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Blog Tour – ‘The Family’ by P. R. Black ~ @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9

‘The Family’ by P. R. Black was published in paperback and as an eBook on the 2nd May 2019 by Aria Fiction.  I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and have got a guest post from the author for you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.


Book Blurb

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait.

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’.

The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.

Will Becky avenge her family or join them?


Guest Post

Rooting For The Bad Guy

By Pat Black

The villain in The Family is not only a vicious killer, but a cruel manipulator. I think these two qualities – if we can call them that – go hand-in-hand.

Although the person behind the mask isn’t based on any real-life murderers, it stands to reason that someone who takes pleasure in ending lives would also enjoy causing chaos in a more general sense.

That craven, furtive glee in pulling the strings from behind a curtain… It’s a bit like being an author.

So let’s take a look at some other famous manipulators in the history of fiction. Be warned – this is a treacherous journey. There may be blood…

1. Lecter

Hannibal Lecter is a gourmand first of all, and then a cannibal. But even if we leave aside all the murders, he is still a nasty piece of work.

Deprived of the opportunity to turn people into flans, the imprisoned Lecter is reduced to getting his jollies by pressing people’s buttons from behind his cell door. Remind you of any unpleasant people you’ve encountered on the internet? That’s right, all of them.

Lecter first appeared in Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, where he plays the man who caught him for a complete fool after the FBI agent seeks some advice on how to catch another killer, known as the Tooth Fairy.

Its sequel, The Silence Of The Lambs, focuses on the search for another murderer known as Buffalo Bill. But it’s also about how Lecter manipulates events in order to engineer his escape from custody. He succeeds – but not before his eye is caught by Clarice Starling.

Lecter notes the FBI trainee’s qualities and relishes the contact between them. There’s a creepy hint that the killer’s admiration for Starling may be more than just cerebral. This subtle, memorably queasy idea was spoiled by Hannibal’s bonkers finale. That second sequel to Red Dragon was brilliant, but is perhaps best appreciated if you take it as the comedy Thomas Harris surely intended it to be.

Like Lecter and Starling, my heroine, Becky Morgan, has a dialogue with the villain in The Family. Except, my killer is all the more dangerous, being already on the loose when Becky makes contact for the first time since the day her family was slaughtered…

2. Danvers

I’d struggle to name anyone in all of literature so memorably wicked as Mrs Danvers. She never spills a drop of blood, but has an ocean of poison within her.

The housekeeper at Manderley in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is ostensibly a servant of the new Mrs de Winter – but she’s in charge, all right.

She has a weird, unknowable obsession with “my lady”: Rebecca de Winter, the previous mistress of the house, who died in murky circumstances. Rebecca’s narrator is an ingénue whose naivety is embarrassing to other ingénues. She simply can’t match up to her wild, bewitching predecessor. And Mrs Danvers won’t let her forget it.

The grim housekeeper’s manipulation of our heroine verges on diabolical. Her prodding and goading is beyond Iago, beyond anyone. This is most apparent when Danvers makes a phone call to Rebecca’s former chamber, preserved like the Tomb of Tutankhamun, asking for “Mrs de Winter”. This causes both narrator and reader to make the same cringe-worthy mistake when the current lady of the house is caught unawares.

Then there’s the choice of costume for the grand ball… you almost want to cover your eyes. As you sit there, reading a book.

Worst of all is Mrs Danvers’ gently mesmeric entreaty to Mrs de Winter to just step out of one of Manderley’s high windows as the fog rolls in off the sea… She makes it sound like the most reasonable idea in the world.

She is unforgettable. And I could not get enough of her. Any author who can imbue their villain with even a fraction of Mrs Danvers’ malice will have done very well indeed.

3. Monte Cristo

“But he’s the hero, isn’t he? The wronged avenger. The Count of Monte Cristo is no villain!”

Except… he is. In considering Alexandre Dumas’ work, we probably think of the Musketeers first. They are four very different characters, but all very noble. Their swords might be keen, but they have justice and virtue on their side. Thanks to some memorable movie adaptations, some might think of The Count of Monte Cristo in the same light – an adventure novel, with loads of swashbuckling and romance.

The book has some exciting scenes and intrigue, but it has a very dark heart. And there are none darker than that of the mysterious man in the title.

Its plot can be summed up by some philosophical questions: When pursuing revenge, is it the same as justice? In moral terms, does the price paid measure up to the satisfaction gained?

Sure, the young, guileless Edmond Dantes is a wronged man. His future is stolen from him after a conspiracy by men who rival him in matters of commerce, politics and the heart – their motivations being greed, expediency and jealousy.

And then there’s the tailor… he’s just a bit of an idiot. There’s an old saying about confusing malice with stupidity.

But the guy who swims out of a body bag from the Chateau d’If is very different to the 20-year-old who was first locked up there, many years before. And the man who appears in Paris later, rich as Croesus, may in fact be Edmond Dantes’ polar opposite.

The Count of Monte Cristo appears as a guardian angel at first, saving the lives of his enemies’ loved ones, and even stepping in to save them from ruin with his inexhaustible wealth. But this is only done in order to weasel his way into their trust, and even their affections. It’s all part of a long, clever game.

Monte Cristo has a plan, and he will not be swayed from it, no matter who gets trampled on or what he destroys in the process. That includes the heart of the one he truly loves.

The man’s grievance is understandable. But after a while we ask the same questions as his loyal manservant: “You’ve suffered – but now you have everything you could ever want out of life… Why are you still doing this? Is it honourable?”

The truth is: Monte Cristo has become the villain. Instead of dragging injustice into the light, he operates in the shadows, and engineers awful fates. He is devious and dishonest; he is malevolent; his plan ensnares the innocent as much as the guilty.

Is he evil? Many people think so when he makes his first appearance in high society. His saturnine good looks get the fans flapping double-time when he makes his bow at the opera. A somewhat diabolical appearance and the fact that he only ever appears after dark, and never seems to eat or drink, sees him compared to Byron – and by extension, to a vampire.

We are left in no doubt that our hero is a deeply flawed, morally ambiguous figure. And his wrongs cannot be righted by something as crude as a sword thrust. To paraphrase Bane in The Dark Knight Rises: the conspirators’ punishment must be more severe. The kind delivered with a smirk, not a snarl.

Becky Morgan is an avenging angel in The Family, and her quest to catch the person who committed that terrible crime is a long time in the planning. But in seeking revenge, what price is she prepared to pay?


About P. R. Black

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.



Follow P.R. Black:

Twitter: @PatBlack9

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2HGgIn4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2MG8XfV
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2SgG7rA
iBooks: https://apple.co/2VR9Aa4

Follow Aria:

Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction


Don’t forget to catch up with all the previous posts.


Cover Reveal – ‘Stealth’ by Hugh Fraser

It’s a brand new month and I have something very special for you today. Fans of Hugh Fraser will be thrilled to learn that he has a new book coming out. ‘Stealth’, the fourth in the Rina Walker series is being published in hardback on the 4th October 2018 by Urbane Publications.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be revealing the cover for ‘Stealth’. I personally love it and think it’s been very cleverly designed.

Well, are you all ready to see it? Is that a Yes??

Feast your eyes on this then…..


Book Blurb

Stealth’ is book 4 in the bestselling Rina Walker series, following ‘Harm’, ‘Threat’ and ‘Malice’.

When a working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club, Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove.

Rina will need to call upon all her dark skills not simply to survive, but to protect those she loves.

Publishes October 4th 2018, £16.99 Hardback


About Hugh Fraser

Hugh Fraser is best known for playing Captain Hastings in Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ and the Duke of Wellington in ‘Sharpe’. His films include Patriot Games, 101 Dalmatians, The Draughtsman’s Contract and Clint Eastwood’s Firefox. In the theatre he has appeared in Teeth’n’Smiles at the Royal Court and Wyndhams and in several roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has also narrated many of Agatha Christie’s novels as audio books. He has now written three books in the Rina Walker series – Harm, Threat and Malice. Stealth is due in autumn 2018.



Hugh Fraser’s other books – https://urbanepublications.com/authors/hugh-fraser/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/realhughfraser/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/realhughfraser

Blog Tour – ‘Follow Me’ by Angela Clarke

Blog Tour Banner

‘Follow Me’ is Angela Clarke’s debut novel. It was published by Avon as an eBook on the 3rd December 2015 and will be out in paperback on the 31st December 2015. Today it is my turn on this exciting blog tour. Read on for my review and an extract from the book.

Do you use social media on a regular basis? Well, you never know who could be watching you, following you, planning their next move. You might thing you are internet savvy but it doesn’t mean you are totally safe.

Freddie Venton wants to be a full-time journalist but for now she is working in a coffee shop. One night whilst on shift she spots someone from her past outside. Nasreen, now a police officer, was her childhood friend until eight years ago when something unforgiveable happened. Little does Freddie know that they are about to be thrown together again.

The Hashtag Murderer having already killed someone is posting chilling cryptic clues on Twitter, all of which are pointing to their next target. He or she is enjoying taunting the police, enthralling the press and capturing the public’s imagination. Hundreds and thousands of people are following the murderer’s account. Can Freddie, Nasreen and the police catch the Hashtag Murderer before he or she kills anyone else? It’s a race against time, something which is seriously lacking.

I started reading ‘Follow Me’ a few days ago. It took me a little while to get into the story properly, but a few chapters in and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. Most of us use social media regularly so I think the idea for this story was brilliant. The author who has herself experienced the extremes of trolling is a self-confessed social media addict and pretty much knew what she was talking about.

Freddie really grew on me. It was obvious that something had happened between her and Nasreen years ago which spoilt their friendship and it was interesting to see if they would be able to resolve their differences.

I did find myself questioning a couple of things in the story but all became clear later on. I didn’t have a clue who the murderer was. Will ‘Follow Me’ stop me using social media though? Never!

I give this book 4 out of 5.


It’s time now for an extract from ‘Follow Me’.  This is taken from the beginning of Chapter 8.



Saturday 31 October

For a blissful second Freddie thought she was in bed. Then the
concerned face of Nasreen came into focus, haloed by a yellow
ceiling stain.

‘Take your time, don’t rush up,’ she said.

‘Is she okay? Jesus this is all I need: the paperwork!’ Moast’s
square head came between her and the overhead strip lighting.
His cropped blonde hair glowing.

‘I’m okay.’ Freddie pushed against the floor. Sticky.

‘Someone should take a look at you,’ Nas said.

‘No.’ The shock of the accusation sharpened everything. Freddie
took in the dirty white box of a room. The pitted table. The grey
plastic chairs. ‘You can’t really think I’m a murderer?’

‘Where were you between 1am and 5am this morning, Miss
Venton?’ Moast was leaning on the table, his knuckles white from
the pressure.

‘Sir, I really think we should give her a minute.’

She looked up at Moast. ‘I’m fine. Let’s get this sorted,’ Freddie
adopted her customer service voice: the one she used when she
was at a job interview or trying to get a doctor’s appointment.
How Changing Your Tone Can Change Your Life.

‘Miss Venton says she’s fine. And I for one am really looking
forward to how she’s going to explain all this!’ Moast said.

‘Explain what? There’s nothing to explain.’ Freddie stood, a little
shakily, opposite him. She wouldn’t sit first, Lego man.

‘Answer the question: where were you between 1am and 5am
today?’ he said.

‘I was working the night shift at Espress-oh’s.’ She had to keep
calm. ‘Except for when I was talking to Nasreen in St Pancras station.
You were there.’

‘Sit down!’ he barked.

She sat. Her cheeks burning. ‘This is harassment!’

‘Freddie, look, I don’t know who you’ve got yourself involved
with, life has clearly not gone the way you planned it,’ Nasreen
nodded at her Espress-oh’s shirt.

‘I’m a journalist!’ She had to make them understand.

Moast scoffed, ‘You just told us you work at Espress-oh’s? Now
you’re claiming you’re a journalist?’

‘I am a bloody journalist,’ Freddie said.

‘Don’t take that tone with me, Missy,’ he snarled. ‘You’re giving
it all that about calling you Ms. What kind of a name is Freddie for
a girl, anyway? Do you have a problem with men? Did you want
to silence Alun Mardling?’

Freddie looked from Moast to Nas. ‘I didn’t even know who he
was till this morning.’ Freddie tried to remember what she’d said
in her voicemail.

‘Freddie, you’re entitled to legal advice. Are you sure you don’t
want a lawyer present?’ Nas said. Moast glared at her.

‘I don’t need a lawyer, I’ve done nothing wrong!’ said Freddie.

‘We spoke to your manager.’ Moast pulled a notepad from his
back pocket and flicked through it. ‘A Mr Daniel Peterson. He says
you have some anger issues?’

Freddie’s mum always warned her daughter: one day that temper
of yours will get you into real trouble. Pleading with her to think
before she spoke. Unfortunately, the mention of her gossiping boss
and the stone-cold reality of being arrested for murder meant

Freddie returned to type. ‘The lying cunt!’

‘He said that you seemed very – and I quote – “agitated”.

‘A word with four syllables! I’m surprised he managed it.’ Freddie
could just imagine how much Dan relished dishing the dirt on her.

‘Mr Peterson said you left early.’

This was getting ridiculous. ‘I did: to follow you guys. Tell him
why I was there, Nas! Tell him about the paper!’

‘You didn’t say anything about any paper, Freddie.’ Nasreen
looked at her hands. How My Best Friend Became My Best Frenemy.

‘The suspected murder weapon is visible in the photo you sent
Sergeant Cudmore.’ Moast slapped an enlarged version of the
screenshot onto the table.

Winded from the blood, Freddie turned away.

‘The knife is no longer at the scene, because you took it with
you after taking this photo,’ he said.

‘No. You’ve got it all wrong.’ She had to make them listen. This
was insane.

‘Did it make you feel good cutting him?’

Her stomach turned. ‘Stop it! Listen! I know about the murder
weapon. I mean, about it being in the photo. That’s why when I
saw it on Twitter I sent it to Nas.’

‘On Twitter? The photo was on Twitter?’

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