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Have you read Damaged Goods?

12 Dec

Occasionally I like to post a review of a book I have read recently. Damaged Goods by Jack Everett and David Coles is a great one.

The following is the review I wrote for Suspense Magazine:

Damaged Goods opens as Robert Cleghorn is chopping a tree in his brother Alan’s front yard. While he muses on the degradation he feels doing manual labor for his sibling, he watches helplessly as the tree falls through the front picture window of his brother’s dream home near Lake Kissimmee in Florida. From that point on, the action never stops. Set in Florida and England, this latest novel from the writing team of Jack Everett and David Coles is a roller coaster of a ride, a search for a serial killer who is not who the police think it is, but someone even more frightening.

Robert takes on his brother’s identity after killing him in a fit of rage, employing his brute strength and techniques learned while fighting in an elite military unit in Iraq. Using his brother’s airline ticket, passport, and credit cards, he travels to England seeking the one person he thinks he loves, his brother’s wife, Stephanie.

Police from the Leeds Serious Crimes squad follow the trail of a string of brutal murders that seem to have no connection, but the sheer number of them, as well as information shared by a local sheriff in Florida, soon narrow down their search.

The point of view shifts easily from that of Stewart White, who is just settling into his job as Detective Inspector in Leeds, and the bloody path of the murderer.

Everett and Coles do a masterful job portraying the fearless but possibly brain-damaged killer, and his obsession with Stephanie. Set in Yorkshire in the winter, the cold, bleak landscape intensifies the horror as one murder follow another. There is enough complexity in the plot to be intriguing but not too much to be confusing. Damaged Goods is the first of a trilogy, and I will be first in line to read the next book as soon as it becomes available.

Here is a link to read a few sample pages. It will get you hooked!

 

Thanks for Great Review of Hotel Saint Clare in Suspense Magazine

13 Oct

Hotel Saint Clare by Kathleen Heady

A young woman rises from the sea and steps out of the waves with seaweed twined in her long hair. Although it sounds like the resurrection of a goddess, it is actually the opening scene for a mysterious tale.

Two young boys collecting shells on the seashore tell the people on the stunning island paradise that they actually witnessed a mermaid come out of the sea, and ever since that silly, playful moment, the beautiful girl, Nara Blake, becomes something of an oddity.

Unfortunately, her life is not that of a mermaid. Nara is twenty-two years old, and a native of the islands who has been offered a job at the Hotel Saint Clare, which is an exclusive hotel located in the Caribbean. Thanks to her wealthy father, Nara has grown up with everything she could possibly want and has, for the most part, succeeded in making friends with the workers in the house she grew up in. But Nara wants more than anything to be her own woman, and immediately accepts the hotel job in order to work her way up the ladder of success on her own steam, and not on her daddy’s dollars.

Extremely intelligent, Nara becomes an excellent businesswoman and makes herself known all over the island. Then…the realm of island magic, the power of voodoo, and the essence of suspense takes over. Just when it seems that Nara’s world is absolutely perfect, the false sense of security explodes, and shocking events put Nara in harm’s way.

Fast-paced, this is one tale filled with twists that will keep readers interested in discovering what the real Nara is all about. The author has written a unique leading lady, creating a true ‘beach read’ for anyone lucky enough to be sitting on the sand in the Caribbean just waiting for a mermaid to appear from the sea.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion for Suspense Magazine

A Full English Breakfast with Variations

25 Jan

On the first page of my novel The Gate House, the main character, Nara, bemoans having to prepare a full English breakfast at her aunt’s bed and breakfast. If you have not had the opportunity tuck into one of these artery clogging delights, I will describe it for you.

A full English breakfast consists of thick British back bacon, eggs, sausage, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms and toast. Just so you don’t have the impression that the tomato and mushrooms add a healthy touch to the meal, these are cooked in the frying pan in the grease left from the bacon and sausages, hence another name for these concoction, the fry-up.

There are many regional variations in England itself, before moving on to Scotland and Ireland. Every region has its own sausage and bacon, and chips (French fries) are often included. In the north of England, as well as Scotland, you will likely find a slice of black pudding on your plate. The Irish prefer white pudding (same as black pudding but without the blood), and a slice of thick brown bread. The bread is the best part of the whole deal in my opinion.

In my travels around the British Isles, I have learned to order only a part of an English breakfast, if at all. Scrambled eggs, toast, maybe a sausage. Or eggs, toast, tomato and mushrooms. I first encountered a Scottish breakfast in a bed and breakfast in Lincolnshire. It was the original Gate House, for which my book is named. The proprietor, who was Scottish, prepared the whole meal for us, including the black pudding, which I passed on. By the time I reached Ireland, I had learned to order only portions of the meal, but I do love that brown bread. I also learned that in Ireland, and probably Scotland too, I could order porridge (oatmeal) and clean out my arteries once in a while.

My character Nara, who grew up in the Caribbean, craved the fresh fruits of the islands. She has my tastes.

 

The “Nature” of Setting

17 Jan

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I have always wondered how a person’s surrounding affect they way they live. How is it different to grow up on the flat land of Illinois in the midst of corn fields and soy beans, compared to a city overlooked by an ancient castle (Edinburgh, Scotland), or the lushness of tropical trees and flowers. Different people react in different ways to their childhood environment, and I am not sure it has anything to do with whether or not a childhood was happy. I had a very happy childhood in Illinois in the midst of the corn fields, but I have no desire to go back there, and neither do my brothers. We were always taught to think big, dream big and explore the world, and we have done just that. Illinois is where I am from, not where I am.

In my latest Nara book, tentatively titled Hotel St. Clare, which is actually the beginning of her story, we go back to the island country of St. Clare, where she grew up, and will see how her island upbringing helped to shape her personality and character. At that time, and at the beginning of The Gate House, Nara had very strong ties to St. Clare and life on the islands. But circumstances and people change, and perhaps if she returned, it would not be the same. By the end of Lydia’s Story, how would she feel?

What do you think? I would love to hear how other people have been shaped, or not, by the place where they grew up.