#bookpromo The Lost Girls by Helen Pryke

On the 17 June, my latest book, The Lost Girls, was published by Bloodhound Books, and I thought I’d tell you something about it. You can buy it now on Amazon for only 99c/99p or you can get the paperback if you prefer!

Here’s some background about the writing of the book:

It’s mainly set in the south of England (with a slight detour to the Peak District towards the end!) and I think it’s the only book I’ve ever read that’s set in the Portsmouth area, including Cosham, Hilsea and Bedhampton!

Why there? Well, I grew up on the south coast in a small town called Emsworth, and often took the bus or train to other towns in the area. When I needed somewhere for the book, I immediately thought of where I used to live.

map of south of england for fb page

What I didn’t plan on was getting so nostalgic as I used Google maps to refresh my memory. It was like travelling back to the past, and so many memories from my childhood came to mind. It made me quite emotional!

I’ve been living in Italy since 1990, and although I visited the UK quite frequently in the beginning, I haven’t been back since 2012. Partly from choice, as every time I go there it gets harder for me to leave, and partly because planning anything around my auto-immune illness is difficult as I never know when it will flare and leave me too exhausted to do anything. So, while I’m glad I chose those towns, it’s been a bitter-sweet experience!

The only place I haven’t been is Farlington Marshes, mentioned at the beginning of the story. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know they existed! I found this on Wikipedia:

“Farlington Marshes is an area of reclaimed land in Langstone harbour. It was reclaimed from the harbour in 1771 and includes a larger part of what was formerly Binner’s Island (the remainder of the island is now referred to as North Binness Island). Farlington Marshes is about 120 hectares in size and features both freshwater marsh and brackish marsh. It is a Local Nature Reserve and is a feeding ground for overwintering Brent geese. During World War 2 it was used as a starfish site acting as a decoy for Portsea Island. The control blockhouses remain on the marshes.”

If I should go back to the UK, I’ll make sure I go and take a walk around there!

Farlington_marshes_april_2011.jpg

The protagonist

The protagonist of The Lost Girls is ex-investigative journalist Maggie Turner. She wasn’t always the protagonist, though – originally, Michael and Chloe, the brother and sister of the lost girls, were meant to team up and search for their sisters. Then one day Maggie popped into my head and demanded to be the main character! There’s a lot of banter between Mike, Chloe and Maggie which I’m sure many parents of teenagers will recognise – much of it was taken from my own conversations with my sons!

I like Maggie – she’s fighting her own demons caused by a traumatic childhood, a chronic illness (as yet undiagnosed), and the death of her nephew, but she puts them aside to help Mike and Chloe find their sisters. This is how she describes herself:

“I’m a pathetic, forty-five-year-old woman who only thinks of herself, with greying hair, quite a few wrinkles, and bits of me sagging that were pert up until a few years ago. I feel old.”

But underneath the self-pity, she has a strong character and won’t take any nonsense from people. She’s had to fight all her life to get anywhere, and won’t give up while there’s hope. In the story, she arrives at a point where she doesn’t know where to go or what to do to find the girls, while her body shuts down due to stress and her illness. The only thing she can do is pray for a miracle…

The antagonist

The antagonist, who shall remain unnamed, turned out completely different from how I’d originally planned! When I jotted down some notes a few years ago, I didn’t have a motive for him abducting the girls – this all came about when I took out the story and started working on it again. I had fun figuring out the reasoning behind his madness!

As his past is gradually revealed, the reader comes to understand why he’s abducted the girls. We don’t find out everything about him, but more than enough to show that he’s always been crazy. I particularly enjoyed writing the chapters from his personal point of view – getting inside his head was scarily easy to do!

I can’t give away too much here, as it will ruin the story. Let’s just say our antagonist has ‘issues’ with his mother and sisters, which come to a terrifying head in the book. Oh, and he likes fire. A lot.

Beautiful stylish fire flames reflected in water

 

A minor character

I thought I’d mention a minor character in the book, who was taken from real life.

As any author knows, you’re always advised to observe the people around you in everyday situations, and make notes of anything you can use in your writing. I love people watching anyway, and there’s no better place (in my opinion) than a hospital waiting room. I’ve been in many over the last few years, and every time I come away thinking I could write a book about what I’ve just seen. (My oldest son says I should write a series – The Waiting Room Chronicles – as I’ve always got a story or two to tell after going to the hospital!)

This scene, set in a café where Mike, Chloe and Maggie were meeting, comes from one of those waiting room experiences:

The waitress jotted down their order and went over to the counter. A tall, thin woman in her sixties strode into the café. Dressed in brown, knee-length boots, a bright yellow anorak, and a detective-style felt hat with a brown speckled feather in it, she caught their attention right away.

“Young lady, a cappuccino with extra cocoa on top, as soon as you can,” she demanded in a supercilious voice. She stood glaring round at the few customers while the waitress rushed to make her coffee. “Come, come, I haven’t got all day.”

Mike leaned over and nudged Maggie. “Hey, that’ll be you in a few years’ time, old thing,” he said with a wink.

Chloe giggled.

Maggie snorted, trying to hold back a laugh in case the woman looked their way. “Less of the cheek,” she said, then glanced at the woman again. “Although, I do like that hat, I must admit.”

It may be short and sweet, but this scene makes me laugh every time as it features a woman I saw in a hospital waiting room, dressed exactly like that! I came home, wrote some notes, and knew I had to fit her into the book somehow. And yes, I was jealous of her hat, as well – I’d love to have the courage to wear something like that! (The photo below is a rough representation, just so you get the idea.)

fb post

I hope this has whet your appetite, and I’d love to hear back from you if you read The Lost Girls!

mybook.to/TheLostGirlsPryke

#BookReview for The Watson Letters: Murder on Mystery Island by Colin Garrow

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My review for The Watson Letters Volume 5: Murder on Mystery Island, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

This is the second book in the series I’ve read, and I loved it! The author does a fantastic job of taking the original characters and weaving a completely new layer onto them, with incredible results. Full of wit, dry British humour, and a smattering of innuendo, plus quite a few bodies for Holmes and Watson to deal with, this is a story everyone will enjoy.

Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade all make an appearance, along with the Queen of crime, Agatha Christie. But my favourite has to be Mary Watson, with her inimitable way of reviving someone who’s fainted, and her not-so-innocent comments that will make you laugh out loud.

This is a great read that I highly recommend to everyone!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for Wonky Inn Series, books 1-8 by Jeannie Wycherley

I picked up the first book in the series when the author gave it away for free on Amazon, and was immediately hooked by this charming series. So when I got Kindle Unlimited for 3 months, I made it my mission to read all 8 books!

Alf is such a lovable character, and as the series progresses she overcomes her lack of self confidence, becoming feistier and stronger with each book. Unlucky in love, she has the added benefit of being able to turn annoying exes into toads if she wishes!

Each story has a murder mystery to solve, with the wonky inn and Alf right in the middle of things. There are ghosts, resident and non, vampires, a mysterious association that is trying to drive Alf away, dead bodies turning up, and even an episode of The Great Witchy Cake Off!

Full of dry British humour, great characters (good and bad), love and sadness, each book just gets better and better. I hope there are more to come, after Alf’s Mission Impossible antics in book 8!

These books are great fun to read, reminiscent of Midsomer Murders (with not quite as many deaths!) in their charm and gentle narrative. I highly recommend you pick up the whole series and let yourself be transported to the wonky inn for some well-deserved rest and relaxation!

Link to book 1, Amazon US
Link to book 1, Amazon UK

#BookReview for In All Innocence by C.A. Asbrey

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My review for In All Innocence (The Innocence Mystery Series Book 4) by C.A. Asbrey, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

Each book just gets better and better! Full of dry humour, the story begins with a train full of English butlers, and Nat, Jake and Abigail trying to leave their past lives behind them, but instead finding themselves involved in a crime scene.

As well as the incredible historical detail that goes into these books, the story keeps you hooked all the way through as you try to piece together the bits of the puzzle. There are some great new characters in the story, as well as a kangaroo that everyone thinks is the figment of a mad man’s imagination!

There are lots of laughs, as well as some more sombre moments, and that ending…well, you’ll have to read it yourself.

Well written, well researched, and great reads, I highly recommend the whole series!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for Fables & Felonies by Nellie Neeves

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My review for Fables & Felonies (Lindy Johnson Series, book 4) by Nellie Neeves, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

I haven’t read any of the books in the series before this one, but it was very easy to get into and to get to know the characters. Lindy is wonderfully feisty, despite her MS (or because of it), and leads an interesting life as a PI.

The story draws you in from the beginning, with great interaction among the characters, and keeps you reading as Lindy tries to solve a murder before an ex-boyfriend is framed. There’s plenty of action all the way through, building up to a thrilling climax and an ending that leaves you wanting more!

I’ll definitely be reading the other books in the series soon!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#KindleUnlimited promo: thrillers, suspense and mysteries

Thirty-seven authors have got together with a promotion for mysteries and thrillers available in Kindle Unlimited. Clicking on the link below will take you to the BookFunnel page, where you can find each book and click through to Amazon. You’ll find my book, The Lost Girls, in there too!

Even better, there’s no newsletter sign up required – just pick the books you’d like to read! Maybe you’ll find your next favourite author…

To see all the books in the promo, click here.

Happy reading!

The story behind my latest book, The Lost Girls #suspense #thriller

On the 30 June, my latest book, The Lost Girls, will be published! You can preorder it now for only 99c/99p and start reading on the 30 June. Or you can buy the paperback now if you can’t wait!

Preorder now on Amazon

Here are some posts about the writing of the book:

It’s mainly set in the south of England (with a slight detour to the Peak District towards the end!) and I think it’s the only book I’ve ever read that’s set in the Portsmouth area, including Cosham, Hilsea and Bedhampton!

Why there? Well, I grew up on the south coast in a small town called Emsworth, and often took the bus or train to other towns in the area. When I needed somewhere for the book, I immediately thought of where I used to live.

map of south of england for fb page

What I didn’t plan on was getting so nostalgic as I used Google maps to refresh my memory. It was like travelling back to the past, and so many memories from my childhood came to mind. It made me quite emotional!

I’ve been living in Italy since 1990, and although I visited the UK quite frequently in the beginning, I haven’t been back since 2012. Partly from choice, as every time I go there it gets harder for me to leave, and partly because planning anything around my auto-immune illness is difficult as I never know when it will flare and leave me too exhausted to do anything. So, while I’m glad I chose those towns, it’s been a bitter-sweet experience!

The only place I haven’t been is Farlington Marshes, mentioned at the beginning of the story. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know they existed! I found this on Wikipedia:

“Farlington Marshes is an area of reclaimed land in Langstone harbour. It was reclaimed from the harbour in 1771 and includes a larger part of what was formerly Binner’s Island (the remainder of the island is now referred to as North Binness Island). Farlington Marshes is about 120 hectares in size and features both freshwater marsh and brackish marsh. It is a Local Nature Reserve and is a feeding ground for overwintering Brent geese. During World War 2 it was used as a starfish site acting as a decoy for Portsea Island. The control blockhouses remain on the marshes.”

If I should go back to the UK, I’ll make sure I go and take a walk around there!

Farlington_marshes_april_2011.jpg

The protagonist

The protagonist of The Lost Girls is ex-investigative journalist Maggie Dupont. She wasn’t always the protagonist, though – originally, Michael and Chloe, the brother and sister of the lost girls, were meant to team up and search for their sisters. Then one day Maggie popped into my head and demanded to be the main character! There’s a lot of banter between Mike, Chloe and Maggie which I’m sure many parents of teenagers will recognise – much of it was taken from my own conversations with my sons!

I like Maggie – she’s fighting her own demons caused by a traumatic childhood, a chronic illness, and the death of her nephew, but she puts them aside to help Mike and Chloe find their sisters. This is how she describes herself:

“I’m a pathetic, forty-five-year-old woman who only thinks of herself, with greying hair, quite a few wrinkles, and bits of me sagging that were pert up until a few years ago. I feel old.”

But underneath the self-pity, she has a strong character and won’t take any nonsense from people. She’s had to fight all her life to get anywhere, and won’t give up while there’s hope. In the story, she arrives at a point where she doesn’t know where to go or what to do to find the girls, while her body shuts down due to stress and her illness. The only thing she can do is pray for a miracle…

The antagonist

The antagonist, who shall remain unnamed, turned out completely different from how I’d originally planned! When I jotted down some notes a few years ago, I didn’t have a motive for him abducting the girls – this all came about when I took out the story and started working on it again. I had fun figuring out the reasoning behind his madness!

As his past is gradually revealed, the reader comes to understand why he’s abducted the girls. We don’t find out everything about him, but just enough to show that he’s always been crazy. I particularly enjoyed writing the chapters from his personal point of view – getting inside his head was scarily easy to do! My husband keeps asking me if there’s something he should know…!

I can’t give away too much here, as it will ruin the story. Let’s just say our antagonist has ‘issues’ with his mother and sisters, which come to a terrifying head in the book. Oh, and he likes fire. A lot.

flame-1487835_1920

 

A minor character

I thought I’d mention a minor character in the book, who was taken from real life.

As any author knows, you’re always advised to observe the people around you in everyday situations, and make notes of anything you can use in your writing. I love people watching anyway, and there’s no better place (in my opinion) than a hospital waiting room. I’ve been in many over the last few years, and every time I come away thinking I could write a book about what I’ve just seen. (My oldest son says I should write a series – The Waiting Room Chronicles – as I’ve always got a story or two to tell after going to the hospital!)

This scene, set in a café where Mike, Chloe and Maggie were meeting, comes from one of those waiting room experiences:

The waitress jotted down their order and went over to the counter. A tall, thin woman in her sixties strode into the café. Dressed in brown, knee-length boots, a bright yellow anorak, and a detective-style felt hat with a brown speckled feather in it, she caught their attention right away.

“Young lady, a cappuccino with extra cocoa on top, as soon as you can,” she demanded in a supercilious voice. She stood glaring round at the few customers while the waitress rushed to make her coffee. “Come, come, I haven’t got all day.”

Mike leaned over and nudged Maggie. “Hey, that’ll be you in a few years’ time, old thing,” he said with a wink.

Chloe giggled.

Maggie snorted, trying to hold back a laugh in case the woman looked their way. “Less of the cheek,” she said, then glanced at the woman again. “Although, I do like that hat, I must admit.”

It may be short and sweet, but this scene makes me laugh every time as it features a woman I saw in a hospital waiting room, dressed exactly like that! I came home, wrote some notes, and knew I had to fit her into the book somehow. And yes, I was jealous of her hat, as well – I’d love to have the courage to wear something like that! (The photo below is a rough representation, just so you get the idea.)

fb post

I hope this has whet your appetite, and I’d love to hear back from you if you read The Lost Girls!

#BookReview for Who Killed Little Johnny Gilly by Kathryn McMaster

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My review for Who Killed Little Johnny Gill by Kathryn McMaster, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while now, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. McMaster has taken the facts from the brutal killing of a child and turned them into a touching, emotional story that will leave you thinking.

Poor little Johnny Gill’s murder was one of the most horrific at the time, and the police continuously made errors during their investigation. The court procedure is laid out in detail, and is very interesting to follow.

For anyone nowadays, it’s hard to understand the carnival atmosphere that surrounded William Barrett when he was acquitted of the murder, and the fact that Johnny Gill’s family were completely ignored as they were ‘old news’. I like how McMaster gives her own feelings about his parents, and ends with talking about them, giving them the dignity they deserve.

At the end of the book, the author tells the reader her ideas on the case, but leaves it open to personal interpretation. And there are some twists to the story that cause doubt as to who really killed Johnny Gill.

I highly recommend this book, both for the historical factor as well as the true crime story. It’s also just 99c/99p at the moment!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview of Rituals of the Dead (Book 3) by Jennifer S. Alderson

pink quill book pick badge

My review of Rituals of the Dead (Book 3) by Jennifer S. Alderson, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

This is the first book I’ve read of this series, and even though it’s number 3, I had no problems getting in to it. It’s a great murder-mystery, set in Holland with flashbacks to Nicholas Mayfield’s expedition to Africa, where he mysteriously disappeared.

As events unfold in present time, more is revealed of what really happened in the past. The present day and past are cleverly interwoven, keeping you turning the pages as more is revealed.

I loved the characters, both the good and the bad, and the protagonist, Zelda Richardson, is both realistic and likable, with her weak and strong points. She’s a dedicated researcher who seems to be dogged by bad luck, but she carries on regardless, determined to uncover the truth.

Well written, the story draws you in and keeps you guessing right to the end. I can’t wait to read the other two books in the series!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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