Category Archives: Urbane Publications
Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis
There is something about a 1970’s novel that I know will capture my imagination. So it was a great pleasure to be asked to take part in the Blog Tour for the debut novel Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis. A thrilling crime novel with a 1970’s London skyline.
This is a gritty fast paced crime thriller from a new writer with whom I hope to hear more from in the future. After a woman body is found the race in on to catch the killer and so DI Breck and DS Kearns are brought in to get the killer off the streets before he strikes again. Alexander Troy is picked up and but Troy has other ideas after his arrest. The opening is violent and leans towards brutal but this is what makes this crime novel work. The scene is set for a violent thriller.
Going back to the 1970’s meant going back to the old ways of police work and that meant banging on doors and lots of foot slogging to find avenues of enquiries. How times have changed! Credit to Otis for creating such a great pair in Breck and Kearns and how they each go about their detective work. Despite their own issues.
The London skyline of 1977 is very different and this really brings home how times have changed in methods of policing. The dreadful ‘Racial Profiling’ that took place made areas of London tense. So here in Dead Lands the author has succeeded in bringing the setting and historical aspect of crime and policing really jump off the page at you. If you got in the way, then the chances are you are going to get hurt or worse. You tend to forget just what the 1970’s where really like. Here it all is here in Dead Lands. Now the body count is rising and Breck and Kearns must get in there and get to grips with what is happening and fast and just who really is Alexander Troy?
At times harrowing and gritty but also complex this is terrific first crime novel that presses all the right buttons and delivers. Just think of the 1970’s and it is here. From the police to the streets and everything in-between. Nothing is left out. Yet again Urbane Publications have found another fantastic writer and a gritty pulsating debut. If you enjoy a thriller without the modern technology, then pick up a copy of Dead Lands and head back to the late 1970’s.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy of Dead Lands.
Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis is published by Urbane Publications was published on 12th October 2017 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
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Malice by Hugh Fraser
Hugh Fraser returns with Malice the third in the series following up from Harm and Threat also back is Rina Walker in 1960’s London and if you have read and loved Hugh’s first two then you are in for a real treat. This is an action packed thriller that packs a punch from the first page and will keep you gripped to the very last.
1960’s London was well known for gangs and its leaders and we love a hero who will take them on, in this series we have a heroine in Rina a complex character and she fearlessly takes on the ‘bosses’ and hunts down those she needs to. There is violence as you would come to expect in this series. Rina is a gritty woman and one you would not pick a fight with, a gritty and determined leading character.
This time around Rina is hired to ‘take out’ a rival gangland leader who is threatening George Preston’s patch. But what Rina does not realise is that dealing with one problem will unleash more danger and revenge. The violence is at times graphic as the story takes us from Soho to the Midlands and then to the Spanish Coast. Like the previous two in the series I raced through this as it is a fast paced addictive read. If, however you have not read the first two in the series fear not as they can be read on their own. Be warned though, read on and you will want to read the entire series. One day a screenwriter will read one of these and will see just how dramatic they are and will want to transfer to the small screen. It would make for dramatic television viewing.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy of Malice.
Malice by Hugh Fraser is published by Urbane Publications and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Lighterman – Simon Michael
The third book in the series starring the barrister Charles Holborne by Simon Michael titled The Lighterman was released earlier this month and an outstanding legal thriller based in the 1960’s and is a terrifically absorbing read.
For anyone new to the series the barrister Charles Holborne was formally known as Charles Horowitz, why you may well ask. This you will have to dig a little deeper into the previous two in the series. 1960’s London and the Krays are at their height and Holborne has had previous with the Krays and in this era of the gangs of London and the corruption that was going on at the time, it is all here in The Lighterman. Even within the police force there is corruption and Charles Holborne has to be at his very best to be ahead in the case. We will also have a glimpse into the time of the blitz when he was a teenager and his family were bombed out of their home and moved to the safety of Wales only for Charles to run away and heads back to London and stays with relatives. This is where he ends up working on the river as a ‘Lighterman’ These are formative years for Charles Holborne and when years later he began in the legal profession he had to change his name to be ‘accepted’.
This time around the case is very close to home as his has to defend his cousin Izzy who is accused of murder, but to confront the case the past also must be confronted and this will not be easy and the Krays are never too far away and are keeping more than a keen eye on the case and also on our barrister.
For anyone who has not read the first two books in the series you need not worry this can be read as a standalone book as there is enough in the background of the story to give you an insight and will also make you want to read the previous two. I really enjoy a thrilling courtroom drama and this delivers. With the added Krays lurking not too far away this is one book that anyone who enjoys a thriller will want to read. Question is will there be a book four? An ideal Father’s Day gift. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
The Lighterman by Simon Michael is published by Urbane Publications and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
FOLLOW THE OFFICIAL THE LIGHTERMAN BLOG TOUR
Spanish Crossings by John Simmons
Spain 1937 and Lorna a young woman falls in love with Harry who is a member of the International Brigade and who returns to fight in the Spanish Civil War after seeing at first hand the horrific bombing of Guernica. Lorna later finds out that Harry is then killed. Has Lorna’s chancing of lasting happiness now gone. Spanish Crossings by John Simmons is a deeply moving and exceptional novel of love and hope when all seems lost. In historical writing this is up there with the best. A novel based on true stories.
Lorna’s world has collapsed on hearing of Harry’s death during the fighting in Spain is there a meaning to go on in a world that is going through such upheaval and turmoil. Lorna is asked by her law firm if she would assist in helping children of Spain caught up in the fighting escape the horrors.
For Lorna who has lost her loved one strikes up a friendship with one of the children and Pepe who is now in England grows up with memories of his homeland and of his people who have suffered. Their bond is a special one but as Pepe grows his yearning to return to Spain also grows separated from family and relations. For Lorna and Pepe’s stories are linked together and its story is emotive and deserves to be read.
John Simmons has done a remarkable job in his research and his telling of this story is so descriptive and at times incredibly poignant. John’s writing is so intricate with details of how people’s lives were affected by the Civil War in Spain and life in London. Spanish Crossings is a book that deserves its place in historical writings elite. A story not to be taken lightly but one that you want to savour and remember every word. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
Spanish Crossings by John Simmons is published by Urbane Publications and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Single Soldier by George Costigan
Many will know George Costigan as the theatre, television and screen actor, best known for appearing in the successful hit TV dramas Rita, Sue and Bob Too as well as Happy Valley as well as many theatre productions. The Single Soldier is his debut novel set in France during the German occupation.
This is a story that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it is big and the passion that runs through the heart of this incredible story-line. There is some much in The Single Solider that will stop you and make you think. Set in a village in South Western France tells the story of Jacques who has running the family farm on his own after his father was killed during WWI, it is also a story of Simone a young woman fleeing the onslaught of the German army and has found her way to the farm and has been taken in. She has endured a perilous journey and is lucky to be alive.
The war is raging around them and Jacques is trying to maintain the farm he has looked after single handed since he was thirteen. It is not long before war brings both Jacques and Simone together. As the months move on Simone gives birth to a baby boy but now German troops are looking seeking revenge for the activities of the French resistance fighters and it is now too dangerous for Simone and their son to remain on the farm. It is decided that they should leave to stay would put their lives in danger. Now the story become so heartbreaking as Jacques later finds out that Simone and his son have fled Europe. Jacques is now all alone, he cannot follow his family so he does what he has done nearly all his life and that is bury himself in his work on the land. This is the story of how one man moves his entire house via a cart pulled by a cow to rebuild his shattered life after hopes and dreams are destroyed. The war is over now peace returns to rural France but can one man ever again find similar peace.
This is simply an outstanding debut novel with so many vivid characters and the storytelling so lifelike that you feel part of the story and the lives the community during those war years. This is testimony to the sacrifice of those who endured and suffered the brutality of the German occupation and the tone is captured superbly.
The Single Soldier is beautifully presented by Urbane Publications and this is a book I highly recommend at over 500 pages it is by no means a quick read, but once you have started reading you will quickly come to realise this is a remarkable story.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
The Single Soldier by George Costigan was published by Urbane Publications on 30th March and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes
When The Gift Maker landed on my doormat I have to say it really intrigued me, I was so taken by the cover and press release that it haunted me, it sat on my desk and I would just look at it as if it was actually calling me to it. Announcing Mark Mayes as a new and rare writing talent. This really is a spellbinding and magical book.
The one thing I will say is that it defies any genre as I cannot place into any perhaps a foot in a number but not one that is specific as this is not like any other book, it is something unique and so beautifully written a fantasy that can be real and unreal in one sentence.
One night a student alone in his lodgings receives what can only be described as a strange looking package that he was not expecting but Thomas Rudder does not open it, it soon becomes clear that he is not the only one who has received a surprise gift out of the blue. We learn that a friend Liselotte Hauptmann has also received a gift, unlike Thomas Liselotte opens hers and so the scene is set. She set off on an adventure that is more of a quest as it is one that is not free from hazards. For Thomas he is worried about his gift and has not opened his, but he soon set off after Liselotte to the town of Grenze. There is a third student that comes into the storyline and Johan he is aware of the gifts to his two friends, but who has sent them and why? All we know is that their lives are never going to be the same again from this moment. We then find that a theatre producer is behind the gifts but why has he sent them on a journey that places perils in front of each of the three students.
A journey made by three students that turns into something unlike anything you will have read in a long time. A journey of self-discovery that the reader will also become part of these very journeys. What happens next is down to you. Now you have to go on your own journey to your local bookshop and order a copy of The Gift Maker and prepare for what is at times scary and extraordinary adventure to a town that you would not never want to visit let alone the journey. This is a story that will make you think about your life and life in general, I found it incredibly philosophical at times difficult and worrying. But I for one delighted that this book landed on my doormat. A book that asks so many questions not in general but to each and every individual reader some questions may hang around for quite some time. Then they will come back to you. This is not a book to take lightly but at the same time it is just brilliant and a read you will not forget. Every book has an ending, just wait until you read the ending to The Gift Maker.
Thank you to Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
The Gift Maker was Published by Urbane Publications on 23 February 2017. is available from Amazon and available to order through Waterstones and your local bookshops.
The Huntingfield Paintress – Pamela Holmes
I have to admit to knowing very little of the story of Mildred Holland and a church in the village of Huntingfield in East Suffolk. The Huntingfield Paintress was a story just waiting to be told. Painstaking research by Pamela Holmes and the story is now being told.
This is really is an incredible beautifully told story of Mildred Holland the wife of the vicar of St Mary’s Church in the village of Huntingfield, Mildred defied the conventions of being a vicars wife in 1850 a time in rural Suffolk of depression being surrounded by farmland and the villagers being poor. Water-borne disease nearly claimed the entire village.
When the couple married it transpires life is great for Mildred, unable to have children of their own after Mildred lost a child she has to find something to keep her interested and having spent the early years sketching churches while travelling they finally are given the parish of Huntingfield. The villagers eye Mildred with suspicion as she defies all conventions of how a vicar’s wife should be. She suffered from depression after settling in the village she clearly feels that she does not fit in to village life. After visiting another church in Southwold she is inspired by the art she sees and now she has a vision to re-create the glorious ceiling in their own church for once before St Mary’s did have a stunning ceiling until Henry VIII came to power. This is Mildred’s calling and despite a fear of heights she sets about in bringing back the church’s glory. In doing so she upsets some of the locals who seem to want to cause harm and distress during the project. This story brings alive the 19th Century English life in all greyness.
This is a celebration of the work of Mildred Holland and her incredible self-sacrifice in bringing back the colour to the church of St Mary’s and in doing so causing her permanent damage to her back. The final result is something to behold and Mildred’s life and work are a living testament to her. The Huntingfield Paintress is a celebration of her life and her calling. It brings colour to what was a dull and grey period in history. A charming and delightfully written story and a stunning debut.
Thank you Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes is published by Urbane Publications and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
An Honest Deceit – Guy Mankowski
‘Mum where do fish go in the winter’ This is how An Honest Deceit by Guy Mankowski opens. Those words will linger with me for some time and when I walk by the river during this winter I will be thinking of these words again.
This book came as a real surprise as I was not quite sure what to expect. What I will say is that this novel is well thought out and brilliantly written. When a book opens with a quote like that you know something is coming but you are not quite sure what. This is a story of every parent’s nightmare. Now read on.
Ben and Juliette are just normal parents with the normal every day worries that every parent has. When you send your child to school you expect your child to be under the best possible care. Their daughter Marine is off on a school trip but there is an accident and Marine dies. This is the story as told by Ben and the search for the truth as to the death of their daughter while in the care of the school while out on a trip. The grief is that pours out of every page is real and the questions come thick and fast. Something is not right and now the grieving parents want answers and they will not rest until the truth is out. For Juliette she is frozen in shock as you can imagine and nothing can change that. This is threatening to tear the family apart. Ben has to step up and be the strong half of the couple and as well as trying to carry on working he will not give up the fight for the truth despite whatever some people think. What if he is wrong and it was just a desperate tragic accident. Ben refuses to think this way. What of Kraver the school headmaster, the reader will take an instant opinion to him as all he seems to care about is the school’s reputation and wants to deflect Ben from continuing the fight for the truth.
You will come to hope that Ben will succeed in finding out what really happened to his daughter on that fateful day and you urge him on with every turn of the page. Ok I will admit I wanted to thump Kraver if not knock him into the next century. Hidden in the story are corruption and lie after lie ad Ben has to dig deep and fight for an investigation to be launched but at times it seems he is fighting a losing battle but Ben will not give up the fight for Marine. There are times in the book that some readers will find difficult and uncomfortable. The emotions are raw and real.
This is not just good it is brilliant as the story starts to burn away at the reader, questions come thick and fast at times the complexity can get in the way but this just adds to the tension on every page. Guy Mankowski is a real talent for telling a story and keeping the reader guessing right to the very last moments.
I am highly recommending An Honest Deceit as one book that you must read before this year is out. It really is that good. ‘Mum where do fish go in the winter’ will be the words you will remember.
Thank you to Matthew at Urbane Publications for the advanced review copy.
An Honest Deceit by Guy Mankowski is published by Urbane Publications and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
Glass Houses – Jackie Buxton
The Last Word Review
Sometimes we act without thinking through the consequences, after all it will not happen to me it will always be someone else it will happen too. In her debut novel, Glass Houses Jackie Buxton has written a well-researched novel about what happens when one person’s actions have grave consequences for others around them.
The story follows Tori Williams as she comes to terms with the tragic consequences of her actions while sending a text message as she drove her car, the resulting crash caused the deaths of three people. People’s lives are forever changed. In a deeply thought provoking novel we see the immediate aftermath of the crash and how Etta one of the leading characters looks after Tori until the emergency services arrive and then the story begins to unfold as a number of other characters come into the story and how it has affected those families who strain as you can imagine. This at times is a moving and deeply effecting debut novel novel that is so well researched. Tori tries to rebuild her life despite the pressure she is under just think of the role of the media who place her under siege and the effect this has on everyone around her. The blame game is played out to the public and how the public perceive Tori and her role in the crash.
There are many themes that come into play in a novel such as Glass Houses, guilt, blame and recovery are seen through what I can only think of is a camera lens. There are many twist and turns that make this a well-structured novel that you will not want to put down in any great hurry. The one great aspect I found with Jackie’s writing is that she deliberately made each chapter short so in a book covering just under 500 pages there are many chapters which makes this an ideal commuter read. Because of the story line and the many themes, it covers I believe this would be perfect for any book group.
There is an ending to this story that I will not giveaway here, this is something you the reader should discover for yourself. I have to admit to really enjoying Glass Houses and its characters and their flaws which make them as normal as you and me. As I said at the beginning of this review, this could happen to anyone of us it is that real.
Thank you to Urbane Publications for the review copy.
Glass Houses by Jackie Buxton and published by Urbane Publications. Available through Amazon and through Waterstones and all good bookshops
PRIZE DRAW TO WIN A SET OF FOUR BOOKS FROM URBANE PUBLICATIONS
On Bank Holiday Monday I showcased the writers and their books published through Urbane Publications. Thanks to the incredible generosity of Matthew the founder and owner of Urbane Books here is your chance to win not one but four great titles from their catalogue.
Since its founding in 2012 Urbane Publications have published some exciting and outstanding books covering both Fiction and non-fiction. To find out more about Urbane Publications click on the link: Here
Included in the book prize draw are the following titles.
1, Love and a Dozen Roast Potatoes by Simon Wan
2, Threat by Hugh Fraser
3, Glass Houses by Jackie Buxton
4, Infinite Rooms by David John Griffin
All four books have been getting 5 star reviews on Amazon. To enter the prize draw all you have to do to stand a chance of winning all four books is head over to my Twitter feed @thelastword1962 and follow and re-tweet the Pinned message. Off course I would much appreciate it if you could also head over to @urbanebooks and follow a friendly publisher who publishes rather good books.
Now the not so exciting bit….
The Terms and Conditions are as follows:
*The draw is open to UK only and runs from Tuesday 30 August to 7pm Thursday 1 September any entrants entering after this time will not be entered. Only one entry will be allowed. Multiple entries will not be entered. The four book prize is offered by Urbane Books. The winner will be selected at random and will be notified via a DM on Twitter. The winning books will be sent out by Urbane Books direct to the winner.