Content posts · Historical fiction

*CONTENT POST* The New Achilles – Christian Cameron.

Book Blurb;

Alexanor is a man who has seen too much blood. He has left the sword behind him to become a healer in the greatest sanctuary in Greece: he has turned his back on war.
But war has followed him to his refuge at Epidauros, and now a battle to end the freedom of Greece is all around him. The Mediterranean superpowers of Rome, Egypt and Macedon are waging their proxy wars on Hellenic soil, turning Greek farmers into slaves and mercenaries.

Greece needs a champion.

When a wounded soldier is carried into his temple, Alexanor believes the man’s wounds are mortal. But he is not destined to die. But Alexanor must face his own daemons before he can help the hero face his.
Because this is the new Achilles. His name is Philopoemen.

This is Greece’s champion. The last hero. He is the new Achilles.

Exclusive extract;

North coast of Crete and Eastern Peloponnese228 bce

The Rhodian grain ship Arktos had endured a bad night, the last and worst of a three-day blow. She wallowed in the swell, her oars taken in, her broken mainmast still wrapped in her fallen cordage over the side, her crew struggling to cut it free in such a way that it could be saved. A relentless wind from the north drove her towards the coast of Crete, just a few stades away under a bright grey spring sky.

She only had a crew of eight and another thirty or so rowers, most of them slaves. None of them were citizens except the captain, who had given up bellowing orders from the foredeck and was now in the water, using a knife to cut the tangled shrouds one by one while his most trusted mate watched the water below him for sharks.

The ship’s passengers lined the starboard side rail, watching the repairs with varying degrees of interest. The Spartan aristocrat, his red cloak flapping in the freshening wind, sneered.

‘A touch of the whip would make them move,’ he said. ‘By the gods, what a useless lot.’

There were two women, from Kos, prosperous enough to have a slave to attend them. They were heavily veiled, their linen and wool forced against their bodies by the wind.

‘You are an expert sailor, perhaps?’ asked the older woman.

The Spartiate ignored her.

An Athenian merchant frowned. ‘If I was younger,’ he said, to no one in particular, ‘I’d get in the water and help.’

The Spartiate glanced at him with contempt.

There was one more passenger. He’d kept very much to himself since Rhodes, and now he stood amidships, looking out into the flat glare of the clouded Mediterranean day under his hand. He was looking south, over the port-side rail, at the north coast of Crete.

‘Is that Knossos?’ asked the younger woman. She was at an age to find lonely young men attractive.

‘I think so,’ the young man said, his voice dull, as if only courtesy forced him to reply. Then he frowned. ‘I think . . .’

He stepped up on the rail, balancing like an acrobat. He glanced back at his fellow passengers, uncertainty written on his features. Then he grabbed a shroud, looked again, jumped back down and crossed the empty benches and the central catwalk to lean over the side where the navarch was sawing away at what he hoped was the last of the movable stay that, in better times, had raised and lowered the mast.

‘Navarch!’ the Rhodian called. His voice was suddenly sharp and military.

‘Soon, citizen,’ the captain called, his voice full of the oil he needed to keep his fractious passengers at arm’s length.

‘There are three boats coming off the shore,’ the Rhodian called. ‘And we’re going to touch on the beach if we keep drifting at this rate.’

Every head turned. Four sailors ran across the deck and the little galley rolled slightly in the water.

‘Pirates!’ yelled a sailor.

The captain swore. ‘I need another man,’ he called. ‘Kephalos, get the boat-sail mast set. The artemon!’

Kephalos waved, and the navarch dived below the wreck of the mast.

The passenger who kept to himself dropped his chiton on the deck, drew a small bronze knife from a sheath at his neck and leapt into the water. His chest was criss-crossed with scars.

The women were watching the Cretan shore now.

First one boat came off the beach, and then a second, full of men. A third boat was being readied.

‘Lady Artemis protect us,’ said the younger woman.

The older woman took a deep breath, but she released it without speaking. Her hands were trembling.

The Spartiate laughed. ‘Perhaps they’ll give this tub a tow,’ he said.

Suddenly the deck began to vibrate like a living thing, and the whole ship seemed to shudder. Then the mast and its attendant wreckage of torn sail and trailing ropes exploded out of the water like the very Spear of Poseidon.

Now the mast floated clear of the wreck. The captain’s head appeared, and he swam powerfully along the side of his ship, ducked under the mast, and looked back.

The passenger surfaced behind him.

The captain reached up, caught the low rail, and hauled himself on board.

‘Get the fucking mast aboard, you whoresons,’ he shouted. ‘You, and Kephalos! Set the artemon. I told you already, you rabble.’ He pointed at another man. ‘Throw the weighted line. Tell me how much water we have under the keel.’

The ship was now moving more rapidly in with the land. The dragging submerged mast had been like an anchor, and free of it, the current moved the ship all the faster.

‘Get that mast aboard!’ he roared.

Then he leapt across the amidships platform, but he could already see the three low shapes pulling towards them, oars flashing as they left the water in perfect unison.

‘Fucking Knossos,’ the captain spat.

‘King Cleomenes has a treaty with Knossos,’ the Spartiate said. ‘I’ll see that we come to no harm.’

‘See how you feel about that when some Cretan’s pole is up your arse,’ the captain said. ‘Sailors, arm yourselves!’

The Spartiate stepped back before the navarch’s vehemence, and the man turned as red as his cloak with anger. He put a hand on the sword he wore.

‘No one speaks to me that way,’ he said.

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Content posts · suspense · thriller

*Content Post* Deadly Secrets – Gordon Bickerstaff.

Book blurb; The truth will out…

Gavin’s life will be turned upside down when he joins a company to work on a product that will revolutionise the food industry. His initial gut instinct is to walk away until he discovers one of the company directors is the former love of his teenage life.

The financial implications are global and incredible. Powerful individuals and countries are prepared to kill as they compete to seize control of the company. Corruption at high levels, a deadly flaw in the product, and the stakes jump higher and higher.

Against overwhelming odds, Gavin must rescue his former love from the hands of an evil cult as they prepare her for a living nightmare.

Deadly Secrets extract;

Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

The boat had disgorged all of its tourists, except for Mascarri. He sat stiff and erect, staring at the back of the boat and leaning against the seat window.
The Captain found no signs of life and assumed the poor man had suffered a stroke or heart attack. His face, cooled by a crisp wind on the canals, had turned pale as snow and his lips a deep purple.
The silver cup the woman handed to Mascarri contained fifty milligrams of enhanced neurotoxin from the blue-ringed octopus.
The toxin had spread rapidly in his blood, blocking nerve transmissions and had progressively shut down his organs. Groups of muscles locked in place when his neuromuscular nerves froze.
A blue-ringed octopus isn’t much bigger than a golf ball. It isn’t designed for fast pursuit. It can’t go swimming after its prey so its toxin is fast-acting. One octopus carries sufficient venom to kill twenty adult humans in a few minutes. Or one man in a matter of seconds.
When sensations of pins and needles surged down his legs, Mascarri didn’t suspect anything. In fact, with cool air blowing through the boat, he didn’t notice the onset of paralysis.
When he realised that he couldn’t move his arms, he also discovered he couldn’t move any muscles in his face. He felt rage when the woman glanced at her watch, reached over and jabbed a sharp pencil into the back of his hand.
She had peered into his eyes, winked, and smirked at him. His brain and eyesight remained functional when she retrieved her envelope from his jacket pocket.
He watched her transfer the contents of his briefcase to her bag and saw her place bottles of an orange liquid and a handful of wraps in his briefcase.
Then, she wedged his briefcase between his waist and the edge of the table to prevent his body slipping to one side.
The hustle of tourists jostling for position to take snaps of the Skinny Bridge had given her a perfect distraction for her activities.
When he realised he’d been drugged, he wondered how long it would take for the drug to wear off. He thought of excuses he would have to make to police and paramedics when the boat reached its berth. Each time he blinked, his eyesight deteriorated further.
Despair followed when his vision became speckled, like looking through black metal mesh. Seconds later, a myriad of fragile stars in a night sky extinguished in waves of blue-white death flashes as the rod cells in his eyes progressively stopped working.
In darkness, he pleaded for his life. Many times, he confessed and apologised profusely. He pledged his money, his time for church work and his love.
He promised no more thieving, no more prostitutes and no more beatings for his wife, Theresa. The same guilt-driven pleadings for forgiveness he’d made many times before.
He promised to return the money stolen from Alzheimer patients he’d targeted, even though he knew most of them had since died penniless.
He pledged to help the family of a client who committed suicide when his business failed because Mascarri had stolen too much from the accounts. He begged and begged for another chance to make things right.
Mascarri’s final seconds were dark and silent while paralysis swept relentlessly through his body. In the black void, he waited anxiously for the forgiveness he believed would come, and for the white lights to guide him into heaven.
The woman had sentenced him to forty seconds and now his time was up. The toxin had reached the pacemaker deep in his heart muscle. His heart stopped beating and Theresa became a widow.
The woman walked confidently through Dam Square with a spring in her step. Mascarri would still be alive if he’d been more careful with his words. He would have received the bonus he craved, not with her but with a prostitute.
He made one fatal error. A stupid threat, which she took seriously. She believed he would double-sell the SeaPro report, and she couldn’t allow him to do that.
The SeaPro report, which Mascarri should have handed to Jim Patersun was now in the hands of Gyge’s Ring. Ruthless people, desperate to take control of SeaPro’s new process, no matter the cost. Mascarri’s greed put an end to his life and now everyone associated with SeaPro faced imminent danger.
While she waited at a taxi rank, her head and shoulders filled the viewfinder of a long-range camera as it clicked through a dozen frames.
The photographer tugged his baseball cap, and allowed his camera to hang on his neck while he spoke into his mobile phone. He watched the woman’s taxi drive away and reported what he’d seen to his Ring Leader.
The Dutch police had little to work with. They believed his clothes were British but couldn’t decide if he resided in Amsterdam or not. His fingerprints weren’t on record.
In his briefcase, they found six one-gram wraps of amnesia haze (strong cannabis), and two bottles of orange-coloured krokodil.
The scene had all the hallmarks of a drug deal gone bad. The police concluded he’d been poisoned by krokodil, which is a concoction designed to convert codeine pills into desomorphine.
On the street, crude conversion of codeine is done in the bottle with a cocktail containing petrol, iodine, hydrochloric acid, phosphorus and paint thinner.

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Content posts · crime · Detective · mystery · suspense · Uncategorized

*CONTENT POST* Murder Unexpected – Anita Waller

Book blurb; Kat and Mouse are back.

Church Deacon Kat and her friend Beth, known as Mouse, have started a private investigation business in the sleepy village of Eyam.

Kat, whose estranged criminal husband, Leon, is on the run, has a lot on her plate running the new business whilst heavily pregnant.

When a widow asks the sleuths for help, Kat and Mouse find themselves searching for the birth mother of the widow’s husband. But when it becomes clear that the widow isn’t telling the whole truth, Kat and Mouse are drawn into a deadly chase where nothing is what it seems.

Meanwhile, Kat’s husband has come back to Eyam and has Kat in his sights.

Can Kat and Mouse solve the case and escape the dangerous Leon?

This time they might just be out of their depth…

Book excerpt; Murder Unexpected!

The letter had a little heart drawn on the top. Kat read it for the second time with tears running down her face; her hormones were all over the place, aching for what the young sixteen-year-old had been forced to go through.

My darling boy, my Tommy,
I will always love you, and the pain I am feeling now is killing me. I cannot keep you, my parents cannot bear the shame. I haven’t told them who your father is, even though they have asked so many times, because I don’t know. I was attacked and beaten until I was unconscious, as I walked home from work.

I woke up in the hospital, and had to answer lots of questions but I couldn’t tell the police anything. I didn’t know the man who beat me. Four months later I found out I was pregnant.
I was sent to a mother and baby unit in Chesterfield before I started to show too much, and my parents told everybody I had gone to a cousin’s on the south coast to recuperate after the attack.

I had you, my darling son, and we were together for six weeks, then they took you one day.

I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye, and they made me write you a letter the next day before sending me home to my parents. They never saw you.
But I did, and I pray you will go to a good home, where they will love you as much as I do.

My love, my life, my precious child, my Tommy.

Always know it was not my wish that you be adopted. You are mine and always will be.

Beth put her arm around Kat’s shoulders and held her tightly. ‘Hey, come on. Maybe you shouldn’t be involved in this case, it’s a little close to home at the moment, isn’t it?’
‘It’s heartbreaking.’
‘They were such narrow-minded times,’ Doris joined in. ‘I remember them well.’
‘Lots of babies were adopted then?’ Mouse spoke with concern.
‘Definitely, although things were starting to change in the seventies, when Tommy was born.

I suspect Pamela’s parents couldn’t handle it because she had been raped. Maybe it would have been different for her if this was a child born of a love relationship and not a brutal one. If babies were conceived in the seventies, the parents of the baby tended to marry. It began to change in the eighties and nineties; marriage lost its popularity, women became more independent and brought babies up on their own, but of course the era that was really to blame for everything was the sixties.’ Doris sat back with a smile on her face.

‘They were good then, the sixties?’ Mouse asked. ‘You enjoyed them?’
‘Mouse, I lived them. Free love, drugs, you name it, it went on. The country had put World War Two behind it, and the post-war babies became teenagers. We thought we ruled the world. No, we knew we ruled the world. Wonderful, amazing years. We didn’t have freedom from parental authority, so we took it. It was the best time of my life, and remember we didn’t have technology, we had music, glorious music that can’t be matched today.’

Kat laughed. ‘Stop it, Nan, you’re making me jealous. Would you go back to those times, give up your technological expertise, your phone, your iPad?’ ‘In a heartbeat. I met my Harry in 1964 when I was just fourteen, and we married five years later. We danced the sixties away. The Beatles, the Stones, all the Liverpool groups, Rod Stewart, unbelievable music. And it’s all still played today.’
‘It wasn’t all about music though, surely?’ Mouse asked.

‘Course it was. It’s what we had. By the mid seventies we were starting to grow up, having families, colour televisions, it was a period of massive change. Which is why it’s so strange that Pamela was forced into giving up her baby. Times were becoming much more liberal, but clearly not liberal enough for this young woman’s parents.’

Kat stood. ‘I hear a baby.’ She headed upstairs, and they could hear her talking to Martha, via the baby monitor. She returned, cradling the baby in her arms.
‘Guess it’s feeding time. I’ll make her a bottle and then she can sleep in her pram.’

Half an hour later they were all rereading everything in the files. Pamela Farrar’s birth certificate showed that she had been born on the fifth of January 1960 in Grindleford, and as Doris filled them in more and more about life in the sixties and seventies, it became clear that although the bigger towns and cities embraced the new freedoms afforded by the end of the war, the small villages retained their insular complexities.

People began to move out to the cities where factories needed workers to rebuild the destruction caused by the war, leaving a hard core of villagers to manage their lives, reluctant to let the old ideas go.

And it seemed that Pamela Farrar had paid the price for the old-fashionedvalues of her parents.
Thomas Edward Farrar was born on the twenty-third of April 1976 in Chesterfield, and subsequently adopted on the seventh of June 1976 at Renishaw Magistrates Court. Margot and James Carpenter of Baslow, Derbyshire, were the adoptive parents, and until a couple of days prior, that was the end of the trail as far as the Connection Detective Agency was concerned.

Hey finished reading everything, then sat back and looked at each other.
‘So,’ Kat began, ‘the adoption pack told us very little. No father, but we know why anyway, and the last known place of residence for Pamela was Grindleford. We have an address there, but I’m presuming you’ve already checked this out online, Mouse?’ ‘Yes, a Mr and Mrs Palmer live there now.

However, next door at twelve Haddon Row is an elderly lady by the name of Joyce Graham who has lived there all her life. She’s eighty, so I don’t want to just turn up on her doorstep. I think we need to ring her and make an appointment. I’m sure she’ll know the family. She may have some snippets she can pass on to us.’

Doris made a note. ‘I’ll ring her if that becomes necessary. At eighty, I don’t really want to trouble her. Anything else we’ve gleaned from this first foray?’ ‘I think Alice Small loved Tom very much, but didn’t rate Judy at all.’ Mouse held her hand to her lips. ‘Oops, bear with me a minute.’ She stood and headed outside. They heard the slam of the car door, and she returned carrying a white carrier bag. She handed it to Kat.

‘This is from Alice. She apparently knows you, you take the service at her church occasionally, and she thinks you’re lovely. It’s something for Martha.’

Kat took the bag, and pulled out a pink-wrapped parcel. She carefully opened it to reveal an exquisite crocheted white coat and hat. ‘Oh my word. I must ring her. This is stunning, and I’m going to dress Martha in it when I take her to Mum’s tomorrow.’
Mouse put the paperwork back into the individual folders, and called a halt to work for the day.
‘I may go on the computer later,’ she said, ‘but officially we’re closed. Kat, get your feet up, get some rest. And let’s make sure all these doors are multi-locked and alarms primed.’

‘I’ll find us something to eat,’ Doris said. ‘Us working girls need to keep our strength up. But, Kat, please try to remember you’re on maternity leave.’

About the Author:

Anita Waller was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1946. She married Dave in 1967 and they have three adult children.

She has written and taught creative writing for most of her life, and at the age of sixty nine sent a manuscript to Bloodhound Books which was immediately accepted.

In total she has written seven psychological thrillers and one supernatural novel, and uses the areas of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire as her preferred locations in her books. Sheffield features prominently.

And now Anita is working on her first series, the Kat and Mouse trilogy, set in the beautiful Derbyshire village of Eyam. The first in the series, Murder Undeniable, launched 10 December 2018, and the second in the series, Murder Unexpected, launches 11 February 2019.

The trilogy has now been promoted to a quartet following the success of the first book; she is currently working on book three, Murder Unearthed. Book four doesn’t have a title, a plot, a first sentence… but she remains convinced it will have!

She is now seventy-three years of age, happily writing most days and would dearly love to plan a novel, but has accepted that isn’t the way of her mind. Every novel starts with a sentence and she waits to see where that sentence will take her, and her characters.

In her life away from the computer in the corner of her kitchen, she is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter with blue blood in her veins! The club was particularly helpful during the writing of 34 Days, as a couple of matches feature in the novel, along with Ross Wallace. Information was needed, and they provided it.
Her genre is murder – necessary murder.

Her genre is murder – necessary murder.

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