Friday, 6 December 2019

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell BLOG TOUR @Nathan_B_Author @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheSoundOfHerVoice






Detective Buchanan remembers every victim.
But this one he can't forget.
The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach - over a decade after she was murdered.
Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.
Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society - and back into his deepest obsession...
Shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Best Crime Novel of the Year award, The Sound of Her Voice is a brilliantly gripping crime thriller for fans of Sirens by Joe Knox, Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand, Stuart Macbride and Ian Rankin.



The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell was published on 18 April 2019 by Orion Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, and to Tracy from Compulsive Readers who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.



Nathan Blackwell is the pseudonym of an ex New Zealand police officer. I heard him speak about his writing, and this novel; The Sound of Her Voice, at the Newcastle Noir festival earlier this year. 
He's a compelling and interesting speaker and I was determined to read his book. I'm happy to say that his writing is just as engrossing as his spoken word.

What is most unusual about this novel is that, although it is a crime novel; it's not structured in the usual way. The reader is not handed one specific crime here. This novel follows the career of Detective Buchanan, from his very early days as a rookie cop; discovering in horror the body of a  colleague killed on duty, right through the following twelve years. Buchanan is haunted by an unsolved crime; the disappearance of young Samantha Coates.

When the remains of a young woman are discovered in amongst the mangroves. Buchanan's thoughts immediately turn, once again, to Samantha. However, just like many cases before this, it isn't the body of Samantha at all, and this hardened detective has a new killer to hunt down.

Nathan Blackwell has thrown a lot at Buchanan, and in turn, at his readers.  Buchanan's career and personal life have been difficult, to say the least. He's left the force more than once, only to return, and he's now the single father to a young daughter after the death of his wife.

Fast-paced, gritty and at times, an uncomfortable read; The Sound of Her Voice is an excellent debut from an author who writes with such authority. Readers should be aware that there are scenes and descriptions of horrific crimes that burn a picture into the brain that can be difficult to get rid of. However, none of this is done gratuitously, every single word is essential to the plot, and if you like your crime dark, then you'll enjoy this one. 

I especially enjoyed the New Zealand setting. This is the second book that I've read this month has is set there. The books couldn't be more different, but the author's ability to transport his reader to his home land is exceptional.

Dark and brooding, with an intricately constructed plot and a fabulous lead character. I look forward to reading more from this author.




Image may contain: one or more people, sky, ocean, twilight, cloud, outdoor, water and natureNathan Blackwell was raised on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys’ High  before commencing a ten-year career in the New Zealand Police. 
Seven of those years were spent as a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Branch, where he was exposed to human nature at its strongest and bravest, but also at its most depraved and horrific. 
He investigated a wide range of cases including drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, serious violence, rape and murder. 
Because some of his work was conducted covertly, Nathan chooses to hide his true identity.

Author Page on Facebook



Image may contain: night and text


Thursday, 5 December 2019

Nina X by Ewan Morrison @MrEwanMorrison @FleetReads #NinaX #SaltairePrize





Nina X has never been outside. She has never met another child.
Nina X has no books, no toys and no privacy.
Nina X has no idea what the outside world is like.
Nina X has a lot to learn.
Nina X has no mother and no father; she has Comrade Chen, and Comrades Uma, Jeni and Ruth. Her closest emotional connection is with the birds she sees when she removes the plasterboard that covers her bedroom window. Comrade Chen has named her The Project; she is being raised entirely separated from the false gods of capitalism and the cult of the self. He has her record everything in her journal, to track her thoughts. To keep her ideology pure, her words are erased, over and over again. But that was before. Now Nina is in Freedom, and all the rules have changed. She has to remember that everything is opposite to what she was told, and yet Freedom seems to be a very confusing and dangerous place.






Nina X by Ewan Morrison was published in hardback by Fleet Press on 4 April 2019.  The paperback will be released in April next year.

There's a quote on the cover of Nina X from Ian Rankin. He says 'Sensational. Like Nothing I've ever read."
I agree with every word. In fact, I'd just like to say those words and leave it there. Nothing I can say in this review would ever do this incredible novel justice. It's utterly compelling, it's frightening, it made my blood run cold at times. It also made me smile. It's one of those books that you really do find difficult to put down.

I believe that Morrison's Nina X is loosely based upon the case of Aravindan Balakrishnan who was jailed in 2016 for abusing and mistreating the women who were part of the Maoist cult that he led in London. I've always had something of a strange fascination about cults, and what makes people give up everything to become part of one, and indeed, what reason anyone has to create one and control a group of people.

Nina X is twenty-eight years old when she leaves the house she grew up in for the very first time. Her story is told through her jotters; those written whilst she was still in the house, and those written since she became free.

It did take me a little while to settle into the structure and style of this novel. Although told in the first person, Nina often refers to herself as 'The Project'; for that was her name; and that's what all of her 'Comrades' called her.

Nina is Comrade Chen's project. She's been brought up by the female comrades; not knowing which of them, if any is her mother, and her father is never spoken of. Nina has never been to school, or to the doctor, or the dentist. Her only connection with the outside world are the birds that she sees if she dares to pull back the board that covers her window.

Then Nina is in 'Freedom' and it is then that her education really begins. As she realises, slowly that rain is not radiation and not everyone is a 'fascist Pig'.

This is an utterly convincing novel that will stay in my mind for a very long time. Ewan Morrison's creation of characters is spellbinding; from 'Charity Sonya' who really only wants to help, to Comrade Chen who has brainwashed and abused everyone he comes across.
Seeing the world through Nina's eyes is often heartbreaking for her, and for the reader but there's also an element of humour and warmth that add so much depth to what could potentially be such a dark and dismal tale.

I adored this book. It is extraordinary, absorbing, disturbing and really quite marvellous.




Nina X is Ewan Morrison's seventh book. 
He is the author of the award-winning novels Close Your Eyes and Tales from the Mall, the novels Ménage, Distance and Swung and the short story collection The Last Book You Read. 
Ewan was awarded the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award and the SMIT novel of the year 2012/2013.

Nina X won the Saltaire Fiction Book of the Year 2019 

Website : www.ewanmorrison.com
Twitter : @MrEwanMorrison







Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Lies We Hide by SE Lynes @SELynesAuthor BLOG TOUR @bookoutre #BooksOnTour #TheLiesWeHide




The truth can set you free, or make you a prisoner…
Thirty years ago, Nicola Watson lived with her parents and older brother in a respectable suburb. At ten years old, she didn’t yet understand why her stomach tightened when she heard her father’s heavy tread as he returned home late at night, or why it made her brother Graham’s stammer get worse, or why one night her mother Carol woke them both, wide-eyed and whispering, and took them out of their home and into the unknown.
Now a successful lawyer in the city, with a life poles apart from her dark beginnings, Nicola has returned home for her mother’s funeral. But as she stands in her mother’s house, remembering the woman who sacrificed everything for her children, Nicola has to confront the guilt that she feels for leaving her family behind. And the belief that she played a part in the events that led to her brother going to prison for murder.
All Carol wanted was to protect her children, but escaping her husband was only the beginning of the story. And when Nicola learns the truth of what her mother did, it will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.



The Lies We Hide by SE Lynes is published by Bookoutre. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour.


To be honest, I didn't take any persuading at all when I was offered a copy of this book. I've read and enjoyed the author's previous psychological thrillers and was eager to see what she was offering next.

As a thriller writer, Lynes excels at her craft. Her novels are not only tense, gripping and yes, thrilling; she also writes with a depth and intelligence that makes her stand out from the crowd. So, yes, I've been a fan for a while.

This book though!  This. Book.

The Lies We Hide is a novel that takes this author way up high on my list of favourites. I have been absolutely transfixed by this incredibly crafted story, filled with character who almost jump from the pages; they are so lifelike. 

I guess, if one wanted to put this novel into a category, then it's probably Domestic Noir. It's a dark dark story that touches upon the darkest of issues and transports the reader to some grimy and terrifying places.

Beginning in the late 1960s, in Blackpool, the reader is introduced to Ted Watson and his bride-to-be Carol. Carefree and happy, young and in love, and with a baby on the way, they are just starting out in life.

The novel is narrated throughout in three voices; we hear from Carol, beginning in the 1980s, as her marriage and life in general becomes more and more difficult. Carol battles to hide her bruises from her two children Graham and Nicola, and her neighbours, until one night Ted goes too far and Carol and the children flee.
We also hear Nicola's modern-day story as she's trying to come to terms with the death of Carol, and reflecting on her life and how it's down to Carol that she is now a successful barrister.
The final voice is that of Richard; a prison chaplain in the 1990s who is establishing a relationship with Nicola's brother Graham; currently serving a sentence for murder and preparing for his release.

The structure of this story is so cleverly done. The readers knows just enough to pique the interest, but nothing is given away by this skilled author, we are kept on tenterhooks throughout, second-guessing what has happened and why the characters are where they are. I can assure you though; you will not guess correctly; there are some pretty amazing curve balls thrown at the reader, especially towards the end. 

This is a smart, sophisticated and meticulously plotted story that is emotionally draining at times. With themes of domestic violence, poverty and drug abuse there's not a lot of pleasant scenes in here. However, it's also a story of hope, determination and love. The author's depiction of a mother's love and loyalty is striking and watching the relationship between Richard and Graham unfold was an absolute joy.

A truly compelling, intelligent, enthralling and satisfying read. I loved it and would recommend it highly.



Amazon best selling author of 'intelligent and haunting' psychological thrillers VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL and THE WOMEN. 

S E Lynes is a writer, tutor and mentor. Formerly a BBC producer, she has lived in France, Spain, Scotland, Italy, and now lives in Greater London with her husband, three kids and her dog, Lola. 

Her critically acclaimed debut, VALENTINA, was published by Blackbird Digital Books in July 2016. Her second novel, MOTHER was published by Bookouture in 2017, followed in 2018 by THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL. In August 2018, VALENTINA was published in a new edition by Bookouture and THE WOMEN was released in 2019. Her new novel, the dark and gripping family drama, THE LIES WE HIDE, is published Dec 4th 2019.

Susie Lynes has also published two children's books in Italy: Il Leopardo Lampo and La Coccodrilla Ingamba, both available at Amazon.it


Find her on:
Facebook S E Lynes Author
Twitter @SELynesAuthor





Tuesday, 3 December 2019

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom @Isabelle_Broom @MichaelJBooks #OneWinterMorning





Genie isn't feeling very festive this December.
The frosty mornings and twinkling fairy lights only remind her it's been a whole year since she lost her adoptive mother, who took her in as a baby and raised her as her own.
She's never felt more alone - until she discovers her birth mother's identity.
And where to find her: New Zealand, half the world away.
Travelling there could be her one chance to meet the woman who gave her up.
But will she find the answers she has been looking for? Or something she could never have expected?








One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom was published in paperback by Michael Joseph on 17 October 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.


I am never disappointed by Isabelle Broom's writing. Her stories are always a wonderful mixture of romance, feisty females and travel. In One Winter Morning her readers are taken on a journey across the world to New Zealand, in the company of two fabulous female lead characters.

Despite the title, and the cover, this is not a chilly book! It does begin at Christmas time in Britain but most of the story is set in warm, exotic New Zealand; a place that this author brings to life; she's certainly sold it to me!

Genie has had a very bad year. She's spent most of the past twelve months hiding away from life; work; family and friends. Her beloved adoptive mother Anna died tragically last Christmas and her emotions have totally taken over her life. Deepest sorrow, mixed with guilt and regret have rendered her useless. When her adoptive father (and Anna's husband), David tells her something that has been kept from her for many years.

Her birth mother is alive and well, is called Bonnie and lives in New Zealand. David thinks that Genie would benefit from meeting her.  At first, Genie is distraught and wants nothing to do with Bonnie, however she eventually changes her mind, and embarks upon a journey that will really change her life.

The author tells Genie's story but also skilfully includes Bonnie's narrative, in the form of a story that she writes for Genie. This is story telling at its very best; compelling, engaging and heart-warming.

One Winter Morning is beautifully written, in what has become this author's trademark style. Her characters are carefully created, becoming as familiar and as loved as the dearest of friends.
A skilled author who can do no wrong in my eyes, I heartily recommend this read.




Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before joining the ranks at Heat magazine, where she became the Book Reviews editor. Always happiest when she is off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her true home - the Greek island of Zakynthos. 
Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her dog Max and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and tries her best not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.

Website : www.isabellebroom.com
Twitter @Isabelle_Broom
Instagram @isabelle_broom
Author Page on Facebook







Friday, 29 November 2019

The Sea Cloak & Other Stories by Nayrouz Qarmout @NayrouzQarmout @commapress #TheSeaCloak





Drawing from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp, as well as her current life in Gaza, these stories stitch together a patchwork of different perspectives into what it means to be a woman in Palestine today.

Whether following the daily struggles of orphaned children fighting to survive in the rubble of recent bombardments, or mapping the complex, cultural tensions between different generations of refugees in wider Gazan society, these stories offer rare insights into one of the most talked about, but least understood cities in the Middle East.

Taken together, the collection affords us a local perspective on a global story, and it does so thanks to a cast of (predominantly female) characters whose vantage point is rooted, firmly, in that most cherished of things, the home.




The Sea Cloak & Other Stories by Nayrouz Qarmout  was published by Comma Press on 22 August 2019.  My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I've always enjoyed short stories and seem to be reading more collections recently. This is a collection of stories that draw on the author's own experiences of growing up in Gaza. She was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria and moved to Gaza aged eleven.

For someone whose knowledge of Gaza is painfully lacking; I felt enlightened by Qarmout's stories. Written in accessible language with skill and power that is really quite absorbing.
With a theme of 'home' and what homeland means to the author running through them, these stories are both educating and entertaining.
Stunning depictions of the brutality of humans alongside the innocence and hope of children; the author's voice is confident and authoritative.

The lives of everyday people, living in extraordinary circumstances, finely detailed and beautifully written.  I've read some of these stories more than once, and will probably be reading them again soon.




Nayrouz Qarmout is a Palestinian writer and activist. 
Born in Damascus in 1984, as a Palestinian refugee, she returned to the Gaza Strip, as part of the 1994 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, where she now lives. 
She graduated from al-Azhar University in Gaza with a degree in Economics. 
She currently works in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, raising awareness of gender issues and promoting the political and economic role of women in policy and law, as well as the defence of women from abuse, and highlighting the role of women’s issues in the media. 
Her political, social and literary articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, and online. 
She has also written screenplays for several short films dealing with women’s rights. 
She is a social activist and a member of several youth initiatives, campaigning for social change in Palestine.

Twitter @NayrouzQarmout




Thursday, 28 November 2019

The @YoungWriterYear #YoungWriterAward Shadow Panel Winner



julia armfield instagram shadow winner


Last Thursday was final judging day for the Shadow Panel of the Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award 

I travelled to London to meet with my fellow panel members: Linda Hill from Linda's Book Bag
David Harris of Blue Book Balloon, Clare Reynolds of Years Of Reading Selfishly and Phoebe Williams of The Brixton Bookworm so that we could discuss the shortlisted books and choose our winner under the expert chairmanship of Houman Barekat.


Image preview

After weeks of reading, thinking and discussing, and a strong consensus in favour of the winner at a fascinating judging meeting, we are now ready to reveal who we chose  as our winner.
Julia Armfield, for her collection of short stories salt slow.
In her brilliantly inventive and haunting debut collection of stories, Julia Armfield explores bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of her characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Teenagers develop ungodly appetites, a city becomes insomniac overnight, and bodies are diligently picked apart to make up better ones. The mundane worlds of schools and sleepy sea-side towns are invaded and transformed, creating a landscape which is constantly shifting to hold on to its inhabitants. Blurring the mythic and the gothic with the everyday, salt slow considers characters in motion – turning away, turning back or simply turning into something new entirely.  Julia is a fiction writer and occasional playwright who lives and works in London.

julia armfield twitter
What the panel said: 
“Salt Slow is a pitch perfect collection of nine stories that not only enthralled us all, but also unapologetically puts women absolutely at the heart of each one, and there is a delicious sense of anticipation as you wait to discover their fate. I loved the notion that right at the edge of our world is another of infinite possibilities, and Julia Armfield has undoubtedly written a book that demands subsequent readings to delight in the stunning prose and savour the transformations that each story reveals.” – Clare Reynolds, Years of Reading Selfishly
“Salt Slow is an intriguing and original collection of short stories; an immersive mix of magical realism with contemporary and important issues.
The panel agreed that the writing is both intelligent and searing and is a book that will stand the test of time.” – Anne Cater, Random Things Through My Letterbox 
“I’m thrilled that Salt Slow by Julia Armfield is the Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writers Shadow Panel winner. This collection of short stories is not only beautifully written with luminous, descriptive prose, but Julia Armfield takes concepts with which we are familiar in a modern world, such as lack of sleep, and transforms them into fascinating, disturbing and compelling narratives that resonate with her readers on many levels, both personally, socially and globally. Salt Slow is an absolute triumph. I loved it. ” – Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag
 “These are stories that centre young women’s experiences, that take the time to express their feelings, indeed to personify those feelings. They have an eerie sense of being at the same time in the mundane world and also somewhere quite different – with the combination being totally compatible, totally to be expected, something to be lived with and through. Taken together this is a strong collection, and a joy to read.” – David Harris, Blue Book Balloon
Salt Slow is a stand-out collection of short stories that brings vivid, imaginative and grotesque tales of transformation to life. Julia Armfield’s irresistible and haunting writing style drew me right into the heart of each story and I’m so pleased that she’s our shadow panel winner.” – Phoebe Williams, The Brixton Bookworm

The official Sunday Times / University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award is announced at a ceremony in London on 5th December

Salt Slow cover


Stay Mad Sweetheart by Heleen Kist BLOG TOUR @hkist @RedDogTweets #StayMadSweetheart #BlogTour



  
Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.
Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she's leading the acquisition of Edinburgh's most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.
Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up's annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She's determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn't playing ball.
As the women's paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily's tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who've wronged them.
But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?
A pacy suspense fiction novel with its feet firmly in the #MeToo era. 9 to 5 meets Suits with a dash of Black Mirror.






Stay Mad Sweetheart by Heleen Kist was published by Red Dog Press on 13 November 2019.
I'm delighted to host a slot on the Blog Tour today and am honoured to share extract from the book with you all.



 AN EXTRACT FROM STAY MAD SWEETHEART



JUST ME, LAURA

A tear fell onto the page of my book in a star-shaped splotch. I wiped it with my thumb. The stationery cupboard’s dry, inky air tickled my throat as I sighed.
Those poor people.
The photocopier vibrated against my back, mirroring the movement of the novel’s train carriage, its heat evocative of the bodies pressed together, its persistent humming an echo of the stoic prayers uttered by the captives being transported to their final destination.
I hated to leave them, but my time was up. I waved the still damp page side to side and blew the coldest air that I could onto it. The translucent spot rippled the paper. I closed the book and held it to my chest, stroking its edges. It wasn’t the first one I’d ruined this way.
I heard giggling. The door clicked open. I froze. Restless rustling of fabric, the smacking wetness of lips, and baritone groans filled the tiny space.
Crap.
‘Hurry up,’ said a woman.
The man whispered, ‘Let me help.’
It may only have been seconds, but the intensifying moans suggested they were being well spent. I shrunk into my slot between the photocopier and the side wall, forced to listen to the unmistakable swoosh of skirt-lining against tights, the metal tear of a zipper, and the thud and tinkle of a belt buckle hitting the floor.
The room’s flimsy rear partition shook against my shoulder. Through a small gap I saw snippets of skin: her braceleted arms outstretched above their heads, the tips of his fingers digging into her wrist.
I looked away. Beside me, rattled pens rolled towards the edge of a metal shelf. I willed them to stay put.
Her voice again, breathless: ‘I have a better idea.’ She cooed, ‘Help me up.’
I stiffened. Up?
The man grunted. The photocopier creaked and a cascade of red curls fell over the side of the machine onto my head. Definitely Sally. But who was he?
I winced. I preferred not to know. But what if they saw me? They’d think I was some kind of pervert. Steeling myself for intense awkwardness, I cleared my throat. Twice.
‘What the...?’ said the guy.
The mass of hair bounced out of view.
My knees complained as I rose. ‘Sorry. I was reading.’
‘Oh my God, Laura, if I’d known...’ Sally hopped off the machine, clutching the panels of her blouse. She swooped down to pick up her skirt, not realising that swift move exposed me to a full-frontal of the newest data science recruit, his stunned face up top and trousers bunched around his ankles below.
My blush felt incandescent. I covered my eyes to let the interrupted love birds regain their modesty, the three of us developing an unspoken understanding that this never happened.
As the door closed behind them, I caught his worried murmur, ‘Do you think she saw it?’ and her replying with a chuckle, ‘If she did, it will have been her first.’
Though it was true, it was unnecessary. I crouched to retrieve the book from my rudely invaded personal haven. The guy’s head popped back in. I jumped, hitting my shoulder against the shelf.
‘Forgot to tell you.’ He smiled meekly. ‘Justin is looking for you.’


THE FILTERED-WATER dispenser in the corridor provided me with much-needed cooling down. The heat receded from my cheeks but immediately fired up again as I saw the clock overhead and stress took hold: I was late.
How did I let time slip away? I grabbed my phone for my regular check-in with Emily, my best friend. The line rang out. I let out a high-pitched whine, torn between wanting to wait to try again and rushing to Justin’s supposedly mission critical meeting.
I walked on.
Five colleagues huddled ahead of me, deep in discussion, drawing flow charts with black marker pens on a long length of wall coated with a special, wipeable paint. One of them spotted me approaching; he nudged another. Their semicircle fell silent and broke open, revealing their work. Hopeful faces sought my contribution, my approval. I passed them with a brisk pace and my most courteous smile.
I dialled Emily again as I strode past rows of desks, their occupants tip-tapping away at their keyboards, their screens faded by the rays of a rare Scottish sun. This time, her line was engaged.
Please God, let them not have found her mobile number, too.
In the lobby, the multicoloured logo of Empisoft stretched across the surface behind the reception desk. Underneath, a shelf showcased our many technology awards, oversized engraved dust-gatherers bearing testament to our team’s hard work. Next to them, an embarrassingly large photo of Justin and me holding yet another trophy, my thin smile doing its best, my eyes missing the lens by a mile.
Liv stood watering the plant next to the visitors’ TV tuned to the non-stop horrors of the outside world. She dried her hands on her cardigan and flashed a motherly smile. ‘There you are. A dose of book time again?’
I nodded, ready to speed on, but my eyeline flicked to the sixty-inch screen. Adam Mooney, the Hollywood star, was exiting Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre and making his way down its stone steps. Saliva flooded my mouth in revulsion.
A sea of outstretched arms shoved microphones towards his angular jaw as reporters pelted him with questions. ‘How do you respond to calls for your arrest for sexual assault?’ I spotted errors in the closed caption transcription. Too many voices. But it perfectly captured his response: ‘No Comment.’
Liv stood at my side. ‘That’s a real tearjerker, isn’t it?’
‘What? You feel sorry for him?’ I asked.
‘No, your book. The concentration camps.’
‘Oh.’ I looked down at the blue-and-white-striped cover. ‘Yes.’
‘I do feel a bit sorry for him, though.’ Liv gazed back at the screen. ‘It’s so easy for this kind of thing to destroy a career. I’m not convinced he deserves to suffer like that.’
I spun towards the boardroom. ‘I don’t think he can suffer enough.’





Heleen Kist has been fondled, patronised and ordered to smile by random men. So she wrote ‘Stay Mad, Sweetheart’, a feminist tale of revenge. Whilst her professional knowledge of technology start-ups fed the novel’s setting, its theme of harassment and workplace discrimination required no research: it is familiar to all women. 
Heleen was chosen as an up and coming new author at Bloody Scotland 2018. Her first novel, ‘In Servitude’ won the silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in the USA and was shortlisted for The Selfies awarded at London Book Fair.
A Dutch strategy consultant living in Glasgow and married to a Scotsman, she’s raising their son to be a good man and their daughter to kick ass.

Twitter : @hkist