Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Book Tour Blog Stop with an Extract: Celeste Three Is Missing by Chris Calder

Celeste Three Is Missing by Chris Calder

The world’s first earth-orbit passenger plane, the sensational Celeste Three, takes off from its base in Arizona, also the only place where it is designed land. On a routine flight the craft disappears.
On board is Viktor Karenkov, billionaire oil magnate who has used his wealth to evade prosecution for a murder he committed years earlier. Gregory Topozian, the murdered man’s friend, has been waiting for a chance to bring Karenkov to justice. With dogged determination and considerable ingenuity, he conceives an audacious plan.
Getting the craft down in total secrecy is key. And someone has to pay the huge costs involved.

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An extract from the first chapter. Context: Dawn, a day in the 1980s, in the remote Soviet Republic of East Gulamistan. Gregory Topozian, part owner of an oil drilling site has arrived with Suleiman, the local Chief of Police. The site has been taken over by Viktor Karenkov, a local gangster. (860 words)
Gregory strode towards the door, with Suleiman following. The soldiers at each side stepped back to let them through, but the way they held their Kalashnikovs showed that they meant business. Gregory Topozian was angry, frightened and confused. Had these thugs really killed his deputy in cold blood? What sort of animals were they? He had fought to get the license that gave his company sole mining rights in the area, gambling everything he had in order to become a partner in the enterprise. He would be ruined if the license had been revoked. What was going on?
He bounded up the steps and went through the door, turning slightly to speak to Suleiman.
“Where are they? In my office? How many?”
“Yes. There are three. Karenkov, his bodyguard and a soldier.”
Gregory strode down the narrow corridor towards his office at the rear. The policeman was unable to keep up and he followed, more slowly.
“Gregor, be careful,” he pleaded.
At the end of the corridor Gregory turned and saw the soldier standing outside the door to his office. He heard voices from within, one raised to shouting volume. The soldier levelled his rifle and stood still, blocking the entrance. Gregory strode forward.
“I am Topozian, Director,” he said firmly.
The guard raised his weapon. “Wait.”
“This is my office,” Gregory hissed, pushing past. “Get out of my way.” He turned the door handle and burst into the room. The soldier had stepped back, his face showing his surprise. Suleiman caught up, went past him and entered behind Topozian.
The man sitting behind Gregory’s desk was heavily built, with square shoulders. He had short, cropped blond hair and blue eyes set in a hard face. He was casually dressed in denim jeans and a heavy leather jacket. Opposite him sat a large bald man wearing a roll-neck sweater. The man in the leather jacket was leaning back in the chair, with his booted feet on the desk and he was speaking, but stopped in mid-sentence. The man facing him across the desk stood up.
The man in the chair raised an eyebrow. “You are Topozian?”
“Yes. And you?”
“Did our friend the policeman not tell you?” His lips parted in a grin as he took his feet off the desk. “I am Viktor Karenkov. I work for Intexplor, I am sure you know them.”
Gregory could not conceal his anger. “He said you killed my deputy in cold blood. I will make sure that you pay for that.”
“Cold blood? Calm yourself, we do not do such things. Your man had a pistol. My colleague Boris,” he nodded towards the big man, “shot him in self-defence. Regrettable, but there it is.” He shrugged and looked at Suleiman. “Is that not so, Superintendent?”
The bodyguard Boris cut in, nodding vigorously. “I had no choice.”
Suleiman’s face bore a look of stark fear. He glared at Karenkov, spun his head to look first at Gregory, then back again to answer Karenkov.
“I…I did not see the incident,” he mumbled.
“No? My mistake.” Karenkov grinned. “No matter, everyone else did.”
Gregory was speechless. He realized instantly that Suleiman’s response was pure self-defense. Understandable, in the circumstances.
Karenkov sat up, reached for his briefcase on the desk and continued calmly.
“I have some papers for you, Mr Topozian.” He flicked open the lid of the case. Gregory took a step forward and waved a hand angrily. “I am not interested in your papers. I will be taking up the matter of my deputy’s killing with the proper authorities, but now I insist that you get out of my office and leave these premises immediately.”
Karenkov ignored Topozian’s outburst. He withdrew a large brown envelope from the briefcase, dropped it on the desk and looked up. The envelope hit the desk top with a muted thud.
“You want to contact the proper authorities? Good. In here you will find official notice from the highest authority, revoking your mining license. Also a copy,” he inclined his head, “of our license, and notification of the acquisition by Intexplor of everything on this site.”
Karenkov glared at Gregory. The bodyguard had drawn himself up to his full height and was grinning. Beside Gregory, Suleiman seemed to have shrunk in stature.
Gregory felt the blood rise in his cheeks. His nostrils flared. “Our license is signed by Petrov himself, the Soviet State minister for development of resources. Only he or someone higher can revoke it.”
Karenkov laughed and shook his head theatrically. The bodyguard Boris joined in. Karenkov rubbed his palms together.
“Of course you must go and see him. You would be welcomed, I assure you.” He stopped laughing and his expression changed, as suddenly as if turned off by a switch. He leaned forward, an ugly grin on his face. “Ivan Petrov was arrested last week. He has been jailed for fraud.”

After ten happy years of retirement in rural France, Chris Calder is back in England. He came late to writing novels, penning his first whilst incarcerated in a French hospital following cancer surgery. At the time he spoke little French. Unable to communicate effectively with the staff, he spent his time fleshing out his first novel. Five more have followed; light thrillers leavened with humour. Best of all, the cancer is now history.

Chris knows that readers of fiction expect to be diverted and entertained. He loves feedback and believes passionately that taking on board readers’ views improves what what he does. You can email him at chris@chriscalder.com. Go on, he’d love to hear from you.

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New Release Spotlight with a Fascinating Author Guest Post: Along Came A Soldier by Brenda Davies

 Thank you to Ellesea for letting me share some of my thoughts with her readers. My book, Along Came A Soldier, is set in 1820 Cornwall. This was a period of simple beliefs in things like curses and witchcraft. A time when the threat of the hangman’s noose was very real and typhus could wipe out whole families. It was also a time when a woman’s position in society was very like slavery.
Women were seen as home keepers and were trapped in these homes. They cleaned and cooked and sewed, taking care of the household. Mothers taught daughters and so it continued. A woman was first controlled by her father and brothers, then if she married, by her husband. They were considered beneath men because they were the weaker sex.
It was a woman’s duty to marry and then bear children. Single women were pitied, a life no woman wanted. Once married, her husband had a right to everything she had, including her body.
I have two main female characters in my book. The first is Charity Perrow. A young, as yet unmarried woman still living at home. Her world is confined to the cottage and the village where she lives. Having lost her mother at a young age and being the only female in the family, it is her duty to care for the household and to do whatever her father or brothers command. She has, of course, always complied. At twenty-one, she worries about marriage and family and dreads being left an old maid. An excerpt from the book;
She was a sweet old dear, but Charity couldn’t look at her without a surge of dread. The old lady was a spinster, unmarried, and alone, having devoted her life to caring for her parents. Charity silently begged God not to leave her with such a terrible fate and crossed herself with her free hand because it seemed the right thing to do.
Typical thoughts of so many women at that time.
Charity, however, longs for freedom and space of her own. Over the course of the novel, the reader sees her change and grow. When she has the chance of love, she seizes the opportunity, knowing her family will disapprove. She begins to stand up to her older brother and make her own decisions. Excerpt from the book;
Charity stepped back out of Tom’s reach and screamed at him so loudly he flinched. ‘Stop seeing me as your baby sister. I’m a woman. I’m not growing; I have grown up! I want to be with him. I want to be an Ennor.’
Very brave indeed for a young woman still living at home, a young woman who would not have dared do that at the start of the book. Charity has hidden strengths and depths of feeling that come to the fore when she falls in love and has to fight to keep that love.
My other female character is Grace Partridge, the bonesetter. Grace is partly based on a historic figure that I read about called Mrs. Mapp, the bonesetter of Epsom. Mrs. Mapp’s father was a bonesetter, and he passed his knowledge on to his daughter. She was good at her work, although her knowledge of anatomy was only basic, she had ‘the knack’ for bones and she had the strength required to pull and manipulate dislocated joints.
My character was also taught everything she knows by her father. She is not only the bonesetter, but she is also the village herbalist and midwife. A large lady who is strong and capable and formidable, who sees it as her duty to care for the villagers and anyone else who may ask for her help. Excerpt from the book;
She stroked Sam’s arm to coax it out straight, then, clamping her hands around his wrists, glanced at Jethro. ‘Pull!’ she ordered and wrenched Sam’s arm down hard, eyes on his shoulder, watching the bone snap into place. She held a hand up for Jethro to stop and waited for Sam to finish screaming.
At a time when women were home keepers, Grace is the exception. A widow, she lives on her own and is very much in control of her destiny. Even in the early 1800s, strong women did exist and Grace is one such example.
I love writing historical fiction and making the past come alive. I do hope you enjoy my novel, Along Came A Soldier.

Along Came A Soldier by Brenda Davies

When murder stalks St. Merryn, no secrets are safe…
A forbidden romance…
Set in 1820 Cornwall, Charity Perrow lives a sheltered life in the village of St. Merryn. When she meets and falls for Jethro Ennor, they soon learn their families are bitter enemies, and Charity finds herself torn between remaining loyal to her family and giving into her growing desire for a man they hate.
A village with hidden secrets…
A battle-scarred redcoat is lurking In Greenoak Woods. Struggling to keep his grip on sanity, he’s come home to settle the score with those responsible for the heavy burden he’s been carrying all these years.
An innocent man accused…
When a villager is murdered, the suspicion falls on Jethro. Now Charity must risk everything, including being disowned by her family, to prove his innocence and save him from the gallows.
But as Charity hunts for the truth, she begins to uncover secrets over a decade old—secrets that will change everything.

Brenda Davies can trace her Cornish heritage back to the 17th century. She loves to indulge her passion of history and all things Cornish by delving into the past and bringing it alive for the reader to experience, which inspired her to write her debut novel Along Came a Soldier. She enjoys whiskey, chocolate, going to the theatre, and losing herself in a good book. She resides in Bristol, England, where she is currently working on her next novel.