Dead Souls Angela Marsons Blog Tour

 

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I have been a big fan of Angela Marsons since the first Kim Stone book, but what makes these books so special, and what makes Dead Souls the best one yet.

A big bit about my review off Dead Souls was that it was written from the heart, there is a passion about everything that is written in this series. A passion for realism, a passion for her characters, a passion for her settings, and this all adds up to a fantastic story.

The opening chapter of this book describes a man attempting suicide. The detail in this opening few pages is outstanding and hooked me from the very start, but that was only the beginning.

In Kim Stone, we have a character we can all empathise with, she makes the decisions we wish we could. Yes, she can be a stubborn pain in the bum, but she’s fair and loyal to those around her. In this book, we see her team acting alone as she is tasked with working on a joint investigation with a neighbouring force. Just like in real life, when a key member of the team is missing the dynamics change, and Angela has written this beautifully, taking the opportunity to expand on some of the lesser characters in her books.

One of the Constables in her team, Stacey Wood, has always sat nicely in the background carrying out the computer based investigations, and rarely getting out on the street. In this book, she is more prevalent. Investigating the death of a teenage lad she starts to reflect on her own youth, her own insecurities her sexuality. She disagrees with the rest of her team over parts of the investigation and starts to feel more isolated, the more isolated she becomes the more her thoughts begin to affect her. She becomes convinced that the teenager’s death is not the suicide everybody else is treating it as and sets of on her own, unauthorised investigation.

Meanwhile the two main male characters in the team Bryant and Dawson, struggle with which one of them is going to be the “Alpha-male” without Kim’s controlling hand. As a series of serious assaults, and a murder, are connected Bryant is promoted to Inspector, effectively replacing Stone. The shift in the personalities at this point are intriguing. Will Dawson be adult enough to work effectively with Bryant. Bryant himself has always been happy playing second fiddle to Stones lead, but how does he handle being the main man.

With both being preoccupied with their own feelings and both trying to prove themselves, to each other as well as the bosses, will the investigation be compromised; and will either of them notice Stacey’s struggles.

All the time she is away Stone is working with Tom Travis, an ex-colleague and ex-friend; but why did he stop being a best friend and turn into a disgruntled associate in a neighbouring Force. It is no secret that the two don’t “play well together” and whenever Tom has turned up in previous books he has been a pain in Kim’s side. Thrown together to investigate a crime which has happened on the border of the two forces the pair have very different working styles and investigative techniques. At time this relationship is tumultuous, but will it ever be effective. It is one thing, compulsive reading.

Then there are the crimes being investigated by both teams. Stone and Frost are investigating a historical murder after the bones of 3 bodies are dug up on farmland during an archaeological dig, being carried out by a group of University students and their teacher.

This leads them to look into the history of the people who own the land and their tenants. Two families who could not be more diverse but are intrinsically linked through the generations.

Stone’s team in the West Midlands have are investigating a series of hate crimes that seem to have no motive. The targets of the crimes are from different backgrounds and would be seen as being from different minority groups, all of which are the targets of hate crime, but why these people, and why now?

Angela Marsons always manages to have one character in her books that makes me want more. There was the brilliant murderer Alex Thorne, a character I compare to Hannibal Lecter. In this book, the journalist Tracy Frost makes a brief welcome return, but by far one of my favourite characters in these books is back, Dr A the Macedonian Archaeologist who works at Aston University. This character is brilliantly written and provides a few light-hearted moments. A leader in her field, no pun intended, she is a friend of Kim’s who does not suffer fools lightly. One of her endearing features is her accent. In the middle of all the mayhem and murder she is written with a voice the reminds me of the French Policeman in ‘Allo ‘Allo, but she is no fool, in fact she is the complete opposite. I would love to see her featuring in her own book.

I don’t usually give star awards unless it’s on a site like amazon, where it’s a requisite, but for those who look for that type of award, it’s a 6-out-of-5 or an 11-out-of-10.

The way I measure a book is in how much I look forward to it, and when it arrives how long it takes to read.

I look forward to each Kim Stone novel like a kid looks forward to Christmas, and this book I read in 2 days, I only put it down to sleep and eat.

It really is the best book I’ve read.

DEAD SOULS Angela Marsons

 

 

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Written from the heart.

It’s a note I’ve never written before when I’m reading a book to review; but it’s there in my note book, right in the centre of the page.

It’s been over written several times so it really stands out, and I can remember every page I was reading when I went over it, because that’s how it felt reading this book.

The book starts off with, what most people wouldn’t class as a crime, a young man’s suicide. The thoughts he goes through, the logic he uses, are so well written that although it’s a short chapter, it’s one which will live with me for a long time.

That suicide is investigated by Kev Dawson and Stacey Wood. Kev is the alfa-male Sergeant and Stacey is the slightly introvert Detective Constable, who does most of the on-line investigation work, from the office.

The scene is bad enough but the suicide note brings out emotions in Stacey that she keeps hidden from her colleagues. The death is suicide, but why did this young lad take his own life. Stacey can’t leave it, and starts to look into the victim and his life.

Meanwhile some bodies have been found in a University Archaeological dig in a field of a farm that straddles the borders of the West Midlands, and West Mercia Police Forces boundary.

Until the bones can be identified, and a date of burial put on them, they must be investigated as a murder scene. DI Kim Stone and her old adversary from the neighbouring force DI Tom Travis argue at the scene over who will take ownership of the investigation.

The next day the argument is solved. The bosses have decided on a joint investigation with Stone leaving her team to work with Travis and his team on the bones found in the dig.

The tumultuous relationship between Kim Stone and Tom Travis is one of the main threads through the book and adds a cracking dynamic to the story.

As Kim is away her trusty Sergeant, and sidekick-partner, Bryant is forced to work with Kev Dawson. Two men doing the same job with totally different approaches, and attitudes. Another tumultuous partnership.

Bryant and Dawson start to investigate several crimes that appear to be race driven and in doing so come across the horrible side of society. The violent racist, bigoted minority which causes so much pain to innocent people.

Becoming deeply involved with the investigation they don’t notice that Stacey is beginning to become secretive and withdrawn as she looks into the young suicide victim’s life.

The deeper she looks into why the lad might have committed suicide, the more bells are rung about her own life.

When Bryant and Dawson deliberately try to stop her becoming involved with the race crimes, “to protect her”, she becomes more and more withdrawn and struggles with memories from her past.

The parts of this book which are written from Stacey’s point of view are stunningly written. Again, that note was over written “written from heart”

Meanwhile in West Mercia, Kim and Travis are looking into the Landowner, and his tenant, of the field where the bones have been found. As they are doing so the bones are being examined by Dr A. One of Angela Marsons peripheral characters that deserve their own book. The interchanges between her and Kim Stone provide that bit of humour every dark story needs; and this is a dark story.

Three sets of bones were found during the dig, and they’re recently enough buried to launch an active murder investigation.

There are three story lines in this book. The relationship between the 2 DI’s Stone and Travis, as they investigate the murder of the people found buried in the field. The relationship between Bryant and Dawson as they investigate the violent race crimes. Finally; Stacey Woods journey into the life of a young suicide victim, and the effects it has on her.

Will the relationships work. Will everybody come out of this in one piece, either emotionally or physically.

This book had me hooked from the very first page and had me enthralled all the way through.

The last dozen or so chapters had me holding my breath so often I was exhausted at the end; and what an ending.

The end of this book is full of twists and turns, and I defy anybody to see the results coming.

I read all the time. It’s my escape from reality. There are several authors I look forward to reading when I know they have a new book coming out.

Angela Marsons is at the very top of that list.

This is the best book I’ve read, by the best author on the shelves at the moment.

I really can’t wait for the next one.IMG_1204

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

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I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with  that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

Angela Marsons Kim Stones Series Looking forward to DEAD SOULS

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So, the latest Detective Inspector Kim Stone novel by Angela Marsons is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Why is this great news?

Because she is my favourite author, and not just mine. Within a couple of hours of her announcing it was available, on twitter and Facebook, the book was at number 16 on Amazons sales list. This was no surprise as it was recently announced that she has sold over 2 million books worldwide.

So, what makes Angela so popular. I can’t speak for everybody but here’s why I like her books so much.

The most important thing, to me, in a good story is its believability, it has to be real. Angela’s stories are. There is no over-exaggerated, unrealistic crimes. Everything you read is something that could, or has, happened. Yes, the crimes would make it to the front pages of the local paper and onto the local news, but there are no over-the-top, sensationalised, story lines which would have the general population in a panic over national news headlines.

Each story is self-contained, so the books can be read as stand-alone novels, but an outstanding cast of characters run through the them. I have found myself liking the most unlikely of people, getting conned into thinking some are nice, reliable people, only to find out they are the complete opposite, and actually hating others.

Characters that have bit parts in one book reappear in others.

All of the characters, especially Kim Stone and her team, are developing throughout the series. Books don’t always need cliff hanger finishes, they just need characters you want to meet again.

Every time I pick up a new book in this series I look forward to the character’s stories as well as finding out what crime has been committed and who’s responsible for it.

Then there is always the setting. The Black Country. I know some of the appeal in these books, for me, is that they are based around where I live. But that’s not the main thing, it’s the way Angela captures the places, and people of the region. You don’t have to live here to appreciate that. Greg Isles is also one of my favourite writers but I’ve never lived in Natchez on the Mississippi.

Why does the Black Country make a good setting? because it has everything. There are low social-economic housing estates and edge-of-the-country piles worth millions. There are every possible combination of nationalities, and the communities they develop. There are out of town shopping malls, and there are run down market towns. There are people who are the salt-of-the-earth and there are out and out scumbags, and everybody in between.

The possibilities are endless, as is Angela’s story telling ability.

The books are a testament to Angela Marsons and her persistence. She has been writing for years and suffered God knows how many rejections by publishers.  Now she is one of the UK’s top selling crime authors and is going from strength to strength.

 

How good are these books? Silent Scream, the first in the series, was published by Bookouture in February 2015. Now, in March 2017, we are eagerly awaiting DEAD SOULS, the sixth book in the series.

If a publisher is willing to bring that many books to the shelf in that short a time, the stories must be good.

So, if you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, and you want to know why I Iike them so much.

I’ve put some links below to my reviews of the first five.

Treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/category/lost-girls/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/play-dead-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/blood-lines-angela-marsons/

Angela Marsons Blog Tour Blood Lines

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And Then There Were 5

Blood Lines is the 5th in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone novels set in and around the Black Country.

I reviewed the book a few weeks ago and used the phrase “The best psychological thriller since Silence of the Lambs”. Why did I think this?

Simply because Angela Marsons has built a set of characters I have come to know and care about, Kim Stone being the main one. In Dr Alex Throne she has conceived a homicidal sociopath with many of the same traits as Hannibal Lecter, and she hates Kim with a passion.

Kim has already had one scrape with Dr Alex, and only just survived. In this book Dr Alex is pulling strings whilst in prison, and once again Kim Stone is her target.

Not since Silence of the Lambs’ Clarice Starling and Hanibal Lecture have I felt such a connection between two characters as I have felt between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

So how did Alex Throne come about. I got to ask Angela a few questions.

 

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I asked her; I compared Alex Thorne with Hannibal Lecture. Where did the character come from and who, or what inspired her?

Angela replied; I wanted to explore how someone who truly had no empathy would think and act. When writing from Alex’s point of view I literally do have to strip myself of emotional attachment and kind of turn off my heart to try to understand the mechanics of her mind.”

So I asked.

Have you studied any sociopaths to help build her personality. Real or fictional

Not any particular individuals but I did a lot of reading on the subject, especially from Robert Hare, who is credited with developing the only reliable checklist in measuring a sociopathic personality. Also, the book The Sociopath Next Door is a true eye-opener.

 This answer shows why Angela’s books are so good. I admire the fact that she has an idea but then sits down and looks into how to make the situation, or character, real.

The next question was about the relationship between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

Once you decided on the character of Dr Alex what was the next step in forming the complex relationships with the people she controlled.

It was all about manipulation. Not all sociopaths are serial killers, they just want what they want, and see no barriers to getting what they want. Alex wanted a better understanding of guilt, and in effect the ability to control it. This prompted the foundation of characters for Alex to interact with.

 The other thing I like about Angela Marsons books is the setting. I’ve said before the stories are set close to where I live, I have been tempted to go out and photograph where some of the scenes are set and do a virtual tour on a future blog. So how does she identify where she’s going to set some of her scenes.

My next question was based on one particular house in Blood Lines

We’ve spoken before about where you set the crimes. What struck me this time was the house on Mucklow Hill. Without going and being very nosey I think I can almost identify the house, definitely the little road it’s on. Was setting the family home, of the first victim, in such a specific place deliberate.

Angela answered. I didn’t use the location for any particular reason, but I like to use places that I think local readers will recognise. Most locals know where Mucklow Hill is.

One character cannot carry a series of books and Kim Stone has a team of officers around her that appear in every book. The subtle sub-plots they bring into each story help the series move along. My next question was about these characters.

Kim is a great character but it’s the rest of the team and the way they knit together that makes your stories all the more realistic. What made you choose the difference character traits for them?

I wanted each member of the team to bring something unique to the overall picture but I also wanted each member to bring out a different aspect of Kim’s personality. Bryant is her friend, Dawson challenges and frustrates her and Stacey she wants to nurture and encourage.

 So what of the future for Kim and her team

Are there any plans to promote Kim, or any of the others on the team, or bring any new characters into the team? Likewise, do you see her staying in the MIT or moving to something else

No plans to promote Kim yet as she prefers to be on the ground with as little paperwork as possible. Other members of the team will feature more in future books and there will definitely be changes as we progress through the series.

 I’m glad Kim isn’t moving but are you ever tempted to put her in the inner city. I loved the settings and characters in your stand-alone novel The Forgotten Woman.

She may move around a bit as I do want to explore more locations.

 My last question to Angela was a personal one.

I see you talking, and encouraging lots of other authors, on social media. Who do you read when you’re relaxing, and is it hard not to be influenced by other people’s storylines.

I read Caroline Mitchell, Mel Sherratt, Val McDermid and for something completely different I love Renita D’Silva. When I’m reading I have to switch off the writer part of my brain as I just want to enjoy a story written by someone else.  I don’t get influenced by other stories as I normally have the next 3 or 4 Kim books whizzing around in my head.

 Well that’s good news for me because in that last answer Angela mentions having 3 or 4 more Kim Stone books in her head.

Personally I can’t wait for the next one.

Thank You Angela. For the Books and the chat.

 

My review of Blood Lines

 In Evil Games Angela Marsons introduced us to the brilliant character Dr Alexandra Throne.

In Blood Lines she brings her back.

In my opinion this character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Incarcerated for her part in previous murders Throne starts to manipulate the people around her. She is a vicious sociopath who has only one target. Kim Stone.

Pulling at strings like a master puppeteer she identifies people’s weaknesses and manipulates them to carry out her will. Each action falling into place like jigsaw puzzle bits until the final picture is revealed.

Angela Marsons writes the sections with Alex Throne very cleverly and although it is obvious from the start who her target is, she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up till the last page to see if she succeeds.

Meanwhile Kim Stone and her team are faced with several murders in the Black Country. Are the murders unrelated, or is there something which ties them all together.

The first body turns up in a posh car in a layby in a dodgy area, a lady who obviously has money. The second is a drug addict girl found on an urban nature reserve. Surely these people can’t be connected.

Kim is looking into these murders when Dr Alex Throne manipulates circumstances to make Kim visit her.

Kim knows she shouldn’t visit. The last time the two became involved with each other Alex nearly destroyed Kim. But can Kim resist. Even if she can, is Alex back inside her head.

With the investigations into the murders moving ahead Kim has to deal with issues in her team, and Alex in her head.

With two storylines this book moves along so fast that, even at nearly 350 pages, you will wonder where the time has gone when its finished.

I make no bones of the fact that Angela Marsons is my favourite author at the moment.

The Detective Inspector Kim Stones books are nothing short of brilliant. The reason they are so good is that the storylines, the characters, and the locations are so well research and written.

In Kim Stone Angela Marsons has found a main character that sits alongside all of the best Police Officers in modern fiction.

In Alexandra Throne she has found the best, and most fitting, criminal foil for any Detective since 1991.

In doing so she had written not just a good Police Crime Thriller, but in my opinion the best Psychological Thriller since Silence of the Lambs

If you know somebody who loves a good Police Thriller, and they haven’t discovered Angela Marsons yet, the Kim Stone collection would make a magical Christmas gift.

Angela’s books are available in shops, on-line via Amazon, and are published by Bookouture

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Blood Lines Angela Marsons

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Blood Lines    Angela Marsons

In Evil Games Angela Marsons introduced us to the brilliant character Dr Alexandra Throne.

In Blood Lines she brings her back.

In my opinion this character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Incarcerated for her part in previous murders Throne starts to manipulate the people around her. She is a vicious sociopath who has only one target. Kim Stone.

Pulling at strings like a master puppeteer she identifies people’s weaknesses and manipulates them to carry out her will. Each action falling into place like jigsaw puzzle bits until the final picture is revealed.

Angela Marsons writes the sections with Alex Throne very cleverly and although it is obvious from the start who her target is, she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up till the last page to see if she succeeds.

Meanwhile Kim Stone and her team are faced with several murders in the Black Country. Are the murders unrelated, or is there something which ties them all together.

The first body turns up in a posh car in a layby in a dodgy area, a lady who obviously has money. The second is a drug addict girl found on an urban nature reserve. Surely these people can’t be connected.

Kim is looking into these murders when Dr Alex Throne manipulates circumstances to make Kim visit her.

Kim knows she shouldn’t visit. The the last time the two became involved with each other Alex nearly destroyed Kim. But can Kim resist. Even if she can, is Alex back inside her head.

With the investigations into the murders moving ahead Kim has to deal with issues in her team, and Alex in her head.

With two storylines this book moves along so fast that, even at nearly 350 pages, you will wonder where the time has gone when its finished.

I make no bones of the fact that Angela Marsons is my favourite author at the moment.

The Detective Inspector Kim Stones books are nothing short of brilliant. The reason they are so good is that the storylines, the characters, and the locations are so well research and written.

In Kim Stone Angela Marsons has found a main character that sits alongside all of the best Police Officers in modern fiction.

In Alexandra Throne she has found the best, and most fitting, criminal foil for any Detective since 1991.

In doing so she had written not just a good Police Crime Thriller, but in my opinion the best Psychological Thriller since Silence of the Lambs

The Forgotten Woman Angela Marsons

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The Forgotten Woman      Angela Marsons

Where do I start with a book as good as this?

I picked the book because I love Angela Marsons DCI Kim Stone series. I knew this was a stand-alone and I was thinking it would be a similar type of novel.

How wrong was I, and in a really good way.

The book has two protagonists who meet in an Alcoholics therapy group session. Both are women with a problem with alcohol, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Kit Mason has had a rough life. Without giving too much away she is from a loveless family and grew up in a rough working class area of Liverpool. Running from there she became a prostitute on the streets of London becoming hooked on drugs and booze.

Frances Thornton. A Barrister from a well-to-do family. Single, never married, apparently from a loving family, and very troubled.

The two women find each other at a meeting in Birmingham, how they both got there you will have to find out by reading the book, and become friends and confidants.

The story looks back at both of their lives and follows them as they emerge from the depths of their problems, not all of which were self-inflicted.

Kit and Frances could not be two more different people. Each is portrayed beautifully by Angela Marsons, the depth of depravity in Kits story is counter balanced by the comfortable life style of Frances.

Alcoholism is not fussy who it chooses to affect, and usually there is a reason people want to lose sight of reality. Angela identifies this and shows that even people from opposite ends of the spectrum can find a way of hiding away in its fog. But what she does really well here is show how difficult the recovery can be, how there are temptations every minute of every day, on every street, how a minute of letting your guard down can result in a stumble back to drink.

The story shows how these two women fight the temptations whilst trying to regain their lives.

Angela also tackles the problem of how recovering alcoholics struggle to form new relationships; When is it right? How much do you tell people of your past? What assumptions will they make? Both Kit and Frances have things in their past that might put people off, but will it.

The women don’t just struggle with what others will make of them, but have to come to terms with who they are.

I think this book is in the top half a dozen I’ve ever read.

Thinking back on the other books in that list they are all either the first book by an author, or the first of a series.

This is neither. This is a novel the author had been trying to get published for years.It was initially self-published with the title  My Name Is. Now, following the success of the Kim Stone books, it is getting the fair outing it deserves under its new name.

I hope people who missed it first time around, like me, find it this time.

This book should be read, it deserves to be read.

It does make you wonder what exactly the publishers who rejected it were thinking of.

Thank you Angela Marsons for persivering.

READ AND ENJOY.