Here’s a treat! Two of my favourite authors, Alison Morton and Helen Hollick, are on a book blog tour together and I’m delighted to be hosting them today. Not only are the ladies sharing their fabulous covers and blurbs, they are giving us exclusive extracts from both books.
ALISON MORTON – DOUBLE IDENTITY
Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.
It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.
Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.
But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self. Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?
A stunning new thriller from the author of the award-winning Roma Nova series, fans of Daniel Silva, Stella Rimington and Chris Pavone will love Double Identity.
EXCERPT FROM DOUBLE IDENTITY
Mel shivered. A cold breeze drifted over her bare backside. Dieu, the window must be open. Stupid in late November in London. But windows had been the last things on Mel’s mind last night.
Still drugged with sleep, she stretched out her hand towards Gérard’s face. His eyes were closed, the lashes resting on his pale cheeks. Too much time indoors, Mel thought and smiled. In his early morning relaxed state, Gérard looked more like a boy of seventeen than a man of thirty-seven.
Her eyelids were so heavy. She closed them. After a few seconds, she realised she wasn’t tired, just thick-headed. Opening her eyes again, she blinked hard then tugged on the duvet to cover them both against the too fresh air, but it was trapped under Gérard’s body. Never mind, she could think of a much more pleasurable way to warm up than hiding under the bedclothes. She stroked his skin with the tips of her fingers sliding over the fine brown hairs on his shoulder, then down his chest and over his stomach towards…
He didn’t stir.
He was cold. Stone cold.
Then the smell hit her.
She sat up. The world spun around her. She shot her hand out onto the mattress to steady herself, then knelt beside him. Not wanting to, but knowing she had to, she stretched out her hand, two fingers close together, for the side of his throat. Nothing. She pressed harder, desperate for a sign. But he was too still and too pale. And the blue lips…
Dieu, no. Not her Gérard. Not clever, witty, vibrant Gérard. He couldn’t be gone. But she’d confirmed enough dead bodies during her military life, the last only three weeks ago in a blazing desert wadi in Africa. She sat back, shivered and pressed the palms of her hands into her eye sockets. The sourness ran up her gullet. Clamping her hand over her mouth, she stumbled to the bathroom and threw up in the pan.
Ambulance. She must call an ambulance.
She sat on the toilet seat and gulped down water from the plastic tooth mug. In the bedroom, the green-uniformed man and woman were examining Gérard. Through the gap of the almost closed door, Mel could hear them mumbling to each other. After a few minutes, they stopped talking. They were making a call, giving the hotel name.
The woman came into the bathroom. Her calm face didn’t seem as sympathetic as it had been earlier.
‘What is it?’ Mel asked.
‘We’ve had to call the police. We’ve found something and there are marks on the deceased’s body.’
‘What? Let me see!’ Mel said and leapt up.
The woman held out her plastic-gloved hand.
‘No, stay here, and don’t wash. The police will want to talk to you.’
‘What sort of a name is Mellysand?’
She clutched the bathrobe tighter and braced her legs to steady her balance. This was surreal. Gérard was dead and they suspected her. Why? How was she supposed to have done it? She shook her head which seemed full of mush thumping to escape.
‘It’s pronounced “Mél-i-send-uh”,’ she said. ‘And it’s the name I was given by my parents.’
‘Not very English, is it?’
Le bon Dieu save me from these parochial Brits, she thought. And this cop was even worse than most. He didn’t look like one either in his jeans, tan leather jacket, unshaven and with a single earring. But his warrant card looked genuine, and the two uniformed police outside had let him in.
‘You got any ID?’ he barked.
Mel pulled a pale turquoise and blue card with her photo and signature out of her purse and offered it to him.
‘French?’ He frowned, flicked it over to the other side, then back. ‘You don’t sound very French.’
‘That’s where I was born. My mother is English.’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Visiting friends and doing some shopping.’
‘I’ll need a list of those friends and dates.’
‘Why? Am I under suspicion?’
The cop looked down at the bed, duvet pulled back, bottom sheet stained by body fluids.
‘When there’s a dead man in your bed and you were presumably the last person to see him alive, let’s say you’re at least a person of interest.’
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HELEN HOLLICK – A MIRROR MURDER
The first in a new series of cosy mysteries set in the 1970s… Will romance blossom between library assistant Jan Christopher and DC Laurie Walker – or will a brutal murder intervene?
Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.
But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram, a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered…
Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into murder?
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER EIGHTEEN…
I dragged myself into work on Monday. Bad enough starting a long week after what seemed a weekend of deprived sleep. I felt like death warmed up. A phrase which, as soon as it entered my head I regretted. By the time I’d stepped off the bus and hurried down Hall Lane, my throat was tight and my stomach was churning. Everyone would be asking me questions; questions I didn’t want to answer because these would belong to gossip and sensationalism, not the ‘helping with enquiries’ police kind. And then my work colleagues would be wanting to know the extra, gory, details let slip by my uncle. It would be no use insisting that he never let details slip – gory or otherwise. At the thought of it all, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to cry or vomit. Admonishing myself to pull myself together, I breathed in a few lungfuls of air, and instantly regretted it as a lorry thundered past, spewing clouds of obnoxious exhaust fumes in my direction. So much for fresh air.
I squared my shoulders and raised my head – good deportment, Aunt Madge would have said, had she been there to approve – and walked with a brisk step towards the gate to the side entrance of the library. In through the open back door. I glanced at the clock in the staff room as I hung my coat up and shoved my packed lunch of cold beef sandwiches into the refrigerator. Five minutes past nine. I was late. Smoothing my skirt, short but not so short as to receive a frown from the head librarian, Mr Hurst, or a telling-off from his deputy, Miss Pamela Bower, both of whom, I swear, still thought that women should wear Victorian-length dresses. I smiled as I slid behind the U-shaped counter and thrust my handbag onto the bottom shelf. To my relief, Mr Hurst and Miss Bower were in the office. (To be fair, we did usually call her Pamela, but I would never have dreamed of calling Mr Hurst anything else; in fact, I didn’t know his Christian name.)
The door was open, but even closed I would have heard most of what Mr Hurst was ranting on about because his voice was raised to parade ground altitude. He was shouting about being harangued by the police on a Sunday – a Sunday (his emphasis, not mine), regarding nuisance old biddies stealing – stealing – coupons from our – our – newspapers! I listened for a few minutes, one ear cocked.
“And then!” His voice was rising to a shriller indignation, “And then, the impertinent young policeman actually said – actually said – was I angry about the cut-out coupons because I wanted them! The nerve of it! To suggest that I need a shilling’s worth of food coupons!”
I grinned at Pamela’s reply.
“Don’t you mean five new pence, Mr Hurst? We went decimal back in February.”
I’m surprised he didn’t apoplectically explode, but he probably wasn’t listening to her. He rarely listened to anyone.
“If the woman was not, most conveniently, dead, I would have her arrested for theft!”
Miserable basket, I thought.
“Come to that, if I had caught her defacing our property – yes, Miss Bower, defacing our property, I would have considered killing her myself!”
Amazon Author Page (Universal Link) http://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick
Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.
“Grips like a vice – a writer to watch out for” says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.
Alison now lives in Poitou in France, where part of Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series.
Connect with Alison on her thriller site: https://alison-morton.com
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonMortonAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alison_morton @alison_morton
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/ckNeFL
Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.
First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.
Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Talesand Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction. She is currently writing more Voyages for the Sea Witch series and the next in the Jan Christopher Mysteries series. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!
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