Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones

Antiques and Alibis by Wendy Jones was in the middle of my TBR pile. Therefore, I was delighted when she and her publishers, Scott and Lawson, arranged a blog tour with Love Books Group Tour and I had an excuse to move this new novel to the top of the list. My favourite genres of books is crime and I particularly enjoy reading the work of authors that are new to me. so this was a treat.

The Blurb

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money. Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?

Buy Link
My Review
Antiques and Alibis was the first book I had read by Wendy H Jones, although I had heard good things about her novels. I was pleased to come in at the beginning of this series featuring the new heroine Cass Claymore.
I have to admit that when I first read the main protagonist was a motor-bike riding, former ballerina who had inherited a Private Detective agency from her late uncle, I did wonder if this character had been created with the help of an on-line character generator. I was also concerned that there were also echoes of Where the Bodies are Buried where an aspiring actress works in her Uncle’s detective agency, but I needn’t have worried. Antiques and Alibis is an imaginative novel writen in a unique voice with wit and humour. When you add in the enormous dog, the dwarf assistant and the aged grandfather, it all adds up to a most entertaining read.
The main charater of the book is Cassandra ‘Cass’ Claymore, the ginger haired owner of her the private detective agency set up by her uncle. This coincided with her forced retirement as principal dancer for the Royal Ballet due to a drunk driver who damaged her knee. So she now indulges her other first love: motorbikes. She has a black Yamaha.
Her interactions with the people she meets are so sharp and engaging. I loved her as a character and also her dwarf companion and employee Quill.
Quill is a soft spoken man who can charm the ladies and also has a few other skills Cass doesn’t want to know about. When you add these two together and set them to look for an antique Steiff Teddy Bear; a lost brother, whom no one truly misses except his sister, then you have the makings of a laugh out loud book. Along the way you meet Cass’s family, Quill’s acquaintances all of whom add to the general bonhomie of solving the mystery.
I was delighted by the originality of the writer’s voice in Antiques and Alibis. I found this a most entertaining read and highly recommend it.

Antiques and Alibis book.jpg

The Author

Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took herwendy jones all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals.

Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

Twitter Handle


Do enjoy the rest of Wendy’s tour>


Val Penny


Me and My Writing by guest author Joy Rhoades

I am delighted that author Joy Rhoades has made time to visit my blog today to share her tips on writing I’ve always loved words, and books and writing and I always to be a writer, but that plan was derailed early on and instead, and I became for a while, a lawyer. But the need to write, the urge to write, never went away. Always, I was scribbling, working on something, and eventually, I was taking classes at night in writing and working on I novel, the novel that would become The Woolgrower’s Companion.

51agceMrnzL final PB cover

I’m now lucky enough to write fulltime. And I also teach creative writing as a volunteer at London libraries. I’m passionate about encouraging people to write, and to work on their craft of writing, because I know from my own experience the enormous impact continued creative practice can have not just on the quality of your writing, but also, wonderfully, on mental health.

And so my first tip for writers and people wanting to write: write regularly.

It can be extraordinarily difficult to do that because ordinary, everyday life interferes and colludes to prevent the doing of anything which is extra, extraneous to getting through each day, getting through work, washing, food and general keeping of the household on the road.

So my suggestion to people is to find time in your day that would otherwise be “dead time“. What I mean by “dead time,“ is time which you will not miss if you spend it doing something else, for example, writing. So for me, for a long time, I really didn’t watch TV. At all. Because TV time I could dispense with, in pursuit of my writing instead.

The other time that I found when I could write, or certainly edit, was on my commute. So on my journey into work on the London tube, I would always try to take a couple of pages, double-spaced, printed out from my WIP. I would “edit“ that and the simple act of regularly looking at my writing, maybe three or sometimes four times a week on the way into work, kept it fresh in my head and of course, I was able to make changes with any pen I happened to have with me. So that regular “writing“ – i.e. while the rest of the family was watching TV, and when I was on my commute, on my way into work, meant that I was adding an hour or more of “writing time“ in an otherwise packed schedule.

These tiny bits of writing, these minutes, cobbled together, became something much more than that. Because not only did it mean that I was adding to the amount I was writing, there was this additional unintended consequence of making me feel so much better. I think it was extraordinary, this positive impact on my mental health, of just a few minutes a day of doing something that I love – writing.

So my Tip Number One for people who want to learn to write is write regularly. Find a time and do it as often as you can and don’t beat yourself up when you miss a day or even a week it’s okay, you’ll get back to it. Keep writing.


The Author
I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.

I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.

I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.


Homocide in Herne Hill by Alice Castle

Homocide in Herne Hill is the fourth book in the series written by the English author Alice Castle. I very much enjoy this series of books and find the heroine, single Mum Beth Haldane most engaging.

The author has a fine eye for observing people, noting their idiosyncrasies and reproducing them in her books. In this book we are introduced to Beth’s new friend, Nina. They meet as Christmas approaches and Beth Haldane’s best friend Katie has gone away until new year leaving Beth feeling a little lonely. At her son Ben’s Nativity play she meets another single mum, Nina.

Nina is a lively character and certainly has an interesting way with words. She often mixes up well known phrases, which is very funny. However, dogs are dying in an unexplained series of occurrences in Beth’s area of London. It is very suspicious.

homocide in herne hill

Nina knows of Beth’s reputation for solving mysteries and she has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centred on the solicitor’s office where Nina works in Herne Hill. Nina tells her she feels something dodgy is going on at the solicitor’s she works at and Beth, unable to resist a puzzle, puts herself and her new relationship on the line to get to the bottom of the mystery. As the plot thickens it threatens to drag in not just Nina and her boss, but several of the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too. Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances.

Homocide in Herne Hill is another excellent book by a fine author of cosy crime. I highly recommend it.

The Author

Alice Castle

Alice Castle lives in South London with her two children, two stepchildren, two cats and her husband. She was a feature writer on the Daily Express for many years and has written for most other national newspapers. She has a degree in Modern History from St Andrews University, is the British Royalty expert for Flemish TV, and lived in Brussels for eight years. Her first novel, Hot Chocolate, sold out in two weeks and her second, Death in Dulwich, is to be published in September 2017 as the first in the London Murder Mystery series.


Val Penny

My novel ‘Montbel’ by guest author Angela Wren

I am so happy to have my friend and fellow author, Angela Wren join me on the blog today to tell me all about her new book Montbel published by Crooked Cat Books. Over to you Angela!


Way back in 2007, I had an idea for a book. And it really was just the one book. But the more I thought about it, the bigger the idea became until I had four crimes and therefore four books that I needed to write.

I didn’t actually do anything with those four crimes to start with. They sat there in my notebook, waiting patiently. I was working on something completely different at the time and I was committed to getting it finished no matter what.

It was around the beginning of 2009 when I found myself flicking through my notebook and those particular pages came to my attention again. This time I couldn’t ignore them. I ripped out the pages and laid them out on my desk. It was only then that I realised that I needed to know in what order I should put the crimes. Even at this point I still hadn’t made a definite decision about who my detective was going to be. But I did know that the stories would all be set in France.Bookshelves03.JPG

It took another 2 years of thinking and note making before I actually put finger to keyboard to write the first story. I kind of just ploughed in at that point. Some 30,000 words in and I came to a dead halt. The book went in a drawer, I went to France for six weeks and I focussed on something completely different. Back home again and the four crimes were nagging at me. This time I took a different approach and I set out a timeline and slotted in the crimes – each with its own particular timeframe. When I’d finished I’d not only changed the order of the books but I’d also added in some of the subplots that I needed for the first three books. Book 4 was still a bit sketchy.

I actually started writing Montbel (Book 3) whilst I was still working on Merle (Book 2). I’d added in a character much earlier than I had originally intended on my timeline and that forced some changes that I needed to note down as I was drafting Merle.

Working on Montbel full time was a dream when I eventually got to that point. It seemed to me that the rural aspects of the story in Messandrierre, which had been necessarily scant in Merle, were beginning to blend in with the corporate business of my investigator, Jacques Forêt’s, revised role. I felt more comfortable with the story and this mix of city and village.

Naturally, despite my planning and my highly organised timeline across all four books, my characters have a habit of taking things into their own hands. Take Pierre Mancelle, for instance. I thought I would be introducing him for the first time in Montbel, but he kept tripping onto my page as I was writing book 1, so I gave him a formal role. In Book 2, I had no real role for Pierre to play at the outset, but he kept involving himself in scenes, especially those featuring Beth, Jacques’ love interest in the books. Well, he’s French isn’t he? There has to be a female hanging around somewhere!

Overall, Montbel took about 18 months to write and although the story was well established in my own mind, the characters took me off-plan which made the editing a bit of a nightmare. But, that being said, I was pleased with the story in its final form and I guess I have to admit that sometimes my characters have better ideas than I do!CoverArt

The Blurb

A clear-cut case? 

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?


The Author

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.


Amazon : AngelaWren

Website :

Blog :

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

Finding Jess by guest author Julia Ibbotson

I am so pleased that Julia Ibbotson and her publishers, Endeavour Media, have agreed to share news about her new novel, Finding Jess. It is the third book in her Drumbeats Trilogy following the story of her intruiging character, Jess and her busy life full of love and betrayal. This is a story you do not want to miss.

Drumbeats trilogy banner

Now a single mother, Jess, has struggled to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and of her best friend. On the brink of losing everything, including her family, and still haunted by her past and the Ghanaian drumbeats that pervade her life, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is mysteriously sent a newspaper clipping of a temporary job back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again before it’s too late? And what, exactly, will she find?

Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.

This is the finale of Jess’s story, the third novel of the acclaimed Drumbeats trilogy:


Walking in the Rain

Finding Jess

A few of the brilliant reviews for the Drumbeats trilogy:

Wonderful quality of writing … a brilliantly crafted book … sights, sounds and even smells of the Ghanaian way of life are conjured up vividly … a brilliant read”

A truly heart-warming story and one that will stay in my mind”

A thought-provoking story

Absolutely fabulous!”

I just love Julia’s writing”

Finding Jess (new).jpg


Single mum Jess has had her world turned upside down. Now it’s about to be turned inside out.

Jess has got a tough life back on track after love-of-her-life husband Simon walked out on her and their beautiful young daughters Katy and Abi. But she has long-time friend and confidante Polly to turn to…until Polly and Simon start having an affair together.

When Polly decides to apply for a job at Jess’s school, in the English department, Jess feels threatened. So why has Polly set her sights on the department head’s role? And why is the school now offering Jess a sideways ‘promotion’?

Jess can no longer trust anyone – including herself. Then out of the blue she is mysteriously sent a clipping for a temporary post in the Ministry of Education in Ghana, where she did a gap year as a teenager, and where she was happy. She is on the brink of losing everything at home but could this be a lifeline?

Julia Ibbotson’s Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.

The Excerpt

Chapter Twenty Three: the streets of Accra

There was an hour before she needed to be at the Ministry, so Jess grabbed her shoulder bag, locked the apartment, and ran down the stairs and out into the gardens. She breathed in the perfume of the tropical blossoms and the rain-washed soil, the tarmac steaming in the hot sun. Out on the street, the morning was already bustling with activity and noise: cars screeching and blaring their horns, women carrying shallow baskets on their heads laden with oranges and bananas, tomatoes and mangoes, moving gracefully and smoothly through the crowds of smart dark-suit-clad office workers scurrying towards their offices in centre of Accra.

Even in her pale pink shift dress, Jess felt dull amongst the bright jewel colours of the women’s Ghanaian cloth and turbans glowed in the sunshine. Plump and proud, market mammies swung through the noisy streets to set up their stalls, or to accost passing drivers with their wares, hoping to sell a few before the competition of the central market. Jess smiled at the babies swaddled on their mothers’ backs but they only blinked passively at her, their big glassy eyes fringed by long thick black eyelashes.

The open drains alongside the pavements were already stinking with rotten vegetables, the air thick with spices, putrefaction and melting tarmac. Jess felt nauseous. Even here in the city of Accra, children with the distended bellies of kwashiorkor, were washing in the drains and under the water spouts at the shop fronts. Little children with tattered tops and shorts, thin young men with crates of beer aloft, and scrawny chickens and goats mingled with the crowds on their way to work.

She could hear the strong beat of the highlife music issuing tinnily from the buildings as she passed, and, the backbeat of the drums. Was that the pulse of the kpanlogo djembe throbbing through her head or the words of the donde rising and falling, surging to a crescendo and softly falling away, like a migraine, surging and dying.

As she walked, Jess felt as though the crowds and the noise of the streets softened to an echo in the distance and she could only hear the voices of her daughters calling to her. She saw their loved faces, there across the busy street, and she stepped over the open drain and into the road to embrace them …

But she didn’t see the car, swerving towards her …


Buy Link

Twitter Handles



author photo image 3.JPG

The Author

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She studied English at Keele University, specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10, but became a school teacher, then university lecturer and researcher. Julia spent a turbulent but exciting time in Ghana, West Africa, teaching and nursing. She has published both academic works and fiction, including a medieval time-slip, a children’s novel , a memoir, and the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins in Ghana in the 1960s). Apart from insatiable reading, Julia loves world travel, choral singing, swimming, yoga, and walking in the UK and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time. She runs an editing/critiquing service for authors: details on her website. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Society of Authors and the Historical Novel Society.

You can find her at


Author website:

Facebook Author page:


Pinterest page: includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book

Goodreads author page:

Enjoy the rest of the Love Books Group Tour:


Redneck’s Revenge by Joan Livingston

I read and enjoyed Joan Livingston’s debut novel, Chasing the Case, at the end of last year. That book is reveiwed here: So, when I noticed that there was a sequel to that, I was keen to read that too and I was not disappointed.

Although Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge are the first two books in the Isabel Long series, it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second.chasing book

Redneck’s Revenge sees Isabel come to an agreement with an established Private Investigator so that she can become a fully licensed PI in her own right. She negotiates an amusingly modest retainer only to accept an most unusual fee from a client who is sure that her father’s death was not the accident it was deemed to be.

Isabel then finds herself in the centre of a love triangle, terrorised by local drug dealers and witnessing domestic violence. It is a real cracker of a story told with restaint and charm that are the trademarks of the books by this witty author. You also cannot help but love the relationship Isabel has with her side-kick and confidante – her 92 year-old mother!

redneck book

Redneck’s Revenge would be an excellent book for a book group and I highly recommend it as a very good read.


The Author

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Chasing the Case, published by Crooked Cat Books, is her first mystery and the first in a series featuring Joan LivingstonIsabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The next is Redneck’s Revenge.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long Mystery Series.

Val Penny

The Savage Shore by guest author David Hewison

I am delighted to be part of the Love Book Group Tour and to have David Hewison visit my blog today to talk about his new book The Savage Shore published by Severn House and share an excerpt from it.

The Savage Shore Cover

The Blurb

Detective Nic Costa finds himself a stranger in a strange land when he’s sent to infiltrate the mob in a remote part of southern Italy.
Roman police detective Nic Costa has been sent undercover to Italy’s beautiful, remote Calabrian coast to bring in the head of the feared mob, the ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own.
Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the infamous Butcher of Palermo, Costa and his team are aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depth in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob. As the tension rises, it’s clear the operation is not going to plan. Is Nic Costa getting too close to the enemy for comfort – and is there a traitor among them …?

Buy Link

Twitter Handles


The Excerpt

 From: Part Three

The Alfa had the biggest engine money could buy, Rocco said, and did his best to prove it on the many stomach-churning chicanes, up and down hill, around the coast. Lucia rolled her eyes when she was able.

After three hours on circuitous roads they stopped at a half-deserted palace beyond a sign for a hill town, Gerace. From what he saw it was a place that, had it been in the north, would have been on the tourist map, gentrified and turned into a bustling complex of hotels, apartment rentals and restaurants. The mansions and squares were elegant, mostly baroque, a few older, and spoke of former riches and grandeur. But many were shabby and a good few boarded-up as if abandoned. Christ stopped at Eboli the santina had said. In other words, civilized Italy never came this far south. Never thought about these places.

Greek, Lucia told him as they sat down for dinner on the terrace, this whole area was once Greek. The name Gerace came from hierax which meant sparrow hawk. Then she spoke a little of the local dialect he’d heard her use earlier, a kind of Greek too, impenetrable, closer to the language of the ancients than the version heard in Athens or so she said. He listened and couldn’t make out a single word. The sound was strange, exotic, enticing. Like her and he guessed she knew it.

Rocco grimaced at his sister, pointed at a place by a ribbon of pale beach along the Ionian and made a caustic comment about the futility of history. It was a town called Locri, he said. A well-liked politician was murdered there some years before, an event the man trying to think of himself as Maso Leoni vaguely remembered. Though there were so many violent deaths in the south over the years it was hard to pick any out in particular.

‘We didn’t shoot him,’ Rocco added. ‘Never would. That was a mistake. Some of the families are run by fools. They piss off people for no good reason. They think the world never changes.’ He stared at the one untouched plate on the table. Mountain lamb, caponata, potatoes and greens. ‘You got no appetite?’

‘Not meat. I don’t eat meat.’

‘Fish?’ Lucia asked.

He shook his head.

Rocco groaned then took hold of his plate, scooped off the succulent lamb and handed the rest back. ‘Oh God. Who chose you?’

‘He’s Canadian,’ Lucia told him. ‘He’s allowed to be a little strange.’

David Hewson Image.jpg

The Author

David Hewson’s novels have been translated into a wide range of languages, from Italian to Japanese, and his debut work, Semana Santa, set in Holy Week Spain, was filmed with Mira Sorvino. Dante’s Numbers is his thirteenth published novel.

David was born in Yorkshire in 1953 and left school at the age of seventeen to work as a cub reporter on one of the smallest evening newspapers in the country in Scarborough. Eight years later he was a staff reporter on The Times in London, covering news, business and latterly working as arts correspondent. He worked on the launch of the Independent and was a weekly columnist for the Sunday Times for a decade before giving up journalism entirely in 2005 to focus on writing fiction.

Do follow the rest of the Love Books Group Tour.

savage-shore (1)

Calamity in Camberwell by Alice Castle

Calamity in Camberwell is the third in Alice Castle’s best selling London Murder Mystery series. I have read the first two novels in the series and really enjoyed them, so I was waiting for this book to come out so that I could take it on holiday.

The author has created a delightful heroine in Beth Haldane, a single mum with intelligence and curiousity that always seem to land her in trouble that DI Harry York has to help her out of. They form an unlikely but deliciously exciting team.Calamity in Camberwell

In Calamity in Camberwell, Beth worries that she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly remarries and moves to Camberwell. Her new husband, Jeff, is an unknown quantity to Beth, but Beth’s friends try to convince her to start dating again. However, Beth is reluctant, as she feels something is off about Jen’s new marriage. She becomes increasingly worried when Jen does not return her calls. Beth fears are compounded when and Jen and her husband, Jeff,  disappear. Unsure of what to do, she turns to DI York for help.

Calamity In Camberwell has a different feel to it than the first two books, because it Beth doesn’t stumble across a body: instead it focuses a bit more on Beth, her life and her friendships.

I very much enjoyed Calamity in Camberwell and, although I read a lot of crime novels, I did not anticipte the twist at the end.

The Author

Alice Castle lives in South London with her two children, two stepchildren, two cats and Alice Castleher husband. She was a feature writer on the Daily Express for many years and has written for most other national newspapers. She has a degree in Modern History from St Andrews University, is the British Royalty expert for Flemish TV, and lived in Brussels for eight years. Her first novel, Hot Chocolate, sold out in two weeks and her second, Death in Dulwich, was published in September 2017 as the first in the London Murder Mystery series.

Val Penny

The Truth About Archie and Pye by guest author Jonathan Pinnock

I am delighted that Jonathan Pinnock has stopped by the blog today to tell us all about his new book The Truth About Archie and Pye. This is what he had to say.

There is a golden rule in marketing that says in order to succeed in any commercial venture, you need to have an identifiable brand. You need to be the kind of person that people point to and say, ‘Oh, Jonathan Pinnock, he’s the XXXX guy’.


Being the kind of flibbertigibbet that I am, I have completely failed to stick to this rule. I am, basically, the WTF guy. To date, I have had seven books published, as follows:

Professional DCOM Application Development – yes, this was a book on software development, specifically about a long-forgotten Microsoft technology. Much as I’d like to forget it myself, it is still to date my biggest seller. This continues to upset me.

Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens – a comic novel, superficially a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but frankly an excuse to cram in as many gags into a book as I could manage.

Dot Dash and Dip Flash – short story collections.

Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff – a poetry collection.

Take It Cool – the real life story of my search for the reggae singer Dennis Pinnock.

The Truth About Archie and Pye – my new comic novel, the first in a series of mathematical mysteries.

So, basically it’s all a bit of a hotchpotch. I’m intensely proud of all of them (with the possible exception of the DCOM book, even if it is – dammit – my top seller), but they’re all quite different. There’s no discernible brand.


If you scratch away a bit of the surface, all of these books (even that bloody DCOM one, believe it or not) have something in common: humour.

There is nothing I enjoy more than making people laugh. To be honest, I genuinely believe there is no higher calling. Humour is what keeps us sane. Even in a world where everything seems to be going horribly wrong – especially in such a world – we need to keep laughing.

But funny books are a hard sell. When I was trying to place The Truth About Archie and Pye with agents, I was frequently told that they really liked it but had no idea where they could place it. So I had to find somewhere myself, and that turned out to be the wonderful Farrago Books, who – get this – specialise in series of humorous books. Series!

One of the reasons that I think publishers tend to be scared of humour is that it’s a subjective thing. After all, there’s nothing worse than someone who thinks he’s funny. But so far the reviews have suggested I’m on the right track. People seem to be getting it. Even the fact that it’s crammed with British references doesn’t seem to have put off reviewers in the US, either, which surprises me.

There was a time when I was ever so slightly embarrassed at being the author of Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, when what I really wanted to be was an acclaimed literary short story writer. But I feel now as if I’ve finally owned up to my true self. I write funny books. Deal with it.

The Truth About Archie and Pye new vis 1.jpg

Something doesn’t add up about Archie and Pye …

After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.

Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.

Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations, involving internet conspiracy theorists, hedge fund managers, the Belarusian mafia and a cat called µ.

(for US, replace with .com)

Far From True by Linwood Barclay

I do enjoy books by the Canadian author Linwood Barclay. I like his subtle humour, the developement of his characters and the little town of Promise Falls that he has created. This novel comprises the second in his Promise Falls Trilogy.

The Promise Falls Trilogy is populated with characters from his previous books. When I started to think about this and pay attention to it, I became much more interested in who these characters were because I remembered their pasts that kept being referenced.

Far From True opens up with the a drive-in theater screen collapsing and killing four people. Cal is hired by the daughter of one of the victims to look into a break-in at her late father’s home. As he investigates Cal learns that this couple has a secret room for their sexual games and it appears that DVD discs are now missing. What is on the DVD and why they were taken is the next thing Cal needs to find out.Far From True

Cal’s former co-worker, Detective Barry Duckworth, is looking into why this incident has happened but also investigating the case from the previous book, Broken Promises. He thinks that that case may be connected to another one three years ago – but is on his own in finding the truth.

We also have David Hardwood, who was in Broken Promises returning in this novel as another major character. He is now working as a campaign manager for Randall Finley, has his parents living with him and trying to win over Sam(antha) Worthington. Cal is also trying to help Sam who is being threatened by her ex-boyfriend’s parents and want to kidnap her son.

Far From True had me fully engaged and  I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series. Linwood Barclay does not disappoint.

The Author

Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for Linwood Barclayadults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.
Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls Trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. 

Val Penny