An Extract from The Fire Pit by Chris Ould

Fire pit cover

It’s a welcome return to Linda’s Book Bag by Chris Ould to celebrate his latest novel The Fire Pit today. I previously was delighted to host a guest post from Chris when the first of Chris’ Faroes Series, The Blood Strand was published and you can read that post here.

Published by Titan on 20th February 2018 The Fire Pit is available for purchase here. I’m thrilled to have an extract to share with you today.

The Fire Pit

Fire pit cover

In the wake of a dying man’s apparent suicide, the skeleton of a young woman is discovered on a windswept hillside. Detective Hjalti Hentze suspects that it is the body of a Norwegian woman reported missing forty years earlier, while a commune occupied the land, and whose death may be linked to the abduction and rape of a local Faroese girl.
Meanwhile British DI Jan Reyna is pursuing his investigation into his mother’s suicide. But as he learns more about her final days, links between the two cases start to appear: a conspiracy of murder and abuse spanning four decades. And as Hentze puts the same pieces together, he realizes that Reyna is willing to go further than ever before to learn the truth…

An Extract from The Fire Pit

UNDER THE STARK MORTUARY LIGHTS ELISABET HOVGAARD surveyed the bones from the sheepfold at Múli, now laid out in skeletal order. They had been cleaned and the accreted dirt had been collected, filtered and sampled for lab analysis in Denmark. What was left was only human, and all the more naked for that, Hentze thought.

“It’s a long time since I had to do this,” Elisabet said, assessing the layout of the bones as if Hentze was responsible for setting her an unwelcome test of anatomical knowledge. “But for our purposes I don’t suppose it matters so much whether I’ve got metacarpals and metatarsals in the wrong place. What’s most to the point is that we seem to have everything accounted for.” She looked towards Sophie. “You did a good job.”

At the end of the stainless-steel table Sophie Krogh took a final photograph of the skeleton’s clavicle, then lowered the camera to look at its screen.

“It was easier because she hadn’t been buried,” Sophie said. “At least not by much; the ground’s pretty stony. My guess is they tried to dig a grave but then thought it would be easier – maybe quicker – just to dump rocks on top.”

”And then build a sheep shelter?” Hentze asked, with only the slightest hint of scepticism.

“Well, it would be one way to make it less obvious that it was a grave site,” Sophie said. “Also less chance of it being disturbed later on.”

“True,” Hentze agreed. “So, what do we know?”

Elisabet peeled off her gloves and crossed to a worktop where she picked up an iPad and an e-cigarette. She tapped the first and sucked on the other, making the light in the end of it glow.

“I’m trying to quit,” she said when she saw Hentze’s vaguely quizzical look. She exhaled vapour. “Don’t say anything, all right?”

“Not a word,” Hentze agreed.

“Good.” Elisabet glanced at the iPad. “What I can tell you is that she was female, as we already thought. Approximately 170 centimetres tall, aged between thirty and forty. As far as it’s possible to tell I’d say she was in good general health – no signs of osteoporosis, arthritis or disease, although she had an ante mortem break to the right-hand side of her clavicle: her collarbone. It was healing, though,” she added, anticipating Hentze’s question. “I’d say it happened between a month and six weeks before she died.”

“Is it suspicious?” Hentze asked.

“No, not in my book,” Elisabet said. “It could easily have been caused by a fall. Most are, unless you count contact sports. She’d probably have been wearing a sling, but maybe not.”

“Could it help to identify her?”

“It’s possible. If it happened here and if she was treated in the hospital there might be a record. The problem is, we don’t know how far back to go.”

“Between 1973 and 1975 might be a good starting point,” Hentze said. “That’s when the commune was active.”

“I’ll get someone to take a look,” Elisabet said. “We have a new intern who shouldn’t be let loose on the living or the dead yet.”

“Thanks.” Hentze looked back at the skeleton. “So is there anything to say how she might have died?”

Elisabet took another pull on her e-cigarette. “There’s nothing as obvious as a fractured skull or multiple unhealed breaks, if that’s what you mean. But Sophie thinks she may have found something else.”

“It was only because I was cleaning the bones,” Sophie said, as if she didn’t want to accept any credit for extraordinary perception. She picked up one of the higher vertebrae and Hentze followed her across to an illuminated magnifier on the worktop. Holding the bone under the lens, Sophie turned it and then used the end of a wooden spatula to point out a thin mark about a centimetre long.

“Can you see it?” she asked.

Hentze squinted and leaned in closer to the lens. “I think so. The straight line?”

“Yeh. Nothing in nature is straight. I think it may be some kind of tool mark.”

“What kind of tool?”

“My guess is a knife or blade,” Sophie said. “It needs to be properly examined, though. I’m not an expert, but Per Olesen and his team at Roskilde could tell you.”

Hentze stood back. “And if it is a cut mark, what would that say? What would it mean?”

“It’s on C4, a cervical vertebra, here,” Elisabet said. She pointed to her neck just to the rear of her jaw. “Which could be consistent with her throat being cut, the same way you can kill a sheep.”

For a second Hentze had to remind himself that the dumpy, often good-hearted woman before him was as unfazed by discussions of death and its causes as he was by a break-in or a domestic dispute.

“So we must suspect murder,” he said. “Not just from the possible cut mark, but also from the way she was buried.”

“Sorry, Hjalti,” Elisabet said.

Hentze gave a resigned shrug. “Never mind. I’m sure one day I’ll ask a question and someone will tell me I don’t need to worry, everything’s fine.”

Sophie laughed drily. “You’d better not come and work in Denmark,” she said.

(And now I really want to read on!)

About Chris Ould

chris ould

After working at a wide variety of jobs, from ice-cream man to labourer, Chris Ould was first published as a novelist in the 1980s. He then spent many years working as a television scriptwriter, during which time he wrote more than eighty hours of drama and documentary programmes, including numerous episodes of the crime series The Bill, one of which won a BAFTA award.

Chris returned to novel writing with two YA books, before embarking on the Faroes trilogy of crime novels. He lives in Dorset with his wife and son. He also keeps sheep.

You can follow Chris on Twitter @WriterChrisOuld.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Fire Pit blog tour

Fire on the Mountain by Jean McNeil

Fire on the Mountain New Cover

I absolutely adore Africa and so it gives me enormous pleasure to have been asked by Imogen Harris at Legend Press to be part of the launch celebrations for Fire on the Mountain by Jean McNeil. I have a guest post from Jean all about the inspiration of Africa as well as my review to share today.

Fire on the Mountain was published by Legend Press on 15th February 2018 and is available for purchase here.

Fire on the Mountain

When NGO worker Nick drops unexpectedly into the lives of Pieter and Sara Lisson, he feels he has found the parents he never had. Nick is enraptured by their lives of splendour and acclaim as much as the stirring setting of the African city where they live, but he soon senses a secret at the heart of his new family.
Nick then meets Riaan, the Lissons’ son, and so begins an intense connection that threatens to erupt into a relationship neither had ever considered. In the shadow of the Brandberg, the glowing mountain that stands at the heart of the desert, Nick will discover that his passion for Riaan is not the only fire which threatens his newfound home.

African Inspiration

A Guest Post by Jean McNeil

“what it is about Africa that inspires a writer to explore themes of identity (is it the vastness of the open spaces perhaps, or the fact that we seem to have all emerged from Africa) and how the scents, sights and sounds of Africa lend themselves to painting the most vivid settings through words”.

I am definitely inspired by landscape, in that some stories seem possible only in certain places. In some cases the place, landscape or setting supercedes character, and even becomes the story itself. ‘Africa’ is too generalised a term to describe a continent of 55 vastly different countries, but it’s true that my ten years spent on and off in southern and eastern Africa have been a great inspiration to me.

Fire on the Mountain is set in an unspecified country, but at its centre is a landscape informed by Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, two spectacular cities where I have been fortunate to live, and which are both wild at heart, and on the other the aridity of the northern part of South Africa and Namibia, in particular the compellingly Spartan beauty of the Kalahari and Namib deserts and Namaqualand.  Such places are difficult to describe because of the sheer scale and relative (to a European eye) emptiness. They are thrillingly empty. This presents a challenge to a writer. Also as a novelist I’m interested in how people are defined by place, and how they absorb and respond to the wilderness. Some people I know who have been brought up in such places seem to have a moral and physical freedom which is almost impossible in Europe. In Fire on the Mountain the physical danger and freedom the characters encounter in the land through which they move open up emotional spaces within them which they did not know existed.

(You’re absolutely right about that indefinable quality of Africa Jean.)

My Review of Fire on the Mountain

Nick’s arrival at Pieter and Sara Lissen’s will leads to truths too difficult for some to bear.

Fire on the Mountain is a complex, mesmerising read that doesn’t fully uncover itself until the very last word. The structure, themes and the extremes of emotion are as intricate as the political Africa of its setting.

There’s fear, violence and threat as well as passion, obsession and true friendship woven throughout so that reading Fire on the Mountain is actually quite a draining experience. This is not a negativity, but rather that Jean Mc Neil has created so authentic a narrative that the reader becomes utterly immersed.

There are undercurrents of evil, foretelling portents and second sight so that, regardless of the reader’s opinion of such beliefs, the potentially devastating signs are there. I loved the literal and metaphorical fire on the mountain for example that gives a hellish feel to the story so that I kept wondering just who might burn in hell.

I found the structure to the novel mirrored its contents very cleverly. Jean McNeil’s use of tenses is quite fluid and past and present tenses merge into one another in the same way past and present actions overlap and are gradually revealed. I found this very skilful writing that added to a sense of both mystery and unease.

The three men Nick, Pieter and Riaan are striking characters. The reader’s experiences their flaws and extremes first hand, making them fascinating and spellbinding.

Fire on the Mountain can be read as a straightforward narrative ostensibly about love, but it is so much more besides. I feel it needs re-reading several times to uncover all its nuances and meanings. It’s a triumph of a book. I really enjoyed it.

About Jean McNeil

Jean McNeil

Jean McNeil is a prolific fiction and non-fiction author whose work has been nominated for and won several major international awards. She is a Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia. Her first novel with Legend Press, seventh overall publication was The Dhow House (2016).

You an follow Jean on Twitter @jeanmcneilwrite and visit her blog.

There’s more with these other bloggers:

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Staying in with Kio Briggs

Living Free The High Philosophy Front Cover

When I was a consultant working all over the place I never found any difficulty making a decision. Nowadays I’m a real ditherer! Consequently, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Kio Briggs to stay in with me today to discuss a decision or two that led to his book!

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Kio Briggs

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Kio. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hi Linda, thanks for inviting me!

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Living Free The High Philosophy Paperback

I have brought my book Living Free: The High Philosophy to share this evening. It is also my debut book, my first attempt at writing that book I always knew I had in me. Basically, the book that’s taken me my whole life to write 🙂

(Oh – congratulations on your debut!)

What can we expect from an evening with Living Free: The High Philosophy?

You can expect an exhilarating true story of my journey in search of complete happiness!

(Sounds interesting – tell me more!)

It begins with a decision I made to leave my job in London and travel the world in search of a true happiness I believed I once had as a child, but had now lost as an adult. After eight months working at, what I thought at the time was my “dream job”; I realised how truly unhappy I was – living right on the cusp of depression. So I decided to take a huge leap not knowing what was on the other side, but feeling as though there was more happiness to life than what I was currently living.

The book takes you on my journey around the world and how the experiences in each place had a specific impact on me, from finding self acceptance in Port Harcourt, friendship and freedom in South Africa, spirituality in Chicago, dreaming and passion in Los Angeles and love in London.

It then continues on my journey, now on a quest to live free; by incorporating all these puzzle pieces I had learnt about myself along the way into my everyday life. While on my travels I had an idea of a philosophical concept and an approach on how I wanted to live my life, to see what the outcome could potentially be. The idea was to always and only choose to do the things that make me happy, and never accepting anything less than happiness into my life. As you would imagine this took me on a massive rollercoaster ride of some phenomenal downs, but also on the of the most amazing highs of my life!

(I imagine it did!)

As the story goes on I discuss each experience, and every moment I was faced with having to fight the logic of compromising on my happiness and accepting less than I truly believed would make me happy, in everything. Sticking to my philosophy of only choosing my happiness and accepting nothing less. At the end of each chapter I share those experiences and the lessons I learnt from them, and how we can all apply those lessons to our everyday lives and live completely happier lives. “Completely” being the key word.

In concluding the book I finally get to what Living Free is; my now developed Philosophy of life – the philosophy of being happy all the time, every time, always!

It’s a rollercoaster ride of a book, taking you through exactly what I experienced and how I experienced it. Definitely a book for all “dreamers”, for those who believe and seek a life of complete happiness and freedom.

(This sounds absolutely wonderful. I think we all need to get some perspective in our lives and focus on the positives.)

What else have you brought along and why?

Kio Briggs and Mother 1

I’ve brought some photos of my mother and I along with me!

I was raised by a single mother who I know did everything she could to provide my siblings and I with all we ever needed to grow in life. I dedicate this book to her first and foremost, because I have no other points of reference for success and hard work outside of my mother.

(I bet she is incredibly proud of you Kio.)

Kio Briggs and Mother 2

She has always lived life her way, and that was what influenced me to jump into the unknown and risk it all to do the same. From her I learnt strength and courage to go boldly in the direction of my dreams, and to work hard to make those dreams come true for myself; this book is in many ways my journey of living out all her advice by example.

Kio Briggs and Mother 3

Your mother looks like a truly inspirational person Kio. Thanks so much staying in with me and for sharing your stories about her and about your book Living Free: The High Philosophy.

Living Free: The High Philosophy

Living Free The High Philosophy Front Cover

A brilliant, true-story of bravery and taking steps into the unknown in search of genuine lifelong happiness. A story for dreamers – an adventure through many ups and downs; like a hero on a mission, persevering and conquering each unique battle through this whirlwind adventure; leading to the discovery of a philosophy of life.

Living Free: The High Philosophy is available for purchase here.

About Kio Briggs

kio

Born in Nigeria, Kio Briggs spent his early childhood and teenage years between Nigeria, the UK and the United States.

After completing secondary school in Nigeria, Briggs spent his following years in England where he completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s education in Advertising and Marketing, after which he began working in the Financial industry; it was during this time he decided to leave his job and go in search of the happiness he believed he didn’t have anymore, but once had when he was a child in Nigeria.

On this adventure, he began asking himself questions about happiness, and how to live the ultimate happy life, which led to him discovering his Philosophy on life – Living Free: The High Philosophy.

You’ll find Kio on Instagram.

Mathimals by Jon Hales

Mathimals

My grateful thanks to the author Jon Hales for a copy of his children’s book Mathimals, illustrated by Charlene Mosley. I’ve always been a bit of an idiot when it comes to maths, having had 8 different maths teachers during my O’Level so I was intrigued to see what Mathimals could offer!

Published by Create Space on 5th February 2018, Mathimals is available for purchase here.

Mathimals

Mathimals

Do you find it hard to add?

Brace yourself for a slightly unusual and mildly chaotic lesson in basic addition!

What happens when you add 1 mouse + 1 sheep, for example? Or 4 caterpillars + 4 fish?

You’ll find out in this hugely entertaining picture book filled with weird and wonderful creatures.

Packed with brightly coloured illustrations, clever wordplay and lots of fun details, this rhyming story is sure to capture the imaginations of young children and is designed to help simple sums stick in the mind. Perfect for ages 2-6 but with plenty for older children and even adults to enjoy.

My Review of Mathimals

A picture book of invented animals to stimulate addition for young children.

It comes as absolutely no surprise to me to discover that the author is a former English teacher because, although Mathimals is a maths book, there is so much that can be used to teach English and stimulate vocabulary and the joy of reading for young children. The way in which new compound words are invented as adding one animal to another leads to a brand new breed is lovely. I may be over 5 decades older than the intended audience but I really enjoyed the imaginative approach here. The language is simple, but has excellent rhymes and a really good rhythm so that literacy as well as numeracy is promoted.

The numeracy of Mathimals is really well done. Multiples of two and the effect of doubling are so well integrated into the excitement of creating new creatures that learning can happen without a child even realising. Towards the end of the book there’s a smashing exercise for children to count up to 30 as they search for creatures in the trees so that early numeracy can be extended beyond just number 10.

I must also say something about the illustrations from Charlene Mosley. They are quirky, vibrant and interesting, with so many unusual things to spot that they add to the enjoyment and stimulus of Mathimals wonderfully. They also have a naivety that will appeal to children and encourage them to invent their own creatures, leading to art work and even better numeracy and literacy.

I think Mathimals is a cracking book for children and recommend it completely.

About Jon Hales

jon

Jon Hales is a British author, English literature graduate and former English teacher who learned first-hand the power of a great picture book while teaching in Taiwan, reading stories to his younger students. The capacity for a well crafted turn of phrase, captivating character or hilarious illustration to capture the imagination of its audience was fascinating to him. Jon dreamed of crafting stories that would bring joy to both children and adults, stories that could be read again and again without losing their charm. Jon lives in London with his wife Annie. He would like to stress that no animals were harmed in the production of his debut picturebook, Mathimals.

You can follow Jon on Twitter @jonhalesauthor and find him on Facebook and Goodreads.

A Strong Heroine: A Publication Day Guest Post by Lara Temple, Author of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal

lord Ravenscar cover uk

I’m delighted to be supporting fellow blogger and friend Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources in bringing you a super guest post from Lara Temple to celebrate Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal. We all need a bit of romance in our lives and not only is Lara explaining how the dynamics work between her protagonists, but you have the opportunity to win one of three e-copies of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal further down this blog post.

Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal is published today, 22nd February 2018 by Mills and Boon and is available for purchase here.

Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal

lord Ravenscar cover uk

Women either ran from Lord Ravenscar or ran to him.”

A Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story.

Alan Rothwell, Marquess of Ravenscar, is furious when unconventional heiress Lily Wallace refuses him purchase of her property. He can’t even win her over with his infamous charm. But when fever seizes him and they’re trapped together, horrified, Alan realizes Lily’s attentions will compromise them both! His solution: take Lily as his betrothed before desire consumes them completely…

It Takes A Strong Heroine To Make A Strong Hero

A Guest Post by Lara Temple

The reason I began writing regency romances was because I love to daydream. Some people watch television or reads books to lull them into sleep – I daydream. These daydreams are the stage onto which I invite my heroes – they are strong, complex, sometimes aggravating, often tortured, and always ready (with some prodding) to undergo an emotional journey that will land them just where I want them.

So it’s all about the hero, right? Of course not! No hero worthy of his name is of any use to me without that emotional journey. For anyone to really change and grow and learn, they need an equally strong force working on them (internal or external). So I see my heroes and heroines as the case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object and both having to give (they trade places throughout my books).

It doesn’t mean my heroines and heroes need to be extroverts or domineering – strength of character comes in many forms. Just as I love a charming rake as much the strong silent types, my heroines can be all along the spectrum – but they will never simper and they will never be truly passive (though they may be cautious and suspicious and afraid of being hurt).

The one thing I need from my heroes is that they earn my respect as they undergo their emotional journey towards the HEA and I can’t respect a hero who wants a passive woman. I mean, how is that even possible?

In my Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies series my three heroes are all rakes who have been labeled the Wild Hunt Club because of their sporting and racing prowess and success with women. But they have a hidden side – they are also benefactors for Hope House, a home for wounded veterans. The war has affected each one deeply and they tackle their own wounds and losses by helping wounded veterans.

I love the tension between the rake and the redeemer that runs through their tales. This is why I needed three strong heroines to help them complete their journey to open themselves to the love they both fear and crave. If these men are going to trust someone enough to lean on them, that person would have to have an inner core of strength and integrity.

So in Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Bride, Nell might suffer from panic attacks but she is a fearless rider and has found her strength through working as a schoolmistress and training horses. When she takes her fate into her hands, she won’t allow fear or disappointment to take away the opportunities she seeks. It’s her determination and bravery that give Hunter the strength to face his own demons. It is precisely because he believes she can stand up for herself and doesn’t always need him to shield her that shows how much he respects her and values her. My kind of hero.

In Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal, Lily knows she wants a family. She had a lonely, isolated childhood and is willing to compromise in her choice of husband so she can have children and a modicum of freedom. Lord Ravenscar lost his parents and baby brother to disease and has sworn never to open himself to such pain and guilt again. He made his own way in the world and other than his friends he needs no one and nothing. Children in particular are not an option. But Lily’s combination of strength and vulnerability draws him even if what they want is in complete opposition. I can’t imagine anyone matching up with a rakish self-made charmer like Ravenscar who couldn’t meet him at his level, whose strength and vulnerability push and shove at him until his defenses crumble.

It’s that dance of strength and weakness (and which is which in the end?) that I always love about romance novels. So, yes, my heroines are always strong even when they are weak, and always have agency even when they are deeply vulnerable. The same can be said for my heroes. And neither would have it any other way…

(Fascinating Lara. I’ve never thought about physics in relation to romance before! Thanks so much for this guest post and happy publication day.)

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

Giveaway

Lord Ravenscar Initial Banner with book

For your chance to win one of 3 e-copies of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal click here. Open internationally.

Please note this giveaway is run independently of Linda’s Book Bag.

About Lara Temple

Lord Ravenscar - profile pic

Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. Her fifth book with Harlequin Mills & Boon, ‘Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal,’ will be published in March 2018, and is the second in her Wild Lords series. Her four previous books are: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, The Reluctant Viscount, and Lord Crayle’s Secret World.

When she was fifteen Lara found a very grubby copy of Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter in an equally grubby book store. Several blissful hours later she emerged, blinking, into the light of day completely in love with Regency Romance but it took three decades of various fascinating but completely unrelated careers in finance and high tech before she returned to her first love.

Lara lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream). She loves to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and read as many books as possible. She recently went looking for that crowded little bookstore but couldn’t quite remember around what corner it was…hopefully it is still there and another girl is in the corner by the window, reading and dreaming…

You can discover more by finding Lara on Facebook, and by following her on Twitter @laratemple1. She also has a website, is on Goodreads and has an Amazon author page.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Staying in with Rajiv Mittal

Brahmahatya

I’m just delighted at the wonderful range of authors this Staying in with… feature is bringing me into contact with. Today it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Rajiv Mittal to Linda’s Book Bag.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Rajiv Mittal

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Rajiv. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Thank you for having me, Linda.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought my debut novel Brahmahatya.  The name is a Sanskrit word for ‘the act of killing a Brahmin’, a deed considered worse than ordinary murder.

(Oh! I’ve learnt something new already!)

I have chosen it because I would like the evening to be about understanding Indian culture, its spiritual books and the thought processes that influence its people in their relationships.

(This is brilliant as I’m travelling to India later this year.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Brahmahatya?

An unhurried unravelling of ideas and people that you will meet during the journey.  I also hope you will set aside a bit of time for yourself to reflect once it ends.

Here are a few reader comments after their journeys …

‘Brahmahatya’, through its many references to ancient scriptures and the use of Sanskrit words, is also a narrative on man’s conflict-ridden relationship with the Divine. It is this that gives the book a timelessness, even as it raises ever-pertinent questions about rituals, faith, free will and karmic destiny. Faith is almost a character in itself. There’s gravitas, and lovely philosophical questions. This is apparent through the voices in the characters’ heads, which the readers are made privy to, and where debates between “right” and “wrong” rage. Where their relationship with god is forever in flux…

It is a stirring book, at once heavy with sadness and light with a beauty which one may call … divine. It ends on a note of calm reconciliation, even though it remains upon the reader to weigh the cost at which this peace has been reached.

Sakshi Nanda (www.sakshinanda.com)

Deploying human emotions at their vulnerable best, especially grief, anger, hate, revenge and ultimately peace, this book lays it all, bare and raw.  A highly suggested read, delve into this ocean of the worst of human emotions, and retrospect.

Anuradha Khaitan (www.merrygoreviews.com)

Complicated yet integrated characters, a skilfully created sequence of inevitable events and a thick suspense plentifully fed by a revengeful, murderous intent, Brahmahatya has it all.  To make the novel additionally delectable, there is the generous inclusion of local flavor.  This, I said to myself, is an Indian story written in English.

Dagny (serenelyrapt.com)

(You must be absolutely delighted with those reader responses. Congratulations.)

What else have you brought along and why?

I have brought along a few links through my journey of writing the book. I am hoping this will make reading Brahmahatya a very special experience that will remain with you long after the book is just a memory.

1. The words that inspired me to write it:

  • Whomsoever you encounter is the right one.
  • Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened.
  • Each moment in which something begins is the right moment.
  • What is over is over.
    • Author – Unknown

2. A link to the start of the journey here.

3. What struck me when I looked around my dad’s retirement home:

An old man took his phone to a repair shop.

Repairer: Nothing is wrong with this phone.

Old man: Then why don’t my children ever call me?

4. The quiet, unhindered steady chant that treads through the book:

“Brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva.  According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe…”

(What a mind blowing thought!)

I do hope you will enjoy the journey.  Thathasthu. (It will be so).

I’ve found staying in with you highly interesting and thought provoking Rajiv. Thanks so much for being here.

Brahmahatya

Brahmahatya

A story of revenge and redemption and deeds shaped by forces that humans believe they have defined through mythology and scriptures but still struggle to understand.

A woman employee of a retirement home is shocked to discover that a new resident is in fact the son impersonating his father. The son is seeking revenge. She, by her past actions, is unwittingly complicit in his being there and now tries to thwart his peculiar plans. A senile woman-resident and an enigmatic founder offer him sage advice. The samudra manthan (a major episode in Hindu mythology), a slightly dim secretary and a sinister boss play their part in ensuring justice is finally served but in an unexpected manner.

The novel quotes frequently from the ancient Hindu scriptures and stories that the protagonists use to justify their actions. The treatment of the elderly in society is a major theme.

Brahmahatya is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

About Rajiv Mittal

rajiv

I was born in Chennai, India in the early nineteen sixties. I am an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and a CPA from Australia. I now live in Melbourne after a stint of several years in the Middle East.
Writing was a vague aspiration. It became reality thanks to a stranger who said I reminded him of the main character from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. He quoted from it, ‘Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.’

You can follow Rajiv on Twitter @rajivmittal63 and find him on Facebook.

Discussing Come A Little Closer with Rachel Abbott

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Today I’m thrilled (and not a little afraid after our conversation) to be staying in with Rachel Abbott to celebrate the launch of her latest novel Come A Little Closer.

Come A Little Closer was published by Black Dot on 15th February 2018 and is available for purchase here.

Come a Little closer

They will be coming soon. They come every night.

Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die?

Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

Staying in with Rachel Abbott

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Rachel. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

I am delighted to have been invited, Linda. Thank you.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought along my latest thriller, Come a Little Closer. The title seems perfect for an evening in, but then again, maybe not! I’ve chosen it because I believe it’s my most chilling novel to date, and one that I have been thinking of writing for nearly four years.

(I’m not certain I think it makes for a cosy evening in! Just reading the blurb makes me nervous…)

However, fears aside, what can we expect from an evening in with Come a Little Closer?

You should prepare yourself to be locked in, I think, both physically and mentally! But the ever-reliable DCI Tom Douglas will step in to provide a little comfort when things become unbearably tense.

I like to think that the short prologue sets the scene perfectly.

I don’t know myself any more. My life is unrecognisable – severed into two distinct periods: Before – when I could feel the wind on my skin, watch the sky turn from blue to black, hear the birds singing in the morning, smell the earth, damp with rain; and After – the life I am in now, where I cannot tell if it is night or day and the only sound I hear is the slap, slap of bare feet on a linoleum floor.

I sit on my narrow bed, staring at the bare wall opposite, wondering how I came to be here. But I can find no answers. All I know for certain is that they are coming. They come every night.

I didn’t understand how easy it could be to lose a life. To lose my self. But now I am not me any more. I’m someone else. Someone I don’t recognise.

My name is Judith. And I killed a man.

That should give you a clear idea of what you are in for this evening – lots of shivers down the spine!

(Eek! Send Tom quickly!)

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought along some photographs of Burma – or Myanmar as it is now called – which is where I was when the idea for the story came to me. It features at the start of the novel, but I resisted the temptation of making the early part of the book into a travelogue, although I would have loved to write more about this wonderful country. It’s where my main character, who remains nameless for about half the book, begins her story.

mayanmar

(It’s a place I’d love to visit so thanks for bringing the photos Rachel.)

I’ve also brought some sweet sherry. I’m not a fan – and neither is my character – but she finds herself drinking it rather more often than she would like to, so I thought we could try it and see what we think. I wondered about bringing some bath salts and a claw hammer, but thought neither seemed appropriate for an evening in.

sherry

(I’m not keen on sherry either but I think I might need some Dutch courage to read Come A Little Closer. If I said I was relieved you didn’t bring the claw hammer would you believe me?)

My books usually feature some kind of food – because I’m a big foodie – but not so much in this one, apart from a particularly unappetising bowl of thin soup. We need something to make the sherry taste better, though, so I thought I would make some of my home-made chicken liver pate and some crispy crostini to spread it on. Might as well have something full of iron to keep us healthy and the red-blood cell count high. We might be needing it.

pate

(Now you’re talking. Oh!  – er, blood did you say?)

And finally, we might listen to the second movement of Beethoven’s 2nd symphony. If anything fits the mood of the book, I would say that’s it. Beautiful as it is, it is so haunting. Perfect for listening to in the bath – but if I say any more, I would be giving the game away.

Now you’ve terrified me completely Rachel, I’d like to say thanks for staying in with me, but I hope you’ll stay a bit longer. I’m not sure I want to be on my own!

About Rachel Abbott

rachel

Rachel Abbott’s debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again and The Sixth Window.

Rachel’s novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 2.8 million copies in the English language.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.

You can find out more about Rachel on her website, or by following her on Twitter @RachelAbbott. You’ll also find Rachel on Facebook and on her blog.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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