.

Someone had slipped a small cream-colored envelope underneath the front door. There was no postage or return address, just my name and room number elaborately inscribed.

Spenser Collins

Lowell House L-11

I turned the envelope over, hoping to find some indication of who might have sent it, but what I discovered was even more puzzling.

Embossed on the flap were three torches—so dark blue, they were almost black—arranged in a perfect V shape.

I heard footsteps just outside the door, slow at first, but then they began to pick up speed. I pulled the door open, but the hallway was empty. Our room was on the first floor, so I grabbed my keys and ran a short distance down the hall, jumped a small flight of steps, then rammed my shoulder into the entryway door, forcing it open into the cool night. I immediately heard voices echoing across the courtyard, a cluster of three girls stumbling in high heels, dragging themselves in from a long night of drinking.

I scanned the shadows, but nothing else moved. I looked to my right and thought about running across the path that led to the west courtyard and out into the tiny streets of Cambridge. But my bare feet were practically frozen to the concrete, and the wind assaulted me like shards of ice cutting through my T-shirt. I retreated to the warmth of my room.

Percy’s bedroom door was still closed, which was not surprising. He wouldn’t wake up if an armored tank tore through the wall and opened fire.

I sat on the edge of the couch and examined the envelope again. Why would someone deliver it by hand in the middle of the night, then sneak away? None of it made any sense. I opened the book flap slowly, feeling almost guilty ripping what appeared to be expensive paper. The stationery was brittle, like rice paper, and the same three torches were prominently displayed in the letterhead.

The President and members of the Delphic Club

cordially invite you to a cocktail party on

Friday, October 14, 7 o’clock

Lily Field Mansion at 108 Brattle St. Cambridge.

Please call 876-0400 with regrets only.

I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Dalton Winthrop’s number. Fifth-generation Harvard and heir to the vast Winthrop and Lewington fortunes, he was one of the most finely pedigreed of all Harvard legacies, descending from a family that had been claiming Harvard since the 1600s, when the damn school got its charter from the Bay Colony. Dalton was a hopeless insomniac, so I knew he’d still be awake.

“What the hell are you doing up this time of the night?” Dalton said. “Some of us around here need our beauty sleep.” He sounded fully awake.

“What can you tell me about something called the Delphic Club?” I asked.

The phone rustled as he sat up.

“Did you just say ‘the Delphic’?” he said.

“Yeah, do you know anything about it?”

There was a slight pause before he said, “Why the hell are you asking about the Delphic at this ungodly hour?”

“They invited me to a cocktail party next Friday night. Someone just slipped the invitation under my door, then ran.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? The Delphic invited you to a cocktail party?”

“Unless there’s another Spenser Collins I don’t know about.”

“No offense, Spenser, but don’t get your hopes up,” he said. “This is probably some kind of prank someone’s pulling on you. The Delphic isn’t just a club, like any fraternity. It’s the most secretive of Harvard’s nine most exclusive clubs. They’re called final clubs. The Delphic goes all the way back to the 1800s and has some of the world’s most prominent men as members. An invitation to their cocktail party is like an invitation to kiss the papal ring.”

“So, what you’re really trying to say is that they would never give an invitation to a poor black kid from the South Side of Chicago.”

“Spenser, you know I don’t agree with that kinda shit, but that’s how these secret societies operate. They haven’t changed much over the last century and a half. Rich white men passing off the baton to the next generation, keeping their secrets shielded from the rest of the world. Yale has Skull and Bones, but here at Harvard we have the final clubs. It’s no exaggeration when I tell you that some of the country’s biggest secrets are buried in their old mansions.”

“If I don’t fit their image, then why did someone just slip this invite under my door?” I said.

“Because it’s not real,” Dalton said.

“What do you mean?”

“Guys joke like this all the time. This is the beginning of what’s called punch season, which means the clubs are secretly nominating sophomores to enter a series of election rounds. Whoever survives the cuts over the two months gets elected into the club. You’ve heard of the hazing they do in fraternities. Well, this is a little like that, but it’s a lot more formal with much bigger stakes.”

“What makes you so sure my invitation is fake when you haven’t even seen it?”

“Are you alone?”

“Percy’s here, but he’s out cold.”

“Pull out the invite and tell me if you see torches anywhere.”

I was sitting in the chair underneath the window, still eyeing the courtyard, hoping I might see who might’ve dropped off the envelope. The ambient light cracked the darkness of our common room. I held up the envelope.

“There are three torches on the back of the envelope,” I said.

“What about the stationery?”

“There too.”

“How many?”

“Three.”

“What color?”

“Dark blue.”

“Is the center torch lower or higher than the others?”

“Lower.”

Dalton sighed loudly. “Now take the stationery, turn it over, and hold it up to a light,” he said. “Tell me if you see anything when you look at the torches.”

I followed Dalton’s instructions, carefully removing the shade from one of Percy’s expensive porcelain lamps that his grandmother had proudly given him from her winter house in Palm Beach. I held the invitation next to the naked bulb. “There’s a thin circle with the initials JPM inside,” I said. “But you can only see it under the light. When you move it away, the letters disappear.”

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Spense, it’s the real deal!” Dalton yelled as if he were coming through the phone. “The Delphic really has punched you this season. I can’t believe this is happening. Tell me the date of the party again.”

It was rare to hear this level of excitement in Dalton’s voice. Few things got him going, and they typically had to do with either women, food, or his father, whom he hated more than the Yankees.

“Next Friday at seven o’clock,” I said. “It’s at a place called Lily Field Mansion.”

“Lily Field, of course,” Dalton said. “It’s the biggest one up there on mansion row, and it’s owned by the Jacobs family, one of the richest in the country. Stanford Jacobs used to be the graduate president of the Delphic, so it makes sense that he’s hosting the opening cocktail party.”

Secret society, mansions, ultra-wealthy families, an invitation delivered under the cloak of darkness. It was all part of a foreign world that made little sense to me, the son of a single mother who answered phones at a small energy company.

“So, what the hell does all this mean?” I asked.

“That you’re coming over here tomorrow for dinner, so we can figure out some sort of strategy,” Dalton said. “This is all a long shot, but if things go well for you on Friday night, you might make it to the next round. I’m getting way ahead of myself—but one round at a time, and you might be the way we crack the Ancient Nine.”

“The Ancient Nine?” I asked. “Is that another name for the clubs?”

“No, two different things,” Dalton said. “The Ancient Nine are an ultrasecret society of nine members of the Delphic. A secret society within a secret society that not even the other Delphic members know much about. Most around here have never even heard of the Ancient Nine, but for those who have, some swear it exists, others think it’s nothing more than another Harvard legend.”

“What do you think?”

Dalton paused deliberately. “I’d bet everything I own that they exist. But no one can get them to break their code of silence. According to rumors, they are hiding not only one of Harvard’s most valued treasures but also century-old secrets that involve some of the world’s richest families.”

Copyright © 2018 by Ian K. Smith in The Ancient Nine and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press.

Sounds intriguing, right?! Now for the Q & A.

Q & A with Dr. Ian K. Smith regarding THE ANCIENT NINE

1. To begin with your beginnings, how did you get into writing?

A: I have always wanted to write stories since I was in college and read John Grisham’s The Firm, long before it became the international sensation. I enjoyed how that book made me feel, heart racing, unable to focus on anything else but the book, literally reading pages while stopped at traffic lights. I wanted to be able to create the same kind of story that had a similar effect on someone else. I like stories. I like creating. I have loved books my entire life. I decided that while my principle area of academic study would be biology and eventually medicine, that I would always keep an open mind and ambition to write and publish. That writing itch I had harbored for so many years just never went away and I refused to ignore it. Despite what many of my colleagues thought while I was in medical school, I believed both medicine and creative writing could be pursued passionately in parallel.

2. You’ve written many bestselling books about health and nutrition. What made you decide to pivot and write a thriller now?

A: Thrillers and crime fiction have always been at the top of my list for entertainment. I like to write what engages me, so I decided to sit down and create a story in the fashion that I like to read them. I love suspense and plots lines that are fast-moving and constantly make you think. I like the feeling of not wanting to put a book down and getting excited for the next time I have a break in my schedule to pick up that book again to read the next chapter. I wrote my first novel, THE BLACKBIRD PAPERS back in 2004, a thriller based on the campus of Dartmouth College where I finished my first two years of medical school. I had such great feedback from readers across the country. I would be on tour for one of my health and wellness books and invariably, someone would come up to me in the airport or a bookstore and ask me when I was going to write another thriller, because they enjoyed THE BLACKBIRD PAPERS so much and wanted more. Every time this happened, my heart would jump, and I would profusely thank the person for reminding me of my other passion and my need to go back to it and create more stories to share. I’ve been wanting to publish another thriller for a long time, and this was the perfect time in my career to do so. Fans of my fiction had waited long enough.

3. This is a novel you “waited years to write.” What is it about this story that was just begging to be told?

A: This story has everything that I love to read. There’s mystery, murder, suspense, history, and a love story. I’ve been writing this book for more than 25 years. I started when I was a senior at Harvard. While I was a very young and unpolished writer back then, I knew that it was a story that was so compelling that it needed to be told, and I knew that one day I’d be able to finish the story and publish it. This is a fish-out-of-water story with a coming-of-age feel that I think will appeal to people across the spectrum. Everyone likes a story about an underdog, and THE ANCIENT NINE captures that feel and spirit. I learned during my research that no one had ever written extensively about the Harvard final clubs. There were remote mentions in magazine and newspaper articles, but never anything that really penetrated this rarefied world of power and privilege. I just felt like this was a story begging to be told.

4. What was your personal experience with “secret societies” like? How did you decide what details to include as elements of the story in The Ancient Nine?

A: I was everything you would expect a prospective member WOULD NOT be. I was the wrong color, no pedigree, blue-collar family, and completely unaware of the elite circles in which these members traveled and inhabited. When I started to understand the lineage of the members and graduate members, I couldn’t understand why they would invite me to join. I have always been sociable, easy-to-like kind of guy, but I didn’t fit the image of a member nor did I have the money or access to privilege that the majority of members had. I wanted to include the elements as I experienced them. I wanted readers to see this world like I did for the first time, unsuspecting, unexpecting, an undaunted. I met many great guys when I was a member and remain friends with many of them to this day. Being a member was like a dual existence on campus. I was a regular student like everyone else most of the time, then I was a member of this final club that was a world of its own, including a staff that served us in our mansion and dinners with wealthy, powerful alums who were leaders of their fields throughout the country. I sat down to tables to eat and share jokes with amazing men who were extremely successful and influential, and at the same time fun to talk to and share experiences. Being a member taught me a lot about life and discrepancies and how pivotal networking can be as one tries to advance in life.

5. The Delphic Club is a very important part of the story, just like the mysteries around it. How did you come up with the mystery? Did you know how it would be solved from the beginning or did you come up with it as you wrote?

A: When I first started writing THE ANCIENT NINE, I wasn’t completely sure how it would end. I had a good idea of some of the plot twists and most of the narrative, but I had not worked out the entire mystery. As I was researching the history of the clubs—something that was very difficult to do since there has been very little written about them through the years—I discovered some amazing occurrences and legends not just about the clubs, but of Harvard itself. These discoveries were like a small, unknotted thread that once I started pulling, the story unraveled before me and everything began falling into place. I spent a lot of time in libraries, in the stacks of Widener Library at Harvard and Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, digging into the historical connections. It’s amazing how you can reach a point where a story can actually write itself, and you just become the vessel through which it’s told, trying your best to stay out of its way while you transcribe it as best as you can without losing its feel and meaning.

6. Have you received any negative feedback as a result of writing about your real-life experiences in these secretive organizations?

A: I don’t know what the feedback will be until more people have had a chance to read it. I have had some of my clubmates read it and others who are familiar with the clubs and they gave me really positive feedback. They found the book to be engaging and informative. They felt like I captured the essence of an experience that can only be felt by someone like myself who was foreign to this world. This book is not an expose or hit piece on the final clubs. This is a book that is based on real events, secrets that have been tightly guarded for hundreds of years. As the clubs are in serious and overdue conversations about opening their doors to a broader membership, some of this information will enter the public forum much easier and more fluidly than it has in the past. I would think that many current and graduate members of the clubs will find this entertaining, especially since they know very well the lay of the land on which the story is built.

7. How much does the main character in The Ancient Nine have in common with Ian Smith? How much of the story is autobiographical?

A: Spenser is based on me. His emotions, worries, thoughts, and experiences are based on mine. There are some creative changes I made such as where he was from and some of the family dynamics, but a lot of who he is and what he thinks is autobiographical. I’ve held on to this story for a long time as I wrestled with the best way to tell it and when it should be told. I was a tough, fearless kid who wanted to excel at everything and wanted to make my single mother and family proud. For those times, I was not the typical Harvard student—no trust fund or Ivy connection or renowned academic family pedigree—but I had what was most important for a student from any walk of life, the confidence that I could make it on Harvard’s storied campus. I was unafraid to try new things, mix it up, and learn as much as I could. I played sports intensely all my life, and I think that taught me a lot about the world, our many differences, the rigors and benefits of competition, and the importance of resiliency. I’ve never been one to be intimated by the chasm between what I have and what others have. Spenser sees and feels the world in exactly the same way as he remains proud of his humble beginnings and constantly works to do what is right.

8. In this novel you introduce a highly varied cast of characters, ranging from comical to mysterious, sporty

to academic. Who was your favorite character to write?

Which one would you most likely want to grab a beer with?

A: This isn’t an easy question as it’s like asking you to pick a favorite child. There are different things an author loves about the characters he or she creates, and there are different reasons why the characters appeal to the author. I will say, however, that it tends to be fun to write about characters who are very different from who you are, because it allows you to explore and imagine in a space that is not completely familiar. Writing Ashley Garrett was a lot of fun. I liked and admired her at lot. She’s from the other side of the tracks, brilliant, tough, witty, romantic, and unimpressed. If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be like Ashley. Dalton Winthrop was also a lot of fun to write, because he was rich—something that I was definitely not—and rebellious and so determined to cut his own way in life despite the overbearing expectations and interventions of his imperious father. I don’t drink alcohol, but several of the real people who the characters are based on I actually did sit down with over the poker table and a box of pizza. I think it would be great fun to sit down to dinner with the obscenely wealthy but uproariously gregarious graduate member Weld Bickerstaff class of ’53 who lived in New York City. You just wind him up and let him go.

9. The Ancient Nine delves deep into the history and underbelly of Harvard. What was your process for researching this story?

A: I spent many months researching Harvard’s history and some of the less known facts about John Harvard’s book collection he donated to the college and the infamous 1764 fire that destroyed almost all of it. Over the years of writing this book I would find new pieces of information and the web of history and mystery would grow even larger. Little is publicly known or discussed about these clubs, and lots of secrets and knowledge have gone to the grave with many of the graduate members. Harvard has one of the most expansive library systems in the world, and I spent countless hours in many of the libraries mentioned in the book, digging up old newspapers and magazines and examining rare books. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time to connect the dots and delve into the layers of such an important university and the secret societies that have long been a perpetual irritant to the school’s administration.

10. During your research, did you find out anything surprising that didn’t make it into the book?

A: I gathered piles of research and discoveries while working on this book, but alas, an author must decide what to include and what to discard. Those decisions were gut-wrenching at times, but for the sake of the reader not having to sit down to a 600-page tome, the cuts had to be done. One thing that surprised me that didn’t make it into the book was how conflicted many of the school’s former leadership really were with regards to the clubs. Many of them publicly spoke against the clubs and the need for them to either be disbanded or opened to a more diverse membership, but privately, these administrators and school trustees had been members of a club themselves and as graduates, still supported them financially in ways that their identities and participation wouldn’t be exposed.

11. Readers will know you from your work in health and nutrition. In stepping away from that world, and into the world thriller writing, what surprised or challenged you the most?

A: It has always been fun and rewarding to write books in the genre of health and nutrition. I have enjoyed immensely helping and empowering people. My books through the years have literally been life-changing for millions of people. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to produce that type of impactful work. Writing thrillers has been equally gratifying as it has allowed me to be more imaginative and tap deeper into my creative side. I believe that a person can tap similarly and effectively into the left (science, math) and right (creativity, arts) sides of the brain. Contrary to what some have suggested, I don’t believe it’s one or the other. One thing vastly different about writing thrillers is that the plots are not linear, and therefore requires a vigilant attention to detail and great effort to maintain continuity. There are all kinds of dead ends, interweaving threads, surprises, disappointments, and moments of excitement that you must work into the story, knowing that you need to entertain your reader and keep them engaged for hundreds of pages. Accomplishing this is no small feat, but the work it takes to achieve it is worth every grinding second of it once you do.

12. What’s next for you? Will you continue to write thrillers and do you have an idea for your next novel?

A: I will definitely continue to write more thrillers. I love reading this genre, and I love writing it. My creative mind has a natural proclivity for this type of storytelling. I’m currently working on a different series of crime fiction/mystery books based on a character named Ashe Cayne who’s an ex-Chicago police officer and now a private investigator. I have learned a lot from my friends in CPD who have shown me the ropes and explained procedure. Ashe is smart, sarcastic, handsome, tenacious, morally compelled to right wrongs, broken-hearted, and a golf addict trying to bring his scoring handicap into the single digits. I LOVE this character and Chicago as the setting. The expansive, energetic, segregated, volatile, notoriously corrupt Chicago becomes an important secondary character in the book. Ashe Cayne takes on only select cases, and people of all walks of life from all over the city come to him to get answers. The first book in the series is called FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLY, and it’s about the daughter of one of the city’s richest men who mysteriously goes missing on the night she’s supposed to sleep over her best friend’s house. Her aristocratic mother hires Ashe Cayne to find her missing daughter. But it’s a lot more complicated than a missing person case. I expect to publish this book in the fall of 2019.

Follow Dr. Ian on Instagram: @doctoriansmith

Twitter: @DrIanSmith

Facebook Page: The Ancient Nine

Blog Tour: Ribbons In Her Hair by Colette McCormick

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: August 23, 2018

Publisher: Accent Press

Blurb:

Jean seems the perfect wife and mother but she struggles to love her daughters whose material comforts mask emotional neglect.

When the youngest daughter, Susan, brings ‘shame’ on the family, Jean can think of only one response. She has to make the problem disappear. Finding the strength to stand up to her mother for the first time in her life, Susan does the only thing that she can to save her baby. What Susan doesn’t realise is that her mother’s emotional distance hides a dark secret of her own.

Examining the divide between generations, between mothers and daughters, this emotionally charged novel asks whether we can ever truly understand another, however close our ties.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Ribbons In Her Hair! I have a guest post from the author to share today.

Guest Post:

The inspiration to write ‘Ribbons in Her Hair’ came from a conversation.

I saw a little girl with her hair tied up in a red ribbon and commented to the person that I was with that I remembered when I used to have ribbons in my hair. I said something like, ‘Those were the days.’ My companion, and I don’t want to say anything that might identify them, told me sadly that they’d had never had a ribbon in their hair.

That statement stayed with me and I thought about a little girl who had never had a ribbon in her hair. For me, that simple act represented a bond and I can still remember sitting on a chair as my mother brushed and dressed my hair. In my head, the little girl without the ribbons, became someone who didn’t know what it was like to feel a mother’s love.

I called the girl Susan and she had a story to tell.

I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a family where your mother doesn’t seem to care if you exist. How would she feel? How might she behave? Then, I started to think about Susan’s mother. I have children of my own and the idea of not hugging them and showing my love for them is very strange to me and I wondered what would make Jean (Susan’s mother) behave the way that she did.

I decided that we needed to hear her side of the story too.

It has been said that my book is about the shame of being an unmarried mother and I suppose that to a certain extent it is, especially in Jean’s case, but for me it’s more about two women who are trying to do the best for their unborn child. They both need to decide whose needs have to be put first. Is it their own or their child’s? The decision they make will shape their adult life and they will both have to live with it and its consequences.

Because of the way that she treated her children I didn’t want to like Jean but when I discovered more about her story I started to sympathise with her. She is as much a product of her upbringing as Susan. She made the only choice she could and when history repeats itself she can only see one way out for her daughter. Is that her fault or society’s?

I tried to show that behind closed doors things are not always as they appear to those on the outside and that even families have secrets from each other.

Review: The Long Revenge by Andrew Barrett @AndrewBarrettUK @Bloodhoundbook

Amazon

Release date: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

They say you can always trust a policeman. They are lying.

They lied thirty years ago and they are still lying today.

When a booby-trapped body is discovered in a long-abandoned chapel, CSI Eddie Collins and his team are called to investigate. But when the scene examination goes horribly wrong, Eddie and DI Benson are injured and one of the team killed.

Heartbroken by the death, Eddie is also guilt-ridden. But more than that he is angry. Very angry.

Eddie will stop at nothing to bring the guilty to justice, and will teach them that even when served cold, revenge is a killer dish.  

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Long Revenge today!

Review:

This was my first introduction to Barrett’s work though it’s the fourth book in his Eddie Collins series. I wasn’t bothered by this and never felt like I was missing out on any pertinent information, but I have added the first three books to my ever growing TBR.

Eddie Collins is not a detective like the protagonist in most crime novels, he’s a CSI. I loved this, it made for a really unique and fresh point of view to see things from that perspective instead of a cops perspective. That type of stuff has always been interesting to me and couple that with a character like Collins? Well you’ve got quite a set up. He’s a cheeky guy and very sarcastic, which I adore because sarcasm is my first language. I didn’t always agree with him but I always found him highly entertaining and I especially liked any scenes between him and his father Charles.

The case Collins is working is a series of historical murders which is one of my favorite storylines in crime fiction. I always think the killer must be pretty smug after thirty years have passed and they’re still flying under the radar, until something or someone unearths their darkerst secret.

The pacing was pretty mild to start (but never boring) but the tension was slowly mounting and by the last quarter of the book things really ramped up.Eddie being a CSI means that the reader gets a graphic look at how this profession works and there is also abuse and some violence, but as most of you know by now that doesn’t bother me. Barrett uses some great dark humor that balances out the heavy stuff which I always appreciate and wonderfully lightens the mood just when you need it the most.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.