Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: crime Page 1 of 20

Opening Lines: The Outlaw’s Ransom

As I’m fresh (okay, not fresh – more like totally knackered with no voice), from the latest Hooded Man event – celebrating all things Robin of Sherwood – it seems fitting to share the opening lines from The Outlaw’s Ransom. This – the first in #TheFolvilleChronicles – was inspired by my love of the show.

 

Here’s the blurb to The Outlaw’s Ransom-

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

Happy reading,

Jen xx

The Reluctant Investigator: Edward’s Outlaw

In the first two novels of the series, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw, Mathilda of Twyford, found herself thrust into situations where she had to get to the bottom of a crime simply to stay alive. However, in book three, Edward’s Outlaw, Mathilda’s reputation for solving mysteries sees her being asked to solve a murder by the sheriff…and she is in no position to say no…

Blurb

January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.

Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.

***

Mathilda has only been married to Robert de Folville for three days, and already trouble has coming knocking at door of their home; Ashby Folville manor, Leicestershire. A warrant for the brother’s arrest sends Mathilda alone into Rockingham Castle for her own safety. Under the protection of its constable, Robert de Vere, she shelters within the castle while her husband and his brothers are on the run.

Mathilda doesn’t have time to worry about Robert for long, for within only a few days a young girl is dead and the sheriff thrusts the role of detective upon her.

Why would anyone here believe her, even if she did find the killer? The word of a woman, even one who has married into one of the most notorious households in England, is not worth much without substantial evidence. And what if she gets it wrong and accuses the wrong person? Mathilda’s terrified that she might send the wrong person to the gallows.

The pressure on Mathilda to succeed becomes even greater when she begins to wonder if Agnes, the murdered maid, was the intended victim after all. The more Mathilda thinks about it, the more she sees how easy it would have been for the killer to mistake the dead girl for her…Was Mathilda the intended target after all?

Extract

Blood hammered in Mathilda’s ears. She had tracked down killers in the past, but never by appointment. The first time had been unintentional, a task she’d stumbled upon to save her father’s honour and her freedom. The second had come with an even higher price tag. The cost of failure would have been her life.

Now, these previous successes had earned her a third attempt, and Mathilda doubted she was up to the task. In Ashby Folville she had Sarah and Adam to back her up, not to mention Robert and his brothers. Here, she was alone but for Daniel, who’d already had a myriad of household duties heaped upon him.

Would her desire to find justice for Agnes, and her equally strong curiosity to uncover what was going on in the castle, be enough to solve the crime. Or crimes?

Whatever her misgivings, Mathilda’s starting point was clear. The sheriff and his associates had not yet left the castle. She wanted to talk to each of them privately. The constable had promised her the freedom of the castle while he’d had little choice but to agree, but would he continue to extend that offer once Wennesley and his comrades had gone to recommence the search for her husband.

Not sure if she was heartened or worried by Sheriff Ingram’s claim that she was unstoppable in her pursuit of felons, Mathilda wiped away the perspiration from her palms.

As she walked towards de Vere’s rooms, Mathilda forced herself to focus. Even if the arresting party remained with the constable, that didn’t mean they would be willing to answer her questions. After all, they hadn’t been there when Agnes had died, yet Mathilda couldn’t shift the uneasy feeling that it was all connected somehow. She had no logical reason for that suspicion beyond the coincidence of Isabella’s abrupt reappearance and the night-time movements of a tall, short-haired man who could have been either of the younger men on the warrant party… or someone else entirely….

***

Edwards’ Outlaw can be read as a standalone book, or as part of The Folville Chronicles.

If you’d like to read Edward’s Outlaw, – or any of The Folville Chronicles, they are available in eBook format and paperback from all good reatilers, including…

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

Focus on: The Winter Outlaw

Let’s focus on…

The Winter Outlaw,

Book Two of The Folville Chronicles

Blurb

1329: It is the dead of winter. The notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside—a man who has designs on the Folville family’s criminal connections.

Determined to stop this usurper in his tracks, Robert Folville unearths a man hiding in one of Ashby-Folville’s sheep shelters. A steward from far-off West Markham in Nottinghamshire, the cold, hungry Adam Calvin claims he knows nothing of any threat to the Folville family. He has troubles of his own, for he is being pursued by vengeful sheriff, Edmund de Cressy, for a crime he did not commit.

Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story, but with rumours about a vendetta against the family growing, the Folville brothers are suspicious of every stranger.

After an attack on the household’s trusted housekeeper, it falls to Mathilda to work out who can be trusted and who can’t… With the Folvilles’ past about to trip them up, it’s going to take a level head and extreme bravery if Mathilda and Robert are ever going to make it to their Winter Solstice wedding.

The Winter Outlaw can be read as a standalone novel or as the sequel to The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Available from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Here’s a few of the lovely things my readers have aid about The Winter Outlaw,

“Drew me right in and I couldn’t put it down. I was surprised how much bigger this book was compared to the previous one, big bonus. A captivating story that kept me on my toes until the very end.” Amazon

“So good. I await the third book.” Amazon 

‘Great read, looking forward to reading the sequel :-)’ Amazon

“Best work of historical fiction I’ve ever read” Goodreads

Interview with Anna Legat: Broken

The eagled-eyed of you will notice that today’s guest – Anna Legat – appeared on this blog last Thursday, with the opening lines of her latest crime mystery – Cause of Death.  Books however, can be like buses in the publishing world, and so I’m delighted to welcome anna back today – this time for a chat over a coffee and some cake.

Take a break, and learn a little about Anna’s new thriller – Broken.

First of all – here’s the blurb –

What if you lost the memory of who you are?
What if you had to pick up the loose ends of life that wasn’t yours?
What if you had to fight somebody else’s battles?
What would YOU do ?

Camilla’s life will never be the same after her beloved son Christopher is sent to prison .

Father Joseph’s faith is sorely tested when a deranged psychopath uses the sanctity of the confessional to gloat about his most heinous crimes.

Both Camilla and Joseph are paralysed by doubt and inaction.

But then their lives collide…

BROKEN explores where it takes a stranger to break through one’s bindings and inhibitions in order to do the right thing.
It is a story of a mother’s love for her son and a priest’s blind adherence to the seal of confession.
It is a story about Fate’s intervention.

Broken, a domestic noir suspense thriller, is published by SpellBound Books

***

What inspired you to write your book?

Like many fiction writers I live slightly on the periphery of reality – I observe it from the sidelines and dip into it for inspiration and ideas, but there is that grey area, that no-man’s land between reality and my writing. I like to speculate in my fiction and to imagine scenarios with which to confront my characters. Those scenarios don’t have to be extreme but they have to create a challenge or a dilemma for my characters to respond to.

Broken is the result of my fascination with the idea of the randomness of life – we are born into a particular set of circumstances which we can’t predict or plan for. It is pure chance whether we end up as orphans somewhere in a war-torn country or find ourselves next in line to the throne of the Kingdom of Sweden. So when I conceived Broken I asked myself this: what if somehow two people’s lives became mixed up through Fate’s mysterious intervention? What if one day they woke up in somebody else’s skin to continue with that stranger’s life as if it was their own? What if that other person’s life was a real mess?

So, I created the characters of Father Joseph and Camilla Bramley-Jones, each of them struggling to overcome bindings and inhibitions which have led them to make bad choices. Then I swopped their places and let them deal with each other’s problems.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I do, and I don’t. I definitely pick up personality traits of the different people I come across in life and on my travels, but I do enjoy mixing and matching them when I construct my fictional characters. Often people will ask me if I based a particular character on them because they will see themselves in that character or will recognize an event in which they were involved. Most of the time, I will plead guilty but only to the lesser charge of being inspired by them rather than to the crime of outright theft of their personality.

Oddly enough, my husband recognizes himself in most of my fictional creations, sometimes to my utter bafflement. I suppose I often absorb people into my writing without realizing I’m doing it.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

There wasn’t much research involved in writing Broken other than the exploration of human psyche. I read a little about the personality distortions of sociopaths and the differences between sociopaths and fanatics.

I also ventured into the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church as one of my two lead protagonists is a catholic priest.

 Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I enjoy getting into my characters’ heads and writing from their deepest, innermost perspective. Writing in the first person is tempting because it gives me the chance to fully blend with the character – sort of become the character, rather than just a narrator.

Broken features two protagonists, Father Joseph and Camilla who tell their respective stories in the first person. Allowing them to tell their own stories was useful especially because they are both unreliable narrators with huge gaps in their memories and are confused about their identities. I tried to give them their own distinct voices and mannerisms. I hope it worked.

I avoid writing from the point of view of the omnipresent – omniscient narrator. I find that form a bit dry and impersonal.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I plot and I plot, and I plot some more before I start writing. It all happens in my head so for days I come across as an idle procrastinator who does nothing all day apart from pacing in her study and dragging the dog out for lengthy walks. But I work really hard on my plot. Then I start writing and at that point things get slightly out of hand and my diligent plot strays into uncharted territory. It is at this point that I start documenting my storyline in writing. Otherwise, I would lose the plot altogether!

Many thanks Anna. Great answers!

You can find the buy links to Broken, here – http://viewbook.at/BrokenbyAnnaLegat

Bio

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

To find out more: www.annalegat.com

Follow Anna on Twitter: @LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: @AnnaLegatAuthor

Instagram: @LegatAuthor

Many thanks for joining me here today Anna – good luck with both of your new novels.

Happy Reading, everyone.

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Anna Legat : Cause of Death

It’s Opening Line’s time! This week, I’m welcoming Anna Legat to my site – as part of her #blogtour – with the first 500 words of her brand new  mystery – Cause of Death.

Over to you Anna…

Cause of Death is the third instalment in my cosy crime series, The Shires Mysteries. I enjoyed writing it immensely – it was good fun and a true labour of love. It could be because of my affinity with and affection for my two protagonists, Maggie and Sam, or maybe because of its light-hearted and humorous tone, but whatever the reason I was swept into the story from the off. So, I am delighted that I can share the opening lines of Cause of Death here on Jenny’s blog.

BLURB

Maggie and Sam’s crime-busting exploits continue in Cause of Death, book 3 in The Shires Mysteries.

All is not well in the village. The local meadows have been the pride of Bishops Well for hundreds of years, but now they are facing the sharp blades of developers. The landowner is a rich and reclusive author who is happy to see them destroyed, but the villagers – including Sam Dee and Maggie Kaye – are fighting back.

Until, that is, someone decides to silence one of their number permanently.

As Maggie and Sam soon discover, there is more than a quick buck to be made in the developers’ plans. There are age-old secrets and personal vendettas that could have deadly repercussions in Bishops Well today.

With Sam’s legal expertise and Maggie’s… well, Maggie-ness, they delve into the past, determined to unearth the truth. And, as sparks begin to fly, could there finally be something more between this sleuthing duo?

FIRST 500 WORDS-

The full moon was their silent accomplice – it shone brightly, illuminating the finer detail of the grand forgery they were carrying out on the ground. It wasn’t an easy job. The work had to be conducted on the uneven surface of the south-facing slope of a hill which by day was home to a herd of Friesian cows. A hill covered in cowpats was like a minefield, especially to those who had made the unfortunate choice of sandals for footwear. Old cowpats pretended to be dormant, but once stirred they could explode in a bouquet of unpleasant odour. That became evident when Rumpole, Vera Hopps-Wood’s Irish wolfhound, was detected smeared with cow excrement and stinking to high heaven. He appeared as happy as a pig in . . . mud, but Vera was inconsolable. No one showed her any sympathy. She should not have brought her pet to work. Forgery was no walk in the park.

The first part of the operation was the painstaking removal of topsoil together with all vegetation and the offending cowpats. That task had been conducted under the watchful eye of the designer and project manager – Maggie Kaye. The whole undertaking was her idea. The loosely organised but fiercely proud community of Bishops Well, in the shape of the Bishops Well Archaeological Association, had rallied round, as they usually did.

Sam Dee had had his reservations, but it was that or desecrating Harry Wotton’s wheat fields with crop circles. He had gone with the lesser evil. At least the injured party would be harder to establish. The ownership of the hill was disputed and claims to it were laid by three warring parties: the folk of Bishops Well, local magnate Lord Weston-Jones, and the parish of St John the Baptist.

By midnight the works were in full swing. The forgers were careful to stay within the outline of the shape, delineated earlier by the best art students recruited by Maggie and fellow teacher Cherie Hornby from Bishops Ace Academy. The labour distribution had been thoughtfully planned: the fairer sex was engaged in the finer art of scraping off the soil and staying within the lines (that required attention to detail and a steady hand) while the men carried bucketfuls of soil, grass, and the ever-present cow muck, which required little more than brute strength, to the top of the hill. There they distributed it evenly so that no one would detect it in the morning.

‘If Alec knew what I was getting up to, he’d have to divorce me,’ Vanessa Scarfe whimpered as she shovelled a stubborn tuft of grass out of existence. ‘I had to say I was staying at Vera’s tonight!’ Her chubby cheeks reflected the ghostly moonlight in all its fullness. Crime didn’t become her. And it shouldn’t – after all, she was the wife of Detective Chief Superintendent Scarfe, a pillar of the community and a man beyond reproach. He couldn’t afford to be linked to a common trespasser …

You can buy a copy of Cause of Death from…

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery eBook : Legat, Anna: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 eBook by Anna Legat – 9781786159892 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

Cause of Death by Anna Legat, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3 by Anna Legat | Waterstones

Cause of Death: The Shires Mysteries 3: A gripping and unputdownable English cosy mystery by Anna Legat | WHSmith

BIO

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications in New Zealand. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

www.annalegat.com

Twitter @LegatWriter

Facebook @AnnaLegatAuthor

Instagram @LegatAuthor

Many thanks for your opening lines, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Morwenna Blackwood: Underrated

I’m delighted to be welcoming Morwenna Blackwood back to my blog today, with the first 500 words from her brand new novel, Underrated.

Underrated is the third novel in the Glasshouse series. The novels stand alone as stories, but they are interconnected. In Underrated, we get Will’s version of events and find out why you should never underestimate a friend…

BLURB

I stand as close as I can to the Liver Building without looking proper weird and tip my head back. My eyes can’t focus properly, but I can make out a turquoise shape right at the top, soI mouth ’iya to Bella. I’m a bit soft on the Liver Birds. They’re 300-odd feet up in the air, so they should be able to see everything, but they’re chained down…

A story of the far-reaching effects of unrequited love and drug (ab)use, Underrated follows five lads who are just trying to make things better for themselves. In Liverpool and on the south Devon coast, their lives entangle as they turn to cocaine.

While some people take drugs to escape their circumstances, others deal drugs to escape theirs. But is escape ever really an option?

First 500 words of Underrated

It’s like tinnitus.

The silence with Mum and Dad in the front room is deafening and all-encompassing. Dad’s pretending to read the Sunday paper, and Mum’s pretending to read the magazine that came with it. I’m scanning the free paper for cheap, second-hand cars, but the pressure in the room renders me incapable of it, so instead I stare out of the patio doors at a load of crows that are hopping about on the lawn. There’s that phrase – you could have cut the tension with a knife. In all honesty, I wish one of them would cut the other with a knife – or me, or, better still, darling Dominic – because then it would be over with. The atmosphere in here is so tense that it’s given me a blinding headache. I stand, deciding to retreat up to my cave, and the sudden movement makes the crows take flight. I wish I could just fly away. Why the fuck do we all go on with this charade?! I can feel myself going mental; at some point I’ll crack and then I’ll take things into my own hands and force a change. Because this is absurd. It’s pathetic. It’s fucking killing me!

My bedroom – I think of it as my cave – is small; a dark box with a north-facing window. Even though I’m the oldest, I got last pick – or rather no pick – of the bedrooms, but mine does have a built-in wardrobe, so that, apparently, makes everything all right. Anyway, this room is all I’ve got, so it’s my refuge.

Though I want to slam it, I close my door quietly. It doesn’t matter how loud I am – no one notices me, so I don’t bother any more. I stare out of my bedroom window onto what is probably the most uninspiring view known to man: the length of our parquet-paved cul-de-sac, with its widely spaced four-bedroom houses and their uniform lawns that run flat from the house to the kerb. All the front gardens sport the designer slash that the housing developers refer to as ‘landscaping’, which is basically a strip of clay soil planted with hardy shrubs and a rowan sapling that wears a wire mesh dress. Outside every door are the generic pansies and lobelia in pots, in varying states of health. And then there’s the big, posh house – the former show home – at the open end of the cul-de-sac, blocking out the rolling hills and anything else that might be behind it, except the main road that connects our estate to everything and everywhere else in this shitty little town, which is basically nothing and nowhere.

I can hear my younger sister, Sally, in the kitchen; her overbright voice chirping on about biscuits and essays, while she makes another fucking cup of tea. I want to scream at her to stop it! I grab the nearest sheet of plain A3 to me – I draw a lot, there’s stuff everywhere – and shove it up against the window…

Buy-links:

The (D)Evolution of Us – mybook.to/devolution

Glasshouse – http://mybook.to/glasshousenovel

Underrated – mybook.to/underrated

Author biog:

BIO

When she was six years old, Morwenna wrote an endless story about a frog, and hasn’t stopped writing since.

She is the author of bestselling noir psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us and Glasshouse, has an MA in Creative Writing, and can usually be found down by the sea. Her third novel, Underrated, was published by #darkstroke 14/02/22.

She often thinks about that frog.

Social media links:

www.morwennablackwoodauthor.com

www.amazon.com/author/morwennablackwood

www.facebook.com/morwennablackwood

Twitter: @MorwennaBlackw1

Instagram: morwennablackwood_

TikTok: @morwennablackwood

Many thanks Morwenna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Ashley Lister: Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

I’m delighted to be welcoming Ashley Lister back to my blog today, to share the Opening Lines from his latest novel, Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

Over to you Ash…

Thank you to the awesome Jenny Kane for inviting me here today.  She genuinely remains one of my favourite writers and I feel honoured to call her a friend.  I hope she still feels the same about me after reading this blog post.

The idea for Conversations with Dead Serial Killers came to me as I was watching a TV show about psychics.  I’m neither a believer nor a disbeliever in the spirit world. I’m simply an idiot who gets drunk and is too lazy to shift away from the TV, regardless of what it’s playing.

So, there I was, watching this show with a person purporting to be a psychic, telling the viewers that they were being helped by a spirit guide and I thought, “What if that spirit guide was a dick? What if that spirit guide’s sole purpose in life (or should that be ‘in death’?) was to make things uncomfortable for the psychic they worked with?”

Whilst that’s ended up as one of the predominant themes in the story, I think it’s fair to say that Conversations with Dead Serial Killers has become something a little more than that.  I’ve tried to blend the tropes of true crime stories with a narrative about mediumship, some of the grisly and distasteful things you’d expect to find in horror stories, and a soupcon of my dark and twisted humour.

Blurb

“A clown can get away with murder.”
John Wayne Gacy, the killer clown.

Derek Turner makes his living as a psychic. But, when he makes his first genuine contact with the spirit world, it is an encounter that starts him on a pathway to holding conversations with dead serial killers.

FIRST 500 WORDS

The thing that few people appreciated about Ed Gein was his skill as a seamstress. Clive had sat through every episode of the Great British Sewing Bee and, whilst the finalists on that show invariably produced some nice-looking creations in the last episode of each series, and sometimes that was when they were working with awkward fabrics such as organza, pleated lace or chiffon, none of them had (yet) been challenged with creating something original from human skin. To Clive’s mind it was an injustice that everyone looked at Ed Gein’s work (the belt made from nipples, the lampshade made from Mary Hogan’s face, and the chairs, fully upholstered, in human skin) and all they saw was the Grand Guignol horror that came from murder, the desecration of graves, and the violation of corpses. No one appreciated the man for his craftsmanship and finesse with a needle and thread.

Clive sat back at his desk, surveying the screen that held his notes on Gein and wondering how close his latest book was to being ready for publication. There were hundreds of biographies covering Gein, describing him as the Plainfield Butcher, the Plainfield Ghoul and the Grandfather of Gore, and explaining how he had been the role model for fictional monsters such as Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Norman Bates in Robert Bloch’s Psycho, and even Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Clive’s approach to the biography had been different. Rather than go on about the lawlessness and illegality of Gein’s actions with the usual ghoulish voyeurism concerning murder, grave-robbing and skin-removal, Clive wanted to celebrate the Ed Gein that the history books had overlooked. Gein was a hard-working labourer. Gein was a loving son who aspired to be just like his mother. And Gein was a diligent researcher who had studied subjects as diverse as the Nazis, cannibalism and, if his well-thumbed copy of Grey’s Anatomy was any indicator, human biology.

Not that Gein was the only subject of the biographies he had written. Clive had published one volume on the comforting bedside manner of Dr Harold Shipman foregrounding the under-reported benevolent side of the world’s most prolific serial killer.  He had also written about the forbidden romance between Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and wanted to write about the passion that kept Fred and Rose West together.  Importantly, and it was a consistent theme throughout all of the books he was writing, Clive wanted to talk about the fact that some of these ‘notorious killers’ had managed to grow up to appear like unassuming and normal adults despite the trauma of abusive childhoods. He knew they’d grown up to appear unassuming and normal because neighbours, witnesses and others involved in testifying against these people, always described them as being ‘unassuming and normal.’

He supposed the project struck a personal chord for him because, if not for fate and circumstances, he figured he too could have been another name on the long list of serial killers who had…

***

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is currently available for Pre-Order and will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2022.

Pre-Order link: http://mybook.to/cwdsk

To find out more about Ashley Lister you can check out his website: www.ashleylister.com, his FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/ashley.lister, and Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleylister.

Huge thanks Ashley, for sharing your Opening lines today – I’m still talking to you after reading that- although I have hidden my sewing kit… just to be on the safe side. (Remembers pin cushion is on the table and dashes off)

Happy reading everyone, 

Jenny xx

At Death’s Door: Anna Legat

I’m delighted to be welcoming Anna Legat to my blog today. Anna’s latest cosy crime novel is out now.

Over to you Anna…

Hello Jenny, and thank you for inviting me to your wonderful blog to talk about my brand-new cosy crime mystery, At Death’s Door.

This is the second instalment of The Shires Mysteries featuring two amateur sleuths, the indomitable Maggie Kaye and her more level-headed neighbour, Samuel Dee. The pair blunder through murder and mayhem that is rife in the West Country town of Bishops Well which they call home.

In this book the story strays into the distant lands of the Southern Hemisphere where I have spent a big chunk of my life, experiencing worlds, lifestyles and cultures far removed from the quaint and magical English countryside. There was a different sort of magic to them: New Zealand was submerged in the deep and dense greenery of tree-ferns and redwoods; Southern Africa was a plain of gold and dust baking in the unforgiving sun. You felt safe in one of them and prayed to God your car didn’t break down in the middle of nowhere in the other. There was immense, ancient beauty to both.

I’d like to share with your readers, if I may, a short extract from At Death’s Door, describing the first impression South Africa made on one of my characters.

The engine of the Jeep wheezed and rattled as they negotiated the increasingly un-navigable roads in the full blazing sun. The wind, when it bothered to blow, carried with it dust and the occasional fetid stench of decaying roadkill. The dust and the stink stripped her tongue and nostrils of fluid. She regretted not bringing any bottled water with her on this escapade. Escapade wasn’t quite right – this had been a damn long journey to nowhere. She hadn’t realised it would be this long and this far.

She had thought Botswana was just the size of a county and the Caprivi just a strip of land beyond it, a promenade on the banks of the Zambezi. And then, as soon as the business at hand was done and dusted, Wayne had promised, they would go and see Victoria Falls. She was beginning to think that even Victoria Falls wasn’t worth all this stinking trouble.

They had landed in Johannesburg a week ago, and it had been a blast! They were staying at the

Intercontinental Sandton Sun and Towers, in the presidential suite, complete with white marble floors and crystal mirrors. The chandeliers – she would swear – were made of diamonds.

She stood on the terrace overlooking Johannesburg with all its distant buzz and twinkling lights, smoking a Marlboro Light. The cool night air slid over her skin like an ice cube. She was on top of the world, basking in luxury, light years away from the doldrums of sleepy English villages with all their creature discomforts of incessant drizzle and curtain-twitching neighbours. God, this was her first decent crack at entering paradise!

… Unfortunately, paradise was not meant to be, but I will say no more. At Death’s Door is out now.

http://mybook.to/AtDeathsDoor

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2: A twisty and gripping cosy mystery by Anna Legat | WHSmith

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2 eBook by Anna Legat – 9781786159915 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2 by Anna Legat | Waterstones

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2: A twisty and gripping cosy mystery by Anna Legat | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

BIO

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Subscribe to Anna’s News, Rumours and Scandalous Revelations at https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j6b7k1

To find out more: https://annalegat.com/

Follow Anna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnaLegatAuthor/

Many thanks for popping by today, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Happy Birthday Outlaw Justice

Somehow, it is a whole year since the fourth novel in #TheFolvilleChronicles was published!

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Outlaw Justice, opens in winter 1331 – and a storm is coming in the shape of Sir Richard de Willoughby.

Outlaw Justice

Blurb

England, 1331: Corrupt official, Sir Richard de Willoughby, has been appointed Justice of the Peace, with powers to hunt – and kill – those who oppose him. First on his list? The notorious Coterel brothers and their associates – the Folvilles…

The Folvilles must decide whether to flee into outlawry or take the law into their own hands – but is killing de Willoughby really the answer?

Robert de Folville is keen to dispose of the justice, but Robert’s ingenious wife, Mathilda, has a plan… one that could potentially rid them of Willoughby and yet see them escape the hangman’s noose. But these are tumultuous times and Mathilda must first put herself at great personal risk. Could the tale of a missing noblewoman, overheard by chance, be the key to solving a problem of life or death?

A gripping tale of real-life Robin Hoods, Outlaw Justice is the latest in the critically acclaimed ‘The Folville Chronicles’ series by Jennifer Ash.

Outlaw Justice

Ever since she first came to the attention of the Folville family – as a kidnap victim in The Outlaw’s Ransom- Mathilda of Twyford – has been learning that justice for the people of England comes at a high price. Often, it is those who purport to uphold the law, that break it the most…

Prologue

30th November 1331

‘Lady Isabel is safe, my Lord?’

‘I’ve seen her escorted to her mother in Lincolnshire by trusted friends. Her ravings these past few months have become intolerable. It’s not good for the children. I increasingly fear for her sanity.’

Keeping his countenance neutral, Bennett removed his master’s cloak. ‘May I be of assistance, my Lord? A drink after your journey perhaps?’

‘You may be of assistance by saying nothing of this to anyone. If King Edward were to hear of my wife’s shameful state, he might deem me unworthy of the office he so recently bestowed upon me.’

Bennett dipped his head respectfully and withdrew into the kitchen. He’d worked for Sir Richard de Willoughby long enough to know when to keep his mouth shut.

Damping down the kitchen fire for the night, absorbed in thought, the steward headed towards Lady Willoughby’s chamber. He’d seen no signs of mental instability. He’d heard no ravings. He had, however, heard a row between her and her husband earlier that day. The one and only time in her whole miserable marriage she’d stood up to her lord.

Pushing his mistress’s door open, Bennett surveyed the scene. Lady Isabel’s travelling cloak hung over the back of a chair by the window. Her hairbrush sat on her side table, and her riding boots waited patiently by the door.

A furrow formed on the steward’s forehead as he closed the chamber door, locking it securely behind him.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, Outlaw Justice it is available as both an ebook and paperback. It can be read as a standalone novel, or as part of #TheFolvilleChronicles

The Outlaw’s Ransom – mybook.to/theoutlawsransom

The Winter Outlaw- mybook.to/thewinteroutlaw

Edward’s Outlaw – mybook.to/EdwardsOutlaw

Outlaw Justice – mybook.to/OutlawJustice

Happy reading everyone,

Jennifer x

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Hidden

I’m delighted to welcome friend, fellow co-runner of Imagine and author, Alison Knight, to my place today.

Why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the Opening Lines from Alison’s latest novel, The Hidden?

Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me back to your blog to talk about my latest book, The Hidden. This is my third novel published by Darkstroke in just ten months and it completes a trilogy of standalone but linked stories. The first book, Mine, is based on real events in London in the 1960s. The second, The Legacy, is a story inspired by a scene in Mine, so there are some cameo appearances by characters from the first book. The Hidden is set in the early 1970s and follows what has happened to one of the characters in The Legacy. I hope you enjoy the opening lines of The Hidden.

BLURB for THE HIDDEN

Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…

Montana, 1973.

Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.

Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.

The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.

When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?

FIRST 500 WORDS

As she left the witness box there was a flash of blinding light and the courtroom filled with smoke. She froze, terror holding her trapped, unable to escape. Around her, court officials called for order, women screamed and there were thuds and crashes as furniture was overturned.

            “Get out!” she heard her brother shout.

            She looked around in a daze. “Percy?” It couldn’t be him. He was dead. That’s why she was here, why she’d spilled their secrets.

            For a moment the smoke cleared, and she saw a figure in a balaclava running towards her. He was clad all in black. His eyes were filled with hatred. She knew why he was there. It was her time to die. He raised his arm and she saw the glint of steel in his hand. She closed her eyes as the knife descended and slashed the side of her face.

At last her survival instinct freed her from her terrified paralysis. She turned, desperate to get away, but she felt the blade pierce her body. She wanted to crawl away from the stinging slashes, but she was trapped, unable to move. She felt moisture on her skin – her blood or her tears?

“It’s all right,” she heard Percy whisper. “It’s not your time yet. You’ve won, Sis. Don’t give up now.”

“Percy!” she screamed, reaching out for him …

Montana, USA, 1973

Her hand touched fur. Fur? She opened her eyes, blinking as she registered the soft whining of the dog on the bed next to her. The vivid images of the London courtroom faded away as she took in her surroundings – the moonlight flooding through the window where she’d forgotten to close the curtains again; the patchwork quilt on the big wooden bed; the large pine chest and smaller matching bedside cabinet.

She sat up, bringing up her knees and leaning her elbows on them as she rubbed her face. The dog nuzzled her cheek, trying to lick up her salty tears. She pushed him away.

“It’s all right, Bear,” she said, scratching behind his ear. “It was just a dream.”

The same dream. Every. Bloody. Night. It’s been three years now. Will it ever go away?

            Knowing she wouldn’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired she felt, she got up and padded barefoot to the window. It was a clear night. She could see the dark silhouette of the mountains that stood guard above the fertile valley. Above them were millions of stars. It never ceased to soothe her, looking out at the moon and the endless sky above her. It reminded her of how huge the universe was, and how small and insignificant she was in comparison.

There had been a time when she hadn’t bothered to look around and to enjoy the beauty and majesty of her surroundings. Instead, she’d focused only on herself – her wants, her opinions, her pleasures. No one else had mattered. And look where that got me, she reminded herself. Today, she …

***

BUY LINK: https://mybook.to/thehidden

BIO

Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.

The Hidden, available from 23rd September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops with her friend and fellow author, Jenny Kane (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk). She also works as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/ 

Many thanks for sharing your Opening Lines today, Alison.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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