#BookReview By Lou of The Matchmaker By Paul Vidich @paulvidich @noexitpress @RandomTTours#Thriller #SpyThriller #TheMatchmaker #BlogTour

The Matchmaker
by Paul Vidich

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Today I am pleased to be closing the Blog Tour for The Matchmaker by Paul Vidich, thanks to Random T Tours inviting me to review and to No Exit Press for gifting me a copy of this gripping book where the worlds of the KGB and CIA collide as the Berlin Wall topples. Discover more in the blurb and my review below as well as a bit about the author.

The Matchmaker image

Blurb

The Matchmaker imageBerlin, 1989. Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door. Nothing about her marriage is as it seems.
Anne had been targeted by the Matchmaker – a high level East German counterintelligence officer – who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his ‘Romeos’ who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker. Anne has been married to a spy, and now he has disappeared, and is presumably dead.
The CIA are desperate to find the Matchmaker because of his close ties to the KGB. They believe he can establish the truth about a high-ranking Soviet defector. They need Anne because she’s the only person who has seen his face – from a photograph that her husband mistakenly left out in his office – and she is the CIA’s best chance to identify him before the
Matchmaker escapes to Moscow.
Time is running out as the Berlin Wall falls and chaos engulfs East Germany. But what if Anne’s
husband is not dead? And what if Anne has her own motives for finding the Matchmaker to deliver a different type of justice?

Review

Berlin, 1989, now seems eerie with what is going on today, minus the Berlin Wall, but read the book and the past and present almost seem to collide where spies are concerned…

The book takes readers into the world of the CIA, the KGB and a refugee committee . The book is gripping and intense with the espionage that goes on. There is also the chilling thought of what can go on in the world of marriage too.

The book has a map at the beginning, setting the scene at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Anne Simpson is an American woman working at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee. She is in a marriage that isn’t your typical one as he disappears. It isn’t what she thought it was to the German. Little did she know she was a target by the networker of Stasi agents and their mysterious person known as The Matchmaker, who the CIA are in a race for time to find him because of his KGB links and before he reaches Moscow.

There is also the chaos in Germany that ensues the fall of the Berlin Wall to contend with in this action-packed book that has an even more chilling edge now than ever…
It’s sure to capture the imagination of John Le Carre fans.

About the Author

Paul Vidich has had a distinguished career in music and media. Most recently, he served as Special Advisor to AOL and was Executive Vice President at the Warner Music Group, in charge of technology and global strategy. He serves on the Board of Directors of Poets & Writers and The New School for Social Research. A founder and publisher of the Storyville App, Vidich is also an award-winning author of short fiction. His novels, An Honorable Man, The Good Assassin and The Coldest Warrior, are available from No Exit Press.

Matchmaker BT Poster

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#Extract of Extreme Prejudice By Gordon Bickerstaff @GFBickerstaff @ZooloosBT #Espionage #Thriller #BlogTour

Extreme Prejudice
By Gordon Bickerstaff

Today I am on the blog tour for Extreme Prejudice and have a little bit to whet your appetite for the espionage thriller. So, follow down to the blurb and then an extract from the book.

A foreign embassy official warns the UK government of a bomb attack on London. Zoe Tampsin’s Lambeth Group team is launched into a race against time to find the terrorists.
​​​​​
As Zoe unpicks the details, she suspects the informant didn’t tell her the whole story. With time running out, her team chase a promising lead only to have it wrenched from their grasp
Either the bombers were incredibly lucky​​​​​, or they received a tip-off.

One of her team infiltrates the bombers. She discovers the attack has started, and her colleague Gavin Shawlens is missing, presumed killed by the terrorists.

While searching for Gavin, a massive disaster unfolds.

Can Zoe stop colossal loss of life in a small community and prevent the collapse of a key pillar of society.

Extract

Carver emptied a bottle of water over Liam’s mouth. He woke, coughing, spluttering, and spitting. Liam discovered his hands and feet were bound, and he lay on his back on the floor of his camper van. Carver towered over him.

He looked all around. ‘Where are Kacey and Jeff?’

Carver said, ‘We have questions and we’ll do them separately, then compare the answers.’

‘What questions?’

Carver pulled a stool and sat beside Liam. ‘You know how this works. I ask you the same questions as Peaty asks Kacey. Every lie you tell me will be punished.’

Around Liam’s bare left arm, Carver fitted a band like a blood pressure cuff, except this one had red and blue wires leading to a black box.

‘Who do you work for?’

Liam peered anxiously at the band on his arm. ‘I’m a driver for Consolidated Northern News Corporation.’

‘Does Kacey and Jeff work for you?’

‘They are freelancers. They contact an editor and outline the scope and likely outcome of a proposed investigation. If agreement is reached, the paper will provide expenses and some support such as a driver. That would be me.’

‘Doing well, Liam. What was the outline that your paper agreed?’

‘Documented and verified exposé of medical deception and fraud by Cartwright’s company New Lifestyle and Destiny, operating out of Serennity House. Kacey is following up a raft of complaints already on file.’

Carver looked up and down the camper. ‘I’ve rummaged around your van. No-one was living here. Where did Kacey go went she went home after her shift?’

‘We rent a cottage.’

‘Where?’

‘Howwood. The address is on an invoice in my wallet.’

Carver smiled. ‘Good. Keep this up and you’ll be home free without a mark on you. What about side issues?’

‘What?’

‘Teenage boys attending a prayer group What did she get out of them?’

Liam’s face paled, and he showed the whites of his eyeballs. ‘Look. I wasn’t there. I stayed here. I don’t know about the stuff with the boys.’

Liam didn’t lie well under pressure. Not even an average liar. He transported people and documents, and didn’t need lies or deception while driving.

Carver lifted the black box similar to a TV remote control. He pressed a few buttons to activate the arm cuff. ‘This will jog your memory.’

He pressed a red button to send a single high voltage, low current charge through Liam’s arm.

Liam screamed and his whole body shuddered.

Carver leaned closer to Liam’s face. ‘That’s setting one. Next lie will move to setting four. Setting 12 will stop your heart.’

Carver examined Liam’s phone. ‘Your phone shows she called you twelve times over the week. Does she have a fetish for grubby old tossers in seedy vans? Or did she tell you about her progress?’

Liam struggled to say the words. ‘Part of the agreement. I receive progress reports to keep the editor in the loop.’

Carver smiled. ‘Now we’re getting somewhere.’

‘What did she tell you, and what did you pass on to the editor?’

‘Cartwright is—aagh!’ Liam squealed as another charge seared through his body, setting his nerves on fire.

A faint smell of burning hair drifted out from the cuff on Liam’s arm. One side of his trousers became soaked with urine. In a few minutes, the smell of urine would overcome the smell of burning.

Carver said, ‘I don’t have all day. I’ve cranked the setting to six. The next shock will do some internal damage to your organs. Think before you answer. I’m not interested in Cartwright.’

Perspiration ran down Liam’s face and his voice cracked with an edgy tone. ‘She met a group of boys from a prayer group.’

‘Correct. What did they tell her?’

‘She said one boy was upset because he was made to watch other boys attack an unbeliever. Kacey comforted him and he confided in her. He told her about clients being blackmailed. A lot of people have been blackmailed.’

‘Much better, Liam. The boy’s name?’

‘Peyman… I think. Pay-something. I don’t remember exactly.’

‘What did Peyman tell Kacey about the attack?’

‘I don’t know. She was going to give me the story after we left Lochwinnoch.’

‘What did you pass on to the newspaper?’

‘Nothing. I told them the story was coming later today, and as soon as Kacey told me I would pass it on to the editor.’

Carver held the remote in one hand. The fingers of his other hand hovering over the keypad. ‘Think carefully. Did you pass anything the boy told her to the paper?’

‘What the boy told her is in a video they captured today. I haven’t seen it so I have nothing to report.’

‘What about names? Did Kacey mention names to you?’

‘Only his first name, Peyman. The paper told me they wanted the name of the boy and his father. I told Kacey the paper wanted names—we need full names. It happened this afternoon. That’s as far as we got.’

‘My boss needs to know if his name will appear in the paper. Did Kacey name him?’

‘No. The only name she’s got is Cartwright.’

Carver knew he heard the truth and put the remote on the floor. ‘That wasn’t too bad.’

He climbed out of the camper to make his report to Omar.

Extreme Prejudice By Gordon Bickerstaff @GFBickerstaff @ZooloosBT #Espionage #Thriller #BlogTour

Extreme Prejudice
By Gordon Bickerstaff

Today I am on the blog tour for Extreme Prejudice and have a little bit to whet your appetite for the espionage thriller. So, follow down to the blurb and then an extract from the book.

A foreign embassy official warns the UK government of a bomb attack on London. Zoe Tampsin’s Lambeth Group team is launched into a race against time to find the terrorists.
​​​​​
As Zoe unpicks the details, she suspects the informant didn’t tell her the whole story. With time running out, her team chase a promising lead only to have it wrenched from their grasp
Either the bombers were incredibly lucky​​​​​, or they received a tip-off.

One of her team infiltrates the bombers. She discovers the attack has started, and her colleague Gavin Shawlens is missing, presumed killed by the terrorists.

While searching for Gavin, a massive disaster unfolds.

Can Zoe stop colossal loss of life in a small community and prevent the collapse of a key pillar of society.

Extract

Carver emptied a bottle of water over Liam’s mouth. He woke, coughing, spluttering, and spitting. Liam discovered his hands and feet were bound, and he lay on his back on the floor of his camper van. Carver towered over him.

He looked all around. ‘Where are Kacey and Jeff?’

Carver said, ‘We have questions and we’ll do them separately, then compare the answers.’

‘What questions?’

Carver pulled a stool and sat beside Liam. ‘You know how this works. I ask you the same questions as Peaty asks Kacey. Every lie you tell me will be punished.’

Around Liam’s bare left arm, Carver fitted a band like a blood pressure cuff, except this one had red and blue wires leading to a black box.

‘Who do you work for?’

Liam peered anxiously at the band on his arm. ‘I’m a driver for Consolidated Northern News Corporation.’

‘Does Kacey and Jeff work for you?’

‘They are freelancers. They contact an editor and outline the scope and likely outcome of a proposed investigation. If agreement is reached, the paper will provide expenses and some support such as a driver. That would be me.’

‘Doing well, Liam. What was the outline that your paper agreed?’

‘Documented and verified exposé of medical deception and fraud by Cartwright’s company New Lifestyle and Destiny, operating out of Serennity House. Kacey is following up a raft of complaints already on file.’

Carver looked up and down the camper. ‘I’ve rummaged around your van. No-one was living here. Where did Kacey go went she went home after her shift?’

‘We rent a cottage.’

‘Where?’

‘Howwood. The address is on an invoice in my wallet.’

Carver smiled. ‘Good. Keep this up and you’ll be home free without a mark on you. What about side issues?’

‘What?’

‘Teenage boys attending a prayer group What did she get out of them?’

Liam’s face paled, and he showed the whites of his eyeballs. ‘Look. I wasn’t there. I stayed here. I don’t know about the stuff with the boys.’

Liam didn’t lie well under pressure. Not even an average liar. He transported people and documents, and didn’t need lies or deception while driving.

Carver lifted the black box similar to a TV remote control. He pressed a few buttons to activate the arm cuff. ‘This will jog your memory.’

He pressed a red button to send a single high voltage, low current charge through Liam’s arm.

Liam screamed and his whole body shuddered.

Carver leaned closer to Liam’s face. ‘That’s setting one. Next lie will move to setting four. Setting 12 will stop your heart.’

Carver examined Liam’s phone. ‘Your phone shows she called you twelve times over the week. Does she have a fetish for grubby old tossers in seedy vans? Or did she tell you about her progress?’

Liam struggled to say the words. ‘Part of the agreement. I receive progress reports to keep the editor in the loop.’

Carver smiled. ‘Now we’re getting somewhere.’

‘What did she tell you, and what did you pass on to the editor?’

‘Cartwright is—aagh!’ Liam squealed as another charge seared through his body, setting his nerves on fire.

A faint smell of burning hair drifted out from the cuff on Liam’s arm. One side of his trousers became soaked with urine. In a few minutes, the smell of urine would overcome the smell of burning.

Carver said, ‘I don’t have all day. I’ve cranked the setting to six. The next shock will do some internal damage to your organs. Think before you answer. I’m not interested in Cartwright.’

Perspiration ran down Liam’s face and his voice cracked with an edgy tone. ‘She met a group of boys from a prayer group.’

‘Correct. What did they tell her?’

‘She said one boy was upset because he was made to watch other boys attack an unbeliever. Kacey comforted him and he confided in her. He told her about clients being blackmailed. A lot of people have been blackmailed.’

‘Much better, Liam. The boy’s name?’

‘Peyman… I think. Pay-something. I don’t remember exactly.’

‘What did Peyman tell Kacey about the attack?’

‘I don’t know. She was going to give me the story after we left Lochwinnoch.’

‘What did you pass on to the newspaper?’

‘Nothing. I told them the story was coming later today, and as soon as Kacey told me I would pass it on to the editor.’

Carver held the remote in one hand. The fingers of his other hand hovering over the keypad. ‘Think carefully. Did you pass anything the boy told her to the paper?’

‘What the boy told her is in a video they captured today. I haven’t seen it so I have nothing to report.’

‘What about names? Did Kacey mention names to you?’

‘Only his first name, Peyman. The paper told me they wanted the name of the boy and his father. I told Kacey the paper wanted names—we need full names. It happened this afternoon. That’s as far as we got.’

‘My boss needs to know if his name will appear in the paper. Did Kacey name him?’

‘No. The only name she’s got is Cartwright.’

Carver knew he heard the truth and put the remote on the floor. ‘That wasn’t too bad.’

He climbed out of the camper to make his report to Omar.

Georgina by David Munro – set in Crete around world war two #Georgina #DavidMunro #Greece #SecondWorldWar #Fiction #Review

 

Georgina
By David Munro
Rated:4 stars ****

It is with thanks to David Munro for getting in touch with me via my blog to enquire about reviewing his book.

Portrait DMDavid Munro was born in Edinburgh and lived there until the age of 27.  He was employed by a major brewery within the capital and relocated to Aberdeen, then Glasgow.  David attended university and college to attain Chartered Marketer status. As an arts professional and with experience of different cultures, this lends itself to creative literature.

David’s love of history allows him the opportunity to delve into past cultures and pinnacle events. His latest novel, Georgina, has a Second World War theme, telling a story of heartache, romance and espionage.

As a writer, David’s ambition is to give his readers enjoyment through interesting stories with compelling characters. Georgina has one male and two female characters that readers will embrace. To achieve recognition in the form of a best-seller is a goal.

Blurb

Hollywood, 1930. Georgina, a personable fun-loving woman, sits alone with another large glass of wine for company. She has discovered that her actor partner has gambled away their mansion and is dating a young actress. To compound matters, Georgina is under suspicion for her husband’s murder a year earlier.

Georgina leaves America for the sanctuary of far-away Crete. With a new identity, she finds work as a teacher of music. Soon, she shares a property with Elena, a beautiful raven-haired socialite who has powerful, but dubious companions.

When invaded by the Germans, Crete is thrown into turmoil. Their soldiers begin a brutal occupation of the island and hardship ensues. By chance, Georgina meets a German officer and an unlikely romance blossoms. Because of her association with Erich Hoeness, she is suspected of being a spy.

Erich is a loyal soldier, but also has a conscience. He starts to siphon German food supplies to ease some islander’s starvation. However, given German atrocities on Crete, will this compassion save him and Georgina from savage retribution?

Georgina

Review

The cover is smart and evocative and is interesting with its light and shadowing.

 I like the way Eddie and Georgina are instantly introduced, there’s instant imagery and a feel for them. Georgina sits miserable, after the first 6 months with the very handsome Eddie being so happy. The year is 1931, LA and she fears her past could be reoccurring, just with a different set of people. She seems to have it all, a mansion, the guy, but all isn’t well at all as Eddie could be cheating on her with an actress. 1931 and things are changing in Hollywood, technology has come in that means talkies are on the way in and silent film is on its way out.

The way Marco Bellini is first introduced just over the phone and the shiftyness around his name adds curiosity about this now seemingly sinister character as well as the money troubles and Americans are still feeling the effects of the Wall Street Crash. It’s an interesting novel and the excitement of the newspapers announcing gambling being legalised and the Empire State Building going to open up comes across well in the writing.

Eddie is found to be not well after being involved in a crash and everything changes after his death. She finds herself in a police station being questioned and accused of killing him, either herself or contracted someone to do it for her. It adds to the intrigue.

Georgina is from Scotland, but moved to America and then starts over again in Heraklion, Crete. The words flow well as she travels by boat and there’s more to be learnt about Georgina. That time for the travelling and the getting to know characters is creatively used.

The positioning in politics and changing culture for Crete is fascinating and also told well. This isn’t a heavy read, which is good. It gently informs within conversations with Elena as the story moves along. I like this way of doing it a lot.

Georgina is introduced to Stelios Balaskas, who teaches at a school and is in a relationship with Georgina. This could perhaps have been written a bit more to allow development for the lead-up. What happens after is stronger writing.

The outbreak of war and the opinions that the characters are given is very readable and I get the feeling that good, solid research has been done and what impresses, is the natural flow of conversations from the characters. It’s interesting reading about the war from the point of view of people living within a different country to that of the UK and there’s a great sense of looking into a different country ie the UK from an outsider – Crete and what is seen as well as what is happening within Crete. It’s like a very grown-up, matter-of-fact conversation that just flows easily from page to page. The connections between what was happening between Greece, Turkey and Italy is fascinating.
The weaving of fact and fiction during the times in Crete is exceptional! It could have been heavy and sluggish, but instead it has a natural flow and is interesting and moves onwards at a decent pace and is intelligently written.

Georgina then meets Captain Hoeness and things get ever more serious and tight as the forces, deployed in Stalingrad are surrounded by the Red Army and then there’s the issue of what Italy may do. It’s all rather gripping as it goes on and there’s also an abduction plan… you’ll need to read on to discover if fears of removing someone from power leaves a vacuum or not.

With there being a prisoner of war trying to escape, concentration camps, the Red Army; the author has clearly put in a lot of work to research what was happening within many countries. There’s great detail of what happened to prisoners when Germany and their allies started to lose their grip and in what started to happen after the end of the war and it emerges even more that not everyone is who they once appeared to be. There is also what happened next when civil war broke out and the fear of both Germany on the far right and Russia on the far left and what they may do with Greece and Crete. There is intrigue as to if Erich has committed war crimes or not. The interest continues to the end in what is a fascinating book.
I recommend Georgina and I would think people who enjoy espionage and war stories or books set around Greece would enjoy this one.
If you enjoy Victoria Hislop’s books then give Georgina a try.