Review of His Guilty Secret By Helene Fermont Written by Daniel Stubbings

his guilty secretToday is my day on the ‘His Guilty Secret Blog Tour’. Thank you to Helene Fermont and BookPublicistUK for inviting me. It’s been wonderful to be involved.

Book Synopsis

When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.

Why was he found naked and who is the woman who visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?

Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.

As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.

His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.

My Review

This is a book where secrets won’t remain buried, coming out in scandalous tales of betrayal, forbidden love, jealously, manipulation, and death. Making every secret take on its own life.  The chapters seemed to melt away as Helene took me on an emotional journey, through beautifully woven subplots, characters, the roaring metropolis of London, and the Scandinavian jewel of Malmo, adding both urban and cultural dynamics to a story. When it ended I was screaming with despair.

The first chapter hooks you straight away, igniting your inner detective as you begin to put together the clues. Who is Jacques? What are his hidden secrets? Who is the woman he is travelling with? Is she more than just a mistress? And what is the gift they have both been given? Helene’s writing style only helps to heighten these feelings as you can imagine her voice coming through with every word as you begin to take notes connecting the dots. It is an explosive start.

Relationships are critical to the story throughout because all of the characters’ lives entwine with one another. Helping expose flaws that make these characters come to life as they go through the trails of second guesses, paranoia, and deceit. This is shown to us in several interesting chapters. Every time you turned a page it seemed like a new secret was waiting to entice us in, from Coco’s drug and alcohol abuse, to Jasmine’s real reason for the toxicity towards her sister and Isabelle protecting Jacques’ most deceitful secret of all. As well as Patricia’s relationship with Jacques, what did she really know about her husband? What was he hiding? Why is he now dead? You just didn’t know what was coming next.

The relationship which gripped me from the beginning was Patricia and Jasmine. The pure bitterness which Jasmine shows for Patricia is astounding and I loved it. It doesn’t help matters that Jasmine is married to her sister’s ex Patrik, however, as their relationship unravels we see multiple reasons for the sisters’ distrust of one another. From an untold secret within Patricia and Patrik’s relationship, a family secret that has affected Jasmine her entire life. This subplot within the story really explored how even though you are sisters it doesn’t mean you will get along. This is one of Helene strongest points as a writer – she digs deep into the characters emotions and makes them identifiable with her readers.

The character of Jacques haunts every page. His deep manipulative ways are burning in the background. The level of control he has over the three main women in this hollowing tale is mind-blowing and even after his death they can’t seem to escape. These different manipulations are displayed to the reader throughout the book in many different ways giving us a unique insight into how he has been able to deceive and lie to them all. Some of the key ones are Patrica and Isabelle’s deep love for him, Isabelle hiding their gift and Coco’s blind loyalty even though it could permanently damage her and Patricia’s relationship. This shows how Jacques’ shadow still influences their daily lives. As Patricia fights to find out the truth about Jacques mysterious death, Helene exposes us to these abuses of power giving us key information into what motivated Jacques to continue his flawed double life. Jacques is the lynch pin of the book effecting every character in both large and small ways. Some of these are very clear to the reader from the start, where others take time to be understood.

The presentation of Jacques from all three women’s viewpoint allows for both strength and vulnerability to be shown. I feel we see this most as the story unfolds with Patricia, as she begins to question everything she thought she knew about the man she loved. Helene presents this to the reader in several ways, from angry confrontations with Coco who she knows is hiding something behind her booze and drug induced haze and her desperate attempt to repair her relationship with Jasmine after returning to her childhood home of Malmo. Patricia is a character that tests your emotions to the limit and who we are also able to see the most development from throughout the story.

This is a deeply disturbing read at times. Allowing the reader to question and discuss many everyday issues. Plunging you into a world of secrets and lies which could truly destroy a person. That is what I enjoyed most about this read. Helene isn’t afraid to write these taboo subjects from alcohol misuse to infidelity. This book has it all. This is a 4.5 star read perfect for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

I received my copy from the Book Publicist for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my views on the book.

His Guilty Secret poster

 

 

 

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Guest Post by Author David Stuart Davies on his new crime thriller Blood Rites Posted By Daniel Stubbings

Today I am part of the Blood Rites blog tour and it is a great honour. Thank you to Abby Fairbrother and Urbane publications for inviting me. Also thank you to David for his amazing book.

About the Author-

DSD

David Stuart Davies is an author, playwright and editor. His fiction includes six novels featuring his wartime detective Johnny Hawke, Victorian puzzle solver artist Luther Darke, and seven Sherlock Holmes novels – the latest being Sherlock Holmes and the Ripper Legacy (2016). His non-fiction work includes Starring Sherlock Holmes, detailing the film career of the Baker Street sleuth. David has also penned a Northern Noir trilogy of gritty crime novels set in Yorkshire in the 1980s: Brothers in Blood, Innocent Blood and Blood Rites.

David is regarded as an authority on Sherlock Holmes and is the author of two Holmes plays, Sherlock Holmes: The Last Act and Sherlock Holmes: The Death and Life, which are available on audio CD. He has written the Afterwords for all the Collector’s Library Holmes volumes, as well as those for many of their other titles.

He is a committee member of the Crime Writers’ Association and edits their monthly publication Red Herrings. His collection of ghost and horror stories appeared in 2015, championed by Mark Gatiss who said they were ‘pleasingly nasty.’

David is General Editor of Wordsworth’s Mystery & Supernatural series and a past Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. He has appeared at many literary festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe performing his one man presentation The Game’s Afoot – an evening with Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle. He was recently made a member of The Detection Club.

Authors Links: Web: http://www.davidstuartdavies.co.uk/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/DStuartDavies @DStuartDavies Via Urbane: http://urbanepublications.com/book_author/david-stuart-davies/

Book Synopsis-

Blood Rites is a Northern thriller set in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the 1980s featuring Detective Inspector Paul Snow. DI Paul Snow has a personal secret. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force of the time. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, Snow is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?

Release date 9th November 2017

Exclusive extract about his new crime thriller Blood Rites

My Life of Crime

David Stuart Davies

The room is quiet. I take my seat in the semi-circle and give a silent nod to the others in the group and wait for my turn. When it comes, I stand up, holding a copy of Blood Rites, my latest novel in my right hand and in a clear voice, I state, ‘My name is David Stuart Davies – and I am crime writer.’

Well, I have been an aficionado of crime fiction since the age of twelve. It was in my salad days that I fell in love with Sherlock Holmes after encountering him on the school library shelves. The Hound of the Baskervilles was the particular volume in question and I devoured it with glee. Around the same time the local television station was screening the Basil Rathbone films. Those two happenstances sold me into Sherlockian slavery for life.

Eventually I read the whole of the Holmes canon, all 56 short stories and four novels. I wanted more. What could I do? The answer was obvious: write my own Sherlock adventures. Although this juvenilia was corny, creaky and very amateurish it helped to deepen my love of the character and the art of creating characters and mysteries.

When I went to university, I wanted to write my final dissertation on Conan Doyle but I was told in no uncertain terms that he was not an important enough author for such a project. As an antidote to this dismissal of the great man, for my own amusement, I began writing an article on the films of Sherlock Holmes – a particular passion of mine. The piece just grew and before I knew it I had a book length manuscript. I sent it off to a publisher and, glory be, it was accepted. So the year I received my degree I also had my first book published, Holmes of the Movies. Peter Cushing agreed to write the

introduction and I had the thrill of meeting the great man and begin a correspondence with him.

My first published Holmes novel was Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair in which I mixed Conan Doyle’s characters with those of Anthony Hope’s from The Prisoner of Zenda. My second Holmes novel continued this crossover approach by having Holmes tackle Count Dracula in The Tangled Skein.

I continued to write Holmes novels – as I still do – but around 15 years ago I thought that it was about time I invented my own detective. That’s when I came up with Johnny Hawke – Johnny One Eye. He was a private detective working in London during the Second World War. He was a promising young policeman working at Scotland Yard as war broke out in 1939 and so, like every patriotic fellow, he joined up to fight for his country. However, during training a rifle exploded on the firing range blinding him in one eye. He was invalided out of the army and the police could only offer him a desk job because of his disability. This was too tame for adventurous Johnny so with his compensation money he set himself as a private detective, determined to fight for his country on home territory dealing with criminals and all enemies of decency and law and order. The first novel was called Forests of the Night. Five other books followed: Comes the Dark, Without Conscience, Requiem for a Dummy, The Darkness of Death and A Taste for Blood. All are available as eBooks now.

When I felt the Johnny Hawke saga had run its course, I returned to the Victorian era with a hero of my own: Luther Darke. He is a somewhat dissolute and eccentric fellow, a wealthy artist, a lover of alcohol but an ace ‘puzzle solver’ who is often consulted by Inspector Edward Thornton of the Yard to help clear up a little mystery. Darke appeared in 7 short stories in The Darke Chronicles. I was particularly proud of the

first tale in the collection, The Curzon Street Conundrum, which is a cunning locked room mystery.

Then came Detective Inspector Paul Snow. I wanted to have a policeman working in my home town of Huddersfield. Colin Dexter used Oxford for Morse; Ian Rankin used Edinburgh for Rebus; I would use Huddersfield for Snow. I decided to set the novels in the 1980s before DNA and other forensic discoveries made policing less cerebral and more scientific. Today crimes can be solved by a microscope and a computer. I wanted personal interaction.

Snow had to be different from all the other sleuths on the block. I decided to make him gay. This wasn’t a casual or cynical decision. I remembered a colleague and friend when I was teaching who was gay. He was terrified that other members of staff and the pupils would find out and make his life hell. He lived with this danger hanging over him. I saw that this was a situation for many gay people, especially in the 1980s. It was a time when homosexuals were seen as comic characters or sexual threats. With Paul Snow as a high ranking officer in the police force, which at the time had quite a homophobic culture, this terrible situation could be explored with sensitivity and sympathy. Despite the danger of exposure, Snow had to carry on his job dealing with terrible crimes, desperate to catch the real villains in society, while protecting his own back. It was only later that I saw a connection between Paul and Johnny One Eye: two men on the periphery of mainstream society doing their level best to clean up those mean streets of Murdersville.

The first novel, Brothers in Blood concerns a trio of young men, who as teenagers go out to kill someone for fun. It provides them with a high which normal life fails to give them. As they get older and move away from Huddersfield, they still meet up once a year to murder a stranger – for fun! And then something happens which forces them

to kill for a purpose and their brotherhood is now under threat. Snow investigates only to discover threads of his own life entangled with the crime.

The second in the series, Blood Rites, concerns the murders of a group of young children. Snow identifies the link between the victims, but the murderer has gone to ground. During his investigation Paul meets a young woman, Matilda, for whom he has some affection. He likes her and they get on well. Reluctantly he asks her out. On one level he realises that he is using her as his ‘moustache’ – a term used by gay men for women who give them heterosexual ‘respectability’. However, Paul really likes Matilda, a secondary school headmistress, and feels warm towards her – but in essence his affection is platonic rather than sexual. He is aware that in the long term this relationship cannot go anywhere and this preys on his conscience. Certainly, for him, marriage would be the ultimate deceit. He is too decent a person to go down that road. Complications arise when he is propositioned by a fellow officer and he has to deal with this dangerous scenario while carrying out his investigations.

In the final novel in the trilogy, Blood Rites, while Paul is searching for a serial killer at loose in Huddersfield. There is no apparent connection between the victims and so Paul meets a brick wall at every turn. He feels the murderer is taunting him. Meanwhile Matilda is pressing him to take their relationship to the next level. Matters grow more complicated when her estranged gay brother turns up and takes a fancy to Paul. Once again his feelings are in turmoil, but greater shocks are in store when he finally tracks down the killer which leads to a heart stopping climax.

I have to say that I am proud of the Snow novels and genuinely believe I have created a memorable trilogy of crime stories. If you do not gasp out loud as you reach the final pages of Blood Rites, I will be most surprised.

 

BRBT

 

Guest Post by Louise Dean Award Winning Author and Creator of Kritikme.com Posted by Daniel Stubbings

Offering advice on how to write and  information on her 90 day course read on:

The Five ‘fs’ that make great novels

As a writer I am known for my frank and darkly comic novels and have been writing for twenty years, but it’s only in the last few months that I’ve undertaken to examine my own process as part of the ‘apprenticeship’ I offer to novelists in my creative writing course at Kritikme.com. I took a close look at the mechanics of storytelling in classic literary novels and discovered that all longer form stories are tragedies and underpinning them are five elements that date back to Aristotle’s own study of the tragedy in his ‘Poetics.’ I have dubbed these the Five F’s.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating to would-be writers the pre-fabrication of plot or rigorous and lengthy plotting. When it comes to ‘plot’ I’d rather you did not. Tools for plotting, spreadsheets and charts become an alternative to writing. You think you’re ‘writing’, but you’re not writing.

‘Now listen carefully; except in emergencies, when you are trying to manufacture a quick trick and make some easy money, you don’t really need a plot….’ Katherine Ann Porter.

The story of a novel is propelled by a major moral crisis. The idea for a great novel can best be phrased in a paradox. Try noting one down one today. It’s easy; the rub between two opposing ideas will give you the spark of a novel. Dying man learns to live. That was mine for my first novel Becoming Strangers which won a couple of prizes The Betty Trask and Le Prince Maurice and found itself on the Dublin International Literary and the Man Booker longlist too. So, put the kettle and grab a pen and write your paradox down on the back of an envelope.

As they won’t be happy until they’ve done one, I ask my Kritikme.com writers to prepare a plot and then I suggest they throw it away.

I don’t think I could bring myself to the white page every day if I knew for sure what would happen next. As I explain to my writers at the very outset, and no doubt they find it either rash or reprehensible – prepare yourself for something like a love affair. As you may know, these are finest when brief and intense. Stephen King recommends a season, or ninety days, as the perfect timing for an affair of the heart, which a novel most certainly is. He’s right. You need to change your ways and hunker down.

The structure of a novel is important, but it’s not as important as creating work that’s driven by the main character’s compulsion to avoid facing what he or she must face to grow and become a hero or heroine. So the structure must be relegated to the creation of material, ruthlessly. That’s the gambit, that’s the game changer.

‘The structure of a piece is often something that happens quite late. Normally you can only decide what to do with what you’ve got when you can see what it is that’s there.’ Hanif Kureishi

It’s the secret to novel success, but it’s terribly hard to stop yourself biting the nails of your writing hand, which is where the routine, rigour and group mentality come into their own. You’re being encouraged held to account and a word count.

Once your material has started to take life, the structure can be applied to it, helping you make sense of what you. It is only at the back end that we draw upon the Kritikme Five F’s tragedy which unfold sequentially in a longer story:

  1. Flaw. The situation which accommodates his or her fatal flaw or moral problem shows signs of no longer being tenable….it is shifting.
  2. False hope. Your hero or heroine’s remedy seems to succeed … but fails terribly causing them serious damage or a reversal of fortune.
  3. Flight. He or she runs from the situation and gets insight into their flaw, recognising their failing.
  4. Fury. In deep, he or she rages against the hell around them.
  5. Facing it. They emerge from the fight with deep acceptance of their mortal condition and reconciliation with their true universal nature, either in life or death.

A novel lives and dies on whether your hero or heroine lives or dies. The Five F’s will see them – and you – through and despatch us at the front door of a home truth; that our welcome on this earth is one which begs each us to be able to take leave with decency.

Anyone who would like to write a book can write a novel, so long as they read books. What’s more you can write a novel and hold down a day job. You should write it in ninety days without fussing over plot, and apply the Five F’s when your material is in your hands. Another old chestnut I’d like to roast is that this is a lonely, solo, undertaking requiring a dusty garret with a sulking cat. On the contrary, it’s good to write alone, but it’s better to write alone in great company and we can thank advances in technology for the virtual companionship afforded by a community like Kritikme for making that possible.

‘My novel took up the sweetest part of my mind and the rarest part of my imagination; it was like being in love and better. All day long when I was busy … I had my unfinished novel personified almost as a secret companion and accomplice following me like a shadow wherever I went, whatever I did.’ Muriel Spark.

Louise Dean is an award-winning author published by Penguin and Simon & Schuster and nominated for The Dublin International Literary Award, The Guardian First Book Prize, and the Man Booker Prize. She is the founder of Kritikme.com, an online creative writing course which teaches people how to write a novel in ninety days. You can get a 10% discount on this course by using the code MYNOVEL10 at the check-out.

Thank you to Book Publicist for getting me involved.km