blog tour · book review · cosy · historical · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Daggers at the Country Fair

Daggers at the Country Fair

Winteringham Village 1947

As a thank you for her previous brilliant crime solving, amateur sleuth, Martha Miller is guest of honour at the Winteringham Country Fair. However, this time she is looking forward to simply judging dog shows and eating cream teas rather than apprehending a killer!

And Martha is just beginning to enjoy spending quality time with Vicar Luke Walker away from the prying eyes and gossips of her own village, when disaster strikes, and the local teenage femme fatale is found stabbed to death behind the tea tent by Martha’s trusted red setter Lizzie!

But who would want to kill such a young girl and why? Someone in the village has secrets to hide and it seems Martha and Luke have another case to solve!

Let the investigation commence!

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/39FO4RF

About the author

Catherine Coles writes bestselling cosy mysteries set in the English countryside.

Her extremely popular Tommy & Evelyn Christie series is based in North Yorkshire in the 1920’s and Catherine herself lives in Hull with her family and two spoiled dogs.

Social Media Links

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/catherinecoles

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/catherinecolesauthor/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/CatherineColesNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/catherine-coles

My Review

I must admit to not having read the first book in the Martha Miller series, but even so, Daggers at the Country Fair more than stands up for itself and can easily be read on its own merit.

Martha Miller, Luke Walker (the vicar), her sister Ruby and friends from her village, have been invited to visit Winteringham for the country fair, where Martha’s reputation as a crime solver precedes her. As such, she is the guest of honour and is asked to perform the opening ceremony.

It’s all perfectly lovely until Martha’s little dog sits down, refuses to move, and barks and growls at something odd behind one of the tents. Keen to see what’s troubling her pet, Martha ventures to look what’s happened. Finding a young woman, stabbed to death, is not something she ever expected to find, nor is subsequently learning that the young woman – Helen Kennedy – is the niece of the village vicar, who just happens to be Luke’s best friend… and their host.

While Martha feels it’s not her place to get involved in the case, Luke and Ruby convince her to at least ask some questions of the young woman’s family and friends.
The answers Martha gets to her investigation raise doubts in her mind that not everyone is telling the whole truth, and digging deeper only causes her to worry about the repercussions of her discovery. Alongside this concern, Martha is also trying to underplay her attraction to Luke. She, as a married woman (whose husband has left her), cannot get involved with the vicar. This emotional conflict reminds the reader how different those years were for women, and Martha is visibly struggling with the need to stand on her own two feet while society still prevents women from being so blatantly independent. The plight of young Helen Kennedy also highlights how society treated young women in her situation back then, and how so little was done to support them.

The mystery is intriguing with plenty of suspects, and I particularly enjoyed the big reveal when Martha eliminates one suspect after the other until the inevitable killer is trapped, unable to deny their involvement.

This is a perfect cosy mystery with vibes of Grantchester and a nod to the limited role of women in those post-war years. With great twist, a forbidden romance, and a quintessential village fayre, what’s not to love?

Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books publishers for my copy of the book.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

biography · blog tour · historical · social history

Blog Tour – Lucky Jack (plus giveaway)

Lucky Jack (1894 – 2000)

“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.

Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!

His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.

Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/Lucky-Jack

Author Bio

Sue Bavey is an English Mum of two, living in Massachussetts since 2003 with her husband, kids, a cat named Midnight, a bunny named Nutmeg, a leopard gecko named Ziggy Stardust and occasional frogs and salamanders.

Lucky Jack is her grandfather, Henry John Rogers’ biography.

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SueBavey

Website: https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/lucky-jack-photo-gallery/

Email: sue.bavey@gmail.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sue.bavey

Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of Lucky Jack (1894 – 2000) (Open to US Only)

*Terms and Conditions –US entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rafflecopter link

For more news and reviews, see these blogs below

As always,

book review · cosy · France · historical · mystery

Book Review – The French for Murder

http://ow.ly/bA5b50I0WEs

Synopsis

A grand villa, croissants for breakfast and a dead body in the wine cellar… Lady Swift can’t seem to take a vacation from murder!

Summer 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift is finally persuaded by her butler, Clifford, to take a villa in the south of France for the season. She plans to do what a glamorous lady abroad should: long lunches on the balcony followed by lazy afternoons lounging by the pool. Even Gladstone the bulldog is looking forward to a daily paddle in the ocean.

But when Clifford examines the wine cellar, he discovers there are no decent reds but there is a very dead body. The victim is famous American movie star Rex Armstrong. Poor Rex seems to have been stabbed with a sword from the film set. So how did he end up in Eleanor’s villa?

Before Eleanor even has time to change out of her travelling suit, her beloved butler is arrested for the crime. At sea without her right-hand man, Eleanor must gather her wits if she’s to outsmart a murderer and save Clifford.

Attending a glitzy party at the luxurious Hotel Azure with the film’s cast and crew so she can question her main suspects, Eleanor overhears the director having a most unsettling telephone call that throws all her theories out of the water. Can Eleanor unmask the true killer before her time abroad is cut murderously short?

A gripping historical murder mystery full of charm and intrigue, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will adore The French for Murder.

My review

Well, guess who came late to this party? Starting a series at book 10 is not my best move, but – you know what? – it didn’t matter. There was not a single point at which I was lost or in need of backstory; it felt as though I’d been there from the beginning with Ellie (Lady Eleanor Swift) and Clifford (so much more than the Starchy Archie nickname given to him in this story). Let’s not forget, the wonderful Gladstone, Mrs Butters, Trotters and all the gang – what a delightful ensemble.

I loved the rapport between Ellie and Clifford, I adored the 1920s theme – the naming of the refrigerator as Rigobert and the blender, Blendine 😉 – and the French Police Inspector and his laissez-faire attitude (never to act on an empty stomach) was wonderfully vague and helpful in equal measures.

An excellent mystery with plenty of suspects and a clever twist when it comes to revealing the killer. Thoroughly enjoyable and so vividly written as if I were there on the Cote D’Azur all along.

I’ve already checked out the back catalogue, and trust me, those books will be in on my shelf in no time at all. It’s always lovely to find a whole series of books to catch up and I look forward to getting to know Ellie (and I understand she has a Chief Inspector boyfriend back in England, too), Clifford and Gladstone much, much better.

About the author

Verity Bright

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.

As always,

blog tour · book review · historical · justice · mashup · Societal change · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Little Brown Dog

One nameless stray. Two fearless young women. A heroic fight for justice. It’s 1903, and Britain is desperate for change, but widespread calls for social and gender reform flounder against entrenched misogyny. 

Navigating this world are best friends Lena Hageby and Eliza Blackwood – two thoroughly modern young women determined to live life on their own terms.  

Rumours abound of barbaric experiments taking place within London’s medical schools, and when the women covertly witness a shockingly brutal procedure performed on a semi-conscious dog, they resolve to take down the perpetrator – renowned physiologist Dr William Bayling.  

In their fight for justice, the women are drawn into an increasingly vicious ‘David and Goliath’ battle with an all-powerful male medical establishment who will stop at nothing to protect the status quo. But how much are the women prepared to risk? Their friendship, their loves, their freedom, even their lives? 

Based on extraordinary true events that shook Edwardian society, Little Brown Dog is a tale simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming. Although a century has passed, it remains a strikingly modern parable of female bravery in speaking truth to power 

A lyrical, accessible literary novel, which brings to life  a series of intriguing historical events concerning the  curiously intertwined battle for animal rights and  women’s suffrage. 

To be published 115 years to the day after the  unveiling of the controversial, ill-fated memorial to a  small dog in a London park. 

Buy Little Brown Dog at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Buy at Amazon com.

For readers of Lucy Ribchester, Elizabeth MacNeal  and Lissa Evans. 

Market: literary fiction  – ISBN: 9781912905430  – Price: £8.99 

About the author

Paula is something of an accidental novelist. A scientist, with a PhD in climate chemistry, she has spent her career writing, educating, campaigning and fretting about the state of our planet.

Her late foray into fiction was down to a serendipitous encounter with an amateur historian at Battersea Arts Centre. The incredulous, but true, story he told, and the themes it portrays, stole her heart and became an obsession.

Hence Little Brown Dog was conceived. Paula is Welsh born and bred and now lives in London with her partner and a menagerie of rescue animals. 

My Review

little brown dog is a novel with so many layers. What starts as two women meeting over a debate against animal cruelty soon escalates into a campaign against the mistreatment of animals in the name of science. The medical profession claim their actions are humane and that without such experiments then human lives will continue to suffer from a myriad of disease and illness.

It is only when the two heroines of the story disguise themselves as men to see for themselves what happens “under the knife” that the true brutality is exposed. Shocked to their core at what they have witnessed, Lena and Eliza cannot sit back and allow the status quo to continue. So, it is with the support of a renowned and outspoken barrister, Coleridge, they are able to take on the might of the male-dominated perpetrators. Note this is all set when women have finally been allowed to enter medical school yet do not have the right to vote. As suffragists are still campaigning, the voices of women in general are derided and mocked by society, however, the animal cruelty element brings Lena and Eliza much-needed support.

Coleridge does not hold back, he has no fear of the leading doctor against whom the women are making their complaint. Such is his contempt for Dr Bayling, that he out and out accuses him of negligence. A court case beckons and support for the cause intensifies amongst the locals of Battersea.

Without spoiling the story regarding the court case, the ladies also feel compelled to pay tribute to the little brown dog in the hope that no other animal suffers in such a manner again. A beautiful statue is erected, but it is to be a bone of contention; it faces abuse and destruction for years to come.

This is a time of great societal change and, for some, the statue is simply the tip of the iceberg, a monument to something they cannot ignore. The fighting accelerates, to the point that even mild-mannered Eliza finds her patience tested to the ultimate degree.

Political and societal change is at a peak here, and reactions are extreme to the point of violence. Yet little brown dog is a story of friendship, love and betrayal, trust, and consideration for other species as well as other humans. It has so many layers, each one peeled back with a delicate touch that nonetheless packs a punch. Blending history with emotion, fact with fiction, and injustice with justice, little brown dog shows how easy it is for egos to fracture, for tempers to fray and for pain to be inflicted in the name of self-preservation. It’s a heart-warming and heart-breaking story in equal measures, rendered all the sadder for the fact that time and again – even now – those with power still overreach. Nonetheless, it inspires how that change is possible.

I enjoyed reading this – it was hard at times to read due to the nature of the cruelty it seeks to banish, but it had so many points of high emotion, both positive and negative but all so very memorable.

As always,

book birthday · book blitz · book excerpt · family · historical

Book Birthday Blitz- The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus

Sometimes there are books that come along at a time when, as a book reviewer, I simply can’t squeeze them into my reading schedule. This was one of those, and so I had to get involved in the birthday book blitz in some way, if not as a reader. (I’ve added the book to my Kindle though, and will get to reviewing it just as soon as I can)

The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus

Brothers bound by blood but fated to be enemies. Can their Empire survive or will it crumble into myth?

Istanbul, 1903.


Since his younger brother usurped the Imperial throne, Sultan Murad V has been imprisoned with his family for nearly thirty years.

The new century heralds immense change. Anarchy and revolution threaten the established order. Powerful enemies plot the fall of the once mighty Ottoman Empire. Only death will bring freedom to the enlightened former sultan. But the waters of the Bosphorus run deep: assassins lurk in shadows, intrigue abounds, and scandal in the family threatens to bring destruction of all that he holds dear…

For over six hundred years the history of the Turks and their vast and powerful Empire has been inextricably linked to the Ottoman dynasty. Can this extraordinary family, and the Empire they built, survive into the new century?

Set against the magnificent backdrop of Imperial Istanbul,The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is a spellbinding tale of love, duty and sacrifice.

Evocative and utterly beguiling,The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is perfect for fans of Colin Falconer, Kate Morton and Philippa Gregory.

Purchase Links

Amazon

Payhip

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Apple

Google Store

A message from the author

Lynne, thank you so much for inviting me to share an extract from my book on your Blog, and thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising my Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the 1st Birthday of The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus.

Extract

The Gilded Cage on the Bosphorus is the book that I always dreamed of writing. Ever since I was a little girl… Initially I did not intend to publish – it was written to encourage my children’s interest and sense of pride in their heritage, and to teach them forgotten customs and traditions. I wanted to record stories and memories that my grandfather shared with me of his unique life before they are lost forever, and I also hoped to discover more about the characters and personalities hidden behind faded family photographs… Then one day my father persuaded me that others might enjoy this personal story set during the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire, so it was published and today celebrates its first birthday!

The inspiration for this scene comes from two beautiful photographs that I have of my Great Aunts. Both were strong, independent and modern young women, confined by the traditions and conventions of their time. Yet, their spirits were free:

Jean Pascal Bey now sought and received the permission of both princesses to set about creating a suitable photographic composition with the props available to him. First, he lifted the finely-gilded tête-à-tête chair that stood by the window and placed it against a wall at an angle so that one end projected into the room; then he unrolled the small Hereke carpet that he had brought with him and laid it under the back legs of the chair, ensuring that the fringe was arranged in a way that looked haphazard and informal. He was glad that he had decided to bring this carpet: he had been right in thinking that the opulent yalı would not have such a small rug to hand. After that, he picked up a three-legged pedestal table that he had previously spotted in a corner of the room and put it on the opposite side of the rug from the tête-à-tête chair, placing on it a vase full of heavy-headed blooms. Standing back to contemplate the scene, he rubbed his chin, moved forward to remove two or three of the flowers from the vase, and laid them on the table. During the entire process, the princesses had been watching him work with great interest. After a few final tweaks, he appeared to be satisfied with the scene he had created, and turned to address Hadice.

“If your Imperial Highness would be so kind,” he said, “I would ask you to please stand between the seat and the table, and place your right hand on the curved back of the seat … Oh, and maybe your left hand might be placed behind your back.” Hadice did exactly as she was bidden. “Hmm … there is something missing. I wonder …” he mused, scratching his head just above the right ear and making the hair stick out beneath his fez. “A fan! Princess Hadice, do you have a fan? I think it would complete the portrait most satisfactorily if you were to hold a closed fan in your right hand as it rests on the back of the seat.” This was an item that it had not occurred to Hadice to bring with her: she looked across the room at her sister, who opened a narrow rectangular box that was lying on a nearby table – it bore her initials in swirling gold letters – and took out an ivory fan with a beautifully-carved ebony handle. Fehime then handed it triumphantly to her sister, who smiled at her in gratitude. “Perfect!” exclaimed Jean Pascal. “Now we are ready for Aslan Bey.” He placed a richly-embroidered cushion on the seat of the tête-à-tête chair, which was upholstered in red velvet, and Hadice called Aslan to her. The dog obediently jumped up onto the seat and sat on the cushion facing the photographer just as if he knew precisely what was expected of him. Everyone laughed, and this served to lighten the atmosphere in the room even further.

Hadice looked magnificent. Her thick dark hair framed her face in a loose pompadour bun; the simple cream dress she was wearing had a high neck and ruffled sleeves that fell to the top of her white gloves, while its sweeping train lay pooled in front of her. She had decided not to wear much jewellery as she wanted the Imperial Order that hung around her neck, and the Mecidiye Order pinned to her left breast, to stand out. Fehime thought she had never seen her sister looking more lovely or more dignified.

Jean Pascal wheeled his camera forward on the small wheels attached to the tripod legs; noticing how badly they creaked, he made a mental note to have them oiled as soon as he returned to the studio. He then made a slight adjustment to the camera’s angle, tilted the lens, and disappeared for a moment beneath the dark cloth draped over the camera box in order to view the inverted image. He brought the image into focus by adjusting the distance between the lens and the film plate, moving the folding leather bellows as though he was playing an accordion. When he reappeared, he was utterly dumbfounded to see that Hadice was unveiled: during the few seconds it had taken him to re-emerge from under the dark cloth, she had unpinned her yashmak and allowed it to float to the floor. Zeynel Ağa moved forward to pick up the discarded veil, his smooth, finely-chiselled face betraying nothing of what he might be thinking. Jean Pascal, meanwhile, looked thunderstruck, having been thrown completely off guard. Unlike the old eunuch, he was incapable of hiding his mental confusion.

“Jean Pascal Bey, I think you will need to hurry before Aslan tires of the pose,” Hadice said. Fehime giggled behind her hand. How she loved her sister, and how she admired her ready wit!

Jean Pascal now disappeared under the dark cloth for a second time – more to settle his nerves than to double-check the focus. Then, standing to attention beside his camera box, he squeezed the small air-pump ball that operated the shutter system and took the photograph. Neither Hadice nor Aslan had moved even a millimetre. He knew instantly that he had captured a perfect image.

Author Bio

Ayşe Osmanoğlu is a member of the Imperial Ottoman family, being descended from Sultan Murad V through her grandfather and from Sultan Mehmed V (Mehmed Reşad) through her grandmother. After reading History and Politics at the University of Exeter, she then obtained an M.A. in Turkish Studies at SOAS, University of London, specialising in Ottoman History. She lives in the UK with her husband and five children.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/ayseosmanogluauthor

https://www.instagram.com/aysegulnevsultan/

https://twitter.com/AyseGulnev

As always

book review · drama · family · historical · historical fiction · political · social history

Book Review – The Girl Behind The Wall

My favourite Historical Fiction book this year!

A city divided.
When the Berlin Wall goes up, Karin is on the wrong side of the city. Overnight, she’s trapped under Soviet rule in unforgiving East Berlin and separated from her twin sister, Jutta.
Two sisters torn apart.
Karin and Jutta lead parallel lives for years, cut off by the Wall. But Karin finds one reason to keep going: Otto, the man who gives her hope, even amidst the brutal East German regime.
One impossible choice…
When Jutta finds a hidden way through the wall, the twins are reunited. But the Stasi have eyes everywhere, and soon Karin is faced with a terrible decision: to flee to the West and be with her sister, or sacrifice it all to follow her heart?

Purchase link (publication date July 8th 2021)

My Review

Historical Fiction is one of my most favourite genres to read, and I’m a sucker for a WWII story. The Girl Behind The Wall, whilst set in Berlin, is not a war story since it takes place in the 1960s. However, the events of that day in 1961 when the Berlin Wall went up overnight has its roots very firmly set in the aftermath of WWII and the division of Berlin.

Identical twin sisters, Jutta and Karin, share an enviable thread that is about to be tested to its limits when Karin insists on travelling to the Eastern part of Berlin, despite not feeling so great. Normally, Jutta would have gone with her, but this time Karin can’t wait for her sister.

That night, their cousin, Hugo, an upcoming news reporter for the radio, hears rumblings of a story. He drags Jutta out with him to see what is going on, riding on his motorbike past all the checkpoints that mark the dividing line between East and West Berlin. Except the checkpoints are all closed and frenetic activity sees the making of a more permanent division, concrete and barbed wire split the city in two as the Berlin Wall goes up with Karin still in the East, after a ruptured appendix sees her hospitalised.

Jutta and the family in the West aren’t able to visit her but they can see no reason why she wouldn’t be allowed to return home once she recovers. Well, no reason other than the German Democratic Republic not granting her permission to leave – but they wouldn’t be so inflexible, would they? Hell, yeah.

When Karin recovers, her path to the West has been blocked and she has to accept the offer of her kind doctor to move in with him and his wife for the time being. Every step is considered temporary at first … until it not longer is.

Jutta is refused access to visit and Karin is refused permission to leave. The two young women who have never been apart are suddenly plunged into a new reality, never really understanding why their applications consistently fail. (The reason does become known eventually, but all too late for them)

Karin gets a job as a cleaner in the hospital, thanks again to the doctor, and has to come to terms with the fact that her life is now in East Berlin. Initially, she wants to leave, to go home to her family until she meets and falls in love with Otto, whose ambition is to rebuild East Germany from within as an architect. He has no real attachment to the West and only sees a future for him and his family – and Karin – in the East.

Jutta, from the other side of the Wall, is desperate to get her sister home, especially when letters aren’t getting through and telephone lines are down permanently. Her One day, when she is walking the length of the Wall, she hears the mewing of a cat and follows the sound to find a mother cat and her kittens in a deserted building that flanks the Wall. She gives the cat her lunch and explores a labyrinth of doors and rooms and ultimately a window that looks out into East Berlin.

She risks going over the window, checking carefully for any onlookers and lands with dusty knees in East Berlin, whereupon she heads for the hospital in the hope they know where Karin might now be. From here, the pace picks up as there is danger around every corner and Jutta’s paranoia reaches new heights. Even so, she continues, her desire to find her sister worth the risk.

A connection is made … but the reunion is a far cry from what Jutta expects. Karin is more alert to the dangers, but she also aware that her escape from the East could put those who looked out for her in danger too. And, of course, she has grown fond of Otto, too fond to consider a life without him.

Jutta, forlorn and disappointed, begs Karin to convince Otto to leave the East too and the two women meet up more often from then on. Jutta’s determination to bring Karin home knows no bounds, and she cannot understand why her sister might choose to stay with Otto than to return to her family.

It is not until Jutta finds love herself that she begins to understand, and while the two of them continue their very different lives, each time they meet up Jutta still hopes that Karin can persuade Otto to leave too.

The danger intensifies as Jutta is mistaken for Karin, and a familiar face keeps popping up which sets them both on edge. Have they been found out? Are they under surveillance? The mood is tense, and grows more unnerving with each visit. What began as two sisters divided by the Wall has now evolved into them having others in their lives that mean as much – if not more – to them than they do to each other. And for twins who have only really ever relied upon each other, it’s hard to accept, and even harder to admit to the other that other people are important to them too.

The Girl Behind The Wall is a story of decisions and sacrifices that threaten to tear a family apart. It’s emotional, tense, and highly addictive. So many families were broken up at this time, so many lives were lost as people attempted to flee, and so much mistrust and division was sown among communities as neighbours spied on neighbours. Thankfully, the Wall did come down eventually, but for so many it was too late. For Jutta and Karin, however, there was always hope and a thread between them that nothing could destroy.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Avon books and HarperCollins for my advanced copy of this book which I have reviewed voluntarily.

blog tour · book excerpt · historical · mystery · thriller

Blog Tour – Old Cases, New Colours (including an excerpt)

Old Cases, New Colours

(A Dudley Green Investigation)

Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.

Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down.

While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

Author Bio

I was bought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.

In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book – Christmas Applause – and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.

Social Media Links

Madalyn Morgan’s books- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Blog – https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter – www.twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest – www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan

Instagram – www.instagram.co.uk/madalynmorgan1

Excerpt

Intro: Ena is called as a witness for the prosecution in a murder trial at the Old Bailey. When she is cross examined by the defence lawyer of a German spy who murdered her colleague the lawyer twists what she says in an attempt to discredit her.

‘I believe you worked closely with Director Bentley at the Home Office?’

‘Yes.’

‘How many years had you worked with him?’

‘Thirteen.’

‘Thirteen years!’ the defence lawyer exclaimed. He looked at the jury. ‘Thirteen years,’ he said again. ‘And you would have us believe that in all that time you never once suspected he was a spy?’

‘No.’

‘What changed your mind, suddenly?’

‘I had reason to question Richard Bentley’s motives in a certain matter.’

Anderson swung from left to right, his black gown flaring theatrically as he looked around the court. ‘Reason to question? Motives? A certain matter? It all sounds very Machiavellian.’ He put his hand up to his face, his fingers on his lips. ‘And who was it that gave you reason to question the Director of The Home Office?’

Ena had been waiting throughout the cross-examination for a question like this. ‘I am not at liberty to say.’

‘Was it the same person who fed you lies about my client and his lover, Hugh Middleton? The truth is, Mrs Green, Hugh Middleton was not the victim in the relationship. The victim was my client. Mr Middleton cheated on him, lied to him and stole from him. My client regrets the outcome of their relationship and wishes there had been some other way. Alas,’ O’Shaughnessy’s lawyer looked down and sighed, his voice growing deeper and softer as if with emotion, ‘there was no other way.’ The defence lawyer then turned to the jury, cleared his throat, and in a matter-of-fact way, said, ‘During one of Middleton’s aggressive outbursts he attacked my client who, fearing for his life, struck out in self-defence, accidentally killing Mr Middleton.’

Ena looked across at the dock for the first time. She held O’Shaughnessy with a cold stare. As arrogant as ever, he grinned at her. Still looking at O’Shaughnessy, Ena said, ‘Hugh Middleton did not lie, cheat or attack your client. On the contrary–’

‘And how would you know, Mrs Green!’

Ena looked back at the defence lawyer. ‘I am not at liberty to say,’ she said again.

‘Whether you tell the court or not is of no consequence,’ Anderson said, ‘because, Mrs Green, the information that you received came from Nick Miller, a man of dubious character who owned the Minchin Club, a nightclub that my client and his lover frequented in Brighton.’ Anderson looked at the jury, leaned his elbow on the edge of the witness box and crossed his legs as if he was at a bar waiting for a drink. Then, as if something had that second come into his mind, he turned and faced Ena. ‘Perhaps you know Nick Miller better by his real name, Nicolaus Müller – a German spy who became a south London gangster with whom you accompanied to Austria. Is that not so, Mrs Green?’

‘I–’

‘I know!’ Anderson spat, shutting Ena down, ‘You are not at liberty to tell us what information Müller gave you for his freedom.’

‘Before Ena could retaliate, Anderson turned to the judge. ‘No more questions, My Lord.’

Ena looked up at the judge in disbelief. She then looked pleadingly at Sir John.’

The judge waved his left hand. Sir John was already on his feet.

‘If I may, My Lord.’

The Judge nodded.

‘Mrs Green,’ Sir John said with a reassuring smile, ‘would you tell the court why you were not at liberty to answer some of the questions asked you by my learned friend?’

‘I have signed the Official Secrets Act. The work I did at the Home Office was… highly sensitive.’

‘Top Secret?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thank you. You were also asked questions that you were not given time to answer. I apologise in advance if the questions I shall ask you now are repetitious.’ Ena nodded. ‘On the day of McKenzie Robinson’s funeral, did Mrs Robinson accuse you of killing her husband?’

‘No. Mrs Robinson said it was my fault that her husband had been killed, not that I had killed him.’ 

‘Your fault? Why?’

‘Director McKenzie was going to help me with an investigation I was working on before he was murdered. He gave his wife a folder to give to me, which she gave me on the day of his funeral.’ Tears filled Ena’s eyes as Mac’s last words came into her mind. “Make sure Ena Green gets this.”

‘No,’ Ena said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, ‘Eve Robinson did not accuse me of killing her husband. ‘Her exact words were, “I hope what you find in there was worth my husband’s life. If you hadn’t come to the hospital to see him, he would still be alive.”’

‘Thank you for clearing that up, Mrs Green.’ With a sympathetic smile, Sir John said, ‘Are you happy to continue?’ Ena nodded. ‘I think the court has been misled about your association with Mr Nick Miller. Would you describe the relationship between yourself and Mr Miller and tell the jury why you travelled with him to Austria?’

‘There was no relationship. Nick Miller had been taken into Police custody for questioning. He had valuable information that the security services – my department in particular – and the Police needed in order to expose a large and deep-rooted spy ring. As you know, the Director of the Home Office was the head of the cell, Helen Crowther and Shaun O’Shaughnessy were members. Nick Miller said he would release the information once he had arrived safely in Austria. I didn’t choose to go with him, he insisted I went as insurance.’

Ena looked at the jury. ‘But I did have a personal reason for accompanying Nick Miller to Austria. Nick had proof that Helen Crowther, who was found dead on December 23rd, 1958 in my office, had killed herself. Crowther went to extraordinary lengths to make her suicide look as if my husband had murdered her. I flew to Austria with Nick Miller to save my husband from being hung for a murder he did not commit.’

‘Thank you, Mrs Green.’ Sir John turned to the judge. ‘No more questions My Lord.’

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Giveaways · historical · WWII

Blog Tour – Clipped Wings

ClippedWingsBT

I am thrilled to share this extraordinary book with all of you today! Please read on for an excerpt from Clipped Wings by Molly Merryman and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!ClippedWings (2)Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) of World War II

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Genre: History/ WWII/ Aviation/ Female Pilots In her exhilarating book Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, author Molly Merryman shines light on the critical and dangerous work of the daring female aviators who changed history. New York University Press classics series has just updated the book with Merryman’s reflections on the changes in women’s aviation in the past twenty years. A documentary based on Merryman’s work, Coming Home: Fight For A Legacy, is currently in production. The WASP directly challenged the assumptions of male supremacy in wartime culture. They flew the fastest fighter planes and heaviest bombers; they test-piloted experimental models and worked in the development of weapons systems. Yet the WASP were the only women’s auxiliary within the armed services of World War II that was not militarized. In Clipped Wings, Merryman draws upon finally-declassified military documents, congressional records, and interviews with the women who served as WASP during World War II to trace the history of the over one thousand pilots who served their country as the first women to fly military planes. She examines the social pressures that culminated in their disbandment in 1944—even though a wartime need for their services still existed—and documents their struggles and eventual success, in 1977, to gain military status and receive veterans’ benefits.

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Excerpt

WASP Missions

Airplane ferrying was the initial mission for which WASPs were created, and it would occupy nearly half of all active WASP graduates when the program ended in December 1944. Planes produced in the United States needed to be flown from the factories to air bases at home, in Canada, and overseas. To handle this transportation demand, the ATC hired thousands of male civilian pilots to ferry planes. These male pilots were later commissioned directly into the AAF if they met the requirement and desired commissioning. The WASPs were brought on as ferrying pilots, and by the time they were disbanded in December 1944, they had delivered 12,652 planes on domestic missions. By that time, 141 WASPs were assigned to the ATC. Although they comprised a small percentage of the total Ferrying Division pilots, WASPs had a significant impact. By 1944, WASPs were ferrying the majority of all pursuit planes and were so integrated into the Ferrying Division that their disbandment caused delays in pursuit deliveries.

The days of ferrying pilots were long and unpredictable. At bases that handled a range of planes, pilots did not know from one day to the next what planes they would be flying or how long of a flight to expect. In Minton’s words, “We usually reported to the flight line at seven o’clock in the morning and looked at the board to see what had been assigned us in the way of an airplane, where it went and what we would need in the way of equipment to take along, and then we would go out to find our airplane and sign it out at operations and check it over to be sure everything was okay with the airplane. And then we would take off to wherever the plane was supposed to go.”

Ferrying military aircraft during World War II was not an easy task. The majority of these planes were not equipped with radios, so pilots navigated by comparing air maps with physical cues (highways, mountains, rivers, etc.) or by flying the beam. (The “beam” was a radio transmission of Morse code signals. A grid of such beams was established across the United States. To follow the beam, a pilot would listen on her headphone for aural “blips” or tones to direct her. This required a great deal of concentration and was not always accurate.) Both navigational techniques were difficult, and this was compounded by the facts that many air bases and factories were camouflaged, blackouts were maintained in coastal areas, and the navigational beams were prone to breaking down. Problems sometimes arose with the planes themselves, which ha d been tested at the factories but never flown. Cross-continental flights often took several days, depending on the planes being flown and weather conditions.

In addition, planes equipped with top secret munitions or accessories had to be guarded while on the ground, and WASPs received orders to protect these planes at all cost. WASPs flying these planes were issued .45 caliber pistols and were trained to fire machine guns.

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About the Author

Merryman, Molly

Molly Merryman, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and an Associate Professor at Kent State University. She is the Historical Research Producer on the upcoming Red Door Films documentary about the WASP, Coming Home: Fight For A Legacy. She has directed and produced nine documentaries that have been broadcast and screened in the United States and United Kingdom. She is the research director for the Queer Britain national LGBT+ museum and is a visiting professor and advisory board member for the Queer History Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London. Merryman is the vice president of the International Visual Sociology Association. Deborah Brosseau Communications

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blog tour · British · Guest Post · historical · series

Guest Post for “Becoming Alfie” – a new historical fiction series.

Becoming Alfie

Alfie Norrington was born into poverty in London’s East End in the first minute of the twentieth century. His life was a battle. From the Brick Lane markets where young Alfie pilfered and pickpocketed, to the trenches of Flanders, Alfie fought every step of the way.

Almost killed by a trench bomb he battled to recover and while in a military hospital Alfie made a promise that dramatically change’s his life. A true East End hero, Alfie begins his journey away from poverty armed with a robust moral compass and an open heart.

Becoming Alfie is the first in the Alfie Norrington series. It follows the life of a man who positively influenced thousands of people. The world needs more individuals like Alfie Norrington, that give much more than they take.

Purchase Links

www.alfienorrington.com

https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Alfie-Norrington-Book-One-ebook/dp/B08KD57DFW

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-Alfie-Norrington-Book-One-ebook/dp/B08KD57DFW

Author Bio – Born in South Essex close to the River Thames and directly East of London, my childhood was peppered with memories of the mighty river itself.

We would swim, fish and discover hidden treasure in the tidal mudflats with the fragments of clay pipes we found taking us back to another era. It was here that my inspiration for writing was born. I began to keep a diary of my observations from life and documented my feelings and thoughts.

My wife was twenty two and I was twenty four when we migrated to Australia with a glorious expectation. The sun was shining, the people were friendly and Sydney Harbour simply magnificent. Together we were committed to making the most of this opportunity beginning the next step in our lives. Everything was new which gave me endless writing opportunities that I recorded in my diary which had spilled over into a number of books. We travelled around this incredible country meeting people from all walks of life and from many nationalities. We lived and worked in a variety of capital cities enjoying each and every experience. All this was tremendous fodder for my writing.

I began to write short stories and poetry, none of which I sought to publish. By my fifty second birthday I was able to finish working and focus full time on my writing, the results so far are The Alfie Norrington Series with Becoming Alfie the first in the series of four. I hope that you enjoy reading Becoming Alfie as much as I did writing it.

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Author-Neil-Patterson-102404418274110

Website. www.alfienorrington.com

Guest Post by Neil Patterson

The freedom to write without constraint is one of the most wonderful aspects of being human. The citizens of the UK along with the majority of people in the world, can write whatever they wish, publish it in some form and discuss the contents locally or globally. It can be shared around the world at the press of a button. These are the two aspects that I would like to dig further into, the freedom of expression and the technology that allows us to hold, share and discuss our musings. Note, this is not about technology, just the concepts thereof.

Many of us have been terribly constrained by the Coronavirus pandemic for the better part of six months, with more to come so it seems. Hand-sanitising, face masks, isolation, devastation for some, loss of income and the rest, you know what I mean. Not one of us has needed to don our safety suits, boots and gloves to sit at our home computer and write. They concerned governments cannot fine me for writing without squirting clean smelling liquid on my hands prior to, or not registering that I am, in fact, about to write. Writing is Covid free, and whilst my trusty old computer may attract the odd virus I am certain it won’t be the virus that sounds like a famous Mexican beer, that has shut down our planet.

So we have complete freedom to write whenever we want to…. but do we have the freedom to write whatever we want to? Some years ago I was extremely lucky to meet with a truly inspirational man called Dennis Waitley and we discussed the concept of freedom in its broader sense. After a few minutes he said to me “Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. There can be no freedom without responsible action.” He was absolutely correct with that simple statement so let me apply this to the freedom to write. If the writer holds no responsibility for what they write, but just blurt out irresponsible tomes, is this acceptable? Or a leader (think of him as a fictional character, a former reality TV Show host who now is heavily involved in politics, you know him, he has a fabulous comb-over!) that ridicules other world leaders on twitter, is this acceptable? The amount of written violence, as I call it, that pollutes social media, is a perfect example of no consequence writing.

My point on the first part of this blog is that, as writers, if we crave freedom to write, then we must be cogniscent of the implications of our words. The written word, its power, its ability to evoke passion, to make your readers cry and laugh and all emotions in-between, is in your hands. Use it wisely Luke Penwalker!

The second point I raise is more an observation and for any of you who are under thirty and reading this, it will sound almost Victorian. Myself and my beautiful young wife arrived in Australia in February 1981 we had migrated. Sydney was just so far away from London in every aspect. We thought that we may never see our families again, a bit dramatic I know, but that is how isolated we both felt.

Now for the shock; this was pre-internet, pre mobile phone technology, pre desktop computing, pre any communications technology that you can think of, except the telephone. Can you, for just one minute, imagine writing your poems/stories by hand? There were no methods of contacting our families outside of Air Mail (I used to send my Mum an aerogramme each week, google it if you want to know more) and the telephone. Our rented flat didn’t have a phone so we used to book a call to speak with our families every other Sunday night at 8.00pm. We were ushered into a booth at Sydney’s main Post Office in Martin Place moments prior to the call and with one minute of our ten minute call remaining, the operator would come over the line and tell us. On the ten minute mark we would be rudely cut-off, then pay our $20 and miserably head home, some 20 minutes away.

The revolution in technology has changed the above forever. It has given us writers so much more scope, a greater audience, tools to help us find our audience and so much more. What a great time to be alive. You have the skill, you have the desire, you have the technology. Use it wisely Luke Penwalker

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book review · historical · historical fiction · trilogy · Tudor

Book Review – Nest of Ashes

October 1537

At a time of most supreme triumph, the moment of her greatest glory, security and power, a Queen of England lies dying.

Through dreams of fever and fantasy, Jane Seymour, third and most beloved wife of King Henry VIII remembers her childhood, the path forged to the Tudor Court; a path forged in flame and ashes. Through the fug of memory, Jane sees herself, a quiet, overlooked girl, who to others seemed pale of face and character, who discovered a terrible secret that one day would rain destruction upon her family.

Nest of Ashes is Book One in The Phoenix Trilogy: Story of Jane Seymour, by G. Lawrence.

The author’s thanks are due to Julia Gibbs, proof reader of this work of fiction, and to Larch Gallagher, the cover artist.

My Review

I’ve always loved historical fiction and have two favourite periods that never fail to catch my attention. The first is WWII and the other is The Tudors. As author Gemma Lawrence states, there is so little told about Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. It’s a huge understatement to say I was intrigued as to how she would portray a story based on someone about whom so little actual “history” is known. Indeed, following Anne Boleyn as Henry’s queen must surely have been a daunting time for Jane, after all was not Anne the original viper in the nest that led to the break with Rome and to Henry’s marriage with the dignified and most-popular Katherine of Aragon.

Nest of Ashes is the first in a trilogy of Jane Seymour’s life, and it is probably in book one where the author has the most scope to create Jane’s story. The author’s has imagined situations from Jane’s early years that are in keeping with the world she inhabits, its traditions and customs. So believable is her creation that you could be forgiven for thinking it is not historic fact, and so engaging is the story that you are instantly drawn into its fictional realm. The very best of both worlds.

When we meet Jane, she is the only daughter (so far) born to the Seymour couple. Her plain appearance marks her out as a disappointment to her mother who had longed for a daughter to grace the King’s Court as she had once done herself. As such, Jane becomes almost invisible to them, particularly when her brother Thomas is around. For Thomas can do no wrong, and despite Jane’s objections to the contrary, it is always she who is on the receiving end of any punishment. Knowing what we do about Jane’s future, it felt as though Karma was watching over her: the invisible daughter who would be queen.

Jane’s world is shaken for the first time when her beloved brother Edward takes a wife, Catherine. This beautiful and vivacious young woman is everything Jane’s mother had hoped for in a daughter, and the Seymour household is soon captivated by her charms. For Jane, that charm quickly wears off when she realises Catherine is not the sweet young woman she professes to be, but rather is intent on seducing Jane’s (and her husband, Edward’s) father. From here on, all doubt as to Catherine’s true nature is cast aside, and Jane sees her only as making a cuckold of her brother. Being invisible to everyone else in the household, Jane has no-one to tell, let alone anyone who might believe her. Confronting Catherine only makes things worse for her.

Jane can only hope her brother will find a place for her at Court, away from her family and the lies she has to ignore daily. When Edward does come through for her, and Jane is called serve Mary, the King’s sister, only then does her mother recognise how much she relied on Jane.

Jane arrives at Court, quiet and reserved and not at all confident of her position. It is her shy nature that catches the eye of Queen Katherine, who takes a liking to the young woman and appoints Jane to her own staff.

Jane’s mother is torn between fury and pride; Jane has usurped her own position at Court and without all the fuss and fancy. She begs Jane to meet with her cousin, Anne Boleyn, which she reluctantly agrees to; they are never going to be close but who would have thought they would be rivals for the King’s affections?

Jane’s future at Court is about to change her life and the history books. Forever.

As Nest of Ashes came to an end, my appetite for the next book only increased. In today’s society we are used to binge-watching complete series, so biding my time until the next instalment will be a challenge. Suffice it to say, I’m ready when you are, Gemma Lawrence! (No pressure LOL)

I received a copy of this book as part of the review-a-book challenge. What a wise move that was on my part.

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