#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksTours / #Excerpt : Bella – R. M. Francis @rmfrancis @Wildpressed

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Bella

Today I’m on the ‘Bella’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

RMFrancis - largeR. M. Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA.
He’s the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus’ Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).

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Synopsis :

Bella front coverA spectre has haunted Netherton for generations.
Everyone has a theory, no one has an answer.
The woods that frame the housing estate uncover a series of heinous acts, drawing onlookers in to a space of clandestine, queer sexuality: a liminal space of abject and uncanny experience.
A question echoes in the odd borderlands of being, of fear-fascination, attraction-repulsion, of sex and death…
Who put Bella down the Wych-Elm?

Bella full cover

Excerpt :

Time is different. Memory is difficult. Space – infinitesimal. You can’t function when you’re dead. Time slowed down when I was with her. Time was different. I felt an hour become ten when my tongue tasted her.
You get turned around in here. You turn, into and out from, in here. Coal seams still steam from bell pits, now brambled and birched over. The toddler tears of fireclay seep through the soils, where roots fossilise toil. Milk-stained fens hiccup out of almost-runs, built from feet daring to step over the edges.
In my time Roundoak thundered through on one side. The Pensnett train clatter-clacked its way throughout. Hingley and other small forges hissed and roared at the other end.
Now, I see it changed. It’s difficult, but I see. Where the steelworks were, a shiny, bright and clean space – an indoor town with plastic, tile and brass – you come and go like insects. From the remains of Roundoak, still warm before the rust, buds this hankersore – sharp, sanitised with slick polish. Instead of taming steel that feeds every chink of our space, you’re sold stuff that breeds skulkworms over our loot. It chews and mottles larvae through our roots.
The forges, whimpering and dormant at Derby End. This, Saltwells, is a primordial belt-land, bridging the new and the ruined.
There are many of us who can’t sleep in here. I am here. You call me Bella.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksTours / #Excerpt : The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost – Jamie Adams @JamieAdStories

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Father Son Anxious Ghost (2)

Today I’m on the ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

PZu1Ez_Z_400x400Jamie is a teacher who has studied a geography degree back in the nineties because of his love of nature and the outdoors. He found environmental education especially important and soon became a teacher for the primary-age group. Jamie enjoys reading and watching all kinds of theatre productions, from high dramas to lively musicals. His love of writing shines through in everything he does.
After writing a group of short stories linked to romance, which he published as ‘Short Dates’ independently, he decided to write a novella centred around topical issues such as mental health, parenting and relationships.

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Synopsis :

510R4iYvfbL._SY346_Three guys in their thirties have something in common. Their children all go to the same school. One day a tragic event leads to them having to deal with a lurking aftermath which draws them into each other’s lives and causes them to rethink their attitudes to just about everything. The children tell the second part of this story, ten years after the initial events. The dust seems to have settled until one of them uncovers information that throws everything back into chaos. The third part… well that will have to wait.

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Excerpt :

I went home to find Mum going through some of Dad’s things. She looked fed up, and I asked her if she wanted a cup of tea or something, but she just shook her head and carried on sorting stuff into piles. When I came back from making myself a drink, she was outside starting a fire. I could see a pile of clothes slowly starting to burn. Running out to stop her, she pushed me away and began to cry. She hurried indoors, and I used the hose pipe to put out the fire, but the clothes were already ruined. When I returned inside, Mum was sitting on the kitchen floor, sobbing and rocking slowly. I tried to give her a hug; and this time, for once, she allowed me to. We sat there for about half an hour before I was able to convince her to go to bed and rest. She never said a word but forced a smile as I guided her towards the staircase. I was straight on the phone to Sam, wondering if he had seen my elusive father.
Sam picked up and I had it out with him. People used to think that I was weedy and shy, but when I got riled up about something, I just let rip! Sam’s ears were probably bleeding as he quietly listened, saying ‘mhmm’ once in a while to suggest that he was still with me. After I had gone on about how his dad had destroyed my mum’s marriage, I calmed down a bit, and we had a more ordinary conversation. To be honest, it was hard to stay mad at Sam, as he was a genuinely nice guy. It wasn’t his fault at all. Calming me down further, Sam offered to meet up and talk more, but he also told me that Alfie was beginning to worry about Tess. I wondered why he never mentioned it earlier on when we were smoking by the park. Sam just sort of dropped it into the conversation, perhaps to distract me further. Both Sam and I had always looked out for Tess. We worried that one day her mum’s death might get to her. Maybe that time had finally come. It was bound to at some point, and we didn’t think Alfie would be much use in those circumstances. I grabbed my coat and popped to see Sam and find out what he had managed to discover so far.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksTours / #Excerpt : Vile – Keith Crawford @keithcrawford77

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Vile

Today I’m on the ‘Vile’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Keith Crawford (1) (1)Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, www.littlewonder.website, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.
In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation, when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.
This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.

Synopsis :

Vile Ebook cover 1600 x 2560 (1)Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

Amazon

Excerpt :

The howl of the Black Dog screamed through the night air. Was it from above, on the bridge, or below, across the tundra? Elianor didn’t stay still for long, working onwards, looking upwards, trying to find the right spot. There! Just within arm’s reach, a part of the wall where the rock jutted out and then folded in like a failed cave, a hole in the wall with delusions of grandeur. Her boots slipped as she jumped from the frozen rock, and she only just got her chest over the ledge. She pushed, hard, ignoring the pain in her ribs and the way her sword hilt jabbed her belly. Beads of sweat formed and froze on her forehead. When she finally clambered up, she had to kneel on the ledge to recover her breath. Then she straightened her collar and looked out into the darkness.
Nothing. No, there. Was it the Dog, or just her eyes swimming as the blood pumped to her temples? Quick as she could, she slid into the gap in the rock. The cave put a roof over her head and a wall at her back. It was not deep enough that the beast couldn’t cover the ground in one good leap, but it would have to stop on the ledge before it could enter the cave. She took the pistol in both hands, ready to fire the moment she had a clear shot.
She didn’t have to wait long. From below, outside her frame of vision, she heard it growl.
“Come on, come on, come on,” she said.
But it did not come. The cold wet of the snow soaked through her trousers. She shivered. The pistol became heavier. Her hands less steady.
“Come on, you bastard!” she shouted. “Come and eat me!”
A great black form shot up onto the ledge as if the leap were nothing. Clawed hands propelled it forwards. If Elianor had fired in that moment, she would have been lost, fear defeating patience and training. But she saw the truth in the flash of claws. She held the pistol firm. The Black Dog paused, less than a second, then leapt away again, out of her field of vision.
Elianor’s heart was running so fast she wanted to be sick. She felt the strange urge to laugh.
“Think you’re clever, don’t you?”
The Black Dog growled, from somewhere above.
“That’s right!” Elianor called. “My pistol is broken! I’m bluffing!”
The beast dropped onto the ledge in front of her.
“Come on! Can’t you tell I’m bluffing?”
The black shape blocked out the light. It continued to growl, holding still, watching her. She held the pistol up, steady as she could manage. She couldn’t afford to waste the shot. She still couldn’t get a clear look at it.
It leapt.
She fired.
In that frozen tableau of tension, in the brief flash of light from the gunshot, she thought she saw the number 1 tattooed on the bare flesh of its chest.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksTours / #Excerpt : The Final Trail (Trail Series #5) – AA Abbott @AAAbbottStories

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

final -trail

Today I’m on the ‘The Final Trail (Trail Series #5)’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Copy of Helen_Author_38English thriller writer AA Abbott’s real name is Helen Blenkinsop, but like JK Rowling, she wanted to . She loves city life, having lived and worked in London, Birmingham and Bristol. Her crime thrillers, set in Birmingham and London, sizzle with suspense, twists and the evils of office politics.
Helen’s books are available in a dyslexia-friendly large print as well as standard paperback and Kindle editions.
Her Trail Series follows the fortunes of glamorous blonde Kat White, a party girl who finds her purpose making vodka, shrewd businessman Marty Bridges, and manipulative East End crime lord Shaun Halloran.

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Synopsis :

TFT thumbnailFamily feuds just got bloodier… A gripping thriller, and a great story of death, revenge and vodka.
To save glamorous Kat White’s life, Ben Halloran killed his gangster father. Now his brother wants to even the score.
The gripping Trail series of British crime thrillers reaches its dramatic conclusion in this compelling page turner.

Amazon

Excerpt :

Obsessed by glamorous Kat White, London gangster Shaun Halloran stalked her and tried to kill her. Now Shaun is dead and Kat has given evidence at his inquest.

She wanted to run from the chamber, from the court processes, well-meaning friends and blistering memories. Instead, her legs wobbled. To her relief, Kat made it to the oak doors opposite the jury, without a backward glance.
She passed into a lobby: small, dark and claustrophobic. The stuffy air seemed to suck breath from her lungs. It emerged in short, sharp gasps until, like a diver resurfacing, she burst from the tiny room onto a light and bright landing. A stone staircase led to the building’s imposing entrance on the floor below. Freedom and sunshine lay within her grasp.
She hadn’t quite reached the first step when she heard doors swishing open.
“Kat, wait,” Tim called.
She couldn’t bear to look.
His voice was lost in the clamour, as journalists surged towards her, tugging at her sleeve.
“Miss White, how are you feeling?”
“Was Shaun your boyfriend?”
“Kat, darling, I can offer you an exclusive – my paper will pay good money…”
She pulled away from the press pack, biting her lip. Tears nevertheless flowed freely. Attempting to dry her eyes with the back of her hand, Kat dashed downstairs and out onto the street below.
The reporters followed. Mobile phones and microphones were thrust in her face; cameras flashed.
“I can’t speak now,” she whispered. Outside, the air, laden with exhaust fumes, seemed even more stifling than in the courtroom. Sweat prickled her skin and dampened her hair into curls. She removed the uncomfortable black jacket.
Amy pushed through the crowd. “You left your bag,” she said, thrusting the cheap satchel into Kat’s hands.
“Thanks.” Kat looked down, unable to meet her friend’s eyes. There was no way she was talking to Tim, journalists or anyone else, either. Panic threatened to overwhelm her if she couldn’t escape.
A red bus slowed to a halt, mere yards away. She made as if to catch it, then raced past the queue, rushing around the rear of the vehicle and across the busy street.
Heedless of high heels pinching, Kat ran until she saw a black cab for hire. She hailed it, barely noticing Amy and Tim’s shocked faces among the throng as the taxi left them behind.
Tim would have even more questions. She couldn’t deal with them. It was bad enough casting her mind back to the horror of that final encounter with Shaun.
She’d read Shaun wrong when they first met. Although she knew he was a villain, she thought she could handle him. Now, she had a job she loved, making vodka, but her circumstances had been very different three years before. As a croupier in London’s West End, she’d lived in a flat she could barely afford and drifted from party to party without a purpose. The promise of cash had blinded her when Shaun asked her to train the croupiers in his speakeasy.
That had gone pear-shaped when he thought she’d stolen from him. Even though it wasn’t true, it had led to his arrest and life imprisonment. She’d testified against him, having seen him kill a man as easily as lighting a cigarette.
Forgiveness wasn’t his style. She knew why he’d come to that hotel room.
Shaun’s death had freed her from his menace. He couldn’t reach her from the grave.
But his sons were still alive.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksTours / #Excerpt : I Can See The Lights – Russ Litten @RussLitten @Wildpressed

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

I can see lights

Today I’m on the ‘I Can See The Lights’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

russ-picRuss Litten is the author of the novels Scream If You Want To Go FasterSwear DownKingdom and the short story collection We Know What We Are.
As one half of the electronic storytelling duo Cobby and Litten, he has released three spoken word/electronica albums My People Come From The SeaBoothferry and Pound Shop Communism.
He has written for TV, radio and film and has worked as a writer in residence at various prisons and youth offender units. I Can See The Lights is his first poetry collection. 

Synopsis :

I Can See the Lights front (1)The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than one of them will bring you to tears. Characters are vividly brought to life, and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.
Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a work of genius.

Excerpt :

I CAN SEE THE LIGHTS

Let’s get you home Dad, let’s get you off,
it’s late and you’re pissed, the time bell’s been rung
and you’ve already missed Match Of The Day
and the last bus home,
we’ll have to brave the late night streets
and you’re not walking on your own,
stepping and swaying and avoiding the wars
spilling out of the alehouse doors,
these young bucks, they can’t hold their drink
they can barely tie their own laces, the places
I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, sailed three times round
the world before they’d even got out their high chairs
alright, alright, calm down mister,
no need to get the dukes up,
no need to rant and curse
you don’t have to take on the universe,
there’s a full fat moon hanging up there,
let me take your arm and guide you past the take-aways,
under the orange sodium glow, let’s talk about City,
the lads in amber and black, let’s walk a staggered tango
quick quick slow,
three steps sideways
two steps back,
ignore the youth with their swagger and slurs, the streets
are full of beasts and their portable feasts, let’s talk about
your glorious past; Jackie Smith and that scrob
in Kevin Ballroom, 1957, you took him down hard and fast,
quick square blow to the solar plexus,
never spilled a drop, different breed back then,
yeah Dad I know, I know,
a square go boxed off,
ten kits of cat on the quayside,
bobbers clogs striking sparks from the cobbles
but the dock has run dry now
the dock has run dry
… and them cowards on the telly, dressed up like tarts
I’d go over there and fight em meself, if I still had me health
half a dozen kids from Gillet street
would sort them bastards out,
what a shame about them bains, if I still had me health,
If I still had me health, I’d gladly pull the lever meself,
World’s gone mad son, world’s gone mad
and him off the news,
he never alters,
and my head has detached and it’s a child’s balloon floating over the rooftops,
bumping up against
the full fat moon…
A&E will be packed to the rafters tonight
they’ll be slotting em in sideways that’s half the problem
none of these bastards can fight
yeah alright
alright yeah yeah yeah alright alright …
Let’s get you home Dad, let’s steer by the stars,
Neptune will guide us past the iron clad shops
and shut down bars, the bus-stop snogs,
tonight’s Sports Mail, City drew away at Port Vale,
the top deck of the sixty-six,
I could walk for hours and days and months
when the memories come fast and thick,
like our house at Christmas,
festooned with lights and glitter,
you said it was just for the bains
but you can’t kid a kidder
and it’s almost like you’re with me
walking home from pub
never take off your coat and tie when the fists start to fly,
the coppers always slap the cuffs on the man without a jacket,
the police always come too bastard late to stop it …
… keep walking Dad, home is in sight,
I can see the lights,
I can see the lights,
I can see the lights.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#OneDayBlogBlitz #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : Rocks and Flowers in a Box (Lorna & Tristan Series #2) – Cynthia Hilston @cynthiahilston

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

rMB9RdsQ

Today I’m on the ‘Rocks and Flowers in a Box (Lorna & Tristan Series #2)’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

-j02QNfwCynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.
In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Social Media Links:
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Synopsis :

5Xy07vZgThe wedding bells for Lorna and Tristan Blake toll doom right as the honeymoon begins with an unexpected turn in Tristan’s health. While World War II winds down, Lorna receives a letter from the War Department informing her that the brother she thought killed in action is still alive. She is overjoyed, but his return will dredge up a devastating secret about their parents’ tragic death –a secret that could destroy her new marriage and threaten her husband’s physical and mental well-being. What unfolds is balancing act of keeping the faith and shattering the pieces of the life she’s worked so hard to put back together.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Excerpt :

Chapter 7

Context: Lorna and Tristan are dining at a fine Italian restaurant with their friends, Macy and John. John drinks too much, much to Tristan’s dismay. Tristan never drinks anymore after years of alcoholism.

The tension seemed to ease after that as talk continued well into the evening over the clink of silverware on plates, oohs and ahhs over the aroma and flavor of the cuisine, and the music serenading us from one bite to the next. The second bottle of Chianti stood empty, drained mostly by John, whose red nose and loose tongue were both embarrassing and endearing.
“John, this is why we don’t keep wine in the house.” Macy looked at me and Tristan. “He rarely drinks, but when he does, he has no control.”
“I’m just havin’ a good time,” John slurred. “Nothin’ wrong with that.”
Tristan scowled at the other man. “Get a hold of yourself, John. Be glad you have a wife who can drive you home so you can sleep it off.”
John hiccupped.
Macy blushed. “I’m so sorry. He really isn’t like this.”
I suspected John’s endearing quality was wearing off as quickly as my lipstick had upon eating.
The waiter chose that moment to return and ask, “Will we be having dolce this evening or perhaps another bottle of wine?”
“Don’t you think two bottles of wine is enough?” Tristan shot at the waiter, glowering at John.
“Grazie, but no grazie,” said Macy with a tight smile. “I think we’ll just take the check.”
The waiter left without a word.
When the check arrived, Tristan snatched it and said, “I’ve got it covered.”
“But, Tristan—” Macy started to say.
He held up a hand, withdrew his wallet, and pressed some money to the billfold. He passed it back to the waiter. “Keep the change. Tip is covered.”
“Molto bene. Grazie mille. Buona notte.” The waiter gave a little bow and left.
“I think that’s our cue to leave,” Tristan said, standing.
My heart sank as I took his arm. Macy was helping John up. With a glance at Tristan, I released his arm and aided my best friend.
“I’m so sorry again,” Macy whispered, her eyes prickling with tears. “We were having such fun.”
“It’s okay. Let’s just get him to the car. Will you be able to manage once you’re home? Because we can follow you.” I looked back at Tristan.
Tristan nodded.
“What? No dolce?” asked John, his eyes glazed and round like two donuts.
“I think you’ve had quite enough for one night,” Macy said.
“But, dear, I love spumoni.”
Macy sighed and muttered, “God help me.”
“I can walk,” John said, although he was dead weight as he leaned on Macy and me.
“Here,” Tristan said brusquely, taking John’s arm over his shoulder. He wasted not a moment exiting the restaurant, his tall, strong frame much better suited for supporting John.
Macy and I followed.
“I’m so sorry,” Macy said for the third time.
I placed a hand on her forearm, stilling her when we arrived at their car. “Don’t be. The truth is…Tristan could learn to lighten up a little, although the alcohol incident…well…”
I thought Tristan and John would grow closer, become better friends, but as Tristan loaded the other man into the passenger seat of the Wells’ Dodge, I didn’t hold out much hope. I hugged Macy and opened the driver-side door for her.
“We’ll be right behind you and will help you get him safely inside,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.”
“This is just what I need,” Macy said in an uncharacteristically drawn voice. “My parents will see this, and I’ll have to explain.”
“It will be okay. I promise.” I pressed a kiss to her cheek and got in the Speedster.
Tristan slammed the door with more force than necessary after I entered, fell in behind the wheel, and with a grim expression, said, “Here we go.”

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

 

Born Slippy #BornSlippyNovel – Tom Lutz @TomLutz22 , an #Excerpt @RepeaterBooks @CoriolisCo

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

images

Today I’m not on a blogtour, but I’m sharing an excerpt of “Born Slippy” written by Tom Lutz to promote this book.
Before I let you read it, I’ll first post some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Tom LutzTom Lutz is a writer of books, articles, and screenplays, the founder of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is now Distinguished Professor at UC Riverside. His books include American Book Award winner Doing Nothing, New York Times notable books Crying and American Nervousness, 1903, the travel books And the Monkey Learned Nothing and Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World, and coming on January 14, 2020, Born Slippy: A Novel.
He has written for television and film, and appeared in scores of national and international newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and edited collections. He is working with a Los Angeles-based production company on a television show set in the 1920s, is finishing a third collection of travel pieces, a book on the 1920s (The Modern Surface), and is in the early stages of a book on global conflict along the aridity line.

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Synopsis :

BORN-SLIPPY-FINAL-600x909Title: Born Slippy: A Novel
Author’s name: Tom Lutz
Genre: noir, thriller
Publish date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Repeater/Penguin Random House
Page count: 296

A provocative, globe-trotting, time-shifting novel about the seductions of – and resistance to – toxic masculinity.

“Frank knew as well as anyone how stories start and how they end. This fiery mess, or something like it, was bound to happen. He had been expecting it for years.”

Frank Baltimore is a bit of a loser, struggling by as a carpenter and handyman in rural New England when he gets his big break, building a mansion in the executive suburbs of Hartford. One of his workers is a charismatic eighteen-year-old kid from Liverpool, Dmitry, in the US in the summer before university. Dmitry is a charming sociopath, who develops a fascination with his autodidactic philosopher boss, perhaps thinking that, if he could figure out what made Frank tick, he could be less of a pig. Dmitry heads to Asia and makes a neo-imperialist fortune, with a trail of corpses in his wake. When Dmitry’s office building in Taipei explodes in an enormous fireball, Frank heads to Asia, falls in love with Dmitry’s wife, and things go from bad to worse.

Combining the best elements of literary thriller, noir and political satire, Born Slippy is a darkly comic and honest meditation on modern life under global capitalism.

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Excerpt :

2013

The blast was felt for blocks. The concussion, the shattering glass, the rip of steel, the roar of falling concrete. The thick, evil odor lasted for days, as crews dug through the rubble and gathered debris-encrusted body parts. Passersby choked on the dust. Frank, when he first saw the images online, felt like he had been there, like the explosion was memory, not a photograph.
He had seen the building, the Credit Lyonnais branch in Taipei, only once, months before, during a brief, very distracted visit to see Dmitry, who was the head of their office there, or head of the region. It had been his first time in Asia. They had stopped in front of the building on Frank’s way out of town, that was all.
But when the Taipei Times website came up on his normal breakfast internet rounds, he immediately recognized the “before” picture. He felt shredded, felt the guilt of all survivors, obsessed with the cruel idea that he could have prevented it.
Which was ridiculous, he knew. Only Dmitry could have.
Something had caught up with him, Frank thought later that day — Dmitry’s voracious rapacity had finally met its match. He didn’t know how, or who, but he knew its karmic inevitability. Al Jazeera turned up some shaky video the next day, accompanied by the idea that separatist Xinjiang Muslims were responsible, which Frank thought unlikely — Dmitry had, by his own account, made many enemies, lots of them much closer to home. The video showed smoke blowing out of what had once been ten or twelve gleaming stories, now not much more than a maw, spewing black and noxious billows.
Did he see it coming? Like sharks and chum, like the Three Stooges with a ladder, like falling in love where you shouldn’t — Frank knew as well as anyone how stories start and how they end. This fiery mess, or something like it, was bound to happen. He had been expecting it for years.
He blamed himself, if not for everything, for not doing better. After all, he was the one who pretended to be Dmitry’s conscience. He was the one not paying attention, the one who had forsaken his duty, the one who had reneged on the implicit bargain he had made those many years earlier, without telling anyone, without telling Dmitry — without even telling himself. He was supposed to fix Dmitry. But he didn’t. He was inconstant.
He was, after all, the one who fell in love with Dmitry’s wife. He’d set some kind of bomb, too.
Frank Baltimore had first met Dmitry Heald on a building site in the Connecticut hills a dozen years earlier, when the eighteen-year-old Dmitry had come to America — in his Liverpudlian accent it sounded like Ameriker — trailing whatever dusty innocence he might still have had, looking for a little work, wanting to earn some quick money and then wander around for the rest of the summer doing a low- rent grand tour, reeling through the Big Lonesome West, as he always called it. Then he’d fly back to England for university: Leeds or Reading, Frank could never remember which, and didn’t know what the names meant, where they were on the status hierarchy — Ivy League-ish? Loserville? Frank had never gone to college. He had tried once, failed, quit. He had a chip on his shoulder about it, he knew.
He was a kid himself back then, having just turned twenty-eight. Like many people approaching thirty he was haunted by a sense that time was short, that he might remain an irredeemable failure into the flaky, moldy decrepitude that lurked around the bend. This house he was building was his big break, his move up from what he had always called a remodeling business, even though he had been nothing but a glorified handyman. This new house, nestled in the woods at the advancing edge of Hartford’s northwestern insurance-executive suburbs, had been his move into actual contractorland. He never made billions, like Dmitry did, but in the end he did all right. And, he said to himself, looking at the mayhem on his computer screen, he did it without killing or maiming anyone, either.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds