Blog Tour – January 2022 – Demon – Matt Wesolowski

What a treat – another of Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories “podcast ” novels…

Yep, a huge treat for horror fans, as the sixth in this sublime series of creepy stories is released!

So tell us a little bit about this one! What’s the story, and where’s it set?

Well, I’ll start with the setting – a small village in northern England called Ussalthwaite, deep in the countryside. In 1995 a twelve-year-old boy with learning difficulties called Sydney Parsons was murdered by two of his classmates, who have now served their time, and been released under new identities.

So what’s podcaster Scott King’s interest in this case?

Mainly due to the fact that there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the crime, and goings-on in the village leading up to it. Also, some of these goings-on have a (possibly) supernatural touch to them, which always intrigues King. There were always rumours of strange goings-on in Ussalthwaite, and, in the case of Sydney Parsons, it was that his two tormentors, and ultimately murderers, were under demonic possession due to something up at the kilns, on the hills above the village. This was a place children had long been warned to stay away from, and was connected with a couple of strange earlier events. But I don’t want to give too much away!

So, sounds like creepy stuff…

Fans of Wesolowski’s earlier books will be aware of what to expect – and, yes, that is creepy! I’m not one for being freaked out by books – I’ve never had to put a Stephen King down, for example – but there’s something really disconcerting about Wesolowski’s writing. I think it’s perhaps the settings…they’re so incongruous; the sort of places any of us might have lived or holidayed in in our childhood. Everything seems familiar to those of us of a certain generation in Britain, and that’s what makes it so scary – the familiarity, and the creepiness in these familiar settings and items.

What else do you enjoy about Wesolowski’s books?

As they’re written in the form of someone speaking, most of the time at least, they’re a really speedy read and you find yourself absolutely racing through the book. This makes them all the more compelling and hard to put down (except when you’re creeped out!) They are absolute page-turners! (Apart from…well, see before!)

I love the format of the books – I think it’s hugely original, and it also adds to the page-turning aspect of the books. Really, I can only say one thing…

Don’t miss it!

With thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours, and Anne and Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for my ARC.

Author Matt Wesolowski
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BLURB: In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

Blog Tour – January 2022 -Deception – Helen Forbes

That’s Edinburgh on the cover, if I’m not mistaken! I take it this is one of crimeworm’s favourite things – a Scottish-set novel…?

It is indeed! It’s probably best described as a psychological thriller, and is about several different characters, the main one of which is Lily. She’s engaged to Nathan, who’s abusive and has a rich, but rather unpleasant family, particularly his mother and sister. Frankly, I can’t understand what attracted her to him, nor why she stays with him, but he sounds fairly attractive, on the outside at least, and must have been able to turn on the charm at one time. She comes across as a bit of a lost soul, with only one good friend, Julie, who’s helping her to escape the clutches of her horrible fiancée, taking with her their toddler son, Ronan.

Who else is in the picture?

Well, there’s PC David Gunn, a really nice police officer from the Outer Hebrides who has a bit of a crush on Lily, and she likes him too, but probably only as a friend. He knows Lily’s fiancée, and knows he’s a bad lot, but not to what extent.

There’s also Sam, a homeless man who Lily’s become friendly with, and always stops for a chat with on the street. He’s concerned for Lily’s welfare, too, but in his situation, there’s little practical help he can give her.

So what happens with Lily and Nathan?

The night Lily’s preparing to leave him, Nathan returns home early. Later that night he disappears, and Lily wakes up in hospital, unable to remember what had happened due to a head injury. There is, however, evidence of Nathan being attacked in their home. Was Lily responsible? Or was someone else who Nathan was involved with in some way – a dodgy business associate, perhaps? – behind his disappearance? And is he even still alive? These are the questions we have to be answered in Deception.

Did you enjoy the book?

I did actually – very much. It’s always nice to come across a place familiar to you in a book, and Edinburgh was well-portrayed as the small-ish city it is very well. The characters, and their relationships to each other, were quite intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to them all – and see if everyone got the ending they deserved. Helen Forbes is a promising up-and-coming Scottish writer, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more of her work. She has a great understanding of the relationships between people, and how they work.

Thoroughly recommended!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour, and also to Scolpaig Press for my signed copy of the book!

BLURB: Lily Anderson has it all. A beautiful son, a wealthy fiancé, and a luxury apartment in Edinburgh. But Lily is living a lie. Estranged from her family, she’s tired of covering up the truth about her relationship with Nathan Collesso.

Lily’s not the only one with troubles. Her friend, Sam, is being pursued mercilessly by a rogue cop determined to silence him. Living on the streets, Sam sees and knows too much.

As Lily’s wedding approaches, a desperate bid to escape leaves her with a head injury and a missing fiancé. Did she harm Nathan? Did she kill him? She can’t remember.

The net tightens, entangling Lily and Sam in a web of deception that stretches from Edinburgh to Poland. Hard truths come to light, and every decision Lily has made since the day she met Nathan Collesso comes back to haunt her.

One false move, and she could lose her son, her friends and her life…

Blog Tour – Bitter Flowers – Gunnar Staalesen (Translator: Don Bartlett)

So, another Scandinavian book from Orenda – and from an author we’ve read (and enjoyed!) before, am I right?

Yes – and a character we’ve met before, although don’t worry – this book works perfectly well as a standalone! It’s private investigator Varg Veum, who’s fresh out of rehab and getting ready for some quiet time before going back to work, housesitting for married architects while they’re away in their swanky pad, as organised by his physical therapist at the rehab unit.

But naturally he gets drawn into a case, am I right…?

Of course he does! Upon arrival at the house, he and the physio discover the body of a drowned man in the indoor swimming pool of the house. However, after he attempts to revive the man, to no avail, the physio has gone!

But of course there’s more to the book than the drowned man…

Of course there is! Rather like one of my favourite authors, Michael Connelly, Staalesen manages to draw together seemingly disparate threads and tie them together to make one utterly intriguing storyline. He gets involved in the cold case investigation of a missing seven year old, from 1979 – this book’s set in the ’80s. He also discovers the drowned man worked for a company which is under pressure from environmentalists – could these protests be linked in any way to his death?

Sounds like this book hits the ground running…

It does, and from thereon in, it doesn’t stop. A great translation, as always from Don Bartlett, picks up on Staalesen’s quirky metaphors. This is definitely another winner from Orenda where I’ll be advising…

Don’t miss it!

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the Blog Tour, and to Anne and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of the book.

Author Gunnar Staalesen

BLURB: PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when a challenging assignment arrives on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool and a young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Varg Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these apparently unrelated crimes come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Varg Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

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