Happy publication day to Murder in Chianti by TA Williams #cosymystery #NewRelease

Here’s the blurb

The brand new instalment in bestselling author T. A. Williams’ Armstrong and Oscar cozy mystery series!

A brand new cozy crime series set in gorgeous Tuscany…It’s murder in paradise!

Murder in broad daylight…

When millionaire magnate, Rex Hunter is found with his head bashed in on the eighth hole of his prestigious golf and country club in beautiful Chianti, it’s a clear case of murder. Hunter was rich and successful and the envy of many, so retired DCI Dan Armstrong thinks the case will be a hole in one to solve….

A despised victim…

But as Dan and his trusty sidekick Oscar begin to dig deeper into Hunter’s lifestyle, they discover a man despised by many. A renowned womaniser, ruthless boss and heartless family man, it seems no one is particularly sorry to see Hunter dead. And the list of possible suspects is endless…

A murderer covering their tracks.

Dan is determined to catch this clever killer, but it seems every new lead brings another dead end. Will this be one case Dan and his canine companion won’t solve?

Purchase Link 

https://amzn.to/405IRYR

My Review

Murder in Chianti is the second book in the Armstrong and Oscar series of cosy crime stories set in modern-day Italy.

I thoroughly enjoyed book 1, and book 2 is even better. Now that Dan is living in Tuscany and is known as someone the local police can call on for assistance, the story can focus much more on the mystery to be solved.

And what a mystery this one is. For ages, it seemed as though no resolution could ever be found. Everything Armstrong and Oscar uncovered contradicted something else they already knew, and wow, there are many characters that the reader could suspect of the foul deed. There were several ‘big reveal’ moments, and when the ‘big reveal’ moment finally arrived for real, I was annoyed that I’d not thought of it before. After all, and looking back, the clues were certainly there, but very well concealed.

A thoroughly entertaining and well-plotted cosy mystery. Highly recommended.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.

Check out my review for book 1, Murder in Tuscany.

Meet the author

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Connect with T A Williams

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

(This post contains an Amazon affiliate link)

I’m delighted to feature Matthew Jones’ new book, Dancing with the Devil on the blog #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb

A wealthy oligarch, a failing business and a man who sacrificed everything for one final shot at freedom.

When Danny accepts a job from wealthy Conrad Szekely to spy on his business partner, Jerry, he finds himself with a world of trouble. Within days of Danny’s arrival, the business is destroyed in a catastrophic fire, which also claims Jerry’s life.

Torn between conflicting interests, Danny starts to suspect that Jerry’s business had been anything but straightforward, and finds himself trapped in a spiral of treachery and lies, which rapidly begins to degenerate into a cat and mouse chase across the fens.

With former allies turning violently against him, Danny tries to solve the mystery that surrounds Jerry’s death. But can Danny find the answers when those answers themselves prove lethal?

Purchase Links

Amazon

Until 10th February the ebook is available for only £1.99 

Waterstones

WHSmiths

Bookshop.org

Hive.co.uk

Blackwells

Until 10th February, the paperback can be purchased directly from Troubador with a 25% discount for only £7.49 using this code at checkout – RRRDANCING 

Meet the author

Aged 60 (will be 61 at time of blog tour). Married with 3 children (and grandchild). Consultant paediatric and neonatal surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Have always been an avid reader. Hobbies = outdoor swimming (former long-distance swimmer), hillwalking, painting (did cover illustration myself). Used to play rugby, but sadly no longer. Still enjoy faded prog-rock bands from the nineteen-seventies. 

I’m delighted to be on the An Ear For Trouble by K.T. Lee blog tour, and there’s a fabulous competition to enter #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb:

Elise Butler is a wildlife biologist who enjoys her stable (if somewhat predictable) job in finance at the World Wildlife Trust. However, when the veterinarian at Riverbend Animal Conservation Center goes missing, Elise offers to help the unlucky wildlife Conservation Center get back on its feet. Not only will the job in Riverbend, Indiana let her get back to her roots of working with animals, but it’s also a short drive from her sister’s workplace at Riverbend K-9 Academy, a training center for some of the FBI’s best explosive detection dogs.

FBI Special Agent Finn Cooper and his canine partner, Sedona, are chasing a well-funded animal trafficking ring. After an injury sidelines Finn from official FBI undercover work, he goes to work at Riverbend K-9 Academy to stay busy while he recovers…and to investigate his only remaining lead in the animal trafficking case.

Just as Elise begins to settle into life in Riverbend, her sister asks her to help the K-9 Academy by fostering one of their puppies. Finn is eager to keep Elise focused on training Zeke, the enthusiastic German shepherd puppy earmarked to become Riverbend’s first wildlife detection K-9, and keep her well away from his quiet animal trafficking investigation. Zeke quickly proves himself an expert both at chewing shoes and sniffing out clouded leopards. When Zeke starts finding scents where they don’t belong, Elise and Finn begin to realize that the Conservation Center may be more criminal than unlucky. And if Elise doesn’t keep her nose out of it, she might be the next target.

An Ear for Trouble is Book 2 in the Riverbend K-9 Series. All books in the Riverbend K-9 Series may be enjoyed as standalone novels or as a series.

Purchase Links 

My Review

An Ear For Trouble is an engaging cosy mystery involving a local conservation zoo and some strange shenanigans that causes a member of the WWF accountancy team to be called to help out after the unexpected disappearance and presumed death of not just their veterinarian but also one of their prized cubs.

What follows is an intriguing and well-developed story with all the hallmarks of a small-town mystery. The addition of the K-9s makes for often quite crowded scenes, and I was impressed that the author never once inadvertently forgot one of the animals:)

There’s a great deal of detail in the story about conservation work, alongside the mystery of what’s been happening. We’re not spared the details of spreadsheets and doggy training, but the two main characters of Finn and Elise. alongside their friends and dogs, means that the story never gets bogged down. It moves at a lovely pace – always advancing the storyline. On more than one occasion, I did think I’d worked out ‘who did it’ only to be proved wrong.

An Ear for Trouble is a lovely, easy-going story without too much peril and perfect for fans of wildlife, dogs and small-town mysteries. An enjoyable and rather lovely read.

Meet the author

K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The Calculated Series.

Connect with K. T. Lee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KTLeeWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ktleeauthor/

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

Giveaway to Win 10 x e-copies of An Ear For Trouble (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494537/?

Follow the An Ear for Trouble blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

I’m delighted to be taking part in the Murder in Tuscany by TA Williams blog tour #cosymystery

Here’s the blurb:

A remote retreat…

Nestled high in the Tuscan hills lies Villa Volpone, home to renowned crime writer Jonah Moore and his creative writing course. It’s also the last place retired DCI Dan Armstrong expected to spend his retirement! Dan’s no writer, but maybe this break will help him to think about the next chapter in his own life story?

A gruesome murder…

But only days into the course, Jonah Moore is found stabbed to death with his award-winning silver dagger! And Dan finds himself pulled out of retirement with a killer to catch.

Eleven possible suspects.

The other guests all seem shocked by Jonah’s death, but Dan knows that one of them must be lying. And as he and Italian Commissario Virgilio Pisano begin to investigate it quickly becomes clear that everyone at Villa Volpone has secrets to hide…

But can Dan discover who the murderer is before they strike again?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3Pnw7q3

My Review

Murder in Tuscany is a sun-drenched tale of an erotic writer’s retreat marred by the murder of the alleged ‘bestselling’ author running the event.

Retired DCI Dan Armstrong, dreaming of writing that bestseller, has been set up by his ‘mates’ in the police force with the unusual retirement gift of a 2-week writing course in Tuscany. The only catch is that it’s for writing erotic fiction when Dan dreams of writing historical fiction about the Medici. What follows is a gentle and engaging tale of writers, would-be-writers, and course leaders, all mixed up with a touch of intrigue, and then, at about 30% through the book, the murder, which Dan ends up feeling honour-bound to help solve, and not just because his Italian counterpart in the police is missing his English speaking deputy. And it is quite a strange murder when the true facts slowly start to reveal themselves.

This is a tale that will amuse writers, but there’s also more than enough in here for fans of cosy mysteries. There’s a lot of eating and descriptions of Italian food as Dan begins to fall in love with the place so that by the end of the book, the soon-to-be-divorced ex-police inspector is making some big changes in his life.

Much of Murder in Tuscany is certainly setting up this character and place for future investigations, but the story still has a very much ‘closed-room’ feel of a country house murder mystery, with some surprisingly modern takes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder in Tuscany, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Meet the author

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Connect with T A Williams

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

Follow the Murder in Tuscany tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

Today, I’m reviewing Murder in Myrtle Bay by Isobel Blackthorn #cosycrime #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

A quirky feel-good mystery laced with intrigue, Murder in Myrtle Bay is the first book in Isobel Blackthorn’s ‘Ruth Finlay Mysteries’ series. Set in small town Australia, it is a sure pick for any fan of classic whodunits and cozy mysteries!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Myrtle-Ruth-Finlay-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B5VRZX2Q/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Myrtle-Ruth-Finlay-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B5VRZX2Q/

My Review

Murder in Myrtle Bay is an engaging, contemporary mystery set in Australia. While it took me a chapter to get into the storyline, as soon as I’d worked out who was who, I was hooked on the mystery of who had murdered the man in the antique centre.

There’s a lot of food in this book and a lot of drinking tea and coffee, amongst other things, but through it all is an intriguing mystery, making use of the joy of a small, and tight-knit community to add even more mystery to the storyline.

The ultimate resolution to the mystery, and the final few concluding scenes are well done. I hadn’t guessed who’d ‘done it,’ which is always the sign of a good mystery – and there was some engaging misdirection and false leads that added to the enjoyment.

A fun read for those who like a contemporary mystery.

Meet the author

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers.

The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite book awards. A Prison in the Sun was shortlisted in the LGBTQ category of the 2021 International Book Awards and the 2020 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her short story ‘Nothing to Declare’ was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019. Her dark thriller A Legacy of Old Gran Parks won a Raven Award in 2019. The Cabin Sessions was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2018 and the Ditmar Awards 2018.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.

Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Five of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone mystery novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.

Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in rural Victoria, Australia.

Connect with Isobel

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

www.isobelblackthorn.com

Follow the Murder in Myrtle Bay blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

It’s my turn on the blog tour for Murder on Oxford Lane by Tony Bassett #BlogTour #Mystery

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Tony Bassett, author of Murder on Oxford Lane, to the blog with a post about the inspiration for his book.

Much of the inspiration for my books comes from the wide variety of experiences I’ve had as a journalist.

I worked for local newspapers for six years and then spent 37 years in Fleet Street, mainly working for the Sunday People newspaper.

I’ve seen so many different aspects of life. I was once smuggled into judge’s chambers at the Old Bailey to test their security. I pursued Margaret Thatcher round Epsom during a by-election. I was present in hospital when Diana Dors’ husband Alan Lake announced to the world she had died. 

I got Mandy Smith’s sister in Highgate to reveal to me details of Mandy’s plans to wed Rolling Stone Bill Wyman. I’ve been to armed sieges, celebrity weddings,  and was in a magistrates’ court in West London when a Welshman took to the dock in a dazzling dragon costume.  I’ve watched a group of students at Middlesex University being hypnotised by a dog and taken a fugitive gangster back to jail. So you could say I’ve seen a bit of life.

I have been able to use some of this knowledge to help with my writing.

I’ll give an example. In Chapter 22 of Murder On Oxford Lane, the wife of the missing property tycoon is reluctant to attend a press conference and walks out halfway through. This is based partly on a real-life experience I had one Saturday while working for the Sunday People. 

I was despatched to a police press conference about a murdered man.  His widow was reluctant to attend and walked out during the briefing.  Afterwards the chief inspector spoke to me and another journalist, explaining: ‘You don’t realise how terrifying it can be for someone in this situation, being faced with a group of journalists in public like this.’  A short time after the press conference, the widow was charged in connection with her husband’s murder.  

Another example comes earlier in the book. In Chapter 19, when Sunita Roy is trying to trace Harry Bowers’ cleaner, Tessa. A female neighbour reveals Tessa has moved house. Sunita questions the neighbour thoroughly. Eventually the neighbour recalls that Tessa’s removal van was purple. As a result, Sunita is able to locate the removal firm and collect the new address from them. This was an initiative that a photographer and I once used to track down someone’s address.

A third example of how I have occasionally used journalistic experiences to add colour to the book comes towards the end of the novel when detectives examine suspects’ clothing. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who has not read the book. Suffice to say the idea for this came to me years ago while I was covering an assault case at Cardiff Crown Court. 

Of course, these kind of memories and past experiences are useful, but I also have to do some extensive research for my books as well. Much of this can be done online. For instance, I found a vast treasure store of articles on the internet about the effects of long-term immersion in water on drowning victims. 

Information about personal injuries, hospital recovery times, martial arts moves, church procedures, police interviews and so on are all available at the click of a mouse.

But there are also occasions when it’s necessary to make phone calls.  For instance, to speak to police about how particular incidents are dealt with. To speak to farming organisations about farming methods. Or to speak to fire brigade staff about the minutiae of how a particular fire might be tackled. Occasionally, authors also have to make visits to organisations or places to add to their supply of information. 

I know fiction writing is based on imagination. But, like non-fiction writers, novelists still need to ensure their work is firmly grounded in reality. The author needs to be able to walk in the shoes of his or her characters. And the plot needs to be credible.

LINK TO MURDER ON OXFORD LANE (Book1)

LINK TO THE CROSSBOW STALKER (Book2)

Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with your new book.

Here’s the blurb:

The peace of a Midlands village is upset when local businessman Harry Bowers doesn’t return from choir practice. More concerned than the man’s own wife, it would seem, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Sunita Roy becomes convinced he has met a sinister end.
There is no trace of the man – just a litany of evidence of an ailing marriage and a nose-diving business venture.
In charge of her first serious case, DS Roy will struggle to win the respect of her colleagues – in particular, her Brummie boss, DCI Gavin Roscoe. All that whilst fighting off the attentions of an increasingly desperate suitor.

Who had it in for the chorister? And is Roy tough enough to break down the defences and prejudices of Middle England?  MURDER ON OXFORD LANE is the first book in a series of crime fiction titles by Tony Bassett.  

Purchase Link 

Amazon UK Amazon US

Meet the author

Tony Bassett, a former Fleet Street journalist, has written a gripping series of crime novels set in the Midlands.

The first book in the series is called Murder on Oxford Lane. Published by The Book Folks, it concerns the disappearance of a property tycoon from a sleepy Warwickshire village.

Middle-aged DCI Gavin Roscoe and his relatively inexperienced sergeant, DS Sunita Roy, are confronted by suspicious deaths as they struggle to uncover what has happened to the businessman.

The second book in this Midlands crime series, The Crossbow Stalker, will be released shortly.

Tony decided to set this string of novels in Warwickshire and Worcestershire after spending many happy years working as a newspaper reporter in Worcester.

He first developed a love of writing at the age of nine when he and a friend produced a magazine called the Globe at their junior school in Sevenoaks, Kent. 

At Hull University, Tony was named student journalist of the year in 1971 in a competition run by Time-Life magazine and went onto become a national newspaper journalist, mainly working for the Sunday People in both its newsroom and investigations department.

His very first book to be published, the crime novel Smile Of The Stowaway, was released in December 2018. It concerns a Kent couple who harbour a stowaway and then battle to clear his name when he is charged with murder.

Then, in March 2020, the spy novel The Lazarus Charter, was released. It involves foreign agents operating in the UK. The book has kindly been endorsed by Marina Litvinenko, widow of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, and by Stan and Caroline Sturgess, parents of the innocent mother-of-three poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in 2018.

Tony, who has written at least four other novels which are as yet unpublished, has five grown-up children. He is a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists. He lives in South-East London with his partner Lin.

Connect with Tony

www.tonybassettauthor.com

www.twitter.com/tonybassett1

www.facebook.com/tony.bassett.92505

www.instagram.com/tonyba1

Follow the rest of the tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

The Custard Corpses is now available as an audiobook

I’m really pleased to be able to share with you that the audio version of The Custard Corpses is now available from Audible and Amazon, and can be read as part of an Audible membership subscription. If you don’t have one yet, you can sign up here, or it is available to purchase without a subscription

Matt Coles has produced a fantastic narration for Mason, O’Rourke, Smythe and Hamish. I hope you enjoy it. There’s a sample below the cover image.

Here’s the blurb:

A delicious 1940s mystery.

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.

And don’t forget, it’s also available as an ebook, paperback and hardback from Amazon.

Book Review – Skelton’s Guide to Suitcase Murders by David Stafford – historical mystery – highly recommended

Here’s the blurb;

“November 1929. A woman’s dismembered corpse is discovered in a suitcase and police quickly identify her husband, Doctor Ibrahim Aziz, as their chief suspect. Incriminating evidence is discovered at his home and his wife was rumoured to be having an affair, giving him clear motive.

With his reputation for winning hopeless cases, barrister Arthur Skelton is asked to represent the accused. Though Aziz’s guilt does not seem to be in doubt, a question of diplomacy and misplaced larvae soon lead Skelton to suspect there may be more to the victim’s death.

Aided by his loyal clerk Edgar, Skelton soon finds himself seeking justice for both victim and defendant. But can he uncover the truth before an innocent man is put on trial and condemned to the gallows?”

Skelton’s Guide to Suitcase Murders is a wonderfully plotted novel, with a cast of unmissable characters that is an absolute delight to read. And the cover is fantastic too.

It made me laugh out loud on many an occasion, and the eclectic mix of cast and events, keeps the reader hooked as the story progresses, from the guinea pig to the motorcycle ‘bad-boy,’ from London to Leeds to Whitley Bay to Scotland. And oh, how I loved the letters from Cousin Alan.

It trundles along at a wonderful pace, filled with exquisite detail and I would struggle to decide on a favourite character because all of them, even the bit part characters, are so well sketched.

This is genuinely an absolute treat if you enjoy a mystery deeply steeped in the times (1929-1930) and with an unmissable cast. Looking forwards to Book 3. And, I have the joy of knowing I’ve not read Book 1 yet.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy.

Skelton’s Guide to Suitcase Murders is released today, 22nd April, and is available from here.

Follow the publisher, Allison and Busby for more great mystery novels.

Happy Release Day to The Custard Corpses – a delicious 1940s mystery

Say what?

I know, but there you have it. 2020 was a strange year and out of it grew The Custard Corpses. I really, really hope you will take a chance on it, and enjoy something a little (okay, a lot) different from this historical fiction author. (The advanced reviewers are loving it.)

Here’s the blurb;

A delicious 1940s mystery.

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.

I want to give a shout-out to my cover designer, Flintlock Covers. It is exactly what I wanted when I thought about the cover for the book.

The Custard Corpses – cover reveal and First Chapter

Here is it, a book I never thought I’d write – not only a mystery, but one set nearly a thousand years after most of the books I write, and one which began with a series of adverts.

Here’s the blurb;

A delicious 1940s mystery.

Birmingham, England, 1943.

While the whine of the air raid sirens might no longer be rousing him from bed every night, a two-decade-old unsolved murder case will ensure that Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is about to suffer more sleepless nights.

Young Robert McFarlane’s body was found outside the local church hall on 30th September 1923. But, his cause of death was drowning, and he’d been missing for three days before his body was found. No one was ever arrested for the crime. No answers could ever be given to the grieving family. The unsolved case has haunted Mason ever since.

But, the chance discovery of another victim, with worrying parallels, sets Mason, and his constable, O’Rourke, on a journey that will take them back over twenty-five years, the chance to finally solve the case, while all around them the uncertainty of war continues, impossible to ignore.

As this is something completely new to me, I’m going to share a snippet of the new book.

Chapter 1

Erdington, October 1943

Sam bit back the cry of pain, coming to an abrupt stop. The pavement was shaded with the colour of the advancing night, but even so, he knew where the uneven step was. He really shouldn’t have kicked it. Not again. Would he never learn?

He blinked the tears from his eye and lifted his right hand to rub it over the ache of his lower back. All these years, and still it hurt. It would never stop. He knew it, and yet sometimes, he forgot, all the same, only to be rudely reminded when he overbalanced or attempted to take a step that was just too wide.

There was a reason he was here and not on one of the many front lines of this terrible war, the second in his lifetime. There was a reason he was here while his son, John, fought in his place.

His breath rasped through his suddenly tight chest, and yet the thin shard of light from behind the tightly closed curtains encouraged him on. Inside, there was companionship, and it drove him onwards, made him quest to be a better man. Despite the fact he knew it wasn’t true.

“Come on,” he urged himself, and although it was going to ache, he forced his legs to move, left, then right, then left, and his hand reached up to push the welcoming door open.

Appetising smells greeted him, and he dredged a smile to his face, turning to hang his hat on the waiting peg and to shrug the overcoat from his thin shoulders, revealing his policeman’s uniform beneath. The blue so dark; it was almost black. He hooked his gas mask above his overcoat. There in case he should require it. But no bombs had fallen for half a year now. He hoped none ever would again. No voice was raised in greeting to his noisy arrival. It never was.

With the door closed and locked behind him, he slipped his feet from his black shoes, using one foot to force down the ankle and then doing the same in his socked-feet. It was better than being forced to bend when his back was so painful, even if it was destroying the back of his shoes, as his wife complained whenever she witnessed it. He’d taken to hiding his work shoes behind the boots he wore to the allotment. Better that Annie did not see them.

Opening the door that led into the heart of his home, he paused, just watching her for a heartbeat.

“Evening, love.” He bent to place a kiss on his wife’s head, refusing to notice the thinning brown hair, the streaks of grey making up more and more of it as the years passed. A skeletal hand reached up to grip his, and he squeezed tightly, settling beside her at the table.

A single lamp afforded the only light in the small kitchen, a warm fire burning in the hearth in the sitting room as he settled beside her. His wife didn’t so much as look at him. Sam considered that she didn’t want to see the ruin of her husband. 

Time hadn’t been kind to either of them and yet he couldn’t help but be grateful for the years they’d had together. It could have been so different. So many of his brothers-in-arms lost fighting over two decades ago. They would have loved to live long enough to see the ravages of time etched into their skin and characters, to grow weary with aches and pains, to learn the experiences that only time could afford.

A flurry of movement from Annie, and a plate was placed on the table before him, the lid swept aside. The steam took only a moment to clear, and he suppressed his rumbling stomach. It was a meal as any other day, not particularly appetising, and yet, food all the same. He was grateful for the potatoes, harvested from their garden, and the gleaming orange carrots, if not for the small sausages. Gravy pooled around the meat, and he closed his eyes, imagining a feast fit for a king, before meticulously cutting, eating and savouring every mouthful.

His wife didn’t speak, and neither did he. No doubt, she was as caught up in her thoughts as he was in his.

He considered reaching for his newspaper, but instead, his eyes were fixed by the bright image that lay open on the magazine discarded on the table before him. The Picture Post. Was there ever a magazine more filled with stories that titillated while offering little or no actual facts?

Not that he ever complained. Not anymore. If she enjoyed the stories and bright images of the adverts, then why should he? Anything that distracted her from the constant worry about their son. Anything.

Now, he found a smile tugging on his lips, and his mind cast him back to when his son had been a small boy. John had delighted in such simple antics as that on display. The custard advert enticed all parents to part with their hard-earned ration coupons. He couldn’t see that a liberal dollop of the sugary, creamy mixture would help any child become an athlete, professional cricket player or ballerina, but what did he know? He was just an old man, with a job that kept him busy and an ache in his heart where his youth had once been.

Sam reached for the folded newspaper, the smirk still playing on his lips.

“Don’t.” His wife’s voice shocked him, sounding more formidable than he’d heard for the last few years, ever since their son had left to fight Britain’s fresh battles against the might of Hitler and Germany.

He lifted his eyes to find hers boring into his.

“Don’t,” and now there was more softness, but it was too late. His eyes had alighted on what she’d been trying to keep from him.

Once more, he felt an unbidden tear form in the corner of his eye as he gazed at the hazy black and white photograph. Not that he didn’t know it intimately. He did. He’d stared at that image, and others besides, until they were emblazoned on his very soul, overriding even the final images of his lost comrades from the Great War, the war to end all wars. How wrong they’d been.

He swallowed, the burn making it feel as though it were cardboard and not the remnants of his dinner that he evacuated from his mouth.

“Again?” he felt the need to say something.

“Again,” she replied, and there was understanding and sorrow in that look, and he didn’t want any of it. He didn’t want to add to her fears and worries with his own.

“It was a long time ago,” he tried to reassure, reaching for her hand and encasing it within his. It was no longer soft but instead forged in iron, the wiry strength surprising him, even though it shouldn’t, not after all this time.

“It rolls around too quickly, these days,” a hint of a smile on her thin lips, blue eyes glistening with sorrow, and he realised that she was trying to reassure him. He hated it that she felt the necessity.

“And still, there’s no closure for the family.”

“No. But they’re not alone in that. Not anymore.” Her voice trailed off as she spoke, and he turned to gaze into the glow from the table lamp, allowing it to haze in front of him. She was right in that, as well. Many would never hold the knowledge of what exactly happened to their loved ones. Yet, there was a world of difference between adults and children. It was the fact he’d been a child that cut the deepest. 

His mind returned to that terrible day. How could it not? He’d been a young man, wounded and broken after his time at The Front, but at least he’d still breathed. Not like the splayed body found in the undergrowth close to the church hall, eyes forever staring. Somehow, the rigour mortis of a smile on that cherubic face, so that anyone could be forgiven for thinking the boy was merely caught in the act of playing hide and seek.

But the face had been blue and white, the eyeballs rimmed with the grey haze of death that he’d come to know so well during his time in the trenches before his injury had ensured he need never revisit the place.

In the faded light of the lamp, he watched the scene, as though he’d been a bird, able to watch from above. His eyes alighted, not on the corpse, but rather on his chief inspector, the man who’d made him who he was today, and yet who’d been broken by the failure to solve the death of the boy.

Sam found a soft smile playing around his lips. Fullerton had been a meticulous man, with his long mackintosh and tightly wedged police hat covering the tendrils of greying hair showing beneath it and in the sideburns that snaked down to meet the dark moustache quivering over his lips. Many would have been forgiven for thinking he had no compassion for the corpse. But no, he’d had more than most, but he had desired to solve the case, to bring the perpetrator to justice. It was a source of unending disquiet that it had never been possible.

It had marked him from that day he’d found Robert’s body to the day of his death.

It hadn’t been Sam’s first case, far from it, but it had felt like it. He’d learned so much, and yet it had never been enough. Not for young Robert McFarlane and his family.

He swallowed once more, his keen memory fastening on the scene. Or rather, on the way that the body had been presented. The murderer hadn’t killed young Robert beside the church hall behind the High Street. In fact, they’d never found the place the murder had truly taken place, only where the body had been found.

Sam thought of Mrs McFarlane, her tear-streaked face, her shaking shoulders. Her oldest son, taken from her, just as her husband had been by the enemy’s bullets during the Great War. There’d been so much grief and loss in the years during and after the war, if not dead on some far-flung battlefield, then carried away by the terrible Spanish influenza. It had all seemed never-ending. And then, the spark of an untainted future when all had seemed calmer, taken between one breath and the next.

Sam had never seen grief festoon someone so entirely. As Chief Inspector Fullerton had told her the news, she’d aged before their eyes. It had taken his quick reflexes to ensure she didn’t collapse to the floor on the bright red doorstep, her young daughters, wide-eyed and sobbing as they watched their mother, hands clasped tightly together, as though they could hold their mother up with such an act.

There’d been a time when Sam had wished Chief Inspector Fullerton hadn’t told Mrs McFarlane in such a way, his words hard and unfeeling, and yet, he’d come to appreciate that there was no right and wrong way to impart such terrible news. It was almost a kindness to say the words, ‘your son is dead,’ as quickly as possible. There was no need to use superfluous words, to offer sympathy, to say anything but the facts.

Her accusing eyes had followed him through the years. Why they’d said that day and many days since, is my son dead, while yours yet lives?

It was not Mrs McFarlane who’d marked the anniversary of her son’s death, each and every year for the last twenty years, but rather, her daughter. The older one, Rebecca, had taken on the responsibility for ensuring that no one ever forgot her brother when her mother sadly passed away, worn down by grief and loss, by the need to survive in a world turned upside down, with nothing but a war pension to ease the burdens. 

It was Rebecca who routinely sent letters asking for updates on the case. It was Rebecca that he tried to avoid at all costs when he saw her at church, on the tram or along the High Street. It was Rebecca who’d broken Chief Inspector Fullerton, in a rare show of emotion that shocked him to recall, even now. He’d never seen Fullerton like that. He’d never imagined Fullerton could be so very emotional that tears would run from his brown eyes, that he’d tear at what remained of his hair in frustration. 

Chief Inspector Fullerton had retired a few years ago, but he’d not lived long enough to enjoy it. Sam shook his head. One murder and so many lives destroyed, and still, the murderer was out there, perhaps hiding, perhaps luxuriating in what he’d managed to get away with, or maybe, he was dead as well, getting away with his crime for all time. Twenty years was a long time.

Sam was snapped from his reveries by a bowl appearing before him. Somehow, he’d become so lost in the past; he’d not even heard his wife stand at the stove for the last many minutes.

A cheeky smile from her, driving away the wrinkles and the grey streaks in her hair, making her look twenty years younger, and he looked down at the bowl before him.

“Custard?” he asked, enjoying the unusual light-hearted look on her face.

“I know it’s your favourite. There’s even some apple in there, somewhere, and some blackberries, picked from the country lane on my walk yesterday afternoon to Pipe Hayes Park.”

“How did you get it?” he asked, eagerly spooning the sweet mixture into his mouth.

“I’ve been saving my packets. I didn’t tell you. I know you wouldn’t be able to wait.”

“Then you have my thanks,” he grinned, fully returning to the present. He couldn’t do anything about the past. No matter how much he wished he could.

“This is delicious,” he complimented his wife, leaning back, hand on his full belly.

“Well, now you just need to wait another year, and then you can have more.” But there was a lightness to her voice when she spoke, and the flash of joy in her eyes cheered him. There was so much wrong with the world at the moment, and yet here, beside his wife, in their cosy front room, everything was well. Even if only for now.

Intrigued? The Custard Corpses is released on 25th March 2021, and you can preorder it here.