Monday, 20 February 2017

Guest Post by Clare Harvey -- Author of THE ENGLISH AGENT

I am delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for The English Agent and am thrilled that author Clare Harvey has written a piece on how images have inspired her in the story.

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How far will two women go to survive a war? 

Having suffered a traumatic experience in the Blitz, Edie feels utterly disillusioned with life in wartime London. The chance to work with the Secret Operations Executive (SOE) helping the resistance in Paris offers a fresh start. Codenamed ‘Yvette’, she’s parachuted into France and met by the two other members of her SOE cell. 

Back in London, Vera desperately needs to be made a UK citizen to erase the secrets of her past. Working at the foreign office in charge of agents presents an opportunity for blackmail. But when she loses contact with one agent in the field, codenamed Yvette, her loyalties are torn…

Published in paperback by Simon & Schuster on the 23rd February 2017



(Clare on the way to Paris, researching The English Agent)

Does every picture tell a story? For me, the old cliché holds true. An arresting image can set the tone of a whole novel, and that was certainly the case when I was researching and writing my new book The English Agent. Take this photograph of the arc de Triomphe in WW2, for example:


Every morning German soldiers would parade from the arc de Triomphe, and along avenue Foch. Seeing this photo, I couldn’t help but wonder how ordinary French people would feel about this Nazi march right through the symbolic heart of their conquered territory, and then I began to wonder how a captured English agent being held in the Nazi security services HQ at 84 avenue Foch would react at hearing this march pass beneath her window every day. Would it anger her enough to help her resist interrogation and plan her escape, or would it make her feel so demoralised that she’d attempt suicide in captivity? Whichever would be the case, this image was in the back of my mind during my research trip to Paris in 2015 and throughout the writing process.

(Clare researching The English Agent: arc de Triomphe, and below outside 84, avenue Foch, the former headquarters of the German homeland security services in Paris – where secret agents were held and questioned.)


Another picture that proved an important stepping off point was this one of German soldiers chatting with French girls outside the Moulin Rouge.


In the immediate aftermath of WW2 French woman who’d had relationships with German soldiers were vilified: paraded through the streets with shaven heads for their crime of ‘collaboration’. But the truth was a little more complex. Almost all young French men had been rounded up and sent off to forced labour camps in Germany. Most German soldiers were conscripts, not necessarily believing in Nazi ideology, and having no choice as to where they were posted. Moreover, French women were poor and hungry, whilst the soldiers had food and money. I began to think about what it would be like for a young conscript in Paris: how he would treat and be treated by the girls he met. What if one of the girls wasn’t French at all, but a British Agent working undercover. And if he began to find himself falling in love with ‘the enemy’ - what then? Would passion trump patriotic loyalty, or would he be overcome with guilt at his feelings, and end up jeopardising the safety of the woman he loved?


You can find more images that catalysed The English Agent on my Pinterest page: https://uk.pinterest.com/clareharvey13/the-english-agent/
I also regularly post the pictures that are inspiring my current work-in-progress on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clareharvey13/
And Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth

Thank you Clare for giving us an insight into how pictures have inspired your writing.


About Clare Harvey



Clare Harvey is an ex-army wife. The Gunner Girl, her debut novel, was inspired by her mother-in-law's experience during WWII and written while her husband was on active service in Afghanistan. She has travelled widely and worked all over the world, doing voluntary work in Tanzania and as a journalist and tutor in Nepal, Germany and Northern Ireland. She hitchhiked from Zanzibar to Cape Town, and went on to work for an overseas charity before falling in love with a soldier. She now lives in Nottingham with her family.


Please follow the other lovely bloggers on the tour below



I will be reviewing The English Agent later in the week.

You can buy The English Agent at Amazon UK - Amazon US



Saturday, 18 February 2017

Q & A with Charles Salzberg -- Author of SWANN'S WAY OUT + Giveaway! (Detective Series)




Detective Henry Swann returns to search for the truth behind a
Hollywood hack, fraudulent art and the sudden absence of his son

NEW YORK CITY – Fans of Henry Swann, rejoice! He’s back in the usual cerbral, hard-boiled way that everyone knows and loves in Charles Salzberg’s latest addition to the detective’s adventures, “Swann’s Way Out” (Feb. 20, 2017, Down & Out Books).

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In the newest novel in Salzberg’s suspenseful crime fiction series, Swann is on the search for $1 million seemingly embezzled by a shady Hollywood producer, the salesman of a possibly illegal painting, and in an intriguing turn of events, his long-estranged teenage son. With such an unusual personal distraction, a guilt-ridden Swann is forced to step away from his paying cases to chase after his son, who seems to have joined some sort of cult.

With Salzberg’s always-brilliant writing and beautiful plotting, three mysteries intertwine into a brilliant, hold-your-breath story as Swann sleuths his way to the finish in this dazzling follow-up to “Swann’s Lake of Despair” (2014), which was re-released in November 2016 along with the other books in the Henry Swann series, “Swann’s Last Song” and “Swann Dives In.”


An Interview with
Charles Salzberg

Henry Swann is a classic amateur detective, but in “Swann’s Way Out,” your fourth book in the series, he’s really starting to get his bearings. How has his detective style changed since the first book, “Swann’s Last Song?”

Macintosh HD:Users:donovanchase:Desktop:charles.pngFor one thing, he’s a little more sure of himself now in terms of gathering information and putting that information together so it forms a logical pattern. Swann doesn’t really solve crimes as much as he makes sense of them, while at the same time, he grapples with his personal demons—the untimely death of his wife, his neglect of his son, his inability to set down roots. As someone who has for years lived on the margins of society, he’s trying to carve out a solid life for himself, one with connections to other people. And in an odd way, he makes up for real family by surrounding himself with friends like Goldblatt and Klavan. In short, his work has helped him adjust better to life, not that he still doesn’t feel like a complete fraud and outsider, as do most of us.

The mysteries in this book happen in three different locations. Was it difficult to tie them all together?
Not at all. In fact, it’s fun shifting the action from place to place. It gives the book a sense of movement and working with several plots at the same time I think is an added element that forces the reader (and me) to pay closer attention. It also adds to the sense of disorientation and alienation Swann suffers from. He never really feels “at home” anyplace, and so moving around mirrors his psychological disconnection.

As your fourth book in the Henry Swann series, are there any things that surprised you about Henry as a character in the latest book?
Everything surprises me about Swann. I don’t go into these books with a “plan.” They’re not plotted out and not only don’t I ever know what’s going to happen, I also don’t know what characters are going to appear and when they do what role they’re going to play in the story. Besides, he’s not the kind of character who does much planning about his life. He doesn’t know where he’s going to be or what he’s going to do from one day to the next. That’s what keeps the books fresh and fun to write for me, but also a little scary and challenging. So, when I actually sit down at my desk to write I have two feelings…anticipation as to what’s going to happen next, and fear because what if I don’t know what’s going to happen next? Or what if it’s not very interesting?

Henry Swann’s son is a fascinating development in his character. How does his entrance affect Henry?
Swann has always suffered enormous guilt as a result of sending his son away to live with his maternal grandparents after his mother, Swann’s wife, was killed in a freak accident. The only way he can deal with this “abandonment,” because that’s what it was no matter how often he tells himself it was for his son’s own good, is through denial. This results in him thinking about him as little as he possibly can. But when his son turns up missing he can’t do this anymore, and yet it proves him with an opportunity to use his skill, what he does best, finding things, to reconnect with his son and maybe, just maybe, assuage some of that guilt he’s carried with him all these years. He hopes it might lead him to redemption, something we’re all looking for, by the way, in that he can finally make up for all those lost years when he was out of touch.

For long-time Henry Swann fans, what do they have most to look forward to in the upcoming release?
More Goldblatt, for one thing. Their partnership is now solidified and although Swann is not pleased about working with someone else, especially Goldblatt, he has come to accept it and it’s probably made him better at what he does, and lit something of a fire under him. For the first time in a long time he’s not only responsible for himself for for someone else. He doesn’t like this but still he knows it probably makes him a better person. Readers can also expect to be brought into two worlds that interest me: the fine art scene and Hollywood. They’re very different art forms, but in a way they’re very similar in that they’re based on smoke and mirrors, deception, fantasy and sleight of hand. In both cases, if successful, the viewer is totally conned, but not necessarily duped.

Is it true that you initially intended “Swann’s Way Out” to be the last book in the series?
Well, I thought it would be because I thought I’d taken the character as far as I could, that I had nothing new to say about him or the world that existed around him. And so I started and completed another novel called Second Story Man, with two new protagonists (actually, they weren’t totally new, as they were “borrowed” from an earlier novel, Devil in the Hole), and even started what I think might be another detective series with a very different kind of detective. But just when I thought I was out, he pulled me back in again. In other words, I got a first line for a new Swann and then two ideas for two new cases he could work on, one of them would reveal more about Goldblatt’s background, and the other would have him get involved in a murder trial. And one of the reasons I said I would stop is that I didn’t think I could come up with another title, but I think I have, at least for now, and that’s Swann’s Down, so there you go. There will be a fifth Swann, probably out in the spring of 2018 (and I only say this so that now I actually do have to finish it).




Praise for the Henry Swann Detective Series


“Swann’s Lake of Despair”
"Smart, satisfying, even profound, this is exactly what every mystery reader is looking for: A terrific story, full of wit and originality, and a master class in voice. Charles Salzberg is a true talent, and his Henry Swann is a classic--complex, hilarious, and completely charming."—Hank Phillippi Ryan
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"Like a good detective, Swann looks past the obvious and follows the plot twists to their unexpected conclusions. As he clips through his paces, Swann takes the reader on an enjoyable ride sprinkled with plenty of sass and vinegar and illuminated by the bright lights and dark underside of the Big Apple. He’s a hero who grows more endearing with each book and whose capers ultimately beg the question: What’s next for Henry Swann?”—Books in Brief
"Swann's Lake of Despair feels like three short story concepts that have been merged, shoe-horned as it were, into a single storyline. It's a little slow going at first, as each subplot requires its own setup and there is nothing to connect them. (Indeed, they turn out to be three completely separate storylines.) Too, Henry Swann is a difficult character to embrace. He's gruff and aloof, and yet tends to grow on the reader as someone who's also basically fair and incredibly insightful. But what is most intriguing about the book is how Swann negotiates an end game to each of his cases. For each, there is a simple way out but it clearly isn't the right way out; what Swann wants to do — indeed, what the reader wants Swann to do — is come up with an exit strategy that may not be easy but one that is mutually acceptable to all parties involved, allowing each to walk away agreeable with the outcome if not necessarily completely satisfied with it. There's a nuanced complexity here that makes this all very appealing in the end. A solid mystery and one that is recommended.”—Mysterious Reviews


“Swann Dives In”


“I always love it when I come across a new private detective to admire and worship, someone who is brave where I'm weak, someone who gets his hands dirty while I keep mine clean. Henry Swann is such a detective and he tells a great story. For fans of hard-boiled mysteries or just plain old good fiction, I'm sure you'll love ‘Swann Dives In.’”
– Jonathan Ames, author of “Wake Up, Sir!” and creator of “Bored to Death”


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“If you like your P.I.s sexy, well-read and wise-cracking, Henry Swann is your man. Swann dives into a case with a prickly millionaire, a missing heiress and some rare manuscripts in this literate and literary novel.”
– Rosemary Harris, Anthony & Agatha-nominated author of “Pushing Up Daisies”


“Henry Swann is the great tradition of American mystery heroes: world-weary, philosophical, tough, and competent. This novel is totally entertaining.”
– Laurence Klavan, Edgar Award-winning author of “The Cutting Room” and “The Shooting Script”


“‘Swann Dives In” takes you in all kinds of unexpected directions, not only giving the reader a fresh view of the crime novel but a fresh view of the nature of crime itself.”
– Lauren Weisberger, author of “The Devil Wears Prada”




“Swann’s Last Song”


“‘Swann’s Last Song’ is wonderful and original and has the feel of Hitchcock. Henry Swann is a delightfully appealing guy, and at times, laugh-out loud funny. The story is action packed while being remarkably charming. I can’t wait to read what case Swann is on next. I couldn't put it down the way I can't put down the ‘No. 1 Ladies Detective Society.’”
– Patty Dann, author of “Mermaids” and “The Goldfish Went On Vacation”


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Swann's got the smarts and hard-boiled cynicism of Sam Spade, but he's also got a wicked sense of humor that keeps things cool even when the action gets hot.”
– Brian Kilmeade, co-host of “Fox & Friends” (Fox TV), author of “The Games Do Count” and “How They Played the Game”


“Salzberg's a hell of a writer. He delivers thrills, insight and plenty of laughs. Swann is a very cool take on the classic PI.”
– Andrew Klavan, author of “True Crime,” “Dynamite Road,”“Damnation Street” and “Don’t Say a Word”


“You can’t help but be intrigued by a skip tracer who quotes poetry. ‘Swann’s Last Song’ sucks you in from page one, offering up taut prose, crisp dialogue and wry observations on the grittier layers of city life. Bravo to Charles Salzberg, who’s crafted a plot that moves as fast as a stolen car.”
– Sally Koslow, author of “Little Pink Slips”


“A veritable travelogue of suspense, ‘Swann's Last Song’ grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go. Salzberg's anti-hero Henry Swann is a soulful, investigator and one of the most paradoxically endearing characters I've come across. I hope this isn't Swann's last song.”
– Joy Behar, co-host of “The View” and author of “Joy Shtick”


“In ‘Swann’s Last Song,’ Salzberg has devilishly toyed with the usual conventions of the detective novel and produced a mind-bending, literary joyride across two continents to find not only the identity of a murderer but of the victim.”
– Robert Hicks, author of “The Widow of the South”


“Funny, edgy, and surprisingly tender, ‘Swann's Last Song’ takes us on a voyage through a world that many of us are affected by, but few know as well as Charles Salzberg and his fast-talking narrator, skip tracer Henry Swann. We can all understand what it means to have something – or somebody – disappear from our lives, but it takes a colorful narrator like Swann to show us what it means to reclaim them.”
– Roy Hoffman, author of “Chicken Dreaming Corn”



GIVEAWAY

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Entry by Rafflecopter below
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Guest Post: CITY OF DROWNED SOULS BY CHRIS LLOYD (Police Series set in Girona)


Elisenda Domènech Investigations by Chris Lloyd
City of Drowned Souls is the 3rd in the series

When a child disappears, the clock starts ticking
Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.



Release Date: 6th February 2017
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7Y2NDN



I am so thrilled that the author Chris Lloyd has written a piece especially for my blog about Elisenda Domenech



Five interesting things about Elisenda


1. Fifteen or even ten years ago, someone like Elisenda wouldn’t have dreamed of joining the police in Catalonia. But then the Catalans took over policing from the old Spanish police forces and decided to change the complexion completely with the instatement of the Mossos d’Esquadra as their own police service. They changed the structure and revolutionised recruitment by calling for more women and graduates. A law student, Elisenda confounded her family’s expectations of her and became one of the growing number of women to join the Mossos, and she’s steadily risen through the ranks since then. She still has to defend her corner with her family, though, as her parents are from a generation of rebellion against Franco that still has a mistrust of the police.


2. This is a tough one to write. In early drafts of the first book, Elisenda was a more fun-loving and jokey character, but as I was writing it, I lost my brother and my dad within eight months of each other and the world changed. It was my own grief that brought out a much more melancholy, introspective side to her nature, and that in turn led to my creating the strand of her lost daughter to try to explain what had caused this aspect of her character. Underneath, she’s still a joyful and sensuous person, but that side to her is hidden under her sadness, although it’s slowly emerging as her story progresses. From my perspective, it’s the power of writing as part of the healing process, something I’ve tried to recreate for Elisenda’s own experience in City of Drowned Souls as she begins to move on.


3. Elisenda goes running around the outside of the city walls every morning to keep fit. Most mornings, she also runs up the cathedral steps, which really is punishing (believe me) and then runs ‘freewheeling’ down the road to the bottom of the steps again like a kid running joyously out of control down a hill. That’s one of her rewards because she thoroughly hates running and only does it because she feels she has to. Her other reward is then to run into a café and have coffee and doughnuts. That last bit is based on a reluctant jogger I knew in Barcelona, who would run in the evenings but then end up in the old Ritz hotel, still in her running gear, for a couple of cocktails.


4. Elisenda is a rocker. She likes a lot of Spanish, British and American bands, but her first love is Catalan rock music. Her favourite group of all is Sopa de Cabra, a local Girona band that has recently reformed and celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, delighting her (and me!). Before the tragedy that hit her, she used to love dancing, not just to rock music, but also to salsa and the traditional Catalan sardana, a dance where everyone holds hands in a circle and dances complicated steps to an eleven-piece brass and woodwind band. She used to dance the sardana most Sunday mornings in her parents’ village. She’ll get back to doing it one day.


5. Elisenda’s favourite drinks are red wine, preferably from a small producer in the Girona region, and licor de café, an eau-de-vie made with coffee and drunk as a digestive. She loves sitting in the evening in La Terra, the colourfully- and anarchically-tiled café overlooking the river under her flat, and drinking one while she ponders the case she’s working on. The buzz of the coffee, the gentle noise of the river and the lights of the buildings on the other side help her concentrate. Originally, though, I was going to have her drinking Jameson’s whiskey, but La Terra doesn’t stock it, so I had to change her drink. Then, I was at a restaurant in Girona and the owner sat down with me and poured us both a licor de café while we chatted. I enjoyed the gesture so much that I decided it would be Elisenda’s drink.


Lastly, thank you Carole for hosting me on Carole’s Book Corner today.

Thank you Chris for an insight into Elisenda's life.

Author Information

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Chris was born in an ambulance racing through a town he’s only returned to once and that’s probably what did it. Soon after that, when he was about two months old, he moved with his family to West Africa, which pretty much sealed his expectation that life was one big exotic setting. He later studied Spanish and French at university, and straight after graduating, he hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia where he stayed for the next twenty-four years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in Grenoble, the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a writer and a Catalan and Spanish translator, returning to Catalonia as often as he can.

He writes the Elisenda Domènech series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona. The third book in the series, City of Drowned Souls, is published on 6 February 2017.



City of Drowned Souls is the third in the series, if you want to know more about the first two here is everything you need to know.


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Summary:
An intense and brilliantly realised crime thriller set in the myth-soaked streets of Girona

A killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs who have blighted the streets of the old quarter – leaving clues about his next victim through mysterious effigies left hung on a statue. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom. Which is precisely the point the murderer is trying to make.

Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced and her investigation is blocked at every turn.

Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself forced to question her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him. The question is: how?

Information about the Book
Title: City of Good Death (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #1)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 13th July 2015
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook


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Summary:
Be careful what you dig up… 

Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the base of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.

Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.

Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?

The atmospheric second crime thriller featuring Catalan detective Elisenda Domènech, for readers of Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves

Information about the Book
Title: City of Buried Ghosts (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #2)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 30th May 2016
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook



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