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Fallen Angels By Gunnar Staalesen

Fallen AngelsOn today’s book tour, I’ve an extract from Gunnar Staalesen’s new book called ‘Fallen Angels’.

Sit back and enjoy the first chapter from this Nordic Noir.

We stood outside the chapel. None of us looked at one another directly; no one wanted to take the initiative and leave. By the front door Jan Petter’s widow, eyes red-rimmed, was receiving the last mourner’s condolences with a limp handshake. The sleet landed on our shoulders like colourless confetti.

Even Paul Finckel’s strident sarcasm had dwindled to nothing.

‘Anyone want a lift into town?’

‘I’ve got my car here,’ I said.

‘What about going out for a beer, all three of us? I just have to nip down to the newspaper.’ Finckel looked at Jakob.

‘That’s an idea. I have to go home first and take care of the kids.’

‘Where do you live?’

‘In Nygårdshøyden.’

I looked at Finckel. ‘I’ll drive Jakob down. Where shall we meet?’

‘We might have to drive our youngest daughter to my sister’s,’ Jakob said. ‘She lives in Sandviken.’

‘Call me when you’re ready,’ Finckel said. ‘I’m at the paper. It’s pretty central as far as all the important watering holes are concerned.’

‘That’s why he works there,’ I added.

‘There are worse reasons,’ Finckel grunted, and left.

We followed him down to the car park.

We drove in silence from Møllendal, crossed Gamle Nygård bridge and took the illegal left-turn the new traffic arrangement almost invited you to take, to Marineholmen, on the southern side of Nygård Park.

Jakob explained where he lived. Halfway between St John’s church and Sydnæs Battalion marching band. The decibel level rose considerably in the spring as Easter week approached, with the pealing of bells at all times of the day and the band doing their drills every Tuesday and Saturday.

‘How many children have you got?’ I asked as we passed the football ground in Møhlenpris. ‘Three,’ he answered. ‘Though they’re not all children really … Maria’s sixteen. Then there’s Petter, who’s fourteen, and little Grete, who’s six. She’s the one who’s the problem if Maria can’t look after her for a few hours.’

As we turned up to the top of Olaf Ryes vei, he said: ‘My wife’s … moved out.’

I nodded, but said nothing.

The building where he lived was in the middle of the district. It had a redbrick façade and faced the shadowy side of the street. Jakob lived on the first floor in two flats that had been merged into one.

Midway up the dark stairwell he stopped with one hand on the railing, half turned to me and said pensively: ‘How do you get on with Jesus, Varg?’

The unexpected question made me feel like a turtle that had been whipped onto its back and deprived of any protection. I mumbled: ‘Well, I …Why do you ask? Are you related?’

He scrutinised me. Then he shot me a gentle smile. ‘It’s strange, meeting you again after such a long time. A lot of water’s flowed under the bridge, eh?’

I nodded in agreement. A lot of water indeed.

Then he carried on up. He rang the doorbell as he put the key in the lock and held the door open for me.

We went into a long, dark hallway. On the floor was an open, light-brown leather satchel. Shoes and boots were strewn across the floor and on a chair there were piled four or five jackets of various sizes and styles. On a little chest of drawers I espied an old-fashioned black telephone under a stack of brochures, free newspapers and unopened junk mail. Somewhere nearby I felt the monotonous throb of disco rhythms.

The door to a blue kitchen was open. Plates, cups, glasses and breakfast items were still on the table and a somewhat sickly smell of rancid fat and stale carrots wafted out to us.

Jakob closed the kitchen door and opened another, to the sitting room. ‘Come in, Varg.’ Then he shouted: ‘Maria! Are you at home?’

After an unhurried pause a door opened further down the corridor and the pop music became louder. ‘What’s up?’ a young girl said.

Jakob’s voice was drowned out as he advanced down the corridor.

I looked around the large sitting room, which was L-shaped as two rooms had been merged and the dividing wall replaced with a big, white sliding door.

At the back, on wooden flooring treated with lye, there was a black grand piano surrounded by rag rugs and black-and-white pictures on the walls. One wall was covered with shelves of books and sheet music, and inside a half open cupboard I glimpsed a not inconsiderable collection of records and cassettes.

If that wasn’t enough to quench your thirst, you can pre-order ‘Fallen Angels’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops from 12th November 2020.

My Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities By Heidi Swain

Christmas RoomToday on the book tour for her new book Christmas book called ‘The Winter Garden’, Heidi Swain is sharing her Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities because she is a HUGE fan of Christmas!

So, here we go…

“Heidi

Reading
I’m sure it’s no surprise that books bagged the number 1 spot! December 1st is always reserved for Mr Dickens. The month simply wouldn’t work if I hadn’t reacquainted myself with A Christmas Carol. I also read Trisha Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas too and treat myself to new festive fiction. Louise Marley, Sophie Claire and Victoria Walters are on the list this year and I’m starting earlier than usual because otherwise I won’t fit them all in.

Carols from King’s
My Christmas Eve revolves around this choral festive treat. My to-do list has to be completed so I can be ready to watch and listen with a cup of tea and a mince pie. As a person of Pagan persuasion, I find this much-loved tradition of mine something of a surprise, but the voices are so stirring as the light begins to fade. I love it!

Christmas shopping
I love Christmas shopping, as long as I have my trusty list. The chilly weather, bustling streets and frequent tea and cake top ups make it all the more pleasurable. I know it won’t be the same this year, but I can hang on to the memory of those wonderful excursions for now.

Finding the right gift
Nothing beats the pleasure of watching someone opening their gift and seeing their face light up. Finding the perfect present isn’t always easy, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Baking
I’m certainly no Jemma from The Cherry Tree Café, but I do love some festive baking. My repertoire is limited, but nothing says Christmas like a stint in the kitchen assembling my easy cheat mince pies and sausage rolls, with the festive tunes cranked up, a glass of mulled wine to hand and my Santa apron in place.

Scents of the season
Not strictly an activity you might argue, but it can be! Mulling your own wine with festive spices and studding oranges with cloves to release that seasonal smell feels like a pretty good way to spend an afternoon to me.

Decorating
Dressing the house is always a favourite festive activity and generally happens the second weekend in December. I know exactly what’s packed in the boxes in the loft but opening them is always a treat. The hearth is dressed with holly, ivy and mistletoe and the tree is topped with two angels, both created by my son and daughter in Year R. Given that they are 25 and 20 now, the loo rolls and pipe cleaners have certainly seen better days, but up they go!

Festive films
I love snuggling under a blanket to watch a festive film. Like everyone else, I have a teetering pile of DVD’s and it’s an annual treat working my way through them all. I also love the Hallmark channel and all the made for TV films. A totally festive indulgence! I don’t think I could pick a favourite, but ‘Love Actually’, ‘Elf’, ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’, ‘Nativity’… nope. I can’t do it! I’ll just end up listing the lot!

Winter walks
As you may already know, I’m always trying to get folk outdoors in the fresh air, whatever the weather. Although I draw the line at heading out in driving rain! I love getting wrapped up in warm layers and striding out for a bracing walk around my local patch. It’s a great mood soother and in the run up to Christmas, when it’s tempting to stay inside, a super way to recharge the batteries. Throw some snow in the mix and I’m even happier!

'The Winter Garden

Taking in the sights of the season
This is a separate trip to the shopping expedition and with a completely different purpose. Norwich always has beautiful light and window displays and I really enjoy going up to the city, towards the end of the day, to simply admire the decorations and soak up the atmosphere. We’d had the lovely of tunnel of light for the last few years and then there’s the animatronic tableau in the Forum and Jarrolds. All so superbly seasonal!

Crikey, that was the speediest Top Ten I’ve ever written and I could have easily added more favourite festive activities to the list. I know there’s nothing unusual or surprising written here, but these are all things I love to do in the run up to Christmas and beyond and this year more than ever, I’m going to take comfort in the familiarity of them all.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy festive season.

With love
Heidi x

You can buy ‘The Winter Garden’ from Amazon and is available from other good bookshops.

Rescue Me By Sarra Manning

'Rescue MeThe news that we’ve been waiting for is released, Sarra Manning has revealed the name and synopsis for her new book called ‘Rescue Me’.

What the back cover says-

Margot doesn’t have time for love.

Will is afraid to love.

And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.

After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.

Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?

With a stunning cover and a lead canine that sounds as lovely Sarra’s beloved Miss Betsy who sadly passed away last year, ‘Rescue Me’ sounds like an absolute treat of a story.

You can pre-order ‘Rescue Me’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from 21st January 2021.

Dani Atkins Reveals New Book – A Sky Full Of Stars

A Sky Full Of StarsDani Atkins has revealed the name and cover of her new book for 2021 called ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’.

What the back cover says –

He’d have done everything differently, if he’d known. He’d have held her tighter, kissed her longer. He’d have refused to let her go.

When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.

Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But then Lisa dies in a train crash, and their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy. How can he and Connor carry on without Lisa lighting up their lives?

Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars…

Each an absolutely stunning synopsis and stunning cover, ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ sounds like another emotional rollercoaster from Dani that will have you reaching for the tissues.

You can pre-order ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.

Helen Fields Reveals New Book – The Shadow Man

The Shadow ManIf you’re a fan of Helen Fields, then exciting news as she has revealed her new book for 2021 called ‘The Shadow Man’, which is a standalone novel and not part of the ‘DI Callanach’ series.

What the back cover says –

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

I’m a huge fan of Helen Fields’ books and I look forward to curling up with this thriller.

You can pre-order ‘The Shadow Man’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.