Blog Tour: Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

I’m thrilled to be on the next stop for the Desperation Road Blog Tour by Michael Farris Smith. Desperation Road is published by No Exit Press on 23rd February 2017. As always don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour!

Desperation Road.jpg

First up is the Blurb:

A novel set in a rough- and-tumble Mississippi town where drugs, whiskey, guns, and the desire for revenge violently intersect

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sat in Parchman penitentiary in the Mississippi Delta. His time now up, and believing his debt paid, he returns home only to discover that revenge lives and breathes all around.

On the day of his release, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate under the punishing summer sun. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a motel room for the night, a night that ends with Maben running through the darkness holding a pistol, and a dead deputy sprawled across the road in the glow of his own headlights.

With dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save his own or that of the woman and child?

This is the thrilling story of two apparently unconnected, but broken people who are down on their luck just trying to make their way in the world, despite the inexplicable odds.

Russell has just been released after an eleven-year stretch inside for a crime he feels he has finally been punished for. As he steps off the bus in his hometown he is set upon by two brothers out for revenge.

On the same day, a desperate woman named Maben,  with nothing left of her former life but a black sack and a young daughter, seeks refuge for the night at a truckers pit stop. But when she makes the decision to try and make ends meet, she ends up risking her own life and that of a local deputy’s life.

When their paths cross Russell is forced to step up to the plate and save the lives of Maben and her daughter, Annalee, if he has only hope of salvation.

Desperation Road Blog Tour Poster.png

Wow – I literally read this in two sittings!

What can I say without giving too much away? The narrative is compelling and seamlessly blends the parallel stories of Maben and Russell together, taking the reader on a heartbreaking story of regret, revenge and hope.

I loved both these characters and couldn’t help but sympathise with their plights. This just showed the skill of the writer who manages to weave compassion and action into the narrative without it ever becoming too overpowering.

I also loved the setting of this novel within a run-down Mississippi town full of booze, woman and lawlessness.I thought the author’s beautiful descriptions evoked a lot of imagery for me as the reader, which in turn pulled me into the story and felt like I was right there with the characters.

This is a novel I wouldn’t have necessarily picked up to read on first glance, but I am really glad I did. I would highly recommend this – it is a fantastic and compelling crime novel set in a small American town with a cast of characters you cannot help but empathise with.

I would like to say a big thanks to No Exit Press and Anne Cater for my advanced review copy.

About the author:

catfish-alley-porch

 

Michael Farris Smith is the award-winning author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers. Rivers was named in numerous Best Books of the Year lists, and garnered the 2014 Mississippi Author Award for Fiction. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Writer’s Bone, and more. Two novels are forthcoming, Desperation Road (Feb 2017) and The Fighter (2018) with Lee Boudreaux Books, a specialty fiction imprint with Little, Brown. He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.

To preorder this from Amazon just click here

To find out more about Michael Farris Smith follow him on Twitter @michael_f_smith.

 

Blog Tour: Cursed by Thomas Enger

I’m really pleased to be a part of the Orenda Books blog tour for Cursed a new novel in the Henning Juul series by Norwegian writer Thomas Enger. So now it’s my turn on the tour, I have some exclusive author content today from Thomas discussing the Curse of Being a Writer – (big thanks to Thomas for sharing his thoughts with us).

*Exclusive Author Content*

The Curse of Being A Writer: by Thomas Enger

First, if you are a bit confused by the title of this blog post – I consider “being a writer” the best possible occupation in the world. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about my whole adult life, probably since I was around 16. I feel so fortunate to be able to do this for a living, and I hope that I can continue to be inspired and to have readers around the world for as long as I live.

A lot of people also look upon the whole “being a writer” thing with an ounce or two of romanticism. “It sure sounds lovely to be a writer, to sit somewhere and just chuck your thoughts and creative ideas down into a computer, and then have someone print it and read it.” I totally agree with that. It’s a privilege, one I wouldn’t change for anything.

But it definitely is a curse as well.

Let me explain what I mean.

9781910633649.jpg

Being a writer, for me, means that I never shut down. Never. I’m always on the lookout for stories, for characters, for bits and pieces here and there that I can put into my novels or short stories. When I’m watching a movie, my mind is half present in the story which unfolds in front of me, whereas the other part is churning, thinking of how I can put a spin on this or that idea, this or that scene, if a piece of this or that character is something I can put to good use in another character or scene.

When I’m out walking the streets of Oslo, or New Delhi for that matter, I’m not just looking at the buildings or the cars or the flowers. I’m taking mental pictures for later, I’m constantly thinking about ways to put my experiences into my books. That means I’m secretly taking notes in my head as I meet other people, whether they are complete strangers or close family. Like I sometimes tell my readers, with a wry smile on my face; anything you say and do when you meet me, can and will be used against you.

I’m the same when I’m reading the newspapers, or when I’m watching the news, when I talk to my kids or my kids’ friends, when I taking the bus or the tram, when I’m going through security at the airport, or when I’m out running in the streets of Oslo or even when I’m reading a book. My mind never shuts down.

So how do I relax? How do I unwind?

Well, it’s not easy, that’s for sure. I have found that playing a round of golf with my friends is very good for my brain. When I’m out there hacking that little round ball from A to B, or, in my case, Z, I’m almost completely absorbed into playing. It’s just the best form of escapism for me.

Going for a swim, too, in a warm country, also helps. But I’m sort of just stuck with my curse, which is having a brain that’s always searching for ideas.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’m sure a lot of us know exactly what you mean, Thomas – I know I do!

So now for the blurb:

Cursed

When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests.

Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Norway’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. When their lives are threatened, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

About the author:

DSC_0013

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young
Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

To buy this from Amazon just click here

To buy this from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Thomas Enger follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour – it’s too good not to miss!

Cursed Blog tour.jpg

 

Blog Tour: Corpus by Rory Clements

Today, I’m super pleased to be hosting the next stop on Rory Clements’ Corpus blog tour, published by Zaffre.

As part of the tour I can reveal I have some exclusive content from the author himself on the books that inspired Corpus, along with a fabulous prize to win one of two, hardback copies of the novel – you lucky people! As always don’t forget to stop off at all the other stops on this blog tour – #Corpus

Corpus_Blog Tour Banner.jpg

First up it’s the Blurb: 

 

1936.
Europe is in turmoil.
The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland.
In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror.
Spain has erupted in civil war.

In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers.

In a London club, three senior members of the British establishment light the touch paper on a conspiracy that will threaten the very heart of government. Even the ancient colleges of Cambridge are not immune to political division. Dons and students must choose a side: right or left, where do you stand?

When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe – and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson…

corpus-final

*Exclusive Author Content*

The Books That Inspired Corpus

I have read and delved into bucket loads of books in researching Corpus, my new 1930s thriller. But some stand out as more inspirational than others. Here are my top picks of both fact and fiction.

Memoirs & Diaries

Nothing compares to a diary if you want to discover the real atmosphere of a certain time in history. I was fortunate to be able to call on two of the finest diarists in my research – Harold Nicolsons Diaries & Letters and Chips by Sir Henry ‘Chips’ Channon. Both men give an insider’s view of the ruling class in the 1930s and should be read for pleasure not just to garner information.

For a very different perspective, there’s George Orwell – his gritty memoirs Homage To Catalonia and The Road To Wigan Pier provided first-hand accounts of the Spanish Civil War and the appalling living conditions of the northern working classes in England.

Biography

A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre is the story of Soviet spy Kim Philby and the friends he betrayed. It’s all true, of course, but it is so well written and packed with such fascinating stories that it reads like a first-rate thriller.

Thrillers

Some thrillers are ‘counterfactual’ – ie they assume history panned out in a different way. For instance, the premise of Fatherland by Robert Harris, SS-GB by Len Deighton and The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick is that the Nazis won the war. I love them all, but Corpus fits more into the ‘secret history’ pigeonhole. And the best of these, for me, are The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins and The Day Of The Jackal by Freddie Forsyth. Great fun, truly thrilling – and they certainly inspired me.

1930s Novels

Sometimes a novel can tell you as much as a history book. Two novels in particular gave me a wonderful insight into 1930s Germany. The first was Flotsam written in 1939 by Erich Maria Remarque (author of All Quiet On The Western Front) and the second was Mr Norris Changes Trains, written by Christopher Isherwood in 1935.  Flotsam tells the heartbreaking story of the migrants fleeing Hitler or cast out by him but unable to find refuge in other countries. Remarque loathed the Nazis (who had burned his books) and moved to Switzerland. Sadly, his sister Elfriede stayed and in 1943 was guillotined for ‘undermining morale’ by saying that the war was lost. Isherwood’s book, meanwhile, describes Berlin in the time of transition from democracy to tyranny.

Cambridge Novels

Two novels set in Cambridge taught me a great deal about the way the university worked in the early part of the twentieth century. The Masters by C.P.Snow is set in a fictional college (believed to be Christ’s) in 1937 when the Nazis were threatening. The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald also takes a fictional Cambridge college as its setting.

About the Author

rory-clements-colour

Rory Clements is the bestselling author of the John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers. His six acclaimed novels, Martyr, Revenger, Prince, Traitor, The Heretics and The Queen’s Man, follow Elizabeth’s Intelligencer, John Shakespeare, brother to the playwright William, through the dark underworld of Tudor England as he unmasks the traitors and conspirators who plot against the Queen.

Rory Clements won the Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters Historical Fiction Award in 2010 for Revenger, and has been shortlisted for CWA Awards for Martyr, Prince and The Heretics. A TV series is currently in development. To find out more about Rory Clements check out his website here.

 

To buy this from Amazon just click here

To buy this from Waterstones click here.

Now for the Fabulous Prize offered by Zaffre

*This Comp has now closed and the winners notified*

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE of TWO COPIES of CORPUS BY RORY CLEMENTS

  •  Retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway (@emms_rachel), OR comment on the post below. (You’ll need to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send you a direct message if you win.)
  • Rules: 
Only one entry per reader.
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • I will draw the winners at random. There will be no cash alternative
  • The competition closes for entries at 13.00pm GMT on Thursday 9th February 2017
  • My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Blog Tour: Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson

Today I’m pleased to host a stop on the Rupture blog tour by Ragnar Jonasson. Rupture is the fourth novel in the Dark Iceland series published by Orenda Books and translated by Quentin Bates. The action of Rupture follows on from Blackout but before the events of Nightblind.

rupture-vis-4

Now for the blurb:

1955.

Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…
In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

In the quaint town of Siglufjörður, the inhabitants are forced to keep themselves locked behind doors as a deadly strain of a virus hits which has everyone in a panic, and the whole town trapped in a quarantine.With no-one to seemingly ‘police’ Ari Thor is left with a lot of time on his hands. So when someone brings in an old photograph which provokes him to look into an very old case, Ari uncovers more than he bargains for. Running parrallel to this is Isrun, a news reporter who is concealing her own health issues who is forced to unpick a dangerous mystery of her own.

What can I say about this novel without giving anything away? 

I loved revisiting Ari Thor and his world, as he struggles to face yet another mystery which seems just out of his grasp, forcing him to rely on his own initiative – which gets him into lots of trouble!

There are a few different point of view characters in this novel each with their own story line which blend seamlessly into one narrative, which I thoroughly enjoyed and just demonstrates the amazing writing skill of this author.

At the end of each chapter the author raises yet more questions which kept me on my toes with its subtle mysteries and mini-cliffhangers – I just couldn’t put this book down!

I have always enjoyed the descriptions in the Dark Iceland series and this one didn’t disappoint! The author showcases yet more of the beautiful but terrifying landscape of Iceland in this novel which built into yet another atmospheric but chilling read.

I thought this was another brilliant novel from Ragnar which has all the ingredients of a fantastic golden age mystery novel with hard-hitting themes and a flawless writing style which lulled me into a false sense of security.

If you haven’t read any of the Dark Iceland series it is a must! And Rupture is definitely my favourite novel of the series so far.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of Rupture.

To buy this book from Amazon just click here.

About the author:

_32B9843or.jpg

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavík, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavík University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated fourteen Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavík, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. Ragnar’s debut thriller Snowblind became an almost instant bestseller when it was published in June 2015, with Nightblind (winner of the Dead Good Reads Most Captivating Crime in Translation Award) and then Blackout following soon after. To date, Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, which has been optioned for TV by On the Corner, and had rights sold in fourteen countries. He lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two daughters.

To find out more about Ragnar Jónasson follow him on Twitter @ragnarjo or visit his website here.

Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on the tour as well!

Rupture Blog tour .jpg

 

Deep Down Dead, Rupture Launches and Warming the Blood event

So last week I was super pleased to be invited to a few events to kick off the 2017 -and boy did they not disappoint!

Last Tuesday I headed over to Waterstones Piccadilly for the launch of Steph Broadribb, aka Crime Thriller Girl, debut novel Deep Down Dead, published by Orenda Books.

As part of the launch Steph was interviewed by the wonderful Martyn Waites where conversation soon turned to handcuffs and tasers. There was also cookies, cake, JD and wine on offer which was fab along with book signings making it a fun and enjoyable evening.


The launch was a packed out event with what I can only describe as the crime community coming out in force to support Steph – I am fortunate to have already read this novel which I thought was amazing! I’m very fortunate to also have been quoted as a blogger in there, so if you haven’t already go read it!


So now on to a very busy Wednesday – to kick-off the night I attended Ragnar Jonasson’s pre-lash launch for Rupture at Goldsboro books, published by Orenda Books, where lots of cupcakes were on offer. This was a lovely, intimidate event where we all raised a toast to Ragnar and Karen Sullivan – I can’t wait to finish reading Rupture, it’s magnificent.

If that wasn’t enough, I then hot-footed it to an event – Warming the Blood in January hosted by Crime Files at Headine Towers.


This again was a fabulous event with publicists and authors gathering to showcase the upcoming new titles from Quercus, Headline and Hodder & Stoughton, as well as to talk all things book-related over a glass of wine. I got to speak to lots of lovely people, including some new faces, which I loved. At the end of the event you were offered a goodie bag by the lovely Crime Files team…which some new books and proofs I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!

*Blog Tour The One by John Marrs*

Today I’m super thrilled to be a part of The One blog tour by John Marrs. I adored this book and cannot put into words how good it was, but will try along with a cheeky Q&A with the author. As always don’t forget to stop off at all the other stops on this blog tour – #MatchYourDNA

51hN4nfbjBL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

The Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review:

Oh My – This was such a superb read which had me on the edge of my seat most of the time with all it’s twists and surprises I just didn’t see coming. It is definitely a psychological thriller with a difference.

The One tells the story of five characters who have all taken the Match Your DNA test, but what turns out as a simple DNA swab which millions of other have done previously, quickly turns into something more sinister. Something more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

  • Nick is content with his fiance Sally, or so he thinks, right up until the point she begs him to take the test. But what could possibly go wrong  when he is matched with a straight man?
  • Ellie is a successful businesswoman, closed off from the world but then she is matched. Can she open her heart? And what could go wrong when she does?
  • Jade is matched with a man halfway across the world, but does she have the guts to leave everything behind to meet the love of her life?
  • Mandy is ecstatic when she discovers she has been matched to the man of her dreams, after her past relationships but then she starts looking him up online…
  • Christopher is a psychopath who is so wrapped up in his own project that when he meets his match he is unaware of the effect she will truly have on him.

I loved how the author superbly weaves each of the character’s story, giving equal weight to each one while ending each chapter with a smallish-cliffhanger, leaving me as the reader needing to read more. It was one of those books where because of the short chapters you could keep reading another and another, although because I did just that one morning it forced me to literally run to work.

It was a book which really built the tension up from the word go with the author trickling surprise after surprise until you thought you couldn’t take anymore, well until the author wacked me with yet another corker of a twist about halfway through – turning the story completely on it’s head.

I just loved every minute of this book which had me literally gasping out loud with the many surprises and twists I couldn’t keep up with! I’m still not sure whose story was the most disturbing which makes it all the better. This was a novel so full of high drama which made for a fantastic read! I would recommend for all lovers of psychological crime.

I wonder, would you take the test? I’m not quite sure if I would anymore…

IMG_4165.JPG

So now onto the fab Q&A with John Marrs:

Welcome John to the CKT blog.

Thank you! I’m actually big fan of your reviews. In fact it was your review on The Kind Worth Killing last year that encouraged me to buy it and it’s become one of my firm favourites.

Aww thank you, to start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel The One?

Of course. It’s set in the present, but ten years after a gene has been discovered in all of us that links us to one other person in the world. And that person is the one who you are pre-programmed to fall in love with. However, you have no say over who it is. It could be someone in a different age bracket, religion, skin colour or of the same sex. To find the person, you just do a mouth swab, send it to an agency and when you get a Match, you’ll be informed. My story follows five people who have taken the test and we watch how their relationships proceed. And some take much darker twists and turns than others!

The One has such an interesting concept which I love – how did you come up with the idea of having a DNA test leading to something more sinister?

In December 2015, my partner and I were planning our wedding in New York. I was heading down the escalator on the London Underground thinking about how lucky I was to have found ‘the one’ and how different the world of dating might be if we knew there was someone out there who was made for us. Not just a soul mate, but someone who physically was made for you. Obviously if these people met and they were all ‘happy ever afters,’ it’d be a short book. So I picked five characters and started playing God with their lives.

The One is told from five different characters point of views, who is your favourite character from the novel and why?

I have two. One is Christopher who, without giving too much away, has psychopathic tendencies. So many books choose a psychopath as a central character and blame something awful in their childhood for how they turned out. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted him to be from a normal background but who’s brain was wired differently and got his kicks in a way you or I wouldn’t. My other favourite is Nick, a straight guy who’s about to marry his girlfriend until he discovers his Match is with another man, who is also straight. I liked writing his story a lot because of the awkwardness of what could happen when two men who aren’t gay fall in love with each other.

With five different story lines, how did you keep track of everything? Did you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

It depended on what mood I was in as to which characters I would work on thath day. I can’t work methodically so I’d do a bit here, a bit there and hope it all came together when I edited it to become draft one. Also some of the characters were easier to write than others. There was one character I wasn’t so keen on and I almost cut her out of the final version. But Emily, my editor at Del Rey, helped me to transform her into someone a lot more interesting and now she’s one of my favourites. I very loosely plotted out which direction each character’s story was going to take but more often than not, I’d get a lightbulb moment and have an idea that would turn the story on its head.

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

I am a terrible reader. Since I started writing books, I don’t have time to sit down and read any more. Trying to juggle a full time job as a journalist alongside writing books and spending time with my husband and our families means I don’t get the time to spend a few hours reading novels. I used to download a lot of podcasts, but my New Year’s resolution has been to download audio books as I keep missing out on great reads. However, I’ve just ordered Peter Swanson’s first and latest book in physical format, so I’m going to make some time for him.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I have just finished re-editing my first novel, The Wronged Sons, which will be released in late Spring on the Thomas & Mercer book label, although it’ll have a different title and cover. I’ve also just completed my first draft of book four, a psychological thriller under the working title of The Good Samaritan. It’s about a volunteer at a helpline who has her own agenda. That probably won’t be released until 2018 though.

And most importantly, would you take the test?

No, I’m afraid I wouldn’t. My other half, also called John just to confuse matters, is perfect for me. So I’m more than happy to say no to the test!

Thank you John for letting me grill you, it’s been a lot of fun!

It’s been a pleasure. And thanks for letting me stop off on my first ever Blog tour and visit your murderous corner of the Internet!

Thanks to Stephenie Naulls and Ebury Publishing for my ARC.

The One isn’t quite out yet, but with the ebook out on 26th January 2017 and the Paperback out 4th May 2017, you can preorder it here.

To find out more about John Marrs follow him on Twitter at @johnmarrs1.

tw_book-tour

*Blog Tour Deep Down Dead Part Two*

As I said earlier, I have interviewed JT from Deep Down Dead, as part of the blog tour, which I must say was one of the most challenging interviews I have ever had to do. You’ll see what I mean anyway.

img_3899

Location: The Hinkey Harlow bourbon bar, Jacksonville, Florida

Interviewer: CKT Blog aka Rachel Emms.

Interviewee: James Robert Tate (JT). Bounty Hunter

 

The Hinkey Harlow is an old speakeasy tucked down a side street a little ways out of downtown Jacksonville. It’s not a place I’d ventured before, but JT insisted that if I wanted to meet face-to-face, this was the place he’d be. Seeing as I’d flown out there for the interview I thought I’d better agree to his terms.

The bar is all dim lighting, dark polished wood, and gleaming bottles of bourbon. I spot JT immediately. I can count the number of patrons on one hand, and he isn’t easy to miss –  a big guy nursing a glass at the end of the bar.

I cross the room, my heels knocking a steady beat on the scuffed floorboards. No one looks up. As I get closer I see he was little older than I’d imagined, the lines etched deeper around his eyes, his blond hair a little greyer. Hot though. Definitely hot.

I say hello, and he nods to the stool beside him.

I climb onto it and order us both a bourbon. I’d been warned he doesn’t say much, so I know it’s up to me to ask the first a question. I’m feeling nervous. He doesn’t make small talk and he’s got this stillness, an intensity, about him. When he looks at me with his vivid blue eyes I almost forget my first question.

Bounty Hunting is a pretty niche occupation, how did you get into the business of being a Bounty Hunter?

He stares at me as I’m asking the question, his expression unreadable. He stays silent for so long I’m not sure if he’s going to answer at all. Then, just as I’m about to ask another one, he nods.

JT: Oftentimes I don’t like looking backwards. I prefer moving forwards, looking at what’s ahead rather than behind, if you know what I mean? But, what I will tell you, is that everyone finds their own way into the life. Folks come from just about everywhere. Sure a lot are retired military or cops, but that’s not essential. Might give you a head start on the tracking and the practicalities, but there’s a whole bunch of legal stuff that you need to get learnt.

How long did it take you to train as a Bounty Hunter and have you always lived by your unique set of rules?

He narrows his eyes, squinting at me. I can tell he’s suspicious.

JT: You seem real interested in what I do, you looking to start in the business yourself?

No, I tell him. I’m just interested to know more about him. I nod at the bartender, have them pour us both another bourbon.

JT: Learning is something that’s never done. I learn as I go along. Find new ways to do things. Make mistakes too.

He looks away a moment, like he’s remembering something, someone. Then turns back to me.

JT: The rules came about from my learning from mistakes. I started out with eight, then added a couple more:

  1. Never trust no one
  2. Be prepared, always
  3. Limit your risks
  4. Don’t make assumptions
  5. Create your own blueprint
  6. Always have a plan
  7. Focus on the facts
  8. Force only as necessity, never for punishment
  9. Pick your moment real careful
  10. Past behaviour can predict future behaviour

A friend of mine added another one, number eleven, no so long ago: Use whatever you’ve got to get the job done. Like I said, I didn’t make that one. I might use it though.

What is your favourite thing about being a Bounty Hunter?

JT: The freedom. I’m my own boss. I take the jobs I want. I’m not bound to an office or any corporate bullshit.

What do you do to relax when you aren’t collecting a runaway felon?

JT: I like fixing up old cars. I’ve got a 1968 Ford Mustang. If I get time I might get another.

You have quite a history with Lori, but how did you feel seeing her after all this time?

He shakes his head.

JT: That’s personal.

How did you feel when you realised Lori had brought her daughter, Dakota, along to pick you up? I can imagine it’s not the type of situation you would’ve imagined yourself in.

He frowns.

JT: That’s another personal question. I told you I don’t answer them. What I will say is that chasing a fugitive is a dangerous job. It’s no place for a child. Me and Lori, we’ve had words about that.

And lastly, you’re a pretty fearless guy, but what is your biggest fear?

He holds my eye contact and I see a whole range of emotions past through his expression. I realise my mistake, it’s another personal question, and he’s already warned me off asking them. But I wait, hoping he might answer.

JT: There’s a bunch of things I try not to think on. Not sure I’m ready to talk about them just now.

He gives me a half smile as he gets down from the barstool.

JT: Pleasure meeting you. And thanks for the drink.

I want to thank him for letting me pick his brains, but I can’t get the words out. Instead I smile (mysteriously I hope) and watch him turn and walk away.

To find out more about JT, Lori and Dakota all you’ll need to do is purchase a copy!

To buy this from Amazon just click here

To buy this from Waterstones click here.
To find out more about Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl follow her on Twitter at @crimethrillgirl  or check out her website here.