Endeavour Press http://www.endeavourpress.com UK's Leading Independent Digital Publisher Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:11:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://i1.wp.com/www.endeavourpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/cropped-Endeavour-Emblem.png?fit=32%2C32 Endeavour Press http://www.endeavourpress.com 32 32 60423788 Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 12 http://www.endeavourpress.com/scandals-intrigues-family-feuds-murders-hatred-love-envy-episode-12/ Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:11:41 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14374 Following on from the 11th instalment in Joy Martin’s blog series, available to read here:  http://www.endeavourpress.com/scandals-intrigues-family-feuds-murders-hatred-love-envy-episode-11/ The men and women interviewed for Twelve Shades of Black were – mostly – slow to talk at first.  But gradually they grew less shy and spoke to me about their lives.  The priest, Father Samson Kataka, faced with witchcraft in his church.  Sarah Mashele, the inyanga, whose clients paid her on HP for charms they hoped would cure their ills.  Ephraim Tshabalala, the millionaire who couldn’t own a house, or land.  Marjory, the shebeen queen, who went to church on Sunday mornings and not drink alcohol.  The teacher, artist, policeman, actress; the maid, the playwright and the beauty queen. As they relaxed with me I began to feel at ease when I went into the townships, particularly in Soweto.  It was bleak and ugly – yes: devoid of flowers and plants and trees with endless […]

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Following on from the 11th instalment in Joy Martin’s blog series, available to read here:  http://www.endeavourpress.com/scandals-intrigues-family-feuds-murders-hatred-love-envy-episode-11/

The men and women interviewed for Twelve Shades of Black were – mostly – slow to talk at first.  But gradually they grew less shy and spoke to me about their lives.  The priest, Father Samson Kataka, faced with witchcraft in his church.  Sarah Mashele, the inyanga, whose clients paid her on HP for charms they hoped would cure their ills.  Ephraim Tshabalala, the millionaire who couldn’t own a house, or land.  Marjory, the shebeen queen, who went to church on Sunday mornings and not drink alcohol.  The teacher, artist, policeman, actress; the maid, the playwright and the beauty queen.

As they relaxed with me I began to feel at ease when I went into the townships, particularly in Soweto.  It was bleak and ugly – yes: devoid of flowers and plants and trees with endless rows of little houses, so similar that we got lost, not just once but many times.  And yet, for me, the townships had their own appeal.    Although I met many kind, generous white people in Johannesburg whom I’m still proud to call friends, I didn’t relate to the city.   Despite its lovely homes and gardens, it was always Gold Reef City – greedy, brash, devoid of heart. So it was a relief to me to leave the Jo’burg ethos and escape into the townships.   One day we drove to Soweto and arrived in Orlando township at the start of a soccer match.   I was wearing a black and white pullover and when we stopped the car to ask the way an enthusiastic group of Orlando Pirate fans waved and cheered: ‘ You’re wearing our colours… !’

Twelve Shades of Black went on to win a runner-up prize in the South African Literary Awards. By then I’d left the country.   Returning just as apartheid ended, giving a talk at the Johannesburg City Library, I learnt to my surprise that Twelve Shades of Black had topped of the list of books which had been read that year as whites rushed to understand the black people of the townships.

 Joy Martin was born in Limerick.   A former journalist, she is the author of eight novels. Her agents are Coombs Moylett Maclean, 120 New Kings Road, Fulham, London SW6 4LZ.

Get your copy of Twelve Shades of Black here!

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Researching 13th Century China http://www.endeavourpress.com/researching-13th-century-china/ Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:33:14 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14226 By Karen Warren It was quite a challenge for me to write a novel about the Mongol Empire. I’d come across the story of the legendary explorer Marco Polo escorting a Mongol princess by sea from China to Persia, and I knew that I had to write about it. But I knew nothing about the Mongols, 13th century China, or medieval ships. I needed to do some research! Fortunately, history and travel are my twin passions (when I’m not writing fiction, I’m working on my travel blog). I started by reading everything I could find about the Mongol Empire and medieval travel – visiting the British Library and scouring charity shops for lesser known titles. There was practical research too. I wanted to see some of the places I was writing about and to find out what it was like to travel across the ocean, so I signed up for […]

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By Karen Warren

It was quite a challenge for me to write a novel about the Mongol Empire. I’d come across the story of the legendary explorer Marco Polo escorting a Mongol princess by sea from China to Persia, and I knew that I had to write about it. But I knew nothing about the Mongols, 13th century China, or medieval ships. I needed to do some research!

Fortunately, history and travel are my twin passions (when I’m not writing fiction, I’m working on my travel blog). I started by reading everything I could find about the Mongol Empire and medieval travel – visiting the British Library and scouring charity shops for lesser known titles. There was practical research too. I wanted to see some of the places I was writing about and to find out what it was like to travel across the ocean, so I signed up for a cruise around South East Asia. (If I was stir crazy after ten days in a modern cruise ship, imagine what it must have been like to spend 18 months cooped up in a Chinese junk…)

By the time I’d read a few novels about the Mongol Empire, I realised that my book was going to be different. There weren’t going to be any battles or politics: this was a story about women and servants, people whose voices were rarely heard. As I started to write the characters came to life, and I enjoyed discovering their very different motivations and their individual struggles with fate. Shadow of the Dome is a tale of friendship, duty and destiny – themes that continue to occupy us today. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.

Get your copy of Karen’s novel, Shadow of the Dome, here!

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The Custom of the Sea, by Neil Hanson http://www.endeavourpress.com/custom-sea-neil-hanson/ Wed, 29 Nov 2017 10:58:24 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14170 Four starving men adrift in a dinghy for 19 days. Should all die together, or should one be sacrificed to save the rest? Captain Tom Dudley faced that cruel dilemma in 1884. His decision – and his honesty about it – made headlines around the world and led to a trial that split Victorian Britain in two, ranging the establishment and ‘polite society’ against the entire working class. A devout Christian, Dudley refused to lie about or conceal what he had done. His voluntary confession was the only evidence against the men. The Custom of the Sea required starving sailors to draw lots to decide whom should be killed and eaten. It was so deeply ingrained and so frequently used that it was accepted without question by seamen – the dead boy’s own brother publicly exonerated his killers. Desperate to secure the conviction that would outlaw the Custom of the […]

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Four starving men adrift in a dinghy for 19 days. Should all die together, or should one be sacrificed to save the rest? Captain Tom Dudley faced that cruel dilemma in 1884. His decision – and his honesty about it – made headlines around the world and led to a trial that split Victorian Britain in two, ranging the establishment and ‘polite society’ against the entire working class. A devout Christian, Dudley refused to lie about or conceal what he had done. His voluntary confession was the only evidence against the men.

The Custom of the Sea required starving sailors to draw lots to decide whom should be killed and eaten. It was so deeply ingrained and so frequently used that it was accepted without question by seamen – the dead boy’s own brother publicly exonerated his killers. Desperate to secure the conviction that would outlaw the Custom of the Sea, the Home Secretary and the most senior judges and lawyers in the land conspired together to bend and even break the law themselves. No jury ever convicted them, and yet Dudley and his fellow defendant were sentenced to death. Only after massive popular protests and the threat of riots on the streets of London was the sentence commuted to a term of imprisonment with hard labour. On his release, Dudley completed the voyage to Australia that had been interrupted by the tragedy and built a successful new life with his wife and small children.

The case marked the emergence of the working-class and the popular press – the powerful political forces that would shape the coming century, and established a legal precedent that is still taught to every law student today.

The themes of The Custom of the Sea – justice versus the letter of the law, truth against expediency, the individual against the state, and the human ability to transcend terrible sufferings and impossible obstacles to achieve a dream – are universal, and the role of the tabloid press, corporate greed, the huge popularity of murder trials – the reality TV of their era – and ‘freak shows’ (at which one of the defendants was paid to eat raw meat) have powerful resonances in our own age.

Get your copy of Neil Hanson’s The Custom of the Sea here!

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Deadly Return by Daniel Bjork http://www.endeavourpress.com/deadly-return-daniel-bjork/ Fri, 24 Nov 2017 15:32:23 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14124 The Evil One, Henry Chase, the man who drowned his daughter, slit his wife’s throat, and murdered a half dozen more was in an unmarked grave, killed by his own son.  But wait!  His daughter and wife have disappeared from their coffins in Sleepy Hollow cemetery Concord, Massachusetts.  Doubtless some drunk boys stole them as a village prank, or so thought the local sheriff.  But retired doctor Josiah Bartlett smelled a rat.  Henry Chase’s body was not in an unmarked Concord grave and then the skulls of his daughter and wife were found hanging from village porches.  Could it be that Chase was still alive?  Impossible.  The doctor, the sheriff, and Chases’ son had identified the body.  The curse of Henry Chase was over.  Yet once before, after drowning his daughter and shooting himself in Boston in 1852, the sheriff had mistakenly identified Chase’s body.  Could it be that The […]

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The Evil One, Henry Chase, the man who drowned his daughter, slit his wife’s throat, and murdered a half dozen more was in an unmarked grave, killed by his own son.  But wait!  His daughter and wife have disappeared from their coffins in Sleepy Hollow cemetery Concord, Massachusetts.  Doubtless some drunk boys stole them as a village prank, or so thought the local sheriff.  But retired doctor Josiah Bartlett smelled a rat.  Henry Chase’s body was not in an unmarked Concord grave and then the skulls of his daughter and wife were found hanging from village porches.  Could it be that Chase was still alive?  Impossible.  The doctor, the sheriff, and Chases’ son had identified the body.  The curse of Henry Chase was over.  Yet once before, after drowning his daughter and shooting himself in Boston in 1852, the sheriff had mistakenly identified Chase’s body.  Could it be that The Evil One still roamed the streets of Concord?

The fifth of the Dr Josiah Bartlett series not only explores the mystery of the missing corpses, but also embarks upon a seemingly far-fetched search for Chase himself in Manhattan.  The killer, who is living in a posh New York City neighbourhood has taken up a new hobby: he has become a multiple killer, urged to murder randomly mostly woman in mid-town Manhattan.  But even that does not satisfy his lust to kill.  There is one person who he must eliminate, the one man who has foiled all his attempts to erase him—the old fat doctor Josiah Bartlett himself.

There is a sure thing plan to get Bartlett in Concord and this time Chase has a partner, a young man with phenomenal marksmanship skills, and a man who worships Chase.

The climax will shock the reader—and it will shock the Evil One, Henry Chase, as well.  Deadly Return is a tale of deception, a story of the danger in taking what you see at face value, and a scary look at the length some people will go to have revenge.  The context is America in May 1865 just after the end of the American Civil War and the assassination of the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln.  But now circumstances have led Bartlett to forget his horrible experience at the Battle of Antietam in 1862 depicted in Deadly Comrades, and become enmeshed in a frightful local past that he believed was gone forever. His adopted son, Timothy Chase Bartlett, his daughter, Hannah and Sheriff Keyes are all at risk from a man who has risen from the dead, assumed a new identity and come back to Concord to rid himself forever of his nemesis Josiah Bartlett.

Get your copy of Deadly Return here!

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A Great and Godly Adventure by Godfrey Hodgson http://www.endeavourpress.com/great-godly-adventure-godfrey-hodgson/ Thu, 23 Nov 2017 11:18:58 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14120 The United States has many public holidays, but two of them are supreme in Americans’ affection: Independence Day (July 4), and Thanksgiving, which, since 1941, is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.  Their mood is very different. July 4 is a feast of noisy patriotism, with flags and marching bands and patriotic oratory. Thanksgiving is a quiet time for families and closest friends to get together over a traditional meal of turkey, often served with cranberry sauce and followed by pumpkin pie, and give thanks for America’s peace and prosperity. For many it has come to celebrate specially immigrants and their contribution to American life. In recent years it has been associated with the beginning of the winter shopping season, building up to the mercantile climax of Christmas, and for many with watching American football games on television. Both high schools and colleges play their fiercest rivals on Thanksgiving […]

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The United States has many public holidays, but two of them are supreme in Americans’ affection: Independence Day (July 4), and Thanksgiving, which, since 1941, is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.  Their mood is very different. July 4 is a feast of noisy patriotism, with flags and marching bands and patriotic oratory. Thanksgiving is a quiet time for families and closest friends to get together over a traditional meal of turkey, often served with cranberry sauce and followed by pumpkin pie, and give thanks for America’s peace and prosperity. For many it has come to celebrate specially immigrants and their contribution to American life. In recent years it has been associated with the beginning of the winter shopping season, building up to the mercantile climax of Christmas, and for many with watching American football games on television. Both high schools and colleges play their fiercest rivals on Thanksgiving Day.

The origins of Thanksgiving have been gilded with a certain amount of myth. A recorded feast between the Plymouth immigrants and their Indian neighbours has been remembered as the first Thanksgiving, though it was more of an edgy diplomatic encounter in the forest between an Indian tribe weakened by disease and a group of Protestant refugees from European persecution, only half of whom survived hunger and illness in their first winter in America.

When I went back to discover the history of Thanksgiving, I found it had developed out of the almost universal human custom of celebrating harvest home. It was decreed by British royal governors long before the American revolution. The original Pilgrims (a term they did not use themselves), came from villages on the Nottinghamshire-Yorkshire boarder. Oppressed by Archbishop Laud’s persecution, they had settled at Leiden in Holland. They left there because a twelve-year truce between the Dutch Protestants and their Spanish Catholic overlords was coming to an end, and they feared more deadly persecution.

By the early nineteenth century, Thanksgiving was being celebrated all over the young Republic, in the slave-owning South as well as in abolitionist New England where it had originated. It was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed it as a national holiday in the darkest days of the Civil War in 1863. The next year President Teddy Roosevelt’s father was the treasurer of a group of wealthy New Yorkers who organized sending Thanksgiving turkeys to every Union soldier at the front. President Franklin Roosevelt changed the date from the last to the fourth Thursday in November to help the Christmas trade. That was an unpopular move — so much so that some called it “Franksgiving”.

There have always been cynics, even about Thanksgiving. As long ago as 1893 the New York Herald went so far as to complain that Thanksgiving “is no longer a solemn festival to God for mercies given . . . It is a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football”.   By the time of World War II, Thanksgiving had become thoroughly established as a beloved national institution. It was unforgettably commemorated by artists from Currier and Ives and Thomas Nast to Winslow Homer, and perhaps best of all in Norman Rockwell’s illustration of “Freedom from Hunger”, a happy (white) family gathered round a groaning table. One can deconstruct Thanksgiving in many ways. Its power comes from a certain purity. It remains, as it began, and unlike other national anthems,  not a hymn to battle or violence, not a festival of national superiority, but a humble domestic celebration of gratitude and inclusiveness.

Get your copy of Godfrey Hodgson’s A Great and Godly Adventure here!

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Murder in Ancient Rome http://www.endeavourpress.com/crime-ancient-rome/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:41:21 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14076 By Mark Knowles Looking at how various authors’ plots were first conceived within this blog makes for very interesting reading. I remember mine vividly. I was a relatively inexperienced supervisor stood half frozen on a crime scene one morning by a canal in central London. I was discussing with another officer how such scenes might have been handled in early Victorian times, when The Metropolitan Police was still in its infancy. He told me a story (possibly an urban myth) about a constable who had once prodded a body he had found to the other side of a canal so that it entered another borough’s jurisdiction. I can only assume that this officer had a severe aversion to paperwork! This got me thinking about how – or indeed if – murders were dealt with in Ancient Rome by the city authorities. ‘vestigia‘ means ‘footprints’ or ‘traces’ in Latin, from where […]

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By Mark Knowles

Looking at how various authors’ plots were first conceived within this blog makes for very interesting reading. I remember mine vividly. I was a relatively inexperienced supervisor stood half frozen on a crime scene one morning by a canal in central London. I was discussing with another officer how such scenes might have been handled in early Victorian times, when The Metropolitan Police was still in its infancy. He told me a story (possibly an urban myth) about a constable who had once prodded a body he had found to the other side of a canal so that it entered another borough’s jurisdiction. I can only assume that this officer had a severe aversion to paperwork!

This got me thinking about how – or indeed if – murders were dealt with in Ancient Rome by the city authorities. ‘vestigia‘ means ‘footprints’ or ‘traces’ in Latin, from where we get the modern concept of an investigation, but there is really no evidence, written or otherwise, that tells us anything about basic procedures at scenes of crime. We do know, though, about various punishments that could be meted out to offenders, suggesting that there were at least some means of getting them into court in the first place. I decided on my next set of rest days to become a member of the British Library to research the ‘vigiles‘, the night watch, and the concept for the book really came from there.

The world of Roman criminal and civil law is a forbidding one for outsiders. Fortunately, the efforts of the Byzantine emperor Justinian to compile a digest of laws, and to resolve their frequent clashes, make the job a little easier. Stern reprimands and fines could be issued against minor breaches of criminal law, just as they are today. At the other end of the spectrum, however, crucifixion was still employed. Arguably even worse, though, was the poena cullei, which was reserved for parricides. This involved the offender being sewn up in a sack with a motley assortment of animals, such as dogs, vipers, cockerels and even monkeys.

Whilst The Consul’s Daughter doesn’t feature too many animals, it does try to evoke a sense of the atmosphere and danger that was part of life within a sprawling pre-industrial city, especially during the hours of darkness. My early experiences as a uniformed beat officer walking the streets of London, especially the cobbled variety lit by streetlights barely more powerful than gas lamps, gave me a sense of what it might have been a bit like for my early Victorian counterparts. It is hard to project back much further than this, though, especially into ancient history. Part of the joy of writing the novel was to imagine, using my own experiences along with all the available archaeological and literary evidence, what life would have been like for patrolling night-watchmen in that fascinating but deadly city.

Get your copy of Mark’s historical thriller, The Consul’s Daughter, here!

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Red Winter: Why This, and Why Now? http://www.endeavourpress.com/red-winter-now/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:23:31 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=14038 By Julia Underwood Sometime last year I read an article about the Russian Revolution and it struck me how much the dispossessed Russians lost in the struggle. They often fled the country with nothing and looked forward to the bleak prospect of an uncertain future, rather like the refugees of today. As 2017 marks the centenary of the turmoil of the revolution, I decided to write a novel about it. This involved weeks of research, which I found fascinating and enlightening. My invented family, the Cookes, with five children, an English patriarch and Russian Mama, a Russian nanny, and an English governess, live in a large mansion in St.Petersburg, manned by a small army of servants. Their life takes them from a whirl of luxury to poverty and near-starvation in those turbulent times until they are free to flee the country. The terrible loss of life during the Great War, […]

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By Julia Underwood

Sometime last year I read an article about the Russian Revolution and it struck me how much the dispossessed Russians lost in the struggle. They often fled the country with nothing and looked forward to the bleak prospect of an uncertain future, rather like the refugees of today.

As 2017 marks the centenary of the turmoil of the revolution, I decided to write a novel about it. This involved weeks of research, which I found fascinating and enlightening.

My invented family, the Cookes, with five children, an English patriarch and Russian Mama, a Russian nanny, and an English governess, live in a large mansion in St.Petersburg, manned by a small army of servants. Their life takes them from a whirl of luxury to poverty and near-starvation in those turbulent times until they are free to flee the country.

The terrible loss of life during the Great War, the bloody revolution and the brutal Civil War that followed, brought violent disruption to all levels of Russian society. After the overthrow of the once-loved Tsar, a man flawed by the constraints of history and his perception of his autocratic role, the population of the vast country were doomed to a lifetime of upheaval.  An incompetent government, powerless to withstand the demands of the louder voices of the Bolsheviks, simply surrendered to their fate. The results were tragic for everyone and led to decades of disintegration and isolation.

Although my novel takes the form of a romantic history, I hope it illustrates the spirit of the people involved and their determination to survive against the odds.

Get your copy of Red Winter here!

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Scandals, Intrigues, Family Feuds, Murders, Hatred, Love and Envy: Episode 11 http://www.endeavourpress.com/scandals-intrigues-family-feuds-murders-hatred-love-envy-episode-11/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 10:45:46 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=13968 Today, it’s hard to believe that Twelve Shades of Black (no traces of grey…!) , a series of interviews with six black men and six black women living in the townships outside Johannesburg during the apartheid era, could have upset so many white South Africans. But it did! It did so because the book depicted those who were interviewed simply as people, and that concept was threatening to many whites. It’s hard, too, for outsiders to understand how successfully the apartheid government used the concept of fear in order to divide the races. Whites were terrified of blacks. When white people heard that the Belgian photographer Sylvie van Lerberghe and I were going into the townships to research this book they were horrified. Two blonde women daring to embark on such a mission! Were we crazy, they asked? We’d be raped, or probably murdered… Instead, we were to find generosity, […]

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Today, it’s hard to believe that Twelve Shades of Black (no traces of grey…!) , a series of interviews with six black men and six black women living in the townships outside Johannesburg during the apartheid era, could have upset so many white South Africans. But it did!

It did so because the book depicted those who were interviewed simply as people, and that concept was threatening to many whites. It’s hard, too, for outsiders to understand how successfully the apartheid government used the concept of fear in order to divide the races. Whites were terrified of blacks. When white people heard that the Belgian photographer Sylvie van Lerberghe and I were going into the townships to research this book they were horrified. Two blonde women daring to embark on such a mission! Were we crazy, they asked? We’d be raped, or probably murdered…

Instead, we were to find generosity, talent, courage, greed, love and – incredibly – humour in the townships. And, as I discovered when I interviewed the black poet, Wally Serote, blacks were equally frightened of whites.

Wally would go on to become an MP and a respected academic and, even when we first met, he seemed to me too much his own man to be frightened of anyone, or anything. But I was wrong about that. As he went on to say, apartheid had affected him so adversely that he was more afraid walking in white-dominated Johannesburg in daylight than at night in the unlit black township of Alexandra…

Read the incredible true stories that make up Twelve Shades of Black for yourself, here.

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Two Detectives. Two Homicide Cases. All Hell Is Going To Break Loose. http://www.endeavourpress.com/two-detectives-two-homicide-cases-hell-going-break-loose/ Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:19:54 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=13971 By B. R. Stateham You haven’t met homicide detectives like Turner Hahn and Frank Morales. Turner looks like a 1930’s movie star. Frank looks like something bred in a genetics lab which went terribly awry. But they are partners in Homicide. Partners and friends. Together these two take on the homicide cases no one else want to touch. The hard stuff. The unsolvable ones. The ones which dig too deep into the politics of the powerful and greedy. In A Taste of Old Revenge, Case Number One has a murdered Nazi concentration camp survivor, a pair of sneaky FBI agents, two unseen Israeli Mossad agents, and some thugs from a nasty organization called Odessa. In Case Number Two, a college kid is viciously gunned down in a convenience store, there’s millions in stolen money from Iraq, and someone has swiped an AI program which is going to revolutionize the computer […]

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By B. R. Stateham

You haven’t met homicide detectives like Turner Hahn and Frank Morales. Turner looks like a 1930’s movie star. Frank looks like something bred in a genetics lab which went terribly awry. But they are partners in Homicide. Partners and friends. Together these two take on the homicide cases no one else want to touch. The hard stuff. The unsolvable ones. The ones which dig too deep into the politics of the powerful and greedy. In A Taste of Old Revenge, Case Number One has a murdered Nazi concentration camp survivor, a pair of sneaky FBI agents, two unseen Israeli Mossad agents, and some thugs from a nasty organization called Odessa. In Case Number Two, a college kid is viciously gunned down in a convenience store, there’s millions in stolen money from Iraq, and someone has swiped an AI program which is going to revolutionize the computer industry.

Puzzles to solve. Dead bodies to step over. And tough hoods who are willing to murder anyone to keep their secrets a secret. It’s the kind of cases Turner Hahn and Frank Morales were made for.

Get your copy of B. R. Stateham’s gripping crime thriller here!

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Murder and Mayhem on the Mean Streets of Westminster http://www.endeavourpress.com/murder-mayhem-mean-streets-westminster/ Wed, 08 Nov 2017 12:27:40 +0000 http://www.endeavourpress.com/?p=13959 By Rafe McGregor  The Architect of Murder was conceived while I was conducting some unrelated research and came across a reference to the strange will of Cecil John Rhodes, the British Empire equivalent of Bill Gates.  Although I spent many years in South Africa, I knew very little about Rhodes so I turned my attention to his life and death.  When I discovered that the richest man in the Empire had a will that wasn’t just idiosyncratic, but actually sinister, I realised I was on to something.  You know those Rhodes Scholarships?  There’s a conspiracy theory behind them, and each step has documented evidence.  Yes, really. Because I was writing in the twenty-first century, the first thing I had to do was Google and Wikipedia Rhodes’ will to see if anyone else had already used the idea.  I found one possibility: a science fiction novella by John Crowley called Great Work […]

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By Rafe McGregor 

The Architect of Murder was conceived while I was conducting some unrelated research and came across a reference to the strange will of Cecil John Rhodes, the British Empire equivalent of Bill Gates.  Although I spent many years in South Africa, I knew very little about Rhodes so I turned my attention to his life and death.  When I discovered that the richest man in the Empire had a will that wasn’t just idiosyncratic, but actually sinister, I realised I was on to something.  You know those Rhodes Scholarships?  There’s a conspiracy theory behind them, and each step has documented evidence.  Yes, really.

Because I was writing in the twenty-first century, the first thing I had to do was Google and Wikipedia Rhodes’ will to see if anyone else had already used the idea.  I found one possibility: a science fiction novella by John Crowley called Great Work of Time.  Even though it was out of print, I tracked down a copy.  It was sufficiently different from what I had in mind, so I created a folder labelled Empire, and set to work.  Once I’d made the decision, my long-standing interest in modern history and historical crime fiction made the task less daunting than it initially seemed.  I’d already devoured the Sherlock Holmes canon, the Richard Hannay quintet, Aubrey and Maturin, Flashman, Captain Alatriste, Erast Fandorin, and the Leibermann Papers – all of which provided an example for me to follow and all of which I can recommend for a variety of different reasons.

I had a lot of fun in 1902 London and the disadvantages of going back in time were outweighed by the advantages.  One of the aspects of time travel I enjoyed the most was being able to write action sequences which wouldn’t be plausible in contemporary London…and I’m not just talking about the swordfight.  Another was writing about real-life characters like William Melville, who later went on to found MI5 (the United Kingdom’s Security Service), and is considered a possible candidate for Ian Fleming’s ‘M’ (of James Bond fame).  Unfortunately, I was only able to give ‘Q’ a mention.

Several celebrities and personalities of the age have major and minor parts to play, but I won’t give any other names away.  As an amateur historian, I like to think of The Architect of Murder as a story which could easily have happened, and which fits perfectly with the march of history and the events of the time.  It not only could have happened, but in a way, it did happen.  The novel is about Rhodes’ will, and the fact that the eventual fruition of that will was actually a victory from beyond the grave.  How much of a victory?  Read the book and find out…

Rafe McGregor is the author of nine books, including Bloody Reckoning and The Architect of Murder, and two hundred essays, articles, and reviews.  He can be found online at @rafemcgregor.

Get your copy of The Architect of Murder here!

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