Sunday, July 09, 2023

Guest Blogger Emma-Claire Wilson

A warm welcome to my fabulous guest blogger this week, Emma-Claire Wilson and her incredible debut novel, This Child of Mine. Here's Emma-Claire to tell us about herself and her book! Born in Scotland, Emma-Claire travelled the world as the child of military parents. After almost 20 years in Spain, she returned to the UK with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Pip. Emma-Claire worked as a journalist for English language magazines and newspapers in Spain and in 2015 launched The Glass House Online Magazine. When not writing emotional fiction, you can find her dreaming up new book ideas or wrapped in a blanket with a book in her hand.
Her debut novel, This Child of Mine, was published by Avon Harper Collins on July 6th 2023. This Child of Mine follows the story of Stephanie who, after years of trying for a baby, finds out she is pregnant and sick on the same day. The book is an exploration of the dilemmas she faces and although is not entirely autobiographical, is based on Emma-Claire Wilson's real-life experiences. A highly emotional yet uplifting tear-jerker that will have you reaching for the tissues – perfect for fans of EMMA ROBINSON and JODI PICOULT.
When Stephanie is told she’s pregnant and that she is sick on the same day, she faces an impossible choice… After trying for a baby for so long, finding out I was pregnant was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. But in the same breath as the news I had been waiting years to hear, the doctor told me I was seriously ill. If I carry my baby to term, I will almost certainly die. If I proceed with treatment, my baby will not live. My husband – the father of this child – is telling me to save myself. But with all the secrets I know he is keeping from me, I can’t trust him anymore. What would you do? You can get your copy HERE You can also find her in all of these places! Twitter: @ecwilsonwriter Facebook: @ecwilsonauthor Instagram: @ecwilsonauthor Website: And if you would like a signed copy goHERE

Ashburton Sat 29th July

Heads up to all my fab Devon people. I'm keeping company with some other crime writing lovelies on Sat 29th July at Ashburton. come along and say hello!!

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Guest Blogger - Pat Black

Please give a warm welcome to this weeks guest, Pat Black. His latest book is The Hunted which is available at all good on line and other retailers HERE Pat Black lives in Yorkshire but he will always belong to Glasgow. He's the author of the Inspector Lomond series plus six standalone thrillers.
Something different for you all this week as Pat has recently reviewed Ted Lewis's novel - Plender *Content warning* Ted Lewis's work is a grittier kind of novel and the review reflects this. “It’s a dirty story of a dirty man...” You may be familiar with Ted Lewis’s work from Get Carter . It’s one of the finest of all British films, certainly one of the best starring Michael Caine, and as quotable as The Italian Job ... But nastier. The 1971 movie sees a psychopathic gangster in swinging London returning to his hometownin the north-east of England to attend the funeral of his brother. The death was supposedly an accident, but Carter thinks his brother was murdered. There are no limits to what he’ll do to find out the truth. The passing of director Mike Hodges in late 2022 brought renewed focus on his work, which includes the dazzling sci-fi campery of Flash Gordon . But the world of Jack Carter – and the novelist who created him – is more concerned with the gutter than the stars. British author Ted Lewis penned the original 1970 novel, Jack’s Return Home. It’s set in Scunthorpe rather than the Newcastle of the film, but similarly squalid, similarly cynical, similarly violent. Thanks to e-readers rescuing out-of-print books from obscurity, reissued editions of Get Carter (understandably retitled), GBH and Plender are now available to you within a couple of clicks. I knew nothing of these latter two. Plender, Lewis’s first novel after Jack’s Return Home, published in 1971, was the first on my list. Plender is a blackmailer. We see him pulling strings, manipulating, even double-crossing those he is employed by as he gathers dirt - his stock in trade. He is completely in control of his world. No-one gets the drop on him. Plender has a talent, if you can call it that: from the very first meetings, he can see right through people. Their motives, their resentments, their secrets. Then we meet Knott, the other half of the story. Each chapter alternates between these two characters in first-person. Knott is a photographer, and he’s a bit kinky. He entices young girls into modelling assignments and then gets them drunk, eventually persuading them to indulge his kink. This is never specified, but it involves underwear. They have sex, but this seems to be a necessary prelude to what Knott really likes – a ritual, a charade, that he must endure, something to be gotten out of the way. He is in a pattern of behaviour. Knott has a wife, two kids and a nice house, and barring these furtive excursions to his lock-up studio, his shadow side is largely kept in check. Plender quickly re-establishes contact, ingratiating himself with Knott without ever directly stating what he’s done. But Knott figures it out. Plender has done him a “favour”. A favour which he can call in, at will. And Knott can’t get out of it. Plender’s criminality is not merely of the passive type. The owner of the gay bar Knott uses to make his grubby deals ends up as a suspicious suicide after Plender discovers that the man recognises the companion of the girl whose face ended up on the front page of the paper. There is also a suspicion that Emma’s body isn’t the first Plender has dispatched at the quarry.Knott, whose mental health is disintegrating, is on the hook. He now works for Plender, taking photos of people who’ve answered personal ads seeking to satisfy various sexual desires - basic blackmail scams. There isn’t a thing he can do to get out of it. Back home, Knott’s wife knows something is badly wrong, and suspects an affair. She’s tried to accommodate Knott’s kink, but Knott, having just seen a girl die as an indirect result of his preferences, rebuffs her, disgusted. From there, his marriage is in freefall, culminating in violence. After this, the poor woman realises she must take her kids and leave the fancy house. Mrs Knott engages Plender, who has told her during an ill-advised dinner at the family home that he is a private detective, to find out what’s going on with her husband. She suspects it’s simply an affair. Plender very craftily encourages her suspicions, even while his brief, terse statements are in tune with the truth of the matter. He never actually tells any lies. “I said nothing,” appears quite a bit in this section. You know exactly what Plender’s going to attempt the moment he sets eyes on Knott’s wife –even the moment he learns of her existence. The memories of sexual humiliation, with the narcissistic Knott as top dog at school, leave you in no doubt. But Knott’s nice furniture in hisnice house in a nice area seem to trigger just as much of a thirst for chaos, corruption, and transgression in Plender as the shape of Knott’s wife. Again, this was deft work – an insight into the inner workings of those of a sociopathic or psychopathic bent. Things progress to a nauseating moment of consummation on Knott’s own couch, meticulously planned by the manipulator... and yet, Lewis surprises you here. You get a glimpse of morality. Mrs Knott’s rejection leaves Plender “white-hot” with rage – nothing to do with his physical desires being thwarted, more a reaction to his wider schemes and personal vindictiveness being curtailed. This glimpse of Mrs Knott’s decency is a rare moment of spiritual relief before the story closes in a brutal, yet oblique fashion. Lewis’s hard-nosed British noir - grudgeful and dirty-faced, with its clothes in rags - is a far clearer examination of post-war Britain plodding towards the 21st century than any aspirational Thatcherite yuppie confection from the following decade. This is the Britain of James Herbert’s The Rats – a place where the Luftwaffe’s handiwork was still apparent in many cities; where the National Front was on the march; a land of grimy industrial towns with spit and sawdust pubs barely evolved from the Victorian era; where people still had the ​wartime rationing mindset even as the permissive society seemed to unleash all the devils of hell on their children, a universe’s breadth from The Beatles’ warblings. Visualise the early Lennon’s knowing leer, rather than McCartney’s cherubic grin. The criminal element fits into this construct of Britain perfectly. Lewis’s books paint a pictureof analogue photography, grubby magazines, drippy-tap lock-ups tucked away near the docks, bare lightbulbs in grotty rooms... The unmodern, and the unevolved. Dirty stories, of dirty men. The book and its author are psychologically astute. Plender is a psychopath, not particularly bothered when, where or how where he gets his kicks, so long as it gives him an advantage over people. It’s all about power and control. Even when things fall apart for him thanks to Knott’s instability, Plender doesn’t panic. It’s almost as if he was expecting it. Just another problem to negotiate. He grabs a gun and a pile of money from his safe and comes up with a plan. The manipulation and basic wickedness are rendered beautifully - if that’s the right word. This story isn’t about winning and losing. That’s made clear to you well before the scene is set for what you think will be the final confrontation. The absolute best I can say about this novel – and I do not mean this as faint praise - is that it made me glad of my quotidian, increasingly flabby life, with the door locked at 7pm, and tutting at strangers through the blinds, and the kids safe in bed with their teddies, and two glasses of prosecco for mummy and daddy in front of old comedy shows on a Friday night, and all of us, god willing, still breathing and healthy the next morning. Plender is a flyblown, ugly story, but you should never mistake it for trash. Ted Lewis, who was lost to the bottle at the age of 42 in 1980, was never a hack, with his books placed well above the shelf we might disingenuously label “good bad books”. Small wonder his writing is now savoured, four decades after his death. Good art finds its time. Thanks Pat! A very different kind of story. Here is the blurb for Pat's book - The Hunted. Set in a remote Scottish lodge in the depths of winter, this explosive and disturbing thriller asks what happens when dark secrets finally come to light. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell and Kerri Beevis. THE PERFECT WEEKEND AWAY. A REMOTE LODGE, OLD FRIENDS... AND MURDER. It's been twenty years since they were all at school together. So when a group of female friends gather at a beautiful but isolated Scottish island lodge for a weekend away, they're looking forward to relaxing, sharing updates on their lives, and reminiscing. The furthest thing from their minds is murder. But even though they've known each other since high school, some of these women have secrets. Dark secrets that can ruin friendships, ruin marriages – ruin lives. Things you thought you knew and loved can turn out to be your biggest nightmares. And when recriminations start to fly, it soon becomes clear: it's not a question of when, but if, these old friends will ever make it home again...