The String Games by Gail Aldwin

String games

I’m delighted to be starting off the launch celebrations for Gail Aldwin’s The String Games today. Gail kindly ‘stayed in’ with me to chat about another of her works, Paisley Shirt, last year and you can see what happened here.

Published by Victorina PressThe String Games is available for purchase here.

The String Games

String games

When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child.

To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult, she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death.

How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future?

My Review of The String Games

A holiday in France will change Nim forever.

I have to admit, The String Games was not the book I was expecting to read. I had anticipated a crime thriller but instead I found a comprehensive exploration of the manner in which one young woman has to come to terms with her past in order to live her future. Identity is key here and Gail Aldwin paints an absorbing picture of Nim’s life.

What a perfectly entitled book The String Games is. Nim plays literal games with coloured string, making shapes and patterns, but more importantly, string games are played metaphorically through the characters who have tangled and untidy lives and who experience the knotted feelings of grief, guilt and love in their very beings. There are tangled sexual feelings as Nim begins to experience an awakening with Maxime and Jez, and the complexity of relationship between her parents and Dee adds to the tension and the reality of the book. As Nim transforms herself into another identity and tries to untangle to web of the past, the title The String Games gains even more relevance.

In keeping with that title, Nim’s personality as a child, a teenager and then as a woman cannot be disentangled from the strings of her past, making The String Games an intense portrait of her life as well as an interesting story. I found Nim’s narrative voice strong and clear  – which meant I really didn’t like her much in her teenage years, even though I understood her completely.

Gail Aldwin has an eye for the smallest detail that brings her prose alive so that the reader can picture her settings very clearly. More importantly, however, is her ability to contrast the mundane aspects of life with dramatic events so that there is even greater impact. The change of tense from past to present in the third part of the novel, for example, feels absolutely right for the stage Nim, or Imogen, has reached in her life. I thought the string illustrations running through the book added to this feeling of careful detail and complexity.

The String Games may not have been the book I thought I was going to read, but I found it a story with an astute and lucid understanding of what it means to be a female growing up in a world of adversity and loss. Although Nim’s experience is unique to her, so much of what she encounters can be recognised and understood by Gail Aldwin’s readers, making The String Games a relatable and engaging story. It’s an interesting book to read.

About Gail Aldwin

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Gail is a prize-winning writer of short fiction and poetry. Her work can be found online at Ink, Sweat & TearsSlamchop and Words for the Wild and in a range of print anthologies including Flash Fiction Festival One (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2017), Gli-ter-ary (Bridge House Publishing, 2017) and Dorset Voices(Roving Press, 2012).

As Chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail works with the steering group to support the skills and confidence of writers across the county by connecting creative communities. She is also a visiting tutor to undergraduates of creative writing at Arts University Bournemouth. In 2017, Gail co-wrote Killer Ladybugs a short play that was staged by Cast Iron Productions (Brighton). Paisley Shirt, Gail’s collection of short fiction is published by Chapeltown Books.

You can follow Gail on Twitter @gailaldwin, visit her blog and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Deepings Literary Festival May 2019

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I love attending literary events, but I’m always so frustrated that they seem to be so far from where I live in south Lincolnshire. However, the Deepings are setting out to change all that and we intend to rival the big cities and literary festivals as we set out to rule the world!

Two years ago I was delighted to be asked to interview Alison Bruce for the first ever Deepings Literary Festival. You can read more about that and other sessions I attended here.

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This year I was invited to be part of the planning committee for the second Deepings Literary Festival which will take place between 23rd and 26th May 2019.

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We have already had an event to whet the appetite with Alison Bruce kindly returning and you can see what happened at Crime Around the Fireside here.

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i did it for us

I thought I’d share with you some of the events coming up from a personal point of view featuring those authors I’ll be directly involved with during the festival. All the details are available on the Deepings Literary Festival website and a few tickets are still available for purchase for some (but not all) of our events here.

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Firstly I’m thrilled to be interviewing Guinevere Glasfurd Brown at the Deepings Library on Thursday afternoon. Her book The Words In My Hand is utterly wonderful and you’ll find my review here. Guin has promised to tell us a bit about her research too.

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On Friday morning I’ll be at the Deeping Stage Hotel to introduce million copy selling author Louise Jensen in conversation with international bestseller Darren O’Sullivan. Knowing them both as I do I hope Louise is prepared to keep Darren in order!

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On Friday afternoon I’ll be off to The Boundary Fish and Chip Shop to take my mum to a fish and chip meal with the fabulous Milly Johnson.

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Mrs Mayhew

Milly has appeared on Linda’s Book Bag numerous times, most recently when I reviewed her latest book, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew, here. She has had so many best sellers I think it best simply to direct you to her wonderful website where you can find out more. I’m rather thrilled that I’ll be with Milly again, although as a steward this time rather than a guest, on Saturday morning at the Coronation Hall.

Straight after my fish and chips with Milly I’ll be scampering across the road to Godsey Lane Coffee so that I can introduce and interview author Lucien Young.

Lucien

Lucien ‘stayed in’ with me in a post you can read here. We’ll be chatting all about his books and modern Shakespearean sonnets and I’ll quiz him about his writing for television too!

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I have a feeling there might be quite a bit of interest in one of Lucien’s books in particular!

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Saturday will be a particularly busy day for me. I’ve already said I’ll be with Milly Johnson in the morning at the Coronation Hall and immediately after that event I’m delighted I’ll be welcoming friend and author Barbara Copperthwaite to the same venue. Barbara will tell us all about landscape, and that of Lincolnshire in particular, in her writing before subjecting herself to my questions and those from the audience.

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Again, Barbara has featured on the blog many times, but you might like to read my review her The Darkest Lies (set in Lincolnshire) here.

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After a quick break for lunch, Saturday afternoon will start up with a bang as one of our library’s most borrowed authors, Elly Griffiths, is coming along to be grilled about her writing. I can’t wait to ask her all about her books, having just reviewed her latest Ruth Galloway Series The Stone Circle here on the blog.  I shall be wanting to know more about the latest news that Elly’s The Stranger Diaries (which is firmly on my TBR) is a Richard and Judy Book Club summer pick!

stranger diaries

Following Elly’s event there will be a quick dash home to shower and change on Saturday evening before I’m off with my husband to the festival gala dinner at the Deepings Secondary School. Our guest speaker will be none other than broadcaster and journalist (and Strictly Come Dancing’s) John Sergeant.

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I have a feeling John will have some interesting tales to tell and it will make a wonderful change for me to get my glad rags on rather than my gardening gear too!

Carol Drinkwater c Michel Noll

After a packed day on Saturday you’d think I’d be taking Sunday off but not a bit of it. On Sunday morning I’m hotfooting it across to the beautiful setting of The Granary to interview actress and author Carol Drinkwater. Carol’s latest book, The House on the Edge of the Cliff was only released on Thursday 16th May and so we will be amongst the first to hear all about it and to hear Carol read from it. You can read my review of the book here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

I’m so looking forward to this event – especially as there will be bacon butties too!

Julie stock

Last, but by no means least, for me is a return to the Coronation Hall on Sunday afternoon for some music, a slice (or maybe two) of apple pie and some stewarding for two super independent authors, Julie Stock and Lizzie Lamb, talking about their writing.

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Julie has appeared on Linda’s Book Bag here chatting about The Vineyard in Alsace and Lizzie here telling me all about Girl in the Castle. They are both such lovely ladies that I’m sure this will be an engaging afternoon.

Following all of this on Sunday evening I think I’ll be soaking in the bath with a glass of Bailey’s and, it goes without saying, a good book.

I can’t believe what an exciting and interesting week ahead I have. This is just a taster of what we have on offer and the events I’m personally involved with. Other authors, performers and artists attending include Judith Alnatt, Cathy Bramley, Mimi Anderson, Dr Patricia Fara, Susie Boyt, Greg Morse, Gerald Dickens (yes a relation;  great-great-grandson!), Sophie Hannah and Nick Tearle.

Although there are only a few tickets available for those events that haven’t quite sold out yet, do take a look here and see if there’s something that takes your fancy too.

In addition to our paid events there is a super free Read Dating event at the library on Saturday afternoon at 2PM where you have the chance to meet some wonderful authors, many of whom have featured on the blog like Eva Jordan, Tony J Forder and Ross Greenwood. You can find out more about the authors you can meet by accessing the Read Dating leaflet here.

It’s not often a small collection of villages in sleepy Lincolnshire can boast such a fabulous event involving so many local businesses, great food and, above all, fabulous authors. I’m honoured to be a part of it and I hope I’ll see some of you at one of the events too.

#IDTP19 Shortlist Evening

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Back in February I was delighted to blog about the 2019 International Dylan Thomas Award longlist in a post you can read here.

Yesterday I was honoured to attend an evening at the British Library in London where, along with attendees like former Archbishop of Canterbury Rt. Hon Dr Rowan Williams, I listened to the six shortlisted authors reading from their books and answering questions about their writing. I would like to thank Midas PR and Kate Appleton in particular for the invitation.

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The evening began with a superb performance by Guy Marsterson of Dylan Thomas’ Holiday Memory taken from Quite Early One Morning. It made me remember why I love Thomas’s work so much and Guy’s wonderful Welsh accent brought the words to life beautifully. My Welsh husband (whose shining head can be seen in the photo below) said afterwards that he now understood the power of Dylan Thomas and wondered why he’d never studied his works at school in South Wales.

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We were then treated to wonderful readings from each of the shortlisted authors with Sarah Perry in a recorded message from Aukland. If you click on the book titles you’ll find more about them and buy links.

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First was American-Ghanaian writer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (27) with his debut short story collection Friday Black (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US) and Riverrun (UK)) which explores what it’s like to grow up as a black male in America, and whose powerful style of writing has been likened to George Saunders.

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Next Zoe Gilbert (39) read from Folk (Bloomsbury Publishing) which was developed from her fascination in ancient folklore and the resurgence of nature writing. She has previously won the Costa Short Story Award in 2014.

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Then we were then treated to British-Sri-Lankan debut novelist, Guy Gunaratne (34) reading from In Our Mad and Furious City (Tinder Press, Headline), longlisted for The Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for The Goldsmiths Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the Writers Guild Awards.

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Louisa Hall (36) read next from her fascinating book Trinity (Ecco) which tackles the complex life of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer through seven fictional characters.

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With a recording from Aukland we then heard Sarah Perry (39) who has been shortlisted for the Prize this time for Melmoth (Serpent’s Tail), one of The Observer’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2018, and a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption, and how to make the best of our conflicted world.

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Last, and by no means least, came Zimbabwean debut novelistNovuyo Rosa Tshuma (30) with her wildly inventive and darkly humorous novel House of Stone (Atlantic Books) which reveals the mad and glorious death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of modern Zimbabwe.

A question and answer session followed and I was delighted to get the chance to ask the authors how writing their books had affected them as individuals.

I have no idea who will win the International Dylan Thomas Award tonight when Swansea University announce the result but I certainly have a favourite amongst the books after last night. I’m not telling you which one though!

Good luck to all six brilliant nominees.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

I’m absolutely thrilled to be starting off the launch celebrations for The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater, not least because I shall be interviewing Carol all about the book at my local Deepings Literary Festival in just over a week’s time! My enormous thanks to both Carol and Sriya Varadharajan for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. This was one book I had to break my blog tour sabbatical for!

It has been my pleasure to review Carol’s The Forgotten Summer here. I also loved her story The Lost Girl which I not only reviewed here, but about which I was delighted to interview Carol on Linda’s Book Bag here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff is published today, 16th May 2019, by Penguin and is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

The House on the Edge of the Cliff

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades. 

My Review of The House on the Edge of the Cliff

Grace’s past may not be as far behind her as she thought.

Gosh. What a textured and multi-layered story Carol Drinkwater has wrought in The House on the Edge of the Cliff. The story tracks back and forth in time making its structure remind me of the ebb and flow of the tide that so mesmerises Grace in the south of France. The structure and time scale are fascinating because there is a real sense of the way the past makes us who we are in the present so that there’s a compelling sociological element to the story. I loved the fact that I had no idea how The House on the Edge of the Cliff might finally resolve itself and Carol Drinkwater kept me guessing throughout. Her writing is seductive so that I had to keep reading to see what happened next.

With a sweeping love story at its heart, The House on the Edge of the Cliff explores the nature of obsession, guilt, betrayal and history in a manner that scoops up the reader and makes them wonder just what might happen if their own past reappeared. I found the Parisian setting of 1968 fascinating and Grace’s theatrical background allowed me to experience a world completely unfamiliar to me in a vivid and captivating manner. I thought the iterative image of drama and theatre was so fitting to a book where identity is fluid, unsettling and complicated. In addition, the cultural references to contemporary history, people, music and politics made The House on Edge of the Cliff a truly immersive activity. Indeed, I found reading The House on the Edge of the Cliff felt a bit like lifting the lid on an animated memory box, bringing all kinds of connotations and experiences into the effect it had on me.

I love the multi-faceted quality of Carol Drinkwater’s writing style. A smattering of French lends authenticity to The House on the Edge of the Cliff, but it is her attention to detail, the descriptions of nature, heat, the sea and food that make the narrative sensuous and luxurious. The author’s love for France shines through her writing. The house and France are as much characters as any of the people.

The portrait of Grace is superb. Her development from selfish sybarite to mature woman feels completely natural so that whilst I didn’t much like her to begin with, I felt an affinity with her. Grace’s narrative voice is so affecting and very conversational as if she is speaking directly to the reader. There’s a wistful, melancholic tone that makes her story feel confessional and draws in the reader so that they experience her emotions with her. I can’t say too much about some of the other characters without revealing the plot; the men in Grace’s life have an important impact on her but you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out why!

The House on the Edge of the Cliff feels mature, complex and atmospheric. I thought it was sinuous and compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and really recommend it.

About Carol Drinkwater

Carol Drinkwater c Michel Noll

Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small. She is also the author of over twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the Olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route.

You can follow Carol on Twitter @Carol4OliveFarm and visit her website.

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The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick

the path to the sea

I’m thrilled to have received a surprise copy of The Path to the Sea by Liz Fenwick in return for an honest review and would like to extend my enormous thanks to Joe Thomas at Harper Collins for sending me a copy. Liz has been a favourite author for years and I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of her books since I began blogging.

Published by Harper Collins imprint HQ on 6th June 2019, The Path to the Sea is available for pre-order through the links here.

The Path to the Sea

the path to the sea

Sometimes going home is just the beginning…

Boskenna, the beautiful, imposing house standing on the Cornish cliffs, means something different to each of the Trewin women.

For Joan, as a glamorous young wife in the 1960s, it was a paradise where she and her husband could entertain and escape a world where no one was quite what they seemed – a world that would ultimately cost their marriage and end in tragedy.

Diana, her daughter, still dreams of her childhood there – the endless blue skies and wide lawns, book-filled rooms and parties, the sound of the sea at the end of the coastal path – even though the family she adored was shattered there.

And for the youngest, broken-hearted Lottie, heading home in the August traffic, returning to Boskenna is a welcome escape from a life gone wrong in London, but will mean facing a past she’d hoped to forget.

As the three women gather in Boskenna for a final time, the secrets hidden within the beautiful old house will be revealed in a summer that will leave them changed for ever.

My Review of The Path to the Sea

Secrets of the past echo in the present as Diana and Lottie head home to Joan.

The Path to the Sea is just fabulous. I loved every word. Liz Fenwick held me entranced throughout to the extent that I thought about the characters and events when I wasn’t reading, couldn’t wait to get back to the story and yet didn’t want it to end. This is glorious storytelling at its very best.

I love the manner in which Liz Fenwick evokes a sense of place. Cornwall and Boskenna House are as much a living presence as any of the people so that there is a cinematic feeling. Everything from sea salt on skin, through agapanthus flowering in borders, to the taste of brandy adds richness and texture to an already captivating read. The attention to detail is so deftly written that it feels as beautifully smooth and polished as the sea-glass on the beach, bringing The Path to the Sea alive in the reader’s mind.

I thought the plot was wonderful. There’s deep, deep love, intrigue and guilt beating at the very heart of the narrative in a way that I found spell-binding. The blending of events in 1962 and 2018 is superb, with a sense of history and politics underpinning a very personal and touching story so that I could feel the emotions physically in my own body. I’m desperate to say more about the imagery but I can’t spoil the story for other readers. Just believe me when I say Liz Fenwick transports the reader to her time and place completely. It’s the poise of her writing that has such an incredible effect. The party at Boskenna has a glamour that is balanced and complemented by the more ordinary aspects of life in 2018. There are surprises too that make The Path to the Sea such a satisfying and riveting read.

Much as I thought the plot was outstanding, it is the characters who entranced me most. Joan, Diana and Lottie are so distinct and yet in many ways are so similar that what happens to them touched my heart. Their interactions, their guilt, their omissions – all combined to sweep me into their lives so that now I’ve finished reading The Path to the Sea I can’t let them go. They are reverberating in my mind.

I don’t feel I’ve done justice to The Path to the Sea. It is a phenomenal read that I adored because Liz Fenwick transported me to her world so completely I forgot my own time and place. I didn’t just read The Path to the Sea, I lived it and feel bereft now I’ve finished reading it. It is, quite simply, wonderful.

About Liz Fenwick

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Liz Fenwick was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves she’s back in the United Kingdom with her husband and a mad cat. Liz made her first trip to Cornwall in 1989 and bought her home there seven years later. Her heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.

You can follow Liz on Twitter @liz_fenwick, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

Cover Reveal: Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

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Having so enjoyed The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor, my review of which you can find here, I am thrilled to welcome Jennie back to Linda’s Book Bag today as we reveal her latest book, Not Having It All.

Jennie has also previously appeared on the blog when she wrote a fabulous guest post about the highs and lows leading to her novel Blind Side. You’ll find that post here.

However, today is all about Not Having It All so let’s find out all about the book:

Not Having It All

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Neuroscientist Bea Hudson fears she is a bad mother and that her career will be thwarted by family life. When her husband suspects Bea of having an affair with her best friend, a chain of events is triggered, leading to a crisis in Bea’s life.

Bea Hudson, a neuropsychologist living in Godalming, is struggling to cope with the challenging behaviour of her obsessive husband Kurt and their disruptive four-year-old daughter Fran. On top of this, her boss is pressuring her to get results from her research. Bea has her work cut out.

Things come to a head when Kurt goes away on an extended business assignment. While sacking staff and drinking heavily, Kurt’s insecurities run amok and he becomes convinced that Bea’s close friend Madeleine is seducing his wife and unduly influencing his daughter.

Meanwhile, childless artist Madeleine sees her friend torn between the demands of work and offers to help with Fran. But when she reveals a startling desire to her unsympathetic therapist Mr Rowley, he advises her to focus on the attention of Colin, a man she met in a lift.

Can Bea survive the demands of her career and the turmoil in her marriage without having a breakdown?

Can Madeleine survive Kurt’s anger and find happiness with Colin?

And can love survive marriage, middle-age, alcohol and ambition?

Not Having It All is about a scientist torn between her stalling career and the demands of her family. With themes of trust, deception and obsession, it is a mercilessly playful take on modern friendships, relationships and family life.

(I have a feeling Not Having It All is going to be a book many of us can relate to!)

Not Having It All will be published by Bloodhound on 28th May 2019 and will be available for pre-order from May 21st.

About Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor

Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. Her debut novel Blind Side was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story The Gift was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. She sings in a chamber choir.

You can find out more by following Jennie on Twitter @Jennie_Ensor, finding her on Facebook and visiting her website.

A Deadly Combination: A Guest Post by Robert Crouch, Author of No More Lies

No More Lies - Robert Crouch - book cover

I know I’m not supposed to be doing blog tours at the moment, but Robert Crouch has been such a good friend to Linda’s Book Bag and as I live next door to a retired chief environmental health officer (EHO) I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this celebration of No More Lies when Caroline Vincent, tour organiser got in touch to invite me to participate.

It’s a while since I ‘stayed in’ with Robert Crouch in a post you can read here, and Robert has been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after his Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies.

No More Lies is available for purchase here.

No More Lies

No More Lies - Robert Crouch - book cover

Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.

And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.

Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?

Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.

The Kent Fisher novels offer a fresh and contemporary reworking of the classic whodunit and murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.

A Deadly Combination – a guest post by Robert Crouch

I’d love to know how readers react when they discover my sleuth is an Environmental Health Officer, or EHO.

Are they intrigued, like the literary agent who once read one of my early novels? She wanted to know how an EHO would go about investigating a murder.

I wondered that too. I mean, you don’t pop down to your local council offices, ask to speak to an EHO and report a murder, do you? And someone who works for the local council hardly sounds glamorous, right?

Don’t be too hasty.

Do you know what EHOs do for a living? Aren’t they the people who check restaurants kitchens for hygiene?

They do. They close them down if they’re unhygienic. They can take the owners to court and prosecute them, which involves gathering evidence, interviewing suspects and witnesses, and putting a case together.

Just like the police – following the same rules of investigation and evidence, using many of the same techniques.

EHO are trained law enforcement officers. Okay, they don’t deal with murder, but they have many of the skills and attributes needed. They’re also at the heart of the community with contacts in most public bodies and access to all kinds of information and intelligence.

When it comes to dealing with health and safety in the workplace, EHOs have powers of entry that exceed those of the police. EHOs can also compel people to give evidence, especially where someone has died as a result of an accident at work.

EHOs investigate outbreaks of food poisoning, caused by organisms like E coli O157, which can kill vulnerable people. EHOs deal with complex environmental issues like noise and smoke pollution right through to people living in filthy and verminous premises.

They tackle landlords who provide substandard homes and dwellings.They licence zoos, riding establishments, kennels, tattooing and caravan sites to protect animals and animals, to ensure good standards.

I’ve covered all these areas during my working life as an EHO and hope to give readers an insight into some of them in the Kent Fisher series.

No two days were ever the same. The range of issues and people I dealt with were both vast and intriguing. Most summers, I had so many cases on the go, I couldn’t keep up.

And then a report would come through of a workplace fatality and priorities changed in the blink of an eye. A young boy drowned in a swimming pool at a camp. A worker crushed when he overturned the forklift truck he was operating. An elderly resident fell down a lift shaft in a care home.

Nothing quite prepares you for a fatality, but the professional in you takes over. Like the police, you have an investigation to conduct. You have to find out what happened and why. Ultimately, you have to determine whether laws were broken and by whom.

That’s why I couldn’t help thinking about murder while I drove around my district in the beautiful South Downs of East Sussex. I knew as an EHO I had many of the skills needed to investigate a murder. And the more I thought about it, the more inspired I became.

It couldn’t be a straightforward murder, of course. The police would deal with that. What about a murder disguised as a fatal workplace accident? That became No Accident– the novel that introduced Kent Fisher to the world of crime fiction.

It’s a straightforward murder mystery that pays homage to the classic whodunit. The story owes more to Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter than environmental health, but it allowed Kent Fisher to solve a murder and become a local hero.

Since then, Kent’s investigated missing wives and an old rogue with an unsavoury past. Environmental health features in every story, whether it’s a child at death’s door due to an E coli infection, mobile caterers, dodgy hotel kitchens and standards in care homes.

In the latest novel, No More Lies, the police seek Kent’s professional help as an EHO with a 10 year old cold case. They have an unidentified body with links to a restaurant he once closed down.There’s a second link to someone close, increasing the personal stakes.

It’s another case of environmental health meets murder in a deadly combination that offers readers something unique and distinctive in crime fiction.

(I’ll have to introduce you to my neighbour Robert. You can swap stories!)

About Robert Crouch

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Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.

At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.

Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.

Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.

You can find Robert on Goodreads and Facebook and visit his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @robertcrouchuk.

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