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.
‘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?’
‘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.’
‘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?’
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?’
‘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-’
‘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.’
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