Extract from Broken Bones by Angela Marsons. @WriteAngie @bookouture

I am thrilled to be able to bring you an extract from Broken Bones, the newest Kim Stone novel but this is not just any extract, this is the prologue and what a prologue it is!  I read it while putting this post together and wanted to drop everything and read the whole book after that, even though the book isn’t released till 3rd Nov, that’s how amazing this prologue is. So read on and see what got me so excited. 

Book 7 Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series

Published by Bookouture on 3rd November 2017.

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2wwkvci

US 🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2vDLPsP


PROLOGUE

Black Country: Christmas Day

Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.

Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.

Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.

Lauren had innocently nodded yes.

The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.

Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.

She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.

Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her.


Book blurb: They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.




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Blog Tour Review: The Man Who Died by @antti_tuomainen @orendabooks #themanwhodied

It’s my turn on this blog tour today and I have a review for you. It was a tricky review to write but hopefully I’ve done this unusual book justice. Many thanks to the author and Orenda for giving me a copy of the book for review. 

Blurb:   A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.


Review:   This is quite an unusual story as far as crime stories go because no one has actually died and no real, provable crime has been committed.  Jaako Kaunismaa goes to his doctor feeling ill and is then told that he is dying. Unsurprisingly this comes as a shock to him and we then see him deal with this diagnosis, try to figure out who poisoned him and deal with new competitors that are attempting to ruin his business. 
I found this a fascinating read. While death is something, as Jaako points out, that we all have to face and cannot escape, it was interesting watching his thought processes and how the news affected his decisions in work and his personal life. It was also interesting to see how everyone reacted to his decisions because, although we don’t know Jaako before he is told he has been poisoned, the reactions of others show that he is acting out of character and there is a lot of fun and intrigue to be had from finding out how this is going to affect the others in the book.  There are also elements of humour, some obvious and others very subtle, the comment about black comedy in the blurb is definitely accurate. 

While this is quite different from my usual reads it is definitely a book I would recommend if you fancy something a little different. This is also the first book I have read by this author but it is unlikely to be the last. 
Author bio:  

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a postapocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. The Mine, published in 2016, was an international bestseller. All of his books have been optioned for TV/film. With his piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and The Man Who Died sees him at his literary best.




Blog Blitz #Review: The Forgotten Room by Ann Troup. @TroupAnn @NeverlandBT #giveaway

When I got the email asking if I wanted to take part in this weekend I couldn’t say no. I read and reviewed Ann’s previous book, The Silent Girls (which you can find here) and I knew then that I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to read more if her books so here I am now reviewing The Forgotten Room.  Many thanks to Ann and Neverland Blog Tours for sending me a copy of the book in return for a review. 

So read on to find out what I thought and to see the details of the fan giveaway that is also running. Enjoy!

Blurb:  Can the past ever be forgotten?

As soon as nurse Maura Lyle sets foot inside the foreboding Essen Grange, she feels shivers ripple down her spine. And the sense of unease only increases when she meets her new patient, Gordon Henderson.

Drawn into the Henderson family’s tangled web of secrets and betrayals, Maura can ignore  the danger lurking behind every door no longer. Even the door she has been forbidden from opening…

Essen Grange is a house with dark and cruel intentions. But now that darkness has turned on her, can Maura escape before it’s too late?

The chilling new novel from the bestselling author of The Lost Child and The Silent Girls. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Claire Mackintosh and Tracy Buchanan.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review:  I really enjoyed this book, from page 1 I was hooked and reading at every available opportunity. There’s something about the way the author writes that conjures up the scenes without needing too much description.  It’s hard to explain but she does descriptions better than most authors. The atmosphere that is created through the words she uses is just spot on and also means the story isn’t too wordy or over explained. 

The characters in this story are also intriguing.  Straight from the first page you get hints about them which leaves you wanting to develop the ability to freeze time so you can read the book without interruptions!  This story just appealed so much to my curiosity that I wanted to know everything, what was wrong with the house, what had happened in the past, who is the mysterious person who we hear but don’t see at the start. I had all of these questions and it was those and the stunning writing that kept me reading.

I’m not really one for ready creepy books at Halloween because it’s Halloween so the timing of this, for me, is coincidence. Having said that it is definitely a creepy book. I walked round my home in the dark one night about 3am and was more than a little freaked out by the noises because I’d been reading this before I went to sleep. 

So, whether you want a fabulous read by an amazing author or just a creepy tale that’s incredibly well-written I would definitely recommend this book.  



Author Bio : 

 The Forgotten Room is Ann’s third book, following on from The Lost Child and The Silent Girls. She lives in Devon near the sea and spends her time either writing or dabbling with art. To see what she’s getting up to next follow on Twitter – @TroupAnn, or Facebook at Ann Troup Author.

Blog Tour: Snare with Guest Post by Lilja Sigurdardottir @Lilja1972 @OrendaBooks

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour. Today I have a thought-provoking guest post from the author on the female perspective in fiction.

Blurb:  After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. 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, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

The Female Perspective?

Female crime writers often get asked a question that goes somewhat like this: ‘Do you think female crime writers have a different take on this or that?’ I am no stranger to these kinds of questions, especially as when I started writing crime in Iceland there was really only one serious female crimewriter operating in the country: Yrsa Sigurdardóttir. There had been another one before her, Birgitta H. Halldórsdóttir, who had her own mixture of romance and crime in her books, but she had long since retired from writing when Yrsa started. So with women starting out in a genre that was very young in Iceland was met with a mixture of interest and disbelief. 

I can answer the question of the female perspective very quickly and simply: No. I do not really think it matters if the writer is a woman or a man. Of course there are some nuances that could be interesting to study, but, in general, crime writers are as different as they are many. Some of the most horrific and violent books I´ve read have been written by women and some of the most tenderly and sweet characters have been written by men. Same goes with subject matters. Even if more women write Domestic Noir and more men write finance thrillers, generalizations are not helpful. More and more men write Domestic Noir and I, for example, write thrillers about big corporate corruption and drug smuggling. One of the best works in the crime genre on misogyny and violence against women was written by a man, Stieg Larson.

On the other hand when the talk turns to characters in fiction I do think gender matters. My French publisher told me an interesting fact recently. Last year in France more fiction titles by female authors were published for the first time in history. But when the content was analysed, it turned out that over 70 percent of the protagonists in these books were still male. So the majority of writers, both male and female, are either more interested in men and boys or they seem to think that male characters sell better. 

Female characters are important in fiction. The actress Geena Davis started an institute on gender in media and one of the punchlines she uses in her talks is: if you can see it, you can be it. She supports this by pointing out that since female forensic scientists began to appear in fiction, TV series and films, more and more young women enter the field of forensic science.

For me it´s all about the untold stories. Women´s lives are a mine for inspiration as so many aspects have not been explored in fiction, and the same goes for LGBT⁺ people, people of colour and other minorities who have been under-repressented in the crime genre as well as other literature. Untold stories are new stories and readers want new stories. Stories that can surprise the mind and wake the senses to a new experience. 

In Snare I have four leading characters, two lesbian women, an older man and a little boy. The two love stories in the book are the kind of stories that haven´t been told so many times: a love story between two women and the end-of-life love of an older couple. These stories are the backdrop for the crimes in the book and as a compulsive seeker of new stories those are told from the perspective of the criminals.

I think writers of both (all) genders should write more female characters to share stories that haven´t been explored. So the question of whether gender matters regarding writing should rather be: Do you think female characters offer something new to the genre? Then my answer most definitely is: Yes.
Author bio:

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.







Blog Blitz Review of The Big Little Festival by @KellieHailes @NeverlandBT

Today I’m taking part in the blog blitz for The Big Little Festival. I have a review and a giveaway for you. Before that I just have to thank Kelie Hailes and Neverland Blog Tours for giving me a copy of the book to review and having me on the blog blitz.

Blurb:  Love happens when you least expect it…

Jody is panicking. It’s only weeks until her little village in Devon holds its first ever festival and everything is falling apart.

Desperate to avoid disaster, she brings in notorious party planner Christian to save the day. Although she wasn’t prepared for just how gorgeous he would be!

Men are off the cards for Jody and surely Christian is the last man she would ever date? But with tensions rising – along with the bunting and home-made scones – she’s about to find out…

Buy Links:

Digital: http://amzn.to/2i4LrgM

Paperback: http://amzn.to/2vI0HU3

 

My Rating: 4/5

Review:  This is the first book I’ve read by this author and even though this is the second book featuring the village of Rabbits Leap it is easily read as a stand alone. I’ve had a lot of stress recently so was really looking forward to reading something that I could escape into and this book definitely met that need. While the book does deal with some serious life issues it does so in such a way that doesn’t make the book feel like a heavy read. Instead this story is a light, joyous read that comes alive and makes you want to move to Rabbits Leap immediately. 

The characters are all well-written, realistic and believable which is even more impressive when you consider the age range of the characters in the story. Each characters personality shines through and that’s what makes the story work as well as it does.

If you’re looking for something to read which will allow you to escape from the world for a few hours and give you a lovely warm, cosy feeling then this is the book for you. 
The Big Little Festival Giveaway

The prize is a paperback copy of the book & a ferris wheel charm.  This giveaway is open internationally.

Click here to enter.
Author Bio:

At the age of five Kellie Hailes declared she was going write books when she grew up. It took a while for her to get there, with a career as a radio copywriter, freelance copywriter and web writer filling the dream-hole, until now. Kellie lives on an island-that’s-not-really-an-island in New Zealand with her patient husband, funny little human and neurotic cat. When the characters in her head aren’t dictating their story to her, she can be found taking short walks, eating good cheese and hankering for her next coffee fix.
Author Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/KellieHailesAuthor 
Twitter:  @KellieHailes

Blog Tour: Extract from All The Colours In Between by @EvaJordanWriter @thebookmagnet

Having read and enjoyed 183 Times a Year, which this is the sequel to, I was thrilled to be able to be involved in this blog tour. I do have this book on my tbr pile but haven’t had the chance to  read it yet so I have an extract today, as well as a giveaway, so read on and enjoy!

Book info:

Release Date: 19th October 2017

Publisher:  Urbane Publications

Genre:  Contemporary fiction, women’s fiction
It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son, is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her. Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem… A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband plus a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made. Gritty but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals, and coming of age. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.
BUY LINKS

URBANE PUBLICATIONS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US 
GIVEAWAY

2 x signed paperbacks and 2 kindle ebooks of All The Colours In Between (UK only)
Click here to enter

Extract

Lizzie

Thank you, god of chaos, as if today hasn’t been stressful enough. Thanks to the shat-nav in my car, I arrived at Haversham Hall, historic stately home of the notable Haversham family, an hour later than anticipated. An annual event, now in its tenth year, the Haversham Literary Festival is, apparently, the brainchild of the current Lord of the Manor, Henry Haversham. When the family fell on financial hard times, leading to the possibility of losing their beautiful home and gardens, it was the rather forward-thinking Lord Haversham that could see the potential of sharing the family’s grand house, and equally grand gardens, with the general public; for a generous fee, of course. 

After parking my car in the allotted space, where a large wooden stand displayed my name, I jumped out of my car and headed for the door. Somewhat flustered by my lateness I then spent ten minutes trying to push the pull door in to the main entrance, only to be saved by someone who looked remarkably like Stephen King. I thanked the stranger, who held the door open for me and walked on. However, the stranger, who may or may have not been one of the world’s most successful and prolific authors, insisted on opening a succession of other doors for me as he, too, headed towards the main hall, bringing me out in a cold sweat as I realised I was quickly running out of ways to say “thank you.” Having deployed; thank you, cheers, ta, thanks, and nice one, I quickly scuttled off in search of Michelle but hopefully not Oliver. 

I found her hovering by the main stage where a couple of comfy looking chairs and a small coffee table had been placed in readiness for a number of Author Q&A’s and interviews that had been booked over the next four days. I swallowed hard and felt my legs turn to jelly as I looked around and realised how fast the hall was filling up with people who had come to listen to me talk. I had attended this major literary event many times in the past, as a reader, this time I was here as a writer. With a little less than ten minutes to go (shielding my gaze from Oliver) Michelle draped a lanyard with a name badge attached, my name emblazoned in bold, black letters, over my head and introduced me to Michael, the appointed compére for my Author Q&A session. We shook hands and I followed him onto the stage. Somehow I managed to trip and head-butt him straight in the mouth as he turned to show me my seat. This saw us both flying across the stage, with me eventually lying astride my traumatised presenter when we both finally skidded to a halt. And, just to add insult to injury, Michael gained a fat, bloody lip to boot. Poor man. It was obvious he was in pain because he winced every time he asked me a question. 

Forty minutes (and several hundred apologies to Michael) later, listening to a playback of my Q&A session (kindly recorded by Michelle) I have now decided, upon hearing my recorded voice, it would be criminal for me to ever talk publicly again. And now, mid-afternoon and having a book signing to attend to, I find the familiar waves of nausea, which are far too familiar to my person of late, wash over me with uncomfortable immediacy. 

I look up and see a snake-like line of people politely forming an orderly queue in front of me. I sit down in front of the desk provided and take several large swigs of water from the complimentary bottle provided. A streak of yellow sun streams through the entrance to the marquee and a noisy throng of people gather to look at various bookstands or commissioned works of art by local artists. Looking down the line of readers eager to purchase a signed copy of my book, I am both overwhelmed and forever grateful to those willing to spend their precious time and money on the half-crazed ramblings of a middle-aged woman, such that I am. 

Author info:

Eva Jordan, born in Kent but living most of her life in a small Cambridgeshire town, describes herself as a lover of words, books, travel and chocolate. She is also partial to the odd glass or two of wine. Providing her with some of the inspiration for her novels, Eva is both a mum and step mum to four grown-up children. Her career has been varied including working within the library service and at a women’s refuge. She writes a monthly column for a local magazine and currently works as a volunteer for a charity based organisation that teaches adults to read. However, storytelling through the art of writing is her passion. All The Colours In Between is Eva’s second novel.
If you want to know more you can find Eva at all the usual places. She loves to hear from readers and reviewers so please feel free to contact her.

Website: evajordanwriter.com

Twitter: @evajordanwriter

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

Blog Post: Extract from Zenka by Alison Brodie @alisonbrodie2

I am thrilled today to be hosting an extract from the fan sounding Zenka (which I am also reviewing in a few weeks). So, read on and see if this taster grips you as much as it did me…….





Blurb:   Ruthless, capricious, and loyal.

Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not.  Happily, she now has easy access to pistols and shotguns.

Jack learns he has a son, Nicholas, a male nurse with a heart of gold.  Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp.

Zenka takes charges.  Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she aims to turn Nicholas into a son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of.  And she succeeds!

Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them.  He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked:

How do you tell a crime boss you don’t want to be his son?

And is Zenka really who she says she is?

Praise for Zenka:

“A riveting read.  Powerful.  Spicy” –D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

5*  “To say I loved this story would be a massive understatement” –Bloggers from Down Under

5*  “Top of my list for best fiction this year” – Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

5*  “You won’t be able to put this book down” –Laura Reading

5*   “Brodie nails it again. Intelligent wit and outstanding writing” –Charlie Elliott, author of Life Unbothered.

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

US:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07534Y6QZ

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Canada:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07534Y6QZ

Australia:  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07534Y6QZ


Extract:  

‘Look, stop blubbering and listen.’  His dad shoved a handkerchief at him.  ‘Your mum wrote that letter for a reason.  To bring us together.  So, do you want to be my son?’

Nicholas sniffed.  ‘Yes… Dad.’

His dad closed his eyes as if in silent prayer and when he opened them again, a tear trickled free.  ‘Bloody hell,’ he grumbled.  ‘Look at me.  You’re going to think I’m soft.’

‘No, I don’t.’

‘Good, ’cos I’m not.’  His dad drew away.  ‘First off, I want us to be honest with each other.  Agreed?’

‘Agreed.’

‘Right, there’s good and bad in everybody.  People sometimes do things they regret – like you and your mum’s funeral.  You can’t wipe it away; it’s with you always, but you’ve got to move on.  Become a better person.  Now, I’ve done some things in my life that I regret but I’m making up for it.  You know that charity shop across from Cedars?’

‘Hasn’t it been made into a homeless shelter?

His Dad grinned.  ‘That’s me:  Murray’s Homeless Shelter.’

‘You?’

‘Yes, son.  This is only the beginning, though.  I’ve seen how those buggers live, and I’m going to give them food and shelter, and no fucking hymns!’ 

In that moment, Nicholas felt a lightness of spirit.  His father might look like a backstreet hoodlum but was, in fact, a philanthropist.  He glanced down at the letter.  ‘You own a car showroom?’

‘That’s correct.’  His father’s eyes gleamed.  ‘It’s in Hoe Street, Walthamstow …’  The sentence hung in the air, like a ball waiting to be caught.

‘Hoe Street?  But that’s where-’  Nicholas gasped.  ‘The Jaguar!’

His dad grinned.  ‘I couldn’t meet you, but there was nothing stopping me from giving you a little gift.’

‘A little gift?  That’s seventy thousand pounds!’

‘Peanuts.  I can buy you anything you want, ’specially with Christmas coming.’

‘Well … thank you.’  Nicholas was breathing rapidly.  This was getting better and better.

His dad waggled his finger in stern command.  ‘Don’t forget, a father is not just for Christmas, he’s a life sentence.’  He burst out laughing, and Nicholas merrily joined in.

The big man became serious.  ‘That’s why I’m here.’  He picked up his briefcase and clicked it open.  ‘To make sure you inherit if anything ’appens to me.  To do that, we need to prove legally that you’re my son-and-heir.’  He bought out a slim white box and showed it to Nicholas.  ‘This is a paternity testing kit.  We each take a swab of saliva then I’ll take it straight to the lab.’  He quickly added.  ‘I know one-hundred per cent you’re my son.  I don’t want you thinking I’ve got doubts about you.’

Doubts about you.  The words further relaxed Nicholas.  He had gone from questioning this man’s identity, to having his own identity questioned.  He was also being given the option to choose if he wanted to clinically establish a DNA match.  His dad had everything to lose, Nicholas had everything to gain.

Nicholas’s thought of all the things he could buy for Zenka:  the clothes, the jewellery…

‘What do you think, Nicholas?  Do you want to give it a go?’

‘Yes, definitely.’

‘Good lad.’

Nicholas wanted to cavort around the room.  He was going to be rich!  But how rich?   ‘And you’ve made your money from selling cars?’

His father hesitated.  ‘When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet.  I was bright enough.  I’d just sat my ‘O’ levels when this rape business hit me-’

‘How old were you?’

‘Sixteen.’

‘It must have been awful for you, being accused like that.’

‘Rajat and those Asian blokes gave me stick.  But you can imagine how they must’ve seen it:  a big hairy geezer like me with a cripple girl.  I was beaten up so bad, I was in hospital for over a month.  After I came out, I started looking over my shoulder.  I realised then, I had to get tough.’

Nicholas understood the broken nose.  His dad had gone into boxing to learn to defend himself.  ‘What happened to mum?’

‘She was sent away.  I never knew where, until I got this letter.  It was for the best, her not knowing how I turned out.’

‘In what way?’  Mentally, Nicholas was in Harrods picking out a diamond engagement ring for Zenka.

‘Listen.’  His dad rested his fists on his knees and scowled at the coffee table.  ‘I was a fence, got seven weeks, suspended.  Then I was domiciled in Blundeston for GBH-’

‘Sorry, I don’t think I quite understand?’

His dad looked up.  ‘What bit don’t you understand?’

Nicholas didn’t understand any of it.  ‘GBH?’

‘Grievous bodily harm.  You must know what that means!’  His dad, aggrieved by Nicholas’s look, added impatiently:  ‘I’m telling you this ’cos we’re being straight with each other, got it?’

Nicholas was quick to agree.  ‘Got it.’  His heart pounded.  A voice inside his head was saying:  Please, don’t tell me anymore, please.

‘I did two months for harbouring, eighteen months at Gartree for extortion, six years in Parkhurst for attempted armed robbery.  I sound like a failure, but I was a success.  In this business you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.  And there’s a lot of fucking rough, I can tell you.’  ’

Nicholas screamed inwardly:  My father is a mobster!

‘This must come as a shock.  But I want you to know I’ve gone straight.  All that malarkey’s behind me.  I’ve made a vow never to pick up another gun-’  He paused.  ‘You look doubtful?’

‘No, no.’  Nicholas cleared his throat but even then his voice came out in a dry croak,  ‘I was just thinking, well, you have quite a history.’

‘That’s one way of putting it.   I’ve done bad, but I’ve done good.  I’ve kept the skags off my turf and I’m busy eliminating the Romanians; although that’s not so easy.  And I’ve kept the peace for ten years.  Do you know how I do that?  By scaring the shit out of any bastard who wants to make trouble.’  Jack paused significantly.  ‘I’m keeping the clubs and showroom but there’s going to be no more thieving, no more violence.  And it’s ’cos of you, Nicholas.’  He drained his mug of tea.  ‘I had been planning a heist, but then five weeks ago I got Lakshmir’s letter-’

‘Five weeks?’

‘What?’

‘You’ve left it five weeks before coming to see me?’

‘I did want to come sooner.’  His dad shifted.  ‘Problem was, I had enemies.’

Nicholas went cold.  ‘What sort of enemies?’

‘Nasty ones.  There were two in particular.  Brothers.  Vicious bastards.  If they’d known about you they would’ve hurt you.’

‘And what happened to them?’

‘They got sorted.’

Nicholas was thinking:   GBH.  Armed robbery.  And … murder?

‘And you’ve got no more enemies, nobody who’d want to hurt me?’

His father hesitated.  ‘Well, there is somebody, but he’s not an enemy.  He works for me.  Tell you the truth, I’ve been like a dad to him for close on twelve years.  His name’s Lloyd, Lloyd Gibson.’

Nicholas closed his eyes against the wave of dizziness.  He fell forward, feeling the rush of blood to his head.

‘What’s up, Nicholas?’

Nicholas had an image of Lloyd, his eyes dancing merrily, his lips pursed in a kiss as he dangled the mistletoe above the dead man’s head.  

‘Do you want a glass of water, son?’

‘I’m … I’m fine.’

‘So, as I was saying:  Lloyd’s been like a son to me.  I just haven’t worked up the courage to tell him about you.’

Nicholas struggled to breathe.  ‘And … um … how do you think he’s going to react when you tell him?’

‘He’s not going to be happy.’

Nicholas nodded while his brain wailed:  A homicidal maniac.  Not happy.  About ME!

Jack continued.  ‘What I want is for you and Lloyd to become brothers.’

‘Brothers?’  Nicholas couldn’t recognise his own voice.  His forehead was slick with sweat.  He wanted to vomit.

‘Sure you don’t want some water?’ his dad asked.

‘I’m fine, just indigestion.’

‘It might be an ulcer.  Do you worry a lot?’

‘Not usually, no.’



Author bio:

. Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. 

Brodie is an international, best-selling author.  Her books have been published by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland).  Reviews for her debut, FACE TO FACE:  “Fun to snuggle up with” –GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Pick of the Paperbacks.  “Vane but wildly funny leading lady” -Scottish Daily Mail. 

Brodie has now gone “indie”.  Here are some editorial reviews for her recent books.  

BRAKE FAILURE:  “Masterpiece of humor” -Midwest Book Review

THE DOUBLE:   “Proof of her genius in writing fiction” -San Francisco Book Review.

ZENKA (to be released 6 Nov, 2017):  “ZENKA is top of my list for best fiction this year.  If Tina Fey and Simon Pegg got together to write a dark and hilarious mobster story with a happy ending, ZENKA would be the result.”  -Lauren Sapala, WriteCity

AUTHOR LINKS:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/alisonbrodie2

Website:  http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/untitled

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35845259-zenka

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