suspense · thriller

*BLOG TOUR* Avaline Saddlebags – Netta Newbound & Marcus Brown.

Blurb; Following the brutal murders of Jade Kelly and Gina Elliot, newly promoted DI Dylan Monroe is assigned to work the case, alongside DS Layla Monahan.

As the body count rapidly rises—each slaying more savage than the last—it soon becomes clear the butchered and mutilated victims have one thing in common—they are all male to female transsexuals.
With time against them, Dylan is forced to go undercover in the only place that provides a link to the victims—Dorothy’s, a well-known drag and cabaret bar in the heart of Liverpool.

Avaline Saddlebags is a gripping, often amusing, psychological thriller with an astonishing twist that will take your breath away… change can be DEADLY!

Amazon Link UK

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Netta’s Bio; Netta Newbound, originally from Manchester, England, has lived in New Zealand with her husband Paul for the past 22 years, but they are on the move again. By August, they will be back in Cumbria, UK, and she vows this is the very last move!

As a child, Netta was plagued by a wild imagination, often getting in trouble for making up weird and wonderful stories. Yet she didn’t turn her attention to writing until after her children had grown and left home.

Most of her inspiration comes from the horror greats–Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Layman.Netta mostly writes psychological thriller novels, all of which consistently rank highly in the best seller categories. She is currently writing a series of crime thrillers with Marcus Brown, her son-in-law and business partner.
http://www.nettanewbound.com
https://www.facebook.com/newbound
Netta Newbound (@nettanewbound) on Twitter

Marcus’ Bio; My name is Marcus Brown and I was born and raised in the North West of England in 1974.

I live with my partner and our three dogs, Susie, Sally and Sammy, plus our cat, Tobias.

What started as a hobby has now turned into a full-time obsession that often keeps me awake late into the night or through to the early hours of the morning.

I can be relaxing in bed watching a good movie and an idea will suddenly pop into my mind. That’s as much as it takes… I have to get up and write it down because I worry I’ll forget it. This quickly turns into a marathon writing session, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve always had the wildest of imaginations, but I surprise and scare myself at times and have actually had to step away from my desk because what I have written has affected me so much.

People often ask me where the ideas come from and if I’m honest, I think it is from watching others around me. I can be out doing something as mundane as shopping and see something that inspires me and it usually winds its way into what I’m writing at the time. But if it’s especially good and doesn’t fit at the time, it’s stored on my hard drive for a future book.

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

Prologue of Avaline Saddlebags;

Gina stumbled down the dark alleyway. “Fucking heels,” she moaned, almost losing her footing on the cobblestones.

She regretted taking the shortcut home from the club. Her mum would go ballistic if she found out, especially after that poor woman was murdered the other week, but she was exhausted and more than ready for her bed. And besides, what were the chances of it happening twice in the same area?

A loud scraping noise from behind caused her pulse to quicken. Spinning around, she squinted, scanning the alleyway. She couldn’t see a thing, but goosebumps covered her entire body. “Hello?” she called. “Is anybody there?”

A cat jumped down from the wall beside her and ran screeching past and back into the shadows.

With a guttural roar, Gina staggered backwards in fright—hyperventilating. She knew she was freaking herself out but was unable to calm her raging heartbeat.

As she took several more tentative steps, another loud bang echoed along the alleyway.

“Hey! This isn’t funny now.” Her anxiety levels soared, and she quickened her pace in the stupidly high heels she vowed never to wear again.

“Gina,” a mocking male voice came out of the darkness.

She stopped running, rooted to the spot.

“Who’s there?” Her voice was almost a shriek. “Whoever it is, it’s not funny now. You’re scaring me.”

“Gina,” the voice called again.

Run, you stupid bitch, her inner voice yelled, and she did. Kicking off her shoes, she wasted no time and, seconds later, found herself at the bottom of the alleyway gasping for breath. Glancing back, she still couldn’t see anybody, but she knew he was there.

Still five minutes from home, she chose not to take her usual route in case he followed her.

Darting across the road, she ran toward Chapel Lane, her big feet slapping on the concrete.

“Gina.” The voice seemed closer this time and she turned around as a tall dark shadow approached her.

“Leave me alone.” she yelled. “Or I’ll call the police.”

“You’ll be long dead before they can get to you.”

Whimpering uncontrollably, she turned to run, stubbing her toe on the uneven cobbles. She stumbled forwards, crashing to the ground.

White hot pain exploded in her knee. She cried out in agony trying to get back up. Seconds later, a kick to her side sent her crashing back to the ground. Winded, she couldn’t move. “I’ll do anything you want, just don’t hurt me,” she begged.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Gina. I’m going to kill you.” He dealt her another boot to the ribs then grabbed a fistful of her hair and dragged her back up the dark alley.

She could taste the sickly sweet stench of the industrial bins and began to retch.

The man shoved her to the ground once again.

As she fell, her head splashed into a muddy puddle and her long blonde hair, her pride and joy, was caked in dirt and dog-piss.

He straddled her, leaning in and pinning her arms above her head.

“Take my bag,” she begged. “I have cash in there.”

He picked up the bag with his gloved hand and threw it across the alley. “You’re nothing but a freak, a clown,” he spat. “Walking the streets, tricking decent hard-working men into believing you’re a real woman.” He spoke with the hint of an accent Gina couldn’t place.

“I am a real woman,” she protested.

He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “But you weren’t born a woman, were you, Gina? Or should I call you George?”

She flinched. It had been nearly seven years since anybody had used that name.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she cried.

His hand gripped her throat and squeezed hard.

“Please, you’re hurting me,” she choked. “If you let me go, I won’t say a word to anyone.”

He was strong and used one hand to pin both of hers behind her head before punching her in the face.

Gina cried out in agony as blood poured from her left nostril. He leaned in closely and she tried to get a good look at him, but it was still too dark.

“You’re a screwed up, perverted faggot just like the last one,” he growled into her face.

“And you’re a twisted fucker who probably can’t get it up,” she replied, defiantly.

“Freak.” He kneed her between the legs.

She screamed and her body was once more racked with white-hot pain.

He punched her face again.

Gina’s head bounced off the cobblestones and she cried out once more. “I’m sorry, please, just let me go. I told my daughter I wouldn’t be late. Just do what you want and let me go.”

“Daughter? Who are you trying to kid? Do you tell people you carried her to term? Men can’t give birth, Georgie. Surely, even you’re not that deluded?”

The moon suddenly made an appearance giving Gina her first proper look at him. Dressed entirely in black, a cap’s visor shielded his eyes and a black pollution mask covered his nose and the lower portion of his face. Something was amiss, but she couldn’t place what it was, however, judging by how he was dressed, she knew this wasn’t a random act—he meant business. If she had any chance of escaping, she would have to fight. A staunch pacifist, she abhorred violence of any kind, but her life was at stake and she hadn’t spent the best part of ten years transitioning to meet her maker at the hands of this lunatic.

“You wanna fuck me, don’t you,” she said bravely, trying a change of tactic. “Isn’t that what this is all about? You like cock, but you’re too scared to try it. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but my cock was tucked away a long time ago.”

He loosened his grip for a moment, obviously stunned by Gina’s words. She was able to release one of her hands and, moving swiftly, she clawed at his forearm with her long nails, drawing blood.

“You bitch,” he growled.

Gina tried to scramble to her feet, but her busted knee wouldn’t co-operate, and he kicked her up the backside. With a yelp, she landed flat on her face.

Her attacker towered over her and stamped down hard on the small of her back.

A sickening crack echoed around the dark alleyway.

Gina lay motionless on the ground, resigned to the fact she was going to die. She closed her eyes.

“Not long now, Georgie.”

He rolled her over and straddled her again, but she couldn’t feel anything.

She looked into his eyes and gasped. “I know you, don’t I?” she said through snot and tears. She definitely recognised his eyes, but where from eluded her.

“You think?” he sneered.

“Yes. Yes, I do. Who the fuck are you?”

“Such a shame you won’t be around to work it out.”

“But why are you doing this?” Gina asked, as her attacker climbed off her, jumping to his feet.

“You’re all sick.” Raising his foot, he stamped down on her face.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS;

Goodreads: bit.ly/2rjOZPj
Instagram: bit.ly/2rfSLYc
Twisted Minds (of Netta & Marcus): https://www.facebook.com/groups/818412938521722/
FB Author Page for Netta and Marcus: https://www.facebook.com/TwoTwistedMinds/

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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