Thursday, 5 November 2020

Book Blog Tour Stop with an Extract: The Forger and the Thief by Kirsten McKenzie

The Forger and the Thief by Kirsten McKenzie


wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence's devastating flood of November 1966.

In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?

Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…

The Forger and the Thief, an extract

I’ve chosen this extract because although the Guest - Richard Carstone, appears to be an utterly unlikeable character at the start of The Forger and the Thief, with his dark secret tucked away in his blackened heart, he provides flashes of humanity, giving the reader pause to consider Carstone’s true nature.

What if what we show the world, isn’t really us? What if what we show is all a front, to protect ourselves from further pain or humiliation? Life is never simple, nor starkly black and white. And I hope the readers enjoy the play on this concept.


Carstone walked to the breakfast buffet in an even fouler mood than the night before. The shower hadnt worked; the heating didnt work, and at first glance the breakfast looked as bad as the stray pubic hair on the shower soap.

Julia wasnt at breakfast, typical. He didnt blame her though, given the hotels poor breakfast offerings. A bowl of apples — last seasons from the look of it, single serve sachets of cereal - American style, and a platter of croissants with an array of three types of jam. No eggs or pancakes, bacon or mushrooms.

He tapped a croissant — as solid as the marble statue of David. All around the room, Richard noted other guests picking at their croissants with the grim determination seen on climbers clinging to the icy sides of Mount Everest.

The joyless dining room revealed the shy coffee pot, tucked inside a servery adjoining the barren kitchen. His plan of filling his stomach with bacon and eggs as ethereal as Julia. In the beginning, shed needed him for everything, begging him to move into the guest bedroom in his brothers house. Hed even encouraged her to get out, to visit the galleries she loved so much, and like an idiot hed been ecstatic when shed followed his advice. What a fool he had been slaving over finalising his brothers estate, when she was busy being wooed by the Italian. The Italian was about to have access to all his brothers money, leaving Richard with his brothers old suits and leather shoes, when he should have been sleeping in the arms of his brothers wife.

After pouring a coffee, he studied his fellow diners, who ignored him as they reread their guide books. Richard didnt need a guide book; he was here for one reason - Julias wedding. The statues and churches and bridges and galleries were nothing more than old stones, and the genuine tourists were welcome to them.

Carstone tapped his wristwatch — the only valuable article he owned, everything else sold to pay off his debts. It would have been nice for Julia to turn up for breakfast. Shed invited him to this hellhole, so the least she could do was have the decency to join him.

He toyed with the condiments on the table, lining them up, equidistant from all four sides of the table. Carstone checked the time again. She wasnt coming. After everything hed done for her. He slammed his hand against the table, making the other guests jump in alarm.

Throwing back his coffee, he eyed the weather outside. Rain. Torrential rain. If it werent for his gnawing hunger hed go back to bed with a glass and a bottle of whiskey. Some things never changed. Still, he would not sit at the table waiting for a woman who no longer needed him. That shed replaced him again, filled him with an irrational anger that he was having more and more trouble controlling. She had supplanted him once, with his brother Scott, and now shed done it again. Hed recovered from the humiliation once and would do it again. With help from the alcohol.

Carstone strode from the dining room, out into the rain, walking past English tourists moaning about the weather, and garrulous Australians, as he searched the streets for a cafe serving proper food to normal people but the only cafes he found featured locals slurping from enormous cups of froth and dunking biscuits, reminding him why he hated travelling. In America they knew how to serve a decent breakfast, like the waffles at Uncle Bills Pancake House in Manhattan Beach, his favourite.

A wooden crutch toppled into Carstones path. A legless man sat huddled on the path, wrapped in a grubby army coat, with a smattering of coins in the tatty hat by his side. Carstone returned the wayward crutch to its spot, then tossed a 500-lira note into the hat. He hated to see veterans begging on the street. Carstones father had also lost a leg in Europe, but had returned to a stable job and a loving family. He nodded at the old Italian soldier before walking away, guilt gnawing at his rumbling gut.

A full time author, Kirsten is a former customs officer and antiques dealer, and who has also dabbled in film and television.

Her historical time-slip series - The Old Curiosity Shop Series, has been described as 'Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions', and 'Antiques Roadshow gone viral'.

Kirsten released her bestselling gothic horror novel Painted in 2017, with her medical thriller - Doctor Perry, following in 2018.

Her latest thriller - The Forger and the Thief, is set in 1966 Florence, Italy, amidst the devastating floods. Kirsten lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, two rescue cats.