Please vote for The 9th Hour!

Thank you so much for all those who have voted on The 9th Hour and Chasing Pharaohs, both longlisted for the Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, in Crime Fiction, Thriller Fiction and Historical Fiction.


For those who would like to vote, click on the links below to find The 9th Hour, scroll down to the categories. Crime and Thriller are available and The 9th Hour is listed under both. Check the box next to the Book, scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the VOTE button. It will take you to another screen which shows a list of all the books chosen this year.

Voting is open until Saturday.

The 9th Hour in Crime ~

The 9th Hour in Thriller

Tight Plot, Great Characters, Great Writing.

Thank you to Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Author for her amazing review of The 9th Hour.

Set in colorful New Mexico, The 9th Hour successfully combines the intense investigation to find a serial killer before he strikes again with the inner workings of the killer’s mind. Into this mix comes a British born detective of African descent and a killer obsessed with Nordic mythology. Stibbe’s ability to bring these diverse elements together shows skilled writing. Her ability to do this effectively, holding the attention of the reader shows real talent.
Detective David Temeke brings a passion to his investigation that is softened by his sense of humor. Teamed with Malin Santiago whose mother was Norwegian and who speaks the language, Temeke has personal issues that crop up during the investigation. Malin has a somewhat dark past herself and struggles with demons of her own. While giving the characters an added dimension, Stibbe manages to keep these side stories from interfering with the plot; finding the serial killer before he claims another victim.
Providing insight into the workings of the police department investigating the crimes, Stibbe builds a tight story with characters that evoke emotions from sympathy to downright disgust.
The character that elicits the most sympathy is Darryl Williams, a distraught father dealing with the worst tragedy a parent can face, the murder of a child. As Williams deals with his loss and the difficulty of raising his remaining daughter’s, the reader is drawn along, sharing his pain.
The story moves forward smoothly, the tension grows, and just when you think everything is about to be resolved, bang; along comes another dark surprise. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a fast paced and dark detective story. I also look forward to more investigations with Detective Temeke and hopefully his partner Malin Santiago.

Consider also voting for Chasing Pharaohs: A Novel of Ancient Egypt for Best Historical Fiction: – Scroll down to Historical Category and find Chasing Pharaohs in the listings.


Thank you for voting. You ROCK!

The Challenges of Writing

Author Margaret K. Johnson invited me to her blog this week and asked these great questions. I wanted to share them with those of you who have expressed an interest in writing books for the first time.  Writing isn’t easy and the challenges of being criticized, blown to the curb or worse, are very real.

What challenges have you had to overcome or deal with in order to write?

claire's deskWorking full time has always been a challenge since there are so few hours left in the day to sit down in a dedicated space and write. Now that I’m a full time writer, my main challenge is social media, updating webpages, editing, blogs, proofreading, reviews, formatting and Facebook. Each tiny distraction takes away precious minutes and hours from getting back into my writing zone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself not to be sidetracked by the onslaught of bestselling workshops that promise essential writing tips, marketing and promotion. All are excellent by the way, but there’s only so many you can take.

How do you think this challenge has impact on your writing?

I love doing it all. That’s the problem. But these commitments need to be managed. Having succumbed to an egg-timer and doing only one hour a day for twitter and Facebook, I have found a large chunk of time to write. My contemporary crime books don’t really fit the blueprint of thriller & suspense. They tend to fall somewhere between literary and mystery rather than being branded to one or the other. So I call them Myst-Lit (or Mis-Fit). I love doing pottery (a first-time potter, you understand) and gardening, and during these times a tape recorder is handy to record inspired chapters and plots.

What was your greatest fear when you first started to write?

Criticism. There are so many writers out there who have folded under that big giant, lost all their drive, passion and nerve. It’s awful to watch. I fell victim to the thought that making a book public would attract a queue of literary critics and I’d be buried under a morass of one star reviews. I remember going to a dinner party in London several years ago and sitting next to a man who kept referring to my writing as ‘a little project’ and ‘did I understand that writers must have a PhD to be considered for publication.’ I decided to load my sling and be a David to that Goliath. Any advice and/or reviews can be harsh, but we need them all the same.

Here’s my review puppy. I trot him out when reviews are scarce. Who can resist those little boot-button eyes…Doggone 9th


What advice would you give to someone who wants to write but is feeling held back by circumstances and/or challenges?

All books are subjective and reviewers are only doing what comes naturally― evaluating the story. Take constructive criticism on the chin and learn from it and take no notice of the one star bandits. All the best authors have them so why shouldn’t we? Trust your gut, change what you feel you need to change and leave the rest. Write until you croak.

Tell us about something you’ve written that you’re really proud of, and something you’re writing now.

The 9th Hour, is a contemporary mystery/thriller set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The first book in a seven-part series introduces Temeke as the MC, an English detective who couldn’t be further from his native stamping ground. He is not much liked by his peers and due to a barrage of poorly chosen words finds himself ousted from Homicide and sent to Northwest Area Command. The conflicts in his own background means he will never fit in any more than his partner, Malin Santiago, will. She must deal with her own insecurities in a hostile working atmosphere, especially where gallows humor and tough talk is prevalent.

billboard subway

When the ninth young girl falls into the clutches of a serial killer, maverick detective, David Temeke, faces a race against time to save her life.

The Duke City Police Department in Albuquerque, New Mexico is no stranger to gruesome murders, but this new serial killer on their block keeps the body parts of his eight young victims as trophies and has a worrying obsession with the number 9. The suspect is incarcerated in the state’s high security penitentiary but Unit Commander Hackett is faced with a dilemma when another teenage girl goes missing.

Detective Temeke and his new partner, Malin Santiago, are sent to solve a baffling crime in the dense forests of New Mexico’s Cimarron State Park. But time is running out. Can they unravel the mysteries of Norse legends and thwart the 9th Hour killer before he dismembers his next victim? This is the first in the Detective Temeke Crime series.

Night Eyes is the second in the series and was released on March 25, 2016 –  last week. I think this is my favorite book so far.

Night Eyes bus stop

When the young son of Albuquerque’s Mayor is kidnapped, Detective David Temeke and his partner Malin Santiago are called to investigate.

Meanwhile, a ten year enquiry into the murders of several young boys has gone cold. No witnesses, no suspect. Or so the police believe. But a mysterious phone call leads Temeke and Santiago to the remains of a young boy found near the ancient ruins of an Anasazi settlement. Is this a random act or the work of the serial killer?

Drawn deeper into the wilderness by a man waging a war with his past, twelve year old boy-scout, Adam, must use everything he has learned to stay alive. Temeke and Santiago are pushed to the limit in the second book of this thrilling, fast-paced series set in New Mexico.

As author Jean Gill says:

…We are equally drawn into the limited understanding of a boy scout; limited because he’s too young to comprehend the adult scenes he’s witnessed and limited because he has no idea why he’s been kidnapped. Neither has the reader although we pick up on little clues and wonder… as do the detctives when they find the paper trail this ingenious youngster is laying for them.

An electrifying new edition to the Stibbe arsenal, Night Eyes confronts the relationship between husband and wife, father and son, detective and villain. Temeke comes to understand that he is dealing with a perpetrator who will put him to the test, both professionally and personally and, at the same time, battle the darkest demons in himself. Not since Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series, has there been a novel with as much insight into spiritual warfare. Fast-moving, riveting reading which ranks with the best thrillers out there. ~ Noble Lizard Publishing.

All eBooks and Kindle formats are now priced at only $2.99. Regular price $3.99.

To find out more about Claire’s books, visit her website here

Also by Claire Stibbe

For updates on new books, book signings and regular blog features, why not sign up for her occasional newsletter here

Follow on Facebook






Claire is also a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, New Mexico Book Co-op and the Southwest Writers Association.

4 Book Banner Blog


A Warm Welcome to Author John Holt

John HoltI’m extremely excited to welcome John Holt, author of The Thackery Journal.

John was born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He currently lives in Essex with his wife, Margaret, and his daughter Elizabeth. For many years he was a Chartered Surveyor, until he retired in 2008. John had always wanted to write a novel but could never think of a good enough plot. He started to write his first novel, The Kammersee Affair, in September 2005, and it was published in December 2006.

John has very kindly provided us with a scene from The Thackery Journal, a “What If” novel regarding the assassination of Lincoln.

Background –

“The Thackery Journal” set during and just after the end of the American Civil War, is the story of two lifelong friends – Jake Thackery and Miles Drew – who join on opposite sides of the conflict. As the story progresses both men become involved in the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Jake becomes a fugitive. Wounded, he takes shelter. Soon his pursuers close in.

There they are he whispered. He could hear them on the stairs. Their boots echoing loudly on the timber treads. He could hear the timbers creaking. They were shouting excitedly to each other, knowing that their quarry was near, knowing that soon they would have him. Their search would soon be over.

He could hear doors slamming as rooms on the lower floors were searched. Somebody was screaming as they were being dragged down the stairs. Douglas, he thought, the man who had sheltered him. He will certainly talk, Thackery knew that. Under torture who could blame him? Maybe that would save his life. He would tell them everything. Then they would come for him. They would be here quite soon now.

He dipped the pen into the ink and started to write once more. His hands were shaking, and the sweat ran down his forehead into his eyes.

“I can hear them coming for me. They are coming up the staircase.”

Suddenly he heard somebody call out. “Here.”

“In there,” said another.

Then there was a loud crash against the door.

“We have him now,” called a third voice.

“He cannot get away. Not this time,” from a fourth. Another heavy blow struck the door. “Open up,” one shouted. They were trying to break the door down.

“They are outside now, banging on the door, they are coming for me.”

Jake Thackery1

Jake Thackery (a likeness)

Thackery stood up and walked to the door. He checked the lock. It was secured. He pushed the iron bolt firmly into the keep at the top of the door. He then did the same to the one at the bottom. Satisfied, he then walked over to the cabinet at the side of the room. His arm hurt badly but he started to push the cabinet towards the door, to form a barricade. He knew that it would not stop them, but it would delay them just long enough for his purpose. He pushed the cabinet in front of the door. There was a third crash. The door shuddered, but held firm.


He hurried back to the table and took up his pen once more. He glanced at what he had written, then continued writing.

“It will not be much longer.”

He was startled by another heavy blow hitting the door. Then there was a sudden noise as one of the door panels split. He looked towards the door for a moment, and then turned away. He took a deep breath. He slowly closed the case and placed the watch back onto the table. Time was running out. He carefully picked up the revolver. Taking into his hand he checked that it was loaded. He then carefully cocked the hammer. Next he placed the barrel at his right temple. He could feel the cold steel against his skin. It was cooling, soothing somehow. His hand stopped shaking. There was another crash against the door. The cabinet shuddered and moved a short distance. Then another crash and then another. The doorframe started to splinter. The bolt keep snapped, and fell away.

They would be inside in a very short time now. He felt the cold trigger against his finger. He looked towards the door. He hesitated for a moment or two longer. His breathing became shallow. He felt very hot. Sweat ran down his face. He started to cry. He closed his eyes tightly. “Mother,” he called out loudly. “Mother, please forgive me.”

Emily, Jake's Mother

Emily, Jake’s Mother (a likeness)


Suddenly there was another heavy thud against the door. The frame shattered and the door burst open, hanging down as the top hinge split. The cabinet slid across the floor. The door hung precariously for a few seconds, and then fell loudly to the floor, tearing off the lower hinge. Jacob opened his eyes wide, and turned his face towards the doorway.


Standing at the opening was his friend Miles. Just like their childhood games of hide and seek, Miles had found him once again, as usual.

Jacob quickly looked away. Then slowly, gently, he started to squeeze the trigger.


John Holt has published well over sixteen books, all of which and can be found on

Click on the Links below for the The Thackery Journal, available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Barnes & Noble

To find out more about John and for a complete list of his books, why not visit his Amazon Author Page

Authors Note: The Thackery Journal is, basically a fiction story. Although it mentions some real events, the story never happened. Apart from Lincoln, Grant, and John Wilkes Booth, all other characters are imaginary and never existed. The two main characters – Jake Thackery and Miles Drew – are fictional and have no relationship with any one living or not.

Nonetheless, I did want to give the impression that maybe, just perhaps, the story could have been true. I decided, by way of an experiment, to include some images to give a feel for the period and the events depicted. Hence there are images of the real battles of the war; there are real images of Lincoln and the assassination; there are real images of General Grant; and then there are also the pretend images of “Jake’s parents”; “Miles”; “Miles cousin”; “The fob watch that belonged to Jake’s mother”; and, of course “Captain Jake Thackery – C.S.A.”

Thackery Journal

A Warm Welcome to Author Rosalind Minett

Girl-Before-A-Mirror-By-Neil-Picasso (2)I’m very excited to welcome Rosalind Minett, author of A Relative Invasion.

Rosalind studied at Birmingham, Sussex and Exeter universities and enjoyed a career as a chartered psychologist. Her stories are always character-driven whether the genre is humour, historical or crime. She relishes quirkiness, and loves creating complex characters of all ages.

Rosalind lives in the South West and spends her time writing, sculpting and painting. Her writing blog is at

Rosalind has kindly provided us with a scene from her book below.

A Relative Invasion:

My favourite scene is not a happy one. In Book 2 of my trilogy, A Relative Invasion, Billy, then aged eight is evacuated and placed with a kindly elderly couple. His antagonist, the manipulative cousin Kenneth has plagued his life all through Book 1 and is billeted some miles away. But then his father, Billy’s bullying Uncle Frank, is killed by a London bomb and Kenneth is sent to stay with Billy for two days while the adults attend the funeral. Billy has no experience of death or bereavement and tries to comfort, not very successfully.

This scene is when the adults return after the funeral, together with a vicar with whom Billy’s mother and baby sister are billeted. In the front room things are incredibly tense, will poor Aunty cry? She has her arms around a limp Kenneth. He is desperate to find jobs in the kitchen, but is prevented. ‘You must stay in there with your family, dear.’

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00022]

All the chairs are circled round the vicar as he leads them in prayers. Stiff with embarrassment, Billy sits behind the vicar’s coat to be inconspicuous. He mishears the ‘groaning words’, Ohs and Los and beseech, as he struggles to make sense of them, and when he opens his eyes after the prayers, all is dreadfully black. (His view is blackened by the vicar’s large coat). The vicar stands and intones, but at that point Kenneth throws up and in the confusion of clearing it up, Billy makes his escape to another room. When, later, he is called upon to come back, his father announces that he will honour his brother by accepting Kenneth as a second son. He invites Kenneth to call him ‘Dad’. Billy is so shocked and confused. If Kenneth, a nephew, is now to call Dad, ‘Dad’, should Billy call him ‘Uncle’?

The adults are furious with his question, seen as ‘cheek’ and criticisms surround him. Distractedly he picks up the thick glasses of his host so that everything around him is now totally blurred. He uses them as some protection, a distance between himself and what is going on. He’s now in trouble for ‘acting the clown’ at so inappropriate a time. As the adults depart, Billy snatches a bunch of lavender and rushes to the car to thrust it at Aunty, ‘because I like you.’

(Is he redeemed by this act? No).

At that moment, Kenneth leans forward and unrolls the picture he had been drawing all morning, refusing to show anyone. He puts it on his mother’s lap, over the lavender. It’s a really close likeness to his dead father.

For more of Rosalind’s books, please see the links below.

Rosalind blogs at

Forthcoming novels:

Impact, the third in the trilogy, A Relative Invasion.

The Parody, a psychological drama featuring adult male twins and a Pandora’s box.

Speechless, a psychological drama about a family whose child stops speaking.

Links, ( and all Amazon sites)



Me-Time Tales:

Crime Shorts: A Boy with Potential


A Ghostly Assignment:

ARItrio (2)

A Warm Welcome to Author Kathryn Gauci

Kathryn smaller image (2)I am delighted to welcome author Kathryn Gauci to my blog today.

Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialised in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.

Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.

Kathryn is here to tell us about a scene from The Embroiderer which is set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens. A gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity.

My favourite scene in The Embroiderer and why.

9781781322963-Perfect.inddA hard choice as The Embroiderer spans 150 years and I have several favourites, especially the prologue and Dimitra’s memoirs which throw light on the family’s early life.

The story is written in four parts and in the end I have chosen the last scene in Part II – a pivotal point in the book. The year is 1922 and the Greek troops have occupied the Smyrna region for three years. The main protagonist, Sophia Laskaris, has left Constantinople for her home town of Smyrna (modern day Izmir). For reasons I cannot divulge, her highly successful life as a couturier has come crashing down and she is forced to re-open her couture house, LA MAISON DU L’ORIENT, in the Rue Franque – Smyrna’s equivalent of Bond St or Fifth Avenue.

Unfortunately, not only for Sophia and her family, but for the entire population of Smyrna, they underestimated the strength and determination of Mustafa Kemal’s Nationalists. In late August 1922, the remnants of the Greek army return from Anatolia and evacuate back to Greece leaving in their wake, thousands of desperate Christian refugees who pour into the city.

Smyrna before 1922 showing the Hotel Kramer (2)

Smyrna before 1922 showing the Hotel Kramer

During the first week of September, Kemal’s Nationalists enter the city determined to take their revenge on the Christian population. Despite calls for calm, atrocities start to take place immediately. When the Greek archbishop is reprimanded and then set upon by Turks who torture and kill him, many believe all is lost, yet others believe that because of the presence of foreign warships in the Bay of Smyrna, and the many foreign nationals living in Smyrna, the Allies will not stand by and see a massacre.


Rue Franque (2)

Rue Franque

During the second week of September, a fire breaks out in the Armenian quarter of the city which was later proven to have been deliberately lit by the Turks. The fire takes hold and the wind changes direction. The fire, now burning out of control, spreads towards the harbour where there are thousands of helpless refugees. All those hiding in hospitals, schools and churches are either burnt alive or forced out into the arms of the Turks who slaughter them.


Most of the remaining westerners are evacuated leaving the Greeks at the mercy of the Turks. From the safety of the ships, the Allies are forced to watch on as they have strict orders not to antagonize the Turks. Sophia flees to the harbour with several of her family. All the buildings are now on fire, thousands are either crushed to death, burnt by falling embers or fall into the sea which has become a quagmire of floating bodies and debris. Fearing an international backlash, the Allies now send out boats to rescue some of the survivors.

Refugees congregate on the seafront  Smyrna 1922 (2)

Refugees congregate on the seafront. Smyrna

This is the culmination of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Thousands are killed and except for the Turkish quarter, the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Smyrna lies in ruins. Two thousand years of Greek settlement in the city and the Aegean and Anatolian region comes to an end. Sophia survives but most of her family and friends do not. She leaves for Athens and will never set foot on Greek soil again. This chapter is one of the most harrowing scenes in the book.


Why not visit Kathryn at her blog:

 Kathryn blog Blog – Kathryn Gauci

Author interview with John Manuel Over the next few months, A Literary World is taking a new angle and looking at writers whose novels are set in Greece.

Buy The Embroiderer

The EmbroidererThe Embroiderer is a beautifully written novel spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, set against the backdrop of the Greek War of Independence. It was published on 5th November 2014 and is available to buy in paperback and as an ebook.

You can order from all good bookshops and online retailers.

Purchase directly from the publisher here:

Published by SilverWood Books Ltd.

Cornucopia is the award-winning magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey. The Embroiderer can also now be purchased from the Cornucopia web site.

CornucopiaCornucopia: Turkey for Connoisseurs


Find Kathryn Gauci here on Facebook

Kathryn Gauci | Facebook


Keep Calm & Write A Book


Writers see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric. – Buffy Andrews

Ever wondered what makes authors so unique? I have.   

If you know an author, you probably know they see the world through a different lens. Authors have stamina and an ability to adapt to several habitats. They tend to be introverts and at times, socially inept. Their brains tend to fire on several cylinders simultaneously, working on two projects at once, or at the very least, writing two books in tandem. They have markings which help them blend into any given environment and can follow someone without being arrested for stalking. Here’s a brief outline of what makes them so special.

Authors are closely related to psychologists. They study human behavior, dissect mental processes and select reactions to suit any given scenario. They are storytellers who can spin a yarn without drawing breath. Worldwide, there are many subspecies that have flooded the market, causing the most skilled of authors to become endangered. But there are several things that separate excellent authors from their subspecies.



  1. Study: Authors don’t simply watch people. They study them. This is an art form that requires sitting in public places for several hours, observing a target and tuning into his/her conversation. In extreme cases, an author might appear as a disinterested third party with the ultimate aim of picking up dialogue with or without the use of a tape recorder.
  2. Strengths: Authors narrow down behavior patterns and tap into moods. It’s an ability to see and connect the dots, an ability to get into someone else’s head, an ability to fine tune a profile to suit a certain character.
  3. Emotion. Authors empathize, fantasize and scrutinize in a world where most people stagger through each day in a blank haze. They are intuitive, able to soar to euphoric heights one minute and plunge into despair the next. All for the purpose of making their characters convincing.
  4. The Thrill of the Quill. Authors love to take chances and start new projects. It’s the rush of the challenge because their imagination is fueled by raw curiosity. Given the right environment ― a study sealed off from the rest of the house, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a library ― they will excel.
  5. Determination: Authors will edit their work until it’s perfect. They will design, format and learn new tricks without tiring. They will continue writing until they croak. There is no ‘off’ switch for an author. They never shut down.

If any of the above applies, then there’s definitely a story in you. So keep calm and write a book.

All Books

For any of the above books, please find the author links below:

Claire Stibbe

Jean Gill

B.A. Morton

Karen Charlton

Elizabeth Horton-Newton

A Warm Welcome to Author Karen Charlton



71utPfsQ6UL__UX250_I’m very excited to welcome bestselling author, Karen Charlton to my blog today.

Karen writes historical crime fiction, set in Regency England. Her Detective Lavender Mysteries, published by Thomas & Mercer, are based on the fictional adventures of Stephen Lavender, a real-life Principal Officer with the Bow Street Police Office in London. She has just finished writing the third book in the series: ‘The Sculthorpe Murder.’

To compliment these novels, she has written two Detective Lavender Short Stories (available on Amazon): ‘The Mystery of the Skelton Diamonds’ and ‘The Piccadilly Pickpocket.’

Below, Karen gives us an overview of how London would have looked like during the time of her crime fighting duo, Detective Lavender and Constable Woods.

Bow Street Police Office at the turn of the nineteenth century

Imagine taking a trip back to London in the mid-eighteenth century. Be prepared to be shocked – and robbed. Pickpockets, gangs of thieves and prostitutes roamed the filth-strewn streets. Every fourth shop in London was a ‘gin house.’ A vast sex trade sprawled across hundreds of brothels and gangs of highwaymen and cut-throats terrorised the roads on the outskirts of London. Whole areas of the capital were no-go areas for anyone who valued their purse, their virtue or their life – especially the notorious ‘Seven Dials’ and the area known as the Rookery around St Giles Church.

Bow street Magistrates court (2)In response to the growing call to find an effective means to tackle the increasing crime and disorder in the capital, Sir Henry Fielding, novelist and magistrate, persuaded the British government to establish a small police force in 1747. Fielding brought together eight reliable constables at the magistrates’ court on Bow Street in Covent Garden. They soon gained a reputation for honesty and efficiency in their pursuit of criminals and became known as ‘the Bow Street Runners.’ But Fielding faced an uphill struggle against both organised crime in London, and the mistrust of the politicians who paid for his policemen.

There was huge resistance to the notion of a centralised police force because of the brutal excesses of the French police system across the Channel, under the revolutionary fanatic, Joseph Fouché.   Nevertheless, the crime fighting force started by Sir Henry Fielding expanded and gained national recognition.

Bow Street 4 (2)By 1809, the year of my novels, the number of police personnel had dramatically increased and a horse patrol had been established to bring some law and order to the crime-infested outlying areas. Principal officers were restyled ‘detectives’ and had various roles. Apart from supporting their colleagues in the capital, they were often sent out to help magistrates in the provinces with difficult cases. Wealthy landowning citizens could request the help of a principal officer. Bow Street would charge them a hefty fee and the detectives could claim lucrative expenses on top of their salary. Many principal officers became very rich. According to the records I unearthed, Stephen Lavender spent a lot of his time working on difficult cases out in the provinces. The detectives also took part in undercover work in periods of insurrection, for example, during the Luddite riots in the Midlands.

The principal officers were a policing elite and were famous throughout London. The aristocracy loved them. They did security work for the Bank of England and acted as bodyguards for Royalty, especially the Prince Regent. They were the only policemen allowed into Buckingham House, the forerunner of the palace. On occasions they were even sent abroad to help with crimes and criminals who had spilled out over our borders onto the continent.

Bow Street 2 (2)However, the Bow Street officers were still regarded with mistrust by the general population and there were many allegations of police corruption. In 1829, the government charged Sir Robert Peel with the task of creating a new national police force; a force which was properly funded and more accountable. Following this transition, the real-life hero of my novels, Stephen Lavender, became the highly-respected Deputy Chief Constable of Manchester.

My Detective Lavender Mysteries show how I imagine these early detectives worked. In a world with no Forensic science, motive and opportunity were everything. In my novels, Stephen Lavender follows a trail of clues and uses his intelligence, logic and common sense to piece together the sequence of events leading up to a crime and explain the mysterious circumstances that surround it.


The Sans Pareil Mystery


Karen Charlton

On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

The Sans Pareil Mystery book cover (2)Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.

With the Napoleonic War looming dangerously across the Channel, this is a time of suspicion and treachery. Following the clues from the seedy back streets of Covent Garden up through the echelons of society, Lavender and Woods begin to fear that the case is much bigger than they’d dared imagine—and worse, that they are at risk of becoming mere players in a master criminal’s shadowy drama.

It will take all of Lavender’s skill and wit, and help from the beautiful Magdalena, to bring the mystery of the Sans Pareil Theatre to a dramatic conclusion in the final act.

For a complete list of Karen’s books, why not visit her on Amazon

Please see Karen’s links below:

Website where you can sign up for her newsletter

Facebook where you can read about book news, upcoming promotions and awards

A Warm Welcome to author Jennifer Wilson

Taken with Lumia Selfie

I’m really excited to welcome Jennifer Wilson on my blog today. Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Jennifer is here to tell us about her favorite scene from her book Kindred Spirits which is available on Amazon and currently reduced to 99p/c as part of Crooked Cat Publishing’s paranormal themed week.

The Tower of London. Funny how one building can, even after centuries, manage to instil fear in the heart of a nation. All those infamous imprisonments, intrigues and executions – plenty of history to get your teeth into.

TowerPolarBear (2)But it’s not all blood and gore – the Tower was also home to the first London Zoo, of sorts… There were lions in the palace as early as the thirteenth century, and one of the most famous creatures has to be the polar bear, a gift to our king from the King of Norway. It used to fish in the Thames, tethered to the bank – not something we’re likely to see again (perhaps for the best). There is though, an interpretation of the magnificent beast, still in the Tower today.

Other animals, also created from wire and mesh, still inhabit the Tower, but there is also the tale of a slightly less ‘material’ animal in residence. The story of the ghost bear is a curious one, and one I had to include in Kindred Spirits: Tower of London. How could I resist?

The grizzly ghoul was apparently sighted near the Martin Tower, and scared a guard so much he died of shock. Happily, nobody gets that frightened in my tales of the Tower’s ghosts. I’m such a coward, I could never write anything genuinely scary. But I enjoyed thinking of the Tower’s ghosts, and the things they could get up to, and if you take a look, then I hope you do too.

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London:

KS-ToL-HighResCover (2)A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers… In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews. Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury. With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave? But foremost – will the young Plantagenet Princes join them?

About Jennifer:

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is currently reduced to 99p/c as part of Crooked Cat Publishing’s paranormal themed week.

Why not visit Jennifer at her links below.

Key Links:



International Amazon link:

Smashwords link:

A Warm Welcome to author, Kristin Gleeson

Kristin Gleeson

Photograph by Jean Gill

I am really excited to welcome author Kristin Gleeson to my blog today. Kristin is originally from Philadelphia and now lives in Ireland, in the West Cork Gaeltacht, where she teaches art classes, plays harp, sings in an Irish choir and runs two book clubs for the village library.

She holds a Masters in Library Science and a Ph.D. in history, and for a time was an administrator of a national denominational archives, library and museum in America.

Myths and other folk tales have always fascinated her and she combined her love of these tales with her harp playing and performed as a professional harper/storyteller at events in Britain, America and Ireland.

Kristin has given us an excerpt from The Imp of Eye, Book 1 of the Renaissance Sojourner Series.

Excerpt from The Imp of Eye

London 1440

Imp of Eye(Barnabas, a thirteen year old orphan, is employed by the woman known as the Witch of Eye, Margery Jourdemayne, placed there by his guardian, Canon Thomas Southwell. He’s just been reprimanded for refusing to do a reading in the showstone for the Duchess of Gloucester)

I knows where I’ll find a welcome. Off down to the river to me mate Tom, the wherry boatman. We’s been mates for a long time and I loves it there with him on the river. Sometimes he lets me row when he’s got no people on board. Then I feel like I can go anywhere. Even Spain, Jerusalem and them places where they had the crusades long ago.

Me luck’s wif me. Tom is there in his wherry just about to take off wif two men bound downriver. ‘Barney-boy! You’re late.’

I’m small and quick, so I jumps onto the boat as light as a feather. I’m good at this and Tom knows it and grins. We shove each other like pals do and I settle in the back. I ain’t sposed to be here wifout paying, like, but since we’s mates he says it’s okay as long as I pretends I’m his boy.

The water in the boat’s bottom seeps into me clogs but it don’t bother me. Some say the river’s stink could stun an ox when it’s summer time, but I loves it. I look out to the river and imagine meself on a fine big ship, sailing to places where there’s so much sand you can’t see nofink else and you feel warm all the time. The tide is with us, so the run is quick, and before you know it I’m at Queenhithe docks helping the two fine gentlemun out.

I decides to stay a while at the docks. Besides the barges, it’s full of cayers, cogs and caravels what have come from all over. It’s the place to see different kinds of people, like sailors with gold earrings and dark skin and strange clothes, hoisting cargo, coiling up the ropes and shouting all sorts. I tries to talk to ‘em. Most times they only speak their own strange lingo, but I do get lucky and find some what can understand me. And that’s the best.

Today I’m not so lucky, and I goes wondering for a while, just taking in the sights before I hear a shout and a stout hand grabs me collar. Father Thomas.

‘I thought I might find you here, you young cur,’ he says with a growl. ‘Why didn’t you come by yesterday as I instructed?’ He starts dragging me along the streets and it’s no secret to me where we’re heading. His own church, St Stephen’s in Walbrook. Nearly thirteen years ago some jade dumped me in a dung heap on St Barnabas Day and that’s where this man found me. Thomas Southwell, Canon of St Stephen’s Chapel in the palace of Westminster and rector of St Stephen’s Walbrook. And a physician too. All them titles don’t satisfy his need for more, though.

The duke and duchess of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester

We reach the church and make our way to his rooms in the building beside it. After a word to his man we go into his study and he locks the door. Next door is the room I used to sit with the other foundlings and learn me writing, reading and Latin. I loved it, but that learning is little use to me now. There ain’t no escaping Father Thomas and what he wants.


A moment later there’s a knock on the door and one of his servants brings in two steaming trenchers and sets it on the small table.

‘Hungry, Barnabas?’ he asks.

Me mouth waters. I sits down on the stool. The steam makes me nose run and I wipes it wif my sleeve. I can see the bone and gristle bobbing about on the surface. Boiled onion and some kind of greenery.

‘Eat up, we’ve much to do,’ Father Thomas says.

I takes up the horn spoon and slurp up the contents. I can’t say I ain’t hungry because ain’t I always? Wishing there was more, I lick the last drops on the spoon. I look up, and see his pale eyes watching me.

‘I need you to scry for me, Barnabas.’

I groan inwardly. Seeing spirits is what got me in a bother in the first place, and why Margery Jourdemayne took me on in her household. I’d as lief be a gong-farmer’s servant than work as a scryer. Never had no choice, though. Once Father Thomas found I could see spirits, he taught me the rest. Conjuring’s a burning offence, though. I’ve smelt them fires at Smithfield in me dreams and actually saw a burning once and I can’t forget it. It’s the smell of cooking flesh what gets to you, and then there’s the screaming. That’s another matter.

‘I’ve water ready in the bowl,’ says Father Thomas.

I wipes me mouth on the grease-stiff cuff of me sleeve and gives him a sullen nod.

The bowl’s heavy; black wiv heat and age. I reckon someone used to cook in it, but Father Thomas keeps it just for scrying now. I watches the liquid wobble against the sides and settle, and then I bends me mind to the task. The water’s smooth like the glass Mistress Jourdemayne keeps in her chamber. Her husband bought it as a gift, so she can admire herself. She caught me looking in it once and boxed me ears.

La Plauseance

La Pleausance

Fierce now, I shut out everyfink else and gets still-like and the quiet settles on me like a warm cloak. It’s a feeling I likes and I just let it stay there for a bit before I looks and stares at the inky liquid. In a wink me mind kind of opens up inside, so I’m looking and not looking into the water, if you know what I mean. It’s like I see through it and out into a different land. I like that.

A figure pops up and hobbles across me mind’s eye.

‘It’s Limpin’ Sam,’ I says out loud. ‘He’s got a partridge under his arm.’

I’ve seen this spirit before. He dresses in rags like a beggar, and his hands is blue wiv cold, but he has the merriest face. His eyes is the colour of blackbird’s eggs, and he’s a snub nose, dimples in his cheeks and a wide, curving mouth. Sometimes he sings, sweet as a chorister, but he don’t speak. He brings me fings instead. I’m supposed to work out what they mean. I don’t know who he is or was, but he likes me and he brings me stuff. This night it’s a bird.


‘It’s a fat partridge,’ I says. Father Thomas’ bref warms me cheek as he leans in to hear. ‘Sign of plenty, I reckon. Someone’s got somefink good coming his way.’

‘Ah!’ Father Thomas sighs wiv satisfaction.

‘He’s showing me a cooking pot over a fire, now.’ I watches Limpin’ Sam pointing to the bird and then sticking it whole into the bubbling water, feathers and all.

Wiv a squeal of surprise I jerk back.

‘What is it?’ asks the priest.

‘Forget what I said before. I got it wrong. There’s some fellow wiv fine feathers…wealthy, fat, thinks well of hisself…struts about and imagines he’s doing real well, but he should take care he don’t get into hot water. He ain’t very bright, by the look of it. He’s in for a rare shock. Somebody’s out to teach him a lesson. If you know him, Father, you should warn him to beware them what he’s offended.’

‘Enough!’ The priest’s voice is harsh now. He ain’t pleased wiv this information. ‘Summon Bethor, Barnabas. I want to be sure.’

But I don’t like this at all. Bethor’s a different kettle of fish from Limpin’ Sam. He’s a mighty spirit what can grant men priceless treasure, help them create miraculous medicines or be powerful likes a lord or somefink. It’s a chancy fing calling these spirits. They doesn’t like being told. Father Thomas says Bethor’s a good angel and won’t harm me. But Bethor comes in a great whirling storm and his face is bright as fire. I’d rather let them as wants to come to me, like Limpin’ Sam, than getting a proud angel to do me bidding. But I don’t argue.

I says the words what Father Thomas’s taught me so carefully, and wait, feeling me skin prickle and hearing the air rushing in me ears. The ritual has to be done right, he says, though I don’t understand half the words I have to use. The priest prompts me now and then.


It’s always a shock when Bethor’s voice roars in me head and dazzles me eyes with the blaze of his appearance. Flames leap like sun-rays round his head. The light’s so blinding I can’t make out his features.

‘What shall I ask him to do?’

The priest’s fingers is talons on me arm and his breath grows moist against me ear. ‘Tell him to bring us wealthy patrons,’ he whispers.

Me mistress needs customers, he means, and she’ll pay him a portion of what she makes from them. I nod anyway and do as I’m bid.

Medieval London

Medieval London

I feels Bethor’s desire to be free. He strains against me will and when I tell him what he must do, I knows he thinks we’re greedy bastards and he’ll make us pay. I lets him know in me thoughts like, not to blame me and that like him, I’m only obeying orders. He laughs. I let him go and he’s gone in a whoosh of burning flames.

‘What did he say?’ Father Thomas grips me arm tight.

‘He’ll do it.’ I says the words to send off the spirit what he taught me then, even though the spirit’s already gone.

‘Good boy.’ Father Thomas pats me shoulder.

But I’m seeing somefink else—a woman in the black water of the scrying bowl, and I can’t take me eyes off her. She’s dressed in a white linen shift and carrying a heavy candle. The flame of it flickers dangerously and the hot wax drips on cobblestones by her naked feet. What does it mean?

‘Enough, boy!’

The priest is shaking me back into consciousness. I smells the draughty chapel and musty old robes, and someone’s hammering on the chapel door.

‘Who’s there?’

Father Thomas is on his feet and snatches up the bowl. The water spills on the floor. His robe swishes as he crosses the floor, the lone candle in his hand, and he disappears through to the larger room.

The hammering continues and then I hears the slide of the bolt and the door creak open and some whispering. Father Thomas comes back in the room and a man follows him. I knows by his long gown and cap that he’s one of those learned men what Father Thomas likes to talk wif.

‘This is my boy, Barnabas,’ Father Thomas says. ‘No need to worry. He knows how to keep secrets.’

The man’s creepy an all—got a beaky nose and face like a skull. Before I knows it, Father Thomas wraps a musty, old cloak round me shoulders and he puts some wood on the ashes of the little fire. Thin green smoke trickles from it, making the man cough.

‘Sleep, Barnabas,’ Father Thomas says. There’s a note of warning in his voice as I curls up in the cloak.

They whispers away then. It’s just loud enough to keep me awake but not enough so’s I can understand what they’re saying. Eventually, I manages to drift off.

When I wakes I’m stiff wiv cold in the little black room. The fire’s out but I can see the dark lump of the priest on his pallet and another dark shape what I takes to be the man, huddled near the hearth. I tries to shut me eyes and crawl back into sleep, but I’m chilled to the bone. Me head frobs and me eyes is full of sand, and though I try shifting this way and that, it’s no use, cos me bladder’s full now. As soon as the light turns grey, I hauls meself up and creep to the little niche what the priest uses as a privy.

The man groans as I sigh in the relief of making water, even though I’m shivering. There’s a bite in the morning air what makes me arms all goose-flesh, and I wriggles me toes to stop ‘em from going numb.

There’s no sense in lingering. There’s nofink to eat here, and soon people will be filling this place. Father Thomas snores steady and deep now, so I rolls up the old cloak, leave it by the door and shoots back the bolts. The man stirs, but he don’t wake. I shake like a dog and sneaks out into the day.

Why not visit Kristin on her website

For more information about Kristin and her books, please visit Author Central on Amazon

Purchase Imp of Eye on Amazon


Barnes & Noble

Apple iTunes

A Warm Welcome to author Jean Gill

jean colour smjpg (2)

My next guest this week is Jean Gill, author of The Troubadours Quartet. Here she has selected a scene in her latest book Plaint for Provence and shares a generous excerpt. Happy reading folks!

Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a scruffy black dog, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Les-Baux-de-Provence: 1152 and 2014

When I suggested to my husband that we have a romantic weekend in Les-Baux-de-Provence, a medieval citadel three hours’ drive from our home, he knew very well that I had more on my mind than our romance. He has lived with Dragonetz and Estela for four years now and he guessed that I was researching the third book in my 12th century Troubadours series. He is also used to me working as a photographer, and he accepted it as normal that our evening meal was planned round the best end-of-day light on the citadel from a nearby mountain pass. While I adjusted my aperture and muttered about filters, he sat in the car and read a book.

This is the moment in Chapter 4 of ‘Plaint for Provence’ when Dragonetz first sees Les Baux-de-Provence, from that very same pass. There are no marshes there now and, of course, the castle was newly built.

Although he automatically registered the defensive potential of the Sarragan Pass, its gigantic rocks allowing a few men to hide and seem many, the narrow bottleneck of access and exit, these features were not what had struck Dragonetz most. He and Hugues had reached the top of the rise first, in the van of their small troop, with the setting sun behind them, gilding the grotesque white boulders, the marsh-reeded valley and the cliffs beyond.

Plaint eBook cover sm (2)The boulders grew leering faces and demonic familiars in the shifting light and long shadows, dropping into unfathomable blackness in the valley below and lightening again as the cliffs rose, and rose again to the jagged tips. Except that the tips were not jagged but regular crenellations, the turrets of a castle that made the small hairs on Dragonetz’ arms prickle with excitement or foreboding, he knew not which. ‘It’s prettier than Trinquetaille,’ Hugues had said, regarding the origin of their name.

‘Les Baux,’ breathed Dragonetz.

Hugues said nothing but his face spoke. There was a set to his jaw, a determination in his gaze that Dragonetz had seen before, in the Crusades, when a man had decided what was worth dying for. For a brief moment, the low day’s-end sun caught whatever metals the castle offered; armour and flagstaff, door-hinge and wheel-hub, and the fortress caught fire, dazzling and defiant. Then snuffed out, just as suddenly. His eyes still recovering from the glare, Dragonetz rehearsed his litany of defence, but this time extending it to Les Baux itself, not just tonight’s camp.

Les Baux

Les Baux

The massif was occupied by the château on the northern heights, protected by sheer cliffs on two of the sides that Dragonetz could see, and dropping through the dependent village downhill to the south, Les Baux’s only access and weakest point. Gate and rampart were visible even from this distance, defending the entry. ‘The access to the château from here is downhill, by the boulders, across the river and marshes, then up by the south gate into the walled city and up again to the château?’

‘There is no river in the valley, just marshes. The path down is basically a mule track, widened by our use. And the caves are amongst the rocky outcrops,’ confirmed Hugues. They had spoken at length of the caves the night before. Dragonetz had assumed a river from the look of the land and was surprised that a fortification of this importance had no water source nearby. Rainwater was unreliable, especially in Provence, making the castle even more vulnerable to siege. He must investigate the water system when he was in Les Baux itself.

‘How do men get to the château itself?

‘There’s only one way to get up onto Roucas, the rock on which the citadel is built, and that’s to the south. The side you can’t see is sheer cliff.’ Just as Dragonetz had guessed.

Les Baux de Provence

Les Baux de Provence

Nowadays, Les-Baux-de-Provence is a top French tourist destination and one of its most popular attractions is a son-et-lumiere in a gigantic network of caves. When we visited, the Impressionist painters featured and this is Long-Suffering Husband in front of one cavern face, with light show.

cave art (2)

Cave Art


The caves were there in the 12th century, some of them occupied and all of them the subject of legends; Moorish treasure and a demon goat. The valley is called ‘Le Val d’Enfer’ (the Valley of Hell). What more encouragement is needed for a writer?

In my story, the Gyptian (an allusion to a possible origin of the word ‘gypsy’) Dame Fairnette lives in one of the caves near the castle and the huge caves where the son-et-lumiere now takes place are the scene of a daring ambush, in which Dragonetz and the Lord of Les Baux try to steal a march on the visiting Comte de Barcelone.

Author Info

Try Book 1 ‘Song at Dawn’ – it’s free. I’m told ‘it’s like Game of Thrones but with real history’. If you review any of my books, do send me a photo of your dog – or one you know. I have a lovely Gallery of Readers’ dogs and I’m hoping to add to that.

Latest book

Plaint for Provence, Bk 3 in ‘The Troubadours Quartet’ :

Book trailer

Book 1 ‘Song at Dawn’ is available FREE.51QQyWv2WNL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_


IPPY Award for Best Author Website




The Troubadours Page

Youtube book trailers