When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis’s old life is shattered. She is transformed from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the god-like warrior Achilles as a prize of war. And she’s not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long and bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters. The Trojan War is known as a man’s story: a quarrel between men over a woman, stolen from her home and spirited across the sea. But what of the other women in this story, silenced by history? What words did they speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead? In this historical novel, Pat Barker charts one woman’s journey through the chaos of the most famous war in history, as she struggles to free herself and to become the author of her own story.
Having read a little of Greek mythology and history including some of Troy, Helen and so on I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read this fascinating book.
Written from the viewpoint of Briseis, former princess of the Trojan city of Lyrnessus, now Achilles’s prize, his slave. This take on the Trojan Wars brings home how the fate of women has so often hung on the whim of men. This is a fresh, new and exciting take on Homer’s Iliad. Showing the effect of the Trojan war, indeed pretty much any war, on women and Briseis is a great voice to tell it. However, Pat Barker also gives account of how the war effects the men, how upbringing has shaped attitudes and how accepting of killing, of battle, of war and all it’s consequences men are and, if only for appearances sake, women have to be. Or do they? Should women remain silent? Should they accept their fate? Or can they be outspoken? Should they be willing to loose their own identity, their own traditions, customs and history? It is so very difficult to rail against a mighty foe. Briseis sees how very difficult it is to do any of this, indeed to even be seen as a person rather than a possession.
As we see how the War plays out we find out the fate of Troy, of Briseis, of Achilles, of the women whose silence has been shattered in this very timely, wonderfully brought to life story.
This is a wonderful retelling, reimagining of that piece of history and one that will long live in the memory of the reader.
With thanks to Penguin Books UK, Hamish Hamilton via NetGalley for an eARC of The Silence of the Girls. This review is purely my own thoughts and, for which, I have received no payment.
Pat Barker was born in Yorkshire and began her literary career in her forties, when she took a short writing course taught by Angela Carter. Encouraged by Carter to continue writing and exploring the lives of working class women, she sent her fiction out to publishers. Thirty-five years later, she’s published fifteen novels, including her masterful Regeneration Trilogy, been made a CBE for services to literature, and won awards including the Guardian Fiction Prize and the UK’s highest literary honour, the Booker Prize. Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics. She lives in Durham.
Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.
Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.
Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?
This is the third book by Sophie Hannah that brings Agatha Christie’s Belgian Private Detective Hercule Poirot back, giving the reader a new mystery to enjoy.
As I considered what to write I have a small (!) confession to make. Ah, you say, already the influence of Hercule Poirot is at work. What might I have to feel guilty about? Surely such an upright citizen (?) could not have any, what do you say, mmmm….. skeletons in the closet? But, my friends, I must tell you this – I have never read any Poirot books well not until now. So, there you have it, shocking I know. However, there is more? oh dear! Perhaps worse still is that I have something of a preference for, she will remain nameless in this post, the other Agatha Christie amateur detective.
You may find all this somewhat beyond the pale. How could I dare to thrust my opinions upon you with so little familiarity with M. Poirot? I will not use my watching of him on the little or big screen in my favour just to say we must all begin somewhere and this is where I have begun my foray into the world of Hercule Poirot.
Well now, the book. The opportunity to read a Poirot mystery not by Agatha Christie appealed to me even though I had not read the previous two books by Sophie Hannah. Starting here is not an issue for the stories stand alone. Of course, as with any series, the style and characterisations grow stronger, more confident and rounded with each book. This being the third such book it is not surprising then to feel that Sophie Hannah is presenting an accomplished and quintessential piece of writing. It is unique and yet evocative of the great lady herself, a masterly piece of writing.
The mystery is thoroughly enjoyable, well thought out and will keep you guessing. I rather liked Hercule Poirot a character I had never really warmed to in my (non-reading) Poirot experience. The Mystery of Three Quarters is mainly written from the point of view of Police Detective Inspector Edward Catchpool who is a new character introduced by Sophie Hannah. As is Fee Spring, a wonderful character, who brings a down to earth element to the book and gives one outlet for the humour than can be found throughout the story.
The Mystery of Three Quarters is a terrific read, thoroughly enjoyable, well written and well worth reading. I can see that, like me, if you haven’t read Agatha Christie’s Poirot that these books from Sophie Hannah will open up a wonderful world of new stories from both authors and for those who are already fans of Agatha Christie’s Poirot surely these books will be a great pleasure to read and an opportunity to expand their collection of Poirot mysteries.
With thanks to HarperCollins via NetGalley for an eARC copy of The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah. This review is purely my own thoughts and, for which, I have received no payment.
SOPHIE HANNAH is an internationally bestselling writer of crime fiction, published in more than 35 languages. Her novel The Carrier won Crime Thriller of the Year at the 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards. She lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, and as a poet has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Sophie has written two previous Hercule Poirot novels, The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, both of which were top five Sunday Times bestsellers.
Little Face HurtingDistance The Point of Rescue TheOtherHalfLives A Room Swept White LastingDamage Kind of Cruel TheCarrierTheOrphanChoir The Telling Error PicturesOrItDidn’tHappen A Game for All the Family TheNarrowBed Did You See Melody?
AGATHA CHRISTIE is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English with another billion in foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. She is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections, more than 20 plays, and six novels written under the name Mary Westmacott.
The Skylarks’ War marks the centenary of the end of the First World War and is a classic in the making.
An evocative and heartbreaking novel of family and friendship in wartime from Hilary McKay, award-winning author of the Casson Family Chronicles.
The Skylarks’ War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay.
Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer.
When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?
This is the story of Clarissa ‘Clarry’ Penrose and her brother Peter along with their cousin Rupert and friends Simon, his sister Vanessa and Violet. It starts in 1902 and finishes sometime after 1918.
This is a wonderful story it depicts life in the early 20th century for Clarry and Co. in language that brings an understanding of the times so clearly and without fuss. It will make you laugh, cry and it will carry you along with the delightful and the dreadful stories of childhood and youth. Clarry is wonderful and Hilary McKay has used her voice beautifully to bring her family, friends and the period vividly to life.
An outstanding book, exquisitely written which will engage the reader and draw them into the lives, the life and the times keeping them engrossed until the very end.
This book may be for 9-11 year olds but it is a book that anyone who reads will be captivated by. It is timely to be published on the 100th anniversary of WWI ending but this is not solely a wartime story and so can be read at any time and, surely, it will be read often and by many over the years. Of course, it can and should be used as a vehicle in the study of the Great War and young peoples, especially girls, lives at the time in schools, libraries and homes. This is a book worthy of any and every bookshelf everywhere, deserved of all the praise and plaudits it has and should receive. I liked it and would highly recommend to all.
I received an e-copy off The Skylarks’ War from the publisher via NetGalley – for which, my thanks. I have not received any payment and all thoughts are my own.
Hilary McKayis a critically acclaimed award-winning author, having won the Guardian Fiction Prize for her first novel, The Exiles,and going on to win the Smarties and the Whitbread (now the Costa) Award for The Exiles in Love and Saffy’s Angel. Hilary studied Botany and Zoology at the University of St Andrews and went on to work as a biochemist, before the draw of the pen became too strong and she decided to become a full-time writer. Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales was her first book with Macmillan Children’s Books and is a critically acclaimed classic-in-the-making, whilst her novel The Skylarks’ War is a classic in the making. Hilary lives in Derbyshire with her family.
The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.
Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…
Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…
The book opens with the narrator attending the funeral of his old tutor and friend Francis Benthem. Benthem had come to Cyprus some years before and they had lost touch over the years but he still regarded him as a father-figure, a mentor of his formative years as an artist. It was a curious funeral and our narrator, whose name we never learn, wonders about Benthems death and the life he lived in Cyprus. Who is Illy Prostakov and what was the work Benthem did for him?
Our narrator is curious, some might say too curious for his own good! As we follow him around Cyprus, meeting a variety of strange and fascinating souls in a variety of weird and wonderful places our curiosity equally draws us in.
For a short novel, there’s just 155 pages, it packs in plenty of mystery and given that the language and plot has to be tight you do not feel rushed. This literary thriller is somewhat dark but there is nothing graphic with much of the action coming toward the end of the book. And what an ending it is, nicely done!
Cyprus is splendidly brought to life and we get a real sense of history, culture and setting. I really enjoyed this element of the book. We learn who the ‘Golden Orphans’ are and their origin. The descriptive narration truly enhances the mystery and tension, evoking a real sense of disquiet throughout the book.
Blog tours are such fun as they bring books to your attention that you might not otherwise have come across and so you are able to enjoy different genres or types of genre such as TheGoldenOrphans. This novel was captivating and for those who like a dark, atmospheric read this book may well be one for you.
My thanks to Gary Raymond and Parthian Books for providing me an e-copy of this book & Emma (#damppebblesblogtours) for inviting me to participate in the blog tour….
Like to find out more about TheGoldenOrphans ? Then why not take a spin around the rest of these terrific blogs…..
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.
From one of the UK’s biggest crime writers – a phenomenal new series guaranteed to have your heart in your mouth.
From the man who brought you the bestselling Inspector McLean novels.
Undercover ops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.
Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.
In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.
There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.
I’m delighted to have been invited to join the No Time To Cry BlogTour by Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours and to be opening the tour today alongside @collinsjacob115 Do take a look at the BlogTour details below.
Although I’ve heard good things about his books I’d not read any James Oswald before! So when the opportunity arose to join this tour I jumped at it.
I’ve often said that one of my main reasons for reading a series from a writer, apart from a cracking good story of course, is the ability to get to know it’s characters especially the main character(s), the author has the time to bring that insight and depth. With No Time To Crythere is one main character and the reader is immersed in DC Constance ‘Con’ Fairchild. The story is told from her point of view, by her and we are immediately plunged into her thoughts, life and character.
The premise is terrific DC Fairchild is working an undercover operation and is called into the operations base where she finds her boss DI Pete Copperthwaite dead, he’s been shot, executed. DCI Bain attends the scene, even in the initial response to Pete’s murder it’s fast becoming clear that something is seriously amiss. Con is sent home to await a debrief.
She takes a slight detour on the way home to the station to check out the surveillance system in the ops base. What she finds only confirms all her fears and when she comes in for the debrief it’s clear where the blame is being laid. Is Con really a suspect – how could that be? Pete wasn’t just her boss, he was her friend someone she looked up to and respected she could never do such a thing! Surely they know that….
Professional Standards are being brought in and Con’s life and career seem to be going down the pan fast. Then someone tries to kill her.
An old school friend makes contact with Con, asking for help, her little sister Izzy has disappeared. Con’s a bit surprised – why hasn’t Izzy been officially reported missing?
The characters are well drawn, as you would expect from such an experienced author, the story builds pace and tension with plenty to keep you guessing along the way. Some of the characters are not too nice and some of the subject matter may be difficult but there is nothing overly graphic. I liked Con, although the role Pete was given irked ever so slightly, she has an interesting background and a strong spirit.
As the plot thickens we follow Con north to escape the threat in London and get some space to work out what’s going on. There are twists and turns to this elaborate plot which unfold as Con puts the pieces together. Will she find Izzy before it’s too late? Will she clear her name of Pete’s murder and find the real killer? This is a compelling story.
I look forward to reading more of Constance Fairchild.
Now enjoy the BlogTour Wildfire Q&A with James Oswald……
Give us three adjectives to best describe your new novel? Thrilling, breathless, short
What are the three most important character traits of your protagonist? Dogged determination, ability to think on her feet, she doesn’t much care what others think of her
Where is the novel set? London, Northamptonshire, Perthshire and Angus
Whoisyourbiggestinfluenceasa writer? Without a doubt, Terry Pratchett
Have you ever killed anyone off from real life in one of your novels? Frequently. One friend even asked if he could be the villain. He dies naked in his bath.
What was your favourite ‘terrible’ review? The Hangman’s Song, book three in the Inspector McLean series, has a one star Amazon review that ends “Incidentally, even the title is misleading – there’s no singing in the book.”
What is your favourite writing snack? Chocolate. It’s the perfect brain food.
Which of your characters would you most like to have dinner with? Madame Rose. Or maybe Mrs McCutcheon’s Cat.
With thanks to Anne Caterfor the invitation to join the NoTimeToCryBlogTour and to Wildfire for a copy of the book. Like to hear more about it? Then check out these brilliant Blogs………
Published by: Wildfire an imprint of the Headline Division of Hachette UK
Publication: 1 Nov. 2018 Paperback; Ebook and Audiobook are also available.
James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries, as well as the new DC Constance Fairchild series. James’s first two books, NATURAL CAUSES and THE BOOK OF SOULS, were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. AS COLD AS THE GRAVE is the ninth book in the Inspector Mclean Series.
James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.
As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.
A breathtakingly original thriller by international bestselling Icelandic author Lilja Sigurdardóttir
Book 2 in the acclaimed Reykjavik Noir series
Film rights sold to Palomar Pictures
Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
I recently bought, read and reviewed Snare the first in this series and loved it so when the opportunity came along from Anne Cater and Orenda Books to join the BlogTour for Trap I was delighted, thrilled and happy to do so.
Would it be as good? Second books often take a dip for the reader, perhaps the after glow from a such a good first book means anything else has to do such a lot to even come near to matching that. Well Trap doesn’t disappoint.
It takes up the story from Snare seamlessly, which means that you really should read that first, it is written in the same crisp, clever and deft way with the short passages not only keeping you gripped right from the start but bringing pace, life and tension into this wonderfully plotted story.
We’re in 2011, Sonja is in Florida with Thomás but not for long. Freedom can be very fleeting as Sonja realises and running away turned out to be all too short. Back in Reykjavík Sonja finds herself back to square one, perhaps even worse off as she is not being allowed to see Thomás. She is formulating another plan because not seeing Thomás isn’t an option and she wants to be free. Still plans can be made but there are no guarantees they will work out as well as is hoped. There are many twists and turns in the book so even when unexpected help seems to offer you what you desire it may not be quite what it seems and maybe the cost will be too high.
We continue to hear from Agla both through the investigation that is being conducted into the financial crisis and with her relationship to Sonja. This thread sets the timing, the modern period, of the book and allows us to better understand it. It also gives the book more depth partly for this reason but also, more importantly for me, because of the way it connects and weaves the characters stories. Something that Lilja Sigurdardóttir does so well.
I loved many of the characters, I didn’t love some characters. None of them are wholly innocent but, as in ‘real life’, are often flawed. Telling the story mainly through Sonja’s perspective allows the reader to empathise even if we don’t agree with what happens, we can understand why the situation has come about, similarly with Agla and Bragi, which is perhaps why it is easy to connect to their stories. Thomás’ voice, which we hear now and again, is wonderful and gives a further perspective on how adult choices can impact their children’s lives and how children see the resulting situation.
The translation by Quentin Bates ensures that you live in the world created by Lilja Sigurdardóttir so fully you can feel the icy blasts or the drip of sweat, both from the geography of the book and the situations within it.
This is a terrific book, a cracking read and most definitely recommended. I for one can hardly wait for the third book – Cage – to be published in English.
With huge thanks to Orenda Books for an e-copy of Trap and many thanks to Anne from #RandomThingsTours for inviting me on this wonderful #BlogTour
Enjoy following the #Trap #BlogTour brought to you by the fabulous Orenda Books and Anne Cater…..
Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.
Steps (Spor), 2009 Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010 Snare (Gildran) 2015 (Reykjavík Noir 1) Trap (Netið) 2016 (Reykjavík Noir 2) Cage (Búrið) 2017 (Reykjavík Noir 3) Svik (no English title yet) 2018
Lilja’s latest book, Svik is a standalone thriller with a political twist and will be published in Iceland in October 2018 by Forlagid publishing.
Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England.
He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as novels.
Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.
Many thanks to Anne from #RandomThingsTours for inviting me on this wonderful #BlogTour I am delighted to be hosting an extract from PalmBeachFinland by Antti Toumainen ……
from Part One – Dreams
The property in question was situated at the end of a magnificent peninsula. On either side of the peninsula was a beautiful sandy beach, and looking from the mainland the beach rose gently to the left and ended in a broad, thick area of forest, on the other side of which, completely hidden from view, was the area that belonged to Palm Beach Finland. Chico knew that Jorma Leivo had already come to an arrangement about the purchase of this land. Chico and Robin lay on their stomachs beneath the pines and stared at the house. Darkness had fallen. ‘What’s Leivo got against Olivia?’ asked Robin in a whisper. ‘Nothing, I suppose,’ Chico whispered back. ‘So why does he want us to piss through her letterbox?’ ‘We’re not going to piss through Olivia’s letterbox.’ ‘So what are we going to do then?’ Chico didn’t have a chance to answer. Lights came on in the ground floor. Olivia had come home. To be completely accurate, Olivia had come home a few months earlier, immediately after her father’s death. He had suffered a massive heart attack while out in his kayak. The wind had carried him into the children’s swimming area and he had frightened the kids, hunched over, his face stiffened into a permanent smile and an oar jutting upwards in his hands. Someone had taken a picture, which Chico had later seen. The day after his death, Olivia Koski had returned to her former hometown, alone, and decided to stay. Alone.
And now: lights in the window, a human shadow on the wall. Chico wasn’t the kind of man to operate without a plan of action. He picked a hefty-looking stone up from the ground and showed it to Robin. Robin took the hint, and picked up a stone of his own. Chico explained the plan, which had probably been in existence since Neanderthal times: run up to the house, throw the stone, run away. On the count of three. At two, Robin sped off, and Chico followed him. They ran through the woods and into the yard, and threw the stones at the same time. The illuminated downstairs window shattered. Chico and Robin were about to round the corner of the house and disappear back into the woods when they heard it. Something between a squeal, a gasp of pain, and a shrill cry for help. They stopped in the darkness of the yard, stood on the spot as though turned to pillars of salt. Again, the same sound. ‘I told you we should have pissed through the letterbox,’ Robin whispered. ‘It doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s fun.’ Chico tried to think. This wasn’t part of the plan. ‘We’re going to have to…’ he began but didn’t know how to con- tinue. They would have to do something. Something. ‘We have to make sure nothing bad has happened.’ The same sound again, this time followed by knocking and banging.
They turned, quietly paced along the wall of the house to the veranda, walked up the steps and opened the door. The veranda, complete with a sofa and all the trappings, looked pleasant and empty. The sound was coming from deep inside the house. Chico walked in front, Robin close behind him. The glass-fronted internal door creaked when Chico opened it. Startled, he clenched his teeth together. He stopped and sensed Robin tight up against him. The light was coming from the right. Chico could see cupboards and furniture typical of any kitchen. He listened carefully, but now everything was silent. No sounds, no knocking, no banging. Again he took a few steps, towards the kitchen door, and when he reached the doorway he stopped and peered inside. A tiled floor, a dark wooden countertop, cupboards, the broken window. But more importantly: blood. Blood and shards of broken glass. Everywhere. A pool of blood right beneath the window. Drop- lets and spatter everywhere. A red streak across the white fridge door leading…
Right here. Chico could taste the electric whisk in his mouth. He was falling backwards – he knew that much. He tried to stay upright but his legs weren’t quite in the position he’d imagined them, so he simply spun on the spot. And as he fell, everything around him was bright and then dark- ening, like a series of disparate images: long dark hair, a face covered in blood, Olivia’s slender figure in black jeans and a black polo-neck jumper, the white plastic shell of the electric whisk as it reflected light from the spherical lampshade above. As Chico came crashing to the floor, he saw Robin peer into the kitchen, just as Chico had a moment before. And just like him, he too got a whack from the whisk, this time on his temple. Robin fell to his knees in the doorway as though begging to be let into the kitchen. Chico’s surprise was tinged with annoyance: they are worried about her, they come into the house to check she’s all right only to get whacked in the face with a bloody kitchen appliance. Now Chico heard footsteps, and he guessed what was coming but didn’t have time to do anything about it. Large black spots still obscured his field of vision. The whisk struck him like a bear’s paw: it was painful and dizzying. ‘We only came to help,’ he whimpered. But Olivia wasn’t listening. She had already turned round. The whisk rose into the air and came down like a guillotine. Robin remained on his knees despite the blow. Chico’s ear felt like it was on fire, and a searing pain ran down that side of his head. They had to get the situation under control. Chico grabbed the table for support and pulled himself to his feet. The dark figure was approaching. Chico leapt forwards. He caught Olivia by the thighs, making her lose her balance. He hollered at Robin to grab hold of her. They toppled backwards towards Robin, and he lunged for them. The whisk fell from Olivia’s hand. Olivia ended up lying on her stomach on the floor. Chico was holding her by the legs, while her head was under Robin’s armpit. Chico was shouting instructions. They struggled to their knees. She was light. It turned out there was some use for Robin’s stubbornness after all; his grip on Olivia didn’t flinch. Chico’s plan was the third he’d had that evening: they would take her outside, into the fresh air; they’d talk about it and sort things out, Chico would repay the cost of the broken window. Their down payment would cover it. Of course, paying damages like this wasn’t exactly in the spirit of their agreement with Jorma Leivo, but needs must. Running away is out of the question, he told Robin, she knows who we are. Robin looked as though he understood what Chico was saying. With some difficulty they struggled to their feet. The body dan- gling between them was wriggling, grappling, lashing out. Chico took a firmer grip and shouted at Robin to hold tight. We’ll take her outside. Robin nodded, turned to get into a better position. Chico did the same. He shifted his weight to the other leg, shouted ‘Now’ and tensed his muscles. The pool of blood, in which Olivia had been lying face-down and where Chico now stood in his Adidas trainers, was fresh and slippery. He lost his footing. As he stumbled backwards he instinctively tightened his grip. At the same moment Robin, with Olivia’s head still under his arm, yanked them towards the front door. The crack was like a dry plank snapping in two. Olivia’s body went limp. Robin was still carrying her headfirst into the yard. Chico was holding on to her legs, and staggered to his feet in the pool of blood. Chico bellowed at Robin, shouted at him to stop and let go. Chico let go. Olivia slumped to the floor.
Chico clambered to his hands and knees. Robin was standing in the doorway. ‘I’ve never seen her like this,’ said Robin. Talk about stating the bleeding obvious, thought Chico. He took a few cautious steps towards Robin, then brushed the body’s long dark hair back from its face and wiped one of the cheeks with a sleeve of the T-shirt, just enough to make out its features. The skin on the gaunt face was strangely white and taut, and the eye staring intensely at the tall skirting board in front of it was bright blue, the ear was small, the moustache thin and the goatee on the chin narrow and black, as though etched in pencil. For once Robin was right. Chico had never seen Olivia like this either. The reason was clear: it wasn’t Olivia.
It’s Me again!
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, whoops! Well that’s some start to a book! You just know it’s going to be a blast! Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I would like to thank Orenda Books for an e-copy of Palm Beach Finland. I will be posting my thoughts in the coming weeks. In the meantime do enjoy the rest of this fabulous #BlogTour from Orenda and Anne Cater…..
Enjoy following the #PalmBeachFinland #BlogTour brought to you by @OrendaBooks and @AnneCater
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.
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