Blog Tour – Style and The Solitary by Miriam Drori

Today I’m showing a little of the work of Miriam Drori for her new book “Style and The Soliary”


An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.

A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure. The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.

Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?

His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?

She coerces her flatmates, Yarden and Tehila, into helping her investigate. As they uncover new trails, will they be able to reverse popular opinion?

In the end, will Beauty’s belief be strong enough to waken the Beast? Or, in this case, can Style waken the Solitary?

Here is a brief extract to give you a feel for the book.

He would be shoved into a corner, consulted but never praised, all his life, unless he acted to stop that trend.

He hadn’t forgotten the ideas of his lightbulb moment. They were all still there in his brain, and he knew that if he followed them, he would have his solution. But somehow, they didn’t arouse the same excitement that he’d felt before. The light wasn’t as bright as it had been before Ido’s rude interruption.

Asaf hadn’t joined in the cake party. He’d remained in his cubicle, sitting on the little chair and laying his arms in front of the keyboard. He remembered resting his head on his arms and closing his eyes, hearing but not listening to the chatting from people who were, no doubt, pleased he hadn’t turned up.

Although the content of their empty words passed him by, Asaf couldn’t help picking out their voices, and marvelling at the way they all sounded so natural, so unlike him. Besides Ido, there was Omer, his team leader, and Gidon, the big boss, Sagi, the secretary, Kfir, Carmel and Reut. And Nathalie, whose very name could raise his spirits. She was different from the rest, French for a start, her cute accent and often quirky Hebrew bringing unexpected joy. And although she was lively and got on well with everyone, she either actually enjoyed talking to Asaf or she did a very good job of pretending to. Asaf couldn’t make it out. Why would she want to be bothered with a beast like him? Yet, over the three months since Nathalie had joined the team, Asaf had found himself increasingly looking forward to the times he and Nathalie worked together.

While the little party endured, while Asaf heard but didn’t listen, the seed of his idea planted itself in his brain. And he knew he had to put it into action whatever the consequences. Even if it meant never seeing Nathalie again. During the weekend, he thought of nothing else.

Now, on the bus, he hummed two songs to himself, both called Today. He picked out the lines that meant the most to him, the ones that looked forward to this day which was just beginning, and which would be the start of something new, something good, something unusual.

Quicker than ever, yet at the usual time, the bus stopped by the Har Hotzvim Technological Park. Asaf, standing ready by the door, hands in pockets, fingers rubbing the folded note, stepped down to the outside and began the brisk five-minute walk to the office, past the roar of drilling from the building site of yet another office block. Today, the strong, icy wind pushed him on, whispering in his ears, “Go. Reach the office as usual, but be ready for this to be an extraordinary day. A most extraordinary day.” His heart thumping against its walls, Asaf punched in the code and pushed open the door to his block, confident that he understood this message, that he had the situation under control, that every extraordinary thing that would happen on this day depended on him making the first move.

“Morning,” Asaf called to the guard before hurrying on towards the lifts, the guard’s fading reply echoing in his ears.

It had become Asaf’s job to be the first to arrive at the office. Nearly every morning, he’d unlock the door, and then rush to turn off the alarm before it screeched its ugly noise and notified the security company.

Inside the lift, his jacket now hooked in his arm, he pressed the button marked 3 and checked his appearance in the mirror while being transported to the place that had been his second home for three long years. A short walk brought him to the heavy door. He reached into his pocket and brought out the bunch of keys, chose one and pushed it into the lock.

He was ready.

If you’d like to know more of Asaf’s adventures, or Miriam’s writings, here are some links for you.

BOOK LINK: Style and the Solitary


Facebook: miriamdroriauthor
Amazon page: Miriam-Drori
Goodreads: Miriam_Drori
Pintrest: miriamdrori
Twitter: MiriamDrori
Instagram: miriam.drori

Book Review – Sleepless, Louise Mumford

Back in February I was able to host Louise Mumford in my crime author month, and she introduced us to her novel “Sleepless”. I’m glad to say I have finally got round to reading it.

Here’s my review.

Thea crashes her car, probably due to a microsleep. Thea is a woman who doesn’t sleep much, most of us can relate to that, but for Thea this isn’t a temporary difficulty, it’s a long term, seemingly never-ending situation.  So when she gets a chance to be included on a sleep trial, she jumps at it. It is literally a jump from the frying pan into the fire.
There are lots of wonderful elements in this book, Louise Mumford brings the characters to life in a difficult situation so that even the darkness is readable.  It is an interesting exploration of the way that we convince ourselves that our worries are nothing to worry about, even when they are.

My favourite exchange was:
Thea: The man is a creep. 
Rory: The world is full of them, can’t knee them all in the balls.

Louise – we can try. But honestly, I’d sooner recommend reading “Sleepless”, wonderful book.

Previous interview: Louise Mumford

Booklink: Sleepless

Louise Mumford was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed. Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

In the summer of 2019 Louise was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head.

Book Review – The Devil and The Dark Water

The Devil and the Dark Water: The mind-blowing new murder mystery from the Sunday Times bestselling author (High/Low) by [Stuart Turton]

Though The Devil and The Dark Water is listed as Metaphysical Science Fiction, at it’s heart is a great deal of crime.

This book is as full of ups and downs as the stormy seas it sails into. Arent Hayes is Sammy’s protector, even though Sammy has been accused of a crime, they don’t know what that crime is. Sara is a mother doing little to protect herself, but everything to protect her daughter from her father. Sara endures an uncaring husband intent on torturing her. But there is more to Governor General Jan Haan than there appears. The fact that they are facing a huge voyage from Batavia to Amsterdam is the backdrop for the supernatural events that run through the story. And the supernatural starts before they even step off the dock and onto the boat. On board we gradually learn more of the crew and passengers and how they are all interconnected in unexpected ways. Then the Devil lights a light, and kills – well it would be a spoiler to say what is killed. The Devil, it seems works in mysterious ways.

So does Mr Turton! This is his second book and the second that I’ve read. And the second that I’ve loved.

The characters are full of surprises, but they are well-rounded and real, I found myself loving and hating in equal measure, not to mention, understanding where they were coming from. No one was either the perfect paragon nor the pantomime villain, they were real. This works particularly well as an exploration of what fear and desperation can do to an enclosed group of people.

I worked out one part of the solution, but there was another part that came out of the blue to me, though when looking back over the book, the clues were there, I simply hadn’t see them. I don’t think I wanted to. Through the denouement everything is made sense of, and you look back and think, of course, how did I miss that? Simple – you’d have to be Sherlock Holmes to see it all, and even Samuel Pipps isn’t him. The book also keeps you guessing right up to the last page, the last paragraph even. It was brilliant.

I have to say, I loved this book and can imagine reading it again and getting more out of it the second time around.

Blog Tour – Hunter’s Chase

This is part of the Blog Tour for Hunter’s Chase (The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Book 1) by Val Penny, published by Darkstroke Books, and it marks the release of the audio book.

Hunter’s Chase is the book that introduces DI Hunter Wilson and his team. The blurb below outlines the story but to give you further insight, this is a book all about family in its many and varied forms, from the new to old, healthy to unhealthy, and some that change alone the way. Just about every type of family you can think of appears in this book, and the levels of love and attachment are equaly spread. Some of the details will make you hate the characters and some will have you crying for them.

The story contains a lot of interesting twists with the characters intertwining in unusual ways, and drawing together perfectly. The work deals with some difficult topics but they are sympathetically handled and the conclusion works well.

Hunter’s Chase is a great ensemble piece and introduces many good, strong characters. The individual characters came across as fully rounded and ‘seeable’ individuals with lives and loves of their own. There was only one reaction that didn’t make sense to me, but it’s a very minor point, that may work well for others.

With direct reference to the audio version, I have listened to it despite having previously read the book, and it took me a while to get used to Sean Pia’s accent, not that there’s anything wrong with it or his reading, he has a great Edinburgh burr. But somehow it was a bit ‘younger’ than I was expecting. I think I had imagined Hunter’s voice so clearly in my head it was odd to hear something different to that. However, that oddness soon wore off and if you listen or read, you’re still consuming a good book.


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.



Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Where to find the Author:

Facebook: @Authorvalpenny
Val Penny
Friends Of Hunter Wilson & The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries
Val’s Book Bundle
Goodreads: Val Penny
Amazon: Val Penny
Bookbub: Val Penny

Book Review – East of Hounslow

I’m trying to read a wider range of books this year, because, honestly, my reading habits are a bit whiter than white. So I asked for some recommendations, got loads! And the first one I picked up was “East of Hounslow” by Khurrum Rahman.

I had no real idea what to expect with this book, it’s a debut, but the fact that on the front of the copy I have it’s recommended by Ben Aaronovitch helped – am a bit of a fan of the Rivers of London books.

Jay leaps off the page as a real person, some of his exploits and the vision he gives of daily life were surprising and beautiful. What he gets put through in the narrative kept me as a reader hooked and off-balance in the best way possible. All the characters come across as three-dimensional, even the ones you aren’t supposed to like much, yet in many ways, there are no real villains either. Rahman achieves that rarity of helping the reader understand the motivations behind some heinous acts, it doesn’t improve the behaviour, but it makes the reason people would behave that way make more sense.

Jay – or more officially, Javid – walks places in London I do know and they were painted realistically, as were the locations I’m never likely to visit. It was engaging and absorbing.

And oh my God – that ending! Wow.

Have already purchased the second book by this author.

One word of warning through – the print is so small I struggled to read for an length of time in one sitting, I was getting eye strain even with my glasses on (without them I couldn’t read a word).

Working Inside

Today I’m talking to Gary Clarke, who gives us a peek at what it’s like to work in the UK Prison Service.

Can you give us a quick overview of your career in the prison servie so we can understand your background? (Happy to use this or if you’d like to expand on it, please do)

I retired from the Prison Service in 2018 after 29 years service. During my service I worked at HMP Pentonville, HMP Whitemoor, Prison Service Training College and HMP Peterborough. I had jobs such as Training Manager, Head of Female Residence, Security Manager, Safer Custody Manager dealing with all self-harm and deaths in custody.

You’ve worked training other prison officers, so what sort of courses did that entail?

I worked at Prison Service Training College Newbold Revel delivering Operational Training delivering courses to established staff of all ranks from across the prison estate. I delivered course such as, Dedicated Search Team Training, Covert Human Intelligence Sources, Working With Information and X-Ray Course. These courses involved all ranks of staff from across the estate. When I moved to work in the Private Prison estate at HMP/YOI Peterborough I delivered all the Suicide and Self-Harm awareness training to new and established staff.

Was there anything that regularly turned up in training to be particularly easy, or especially difficult for the candidates to come to grips with?

The course that probably caused the most discussion and difficulties was the Suicide and Self-Harm Awareness course. This was for a number of reasons: the stigmas that surround the topic, peoples prejudice against those who have either self-harmed or attempted suicide and the biggest issue was always around staff that are affected directly or indirectly by self-harm or suicide. There was always a fine balance to be had between getting the real message across and not upsetting course members to much.

You mention being a Safer Custody Manager, it’s well known that mental health can be a big problem for those inside. Can you share any insights on that area of the prison service and how it had evolved in your experience?

This is a huge problem area for prisons, and I firmly believe that although progress has been made and services offered to prisoners has improved greatly over my career it is still an area that they need to take more seriously. I will try and explain this statement: whilst working at HMP/YOI Peterborough I was the Safer Custody Manager, when I first took over the role, I was responsible for the female side of the prison only, I had a Prison Custody Officer and full-time admin support whilst responsible for approximately 350 female prisoners. This was very soon to change when I was given the responsibility for the male prisoners and then lost admin support completely meaning that just myself and my PCO had responsibility for approximately 1200 prisoners, not sure much more needs to be said.

I have felt over the years that much of what the service does around mental health has been a tick box exercise, when you consider that 80% of female prisoners have a diagnosed mental illness, this is something I still believe they need to take more seriously.

As a Security Manager, what was your area of focus?  And where did you have to focus most efforts on?

I was the Security Manager at HMP/YOI Peterborough during start up and for the first four years that the prison was open. This had very different challenges from setting up processes and procedures across the prison as well as everyday issues that prisoners, staff and visitors.

One of the major areas of concern was the trafficking of drugs and mobile phones, the biggest problems that a prison faces. There are many ways that these items enter the prison, through the post, visitors and corrupt staff. Mobile phones are a major problem for all prisons as they can’t be monitored meaning that prisoners can continue their criminal behaviour behind bars. There is the technology about to block mobile signals but legislation makes it very difficult to do it, something that needs to be addressed urgently otherwise these problems will never be solved.

Recent developments in technology have provided a surge of drone ownership and operations. This gives opportunity for things to be flown in/dropped in over the prison walls. Has this been a security issue you’ve had to deal with, and if so, how did you deal with it?

I have not personally dealt with any issues involving drones although they are a problem across the prison estate and again as with mobile phones the technology is available to address this, but the legislation needs addressing first.

The prison population of the UK tends to be only 5% female, and we don’t hear much of life in women’s prisons. Working in HMP Peterborough means that you worked in the only prison in the UK which has wings for male and female inmates. How did that differ from your work in other all male prisons? Were there any obvious differences between how the genders behave inside?

The difference between male and female prisoners is immense. Apart from the obvious differences, there are those around primary carers, mental health and physical health, dietary needs and everyday care needs.

It was generally easier to work with female prisoners as 90% of them caused no issues at all, however the complexity of the other 10% was immense and time consuming. For me it was a different kind of busy and stress when dealing with the different genders.

Were officers assigned to work with either male or female wings or did they work across both?

Although they were generally allocated to one side off the prison or the other they would be expected to work where detailed on any given day.

My thanks to Gary for giving his time to this, hope it gives a different insight into the other side of prison life.

Crime on the Telly

Usually I keep this blog to crime writing and books, but I’ve recently got into a new (to me) crime television series and I thought I’d share this, as someone had to write it, Paul Matthew Thompson and Jude Tindall in this case. So this blog is rather lighter than some.

Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators Poster
Image shamelessly copied from IMDB 🙂

The series I discovered is “Shakespeare and Hathaway”.

If like me, you’re new to this series, this is how IMDB describes it:

“An oddball couple of private detectives named Luella Shakespeare and Frank Hathaway investigate crime in Stratford-upon-Avon.”

Staring Jo Joyner (Shakespeare) and Mark Benton (Hathaway), the oddball couple (hate that hackneyed phrase, but it’s their description), are joyous to watch. The characters are human and make mistakes. Their office assistant, wanna be actor Sebastian, is fabulous, he takes on undercover roles with aplomb, and is brilliant in every facet, which only goes to showcase the real talent of the actor playing the role – Patrick Walshe McBride. The series has been filmed in Stratford-Upon-Avon and the surrounding area. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some locations in Midsomer Murders mind!  

All the elements of this show work brilliantly together, but the glue is the writing.

Each episode is titled with a quote from Shakespeare, the Bard himself of course, not the lead character!  A lot of names are taken from the plays, and those associated with Shakespeare, for example DI Marlowe is named for Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe. The plots reflect some aspect of the plays too – though often rather loosely so knowledge, or lack thereof, of Shakespeare’s work is irrelevant to watching the series.

The series is cosy crime, as it fits into the weekday afternoon slot, around the same time you’d otherwise find shows like “Father Brown”. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s funny, and intelligent and well worth the time to watch.  Given that there were three series already up for streaming, I’m clearly late to the game on this one, but I have to say – better late than never.

If you want a light-hearted giggle with your murder, I can verily recommend this series of “plays” and we all know – the plays the thing.  Series 1 – 3 are on BBC iPlayer and series 4 is due out some time this year.

Competition News

Today I’m sharing some news about a new writing competition.

No photo description available.

It’s not exactly hard to find out that I’m a proud member of Crime Cymru.  The aims of the organisation are:

  • To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales
  • To help in the development of new writing talent
  • To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world.

In support of these goal, the Gwobr Nofel Gyntaf Crime Cymru First Novel Prize has been created to identify, support and promote new crime writing talent from Wales. The Prize Committee consists of Katherine Stansfield, Alison Layland, Alis Hawkins and Jacky Collins. 

The prize has a similar structure to the Welsh Book of the Year, with two categories: Welsh language entries and English language entries. There will be two winners, one in each language category. For each language category there are separate judges and individual prizes. The competition is free to enter and has some fantastic prizes on offer:

  • There will be a Welsh-language winner and an English-language winner. Each winner will receive a four-night stay at Literature Wales’ Nant Writers’ Retreat Cottage, located within the grounds of Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Llanystumdwy, Gwynedd. The two winning writers will also be offered mentoring from Crime Cymru writers, to be undertaken in their choice of Welsh or English.
  • There will be two shortlisted writers in each language category. The prize for the shortlisted authors is a ‘book bundle’ comprising work by Crime Cymru authors, the titles of which will be determined by Crime Cymru. In addition, we hope that being shortlisting in a prestigious new prize will be useful in seeking publication in the future.
  • Both our winners and shortlisted writers will be awarded a complimentary festival pass to our in-person crime writing festival in Aberystwyth in 2022 where they’ll have the opportunity to meet a host of the UK’s top crime writers as well as industry professionals from the world of publishing.

Here are the key details you need to know:

  • The competition opened on 23 April 2021
  • The competition closes on 3 September 2021
  • The prize is open to writers currently living in Wales.
  • This is a first novel prize. To enter, you must not have previously published a novel, either traditionally or self-published. Writers who have published a book in forms other than novels (e.g. a poetry or short story collection, creative non-fiction) can enter.
  • The submitted novels do not have to have a Welsh setting or theme but they do have to be crime novels. For the purposes of the competition this definition is broad, including (but not limited to) detective novels, mysteries, thrillers, psychological thrillers. For a guide to the expansiveness of the genre, take a look at the scope of crime writing produced by members of Crime Cymru.
  • Entries should be the first 5,000 words of a crime novel plus a one-page synopsis which outlines the full plot of the novel. The novel does not have to be complete at the time of entry.

The people you need to impress are:

Top row, left to right: Jon Gower, Sian Northey, Gwen Davies. Bottom row, left to right: Clare Mackintosh, Awais Khan, Peter Buckman. Image credits: Gwen Davies’ photograph – Jessica Raby; Clare Mackintosh’s photograph – Charlie Hopkinson.

Useful Links
Crime Cymru
Wales Arts Review Article on the prize

So if you want to be one of the first winners of this new prize, get writing and I wish you all the best of luck.

Save Her

Abigail Osbourne shares her inspiration and faces some hard and uncomfortable factors and philosophies in this discussion and in her book.

Save Her: a gripping psychological thriller full of twists by [Abigail Osborne]

The idea for the book came from my own experiences of friendship. I have always been fascinated by friendship. Moving around a lot when I was younger meant I’ve never had a friend that I’ve known most of my life. I have always wanted that bond. That one person you can absolutely rely on and know will always be there for you. The one you can share in-jokes with and a long history with. That person you can communicate with by just looking at them. Someone who knows what you’re feeling before you do.

It wasn’t until I got to University that I got a glimpse of this type of friendship. I made friends with a girl in my halls and the connection was instantaneous. I’d never experienced anything like it. For months we had a deep and profound friendship and I honestly thought I’d found the best friend I was always meant to have. We did everything together and my world revolved around our friendship and I was blissfully happy. But then we fell out and the sun fell out of my sky. I realised that I had no other friends. No one at all. I’d put all my eggs in one basket and was completely alone. The friendship, whilst amazing, was not healthy because I did not have room for anyone else. I didn’t want anyone else. It was this that has always stayed with me and was the initially idea that prompted the book.

But then it grew into so much more. I began to explore the difference between a marriage and a best friend. All those things I described as wanting in a best friend, I now have with my husband. This got me thinking, what defines friendship? What should friendship be? What are the boundaries in a friendship?  I am lucky enough to be happily married and I started to ask myself, who would I choose? If I was still friends with that girl from University, could I honestly say I would choose my husband over her if push came to shove? I don’t think that the intensity of our friendship would have allowed it. This what I explore in the book and I loved taking this journey with Sophie and Flora. From the reviews I’ve had so far, the friendship between the girls is something other people have enjoyed.

Another theme in this book is the issue of wealth. Sophie and Flora have married into a vastly wealthy family and throughout the book, I tried to examine the difference that money makes to people and the choices that they have. I have even attempted to convey different points of view on wealth through the opposing views that Sophie and Flora hold. Sophie is steadfastly ambitious. Having come from poverty, her mother spending all their money on drink, she is resolute that she will better herself and be as wealthy as she possibly can. She wants only the finest things in life and feels that she works hard, so she should enjoy reaping what she has sowed. Flora works hard to try and be financially independent and tries to devote her time to helping people. Flora doesn’t spend money on herself and tries to avoid using the ‘family’ money. She is embarrassed at the wealth that she has married into and reluctantly accepts the improvement in her quality of life. Flora ignores her moral compass and her real feelings about the sort of wealth she has married into because it would make her marriage untenable.  But nearly every day she is reminded that people are struggling whilst her in-laws are rolling around in a pit of money and doing nothing good with it. This is something she has to live with, and I think it is something that I think about a lot. I constantly feel like I should be doing more to help those less fortunate.

I personally find the unequal distribution of wealth in our country something hard to think about. Flora’s debate about having access to money and feeling guilty about it is something that I have felt myself. For instance, my mother and a close friend both work in the NHS as nurses. Throughout the pandemic, they have put their lives at risk and saved lives. But I am aware that I earn more money than them in my day job (without having to do 12-hour shifts) and this is a difficult pill for me to swallow. I know that they love their jobs and are not in it for the money but to help people. But still, I can’t help but feel guilty as they are making a difference in the world, but their contribution is not recognised in what they are paid. My job is important and worthwhile, but I don’t have the same tangible impact the way that they do. This was in my mind as I was writing the book and creating a family of incredible wealth.

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Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree. She lives in Worcestershire with her husband and is a board game fanatic, owning over 70 games. She has a huge collection of books, plays the violin, and used to play the piano until her husband sold it because it was too heavy to keep moving.

Find Abigail on:
Facebook: https: //
Twitter: @Abigail_Author
Instagram: @abigailosborneauthor

Click here for book details. Save Her.

I have to say, I totally understand the points you’ve made and am right there with you.  Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I really appreciate it.