Halloween Special: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
As it’s Halloween this weekend, I wanted to share some of my James novels with you. Before I started on the Jackson Marsh affair, I wrote 14 books under my real name. They are a mix of biography (moving to and living on a Greek island), comedies, thrillers and horror stories, and it’s the creepy and horror ones I wanted to mention today. Later in this post there is news on the next Larkspur mystery, ‘Keepers of the Past’, and you will be the first to see the cover. I know you want to skip straight to it now to see what wonderful work Andjela has done, but you might want to pick up something dark and creepy for the weekend on your way.
The Judas Inheritance
This book came about because I was asked to write and help produce a film. The story was converted into a film later, and the film was made here on Symi, where the story is set. Sadly, the film was never released, apart from at film festivals (where it won some awards), and it was renamed to ‘The Thirteenth.’
The book holds the original story and is written in two voices. Here’s the blurb:
An ancient curse? Desperation in the economic crisis? What is causing the suicides of so many adults and children on this small Greek island?
When Chris Trelawney arrives on the island to take away his late father’s belongings, he finds that he has been left little more than a mystery. Was his father mad at the time of his death, or did he actually believe that he had awakened a powerful evil? An ancient evil that now stalks the islanders, growing stronger by the day. A curse that will cause the death of everyone around Chris unless he allows himself to believe that such things exist.
But when he discovers the truth, Chris realises that death is the easy option.
“Reminiscent of Stephen King at his best with a final twist which I did not see coming.” Amazon review.
Link: The Judas Inheritance
This also started out as an idea for a film script. It’s a classic ‘cabin in the woods’ type of horror story, has a small cast, would make a good play or film, I feel, and has a mild gay vibe between the two central characters. Here’s the blurb.
How much horror can one friendship take?
Drover and Pete are two hopeful drifters looking for a better life. Desperate for food, they break into an isolated house deep in a forest. There, they accidentally shoot an old man just as the rest of his family arrive for a birthday gathering.
Under intense suspicion from the family, the boys attempt to cover up the accident. But they are not the only ones keeping a murderous secret. Mistrust and deception unearth a primaeval ritual as the lies give way to a terrifying truth.
With time running out, and a deadly force closing in, Drover and Pete’s survival rests on the strength of their friendship, but they must face some horrific choices in order to stay alive.
“Another fantastic horror story from James. Full of mystery and suspense, the story will keep you guessing right up till the end.” Amazon review.
Link: Lonely House
The Saddling Series
Although not horror in the gory sense, The Saddling, Witchling and Eastling are suspenseful, and are a mix of supernatural, mystery and thriller. They are an ongoing series set in the present day (2012 onwards) on the Romney Marshes, in Kent. The village of Saddling thrives under its own archaic rules. Mostly cut off from the rest of the world, it has continued with its superstitions and rituals since it was founded in the 13th century. This is currently a three-part series, and I must get around to writing the fourth, because each one takes an element (earth, air, fire, water), a season and a solstice day. There is also a coming out and acceptance theme running through the series as a gay relationship develops.
Here’s the link to the series page on Amazon. The Saddling Mysteries.
Here are the blurbs:
To inherit his aunt’s fortune, Tom Carey must unlock a one-hundred-year-old family mystery. The solution lies on the Romney Marshes where the village of Saddling lives by an ancient Lore. Unknown to Tom, the villagers set in motion a chain of calculated events that will ensure that the winter solstice will witness their last ever ‘Saddling’ festival.
Unaware that his life is in danger, Tom befriends two village youths. Through the mists of fear and confusion, their friendship forces Tom to confront a secret of his own.
Tom finds himself the unwitting hero in a struggle between superstition and sense, denial and love, with no escape from either.
“Meticulously imagined in the eerie mists of Romney Marsh. A wonderfully evocative landscape of mystery.” Ann Butler Rowlands (Author of ‘Heaven’)
Link: The Saddling
“The sins of our ancestors have committed us to the flames.”
Saddling is cursed and dying. The village will be lost unless someone burns at the stake on solstice morning. Six months after the life-changing events of The Saddling, Tom Carey must solve the witchling mystery and risk his life to save his lover.
The Witchling is the follow-on to James Collins’ best-selling novel, The Saddling.
Mystery and action combine in a sweltering thriller set on Romney Marsh.
“This is an edge of the seat page turner which just keeps on twisting in a new direction right to the very end.” Amazon review.
Link: The Witchling
“At harvest tide no place to hide as Eastling passes through.”
The spectre of revenge stalks Saddling, and the Eastling is hungry for a victim. At some time on autumn equinox night, someone in the village will die.
Tom Carey fights to hold a divided village together while racing to unlock the riddle of a boy long dead. But pages of the Lore are mysteriously missing, and all he has to work with are a looker’s spoketale and a blind woman’s poem. As solstice approaches and the vengeful grey-hang thickens, Tom realises who the victim could be. Him.
“Believable characters, gripping atmosphere and tension, all skilfully woven into an absorbing mystery set in the eerie landscape of Romney Marsh.”
(Emma Batten, author of Romney Marsh historical fiction)
Link: The Eastling
Andjela, my cover designer, designed the last two covers – Witchling and Eastling – the others were designed by someone else. I haven’t got to part four of the Saddling series (yet), but I did start writing it. As I did, I realised I was writing a different kind of story, and turning everyone gay. That wasn’t what the series was about, but I had such an urge to mix gay, history and mystery, I left it and tinkered with an idea that became Deviant Desire. That became an 11-book series and led to the Larkspur Mysteries, and I’m just about to reveal the cover of book two in that series, ‘Keepers of the Past.’
How was that for a segue? Eh?
Before the cover reveal, the blurb.
Keepers of the Past
The Larkspur Mysteries Book Two
Forgive when there is nothing to forgive, and forget when there is.
Barbary Fleet, September 1890
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, September 1890
Deaf since birth, Joe Tanner is destined for a life of misery in the workhouse until Lord Clearwater offers him a place at the curious Larkspur Academy in Cornwall. There, while adjusting to his new life, His Lordship challenges Joe to unlock the mystery of the Colvannick stone row.
As Joe sets about his task, he suspects a connection between the standing stones and a series of unsolved murders. The problem is convincing others, and his obsession soon threatens his relationship with his lover, Dalston Blaze. Joe’s determination to unearth the truth also jeopardises his place at the academy, but a man’s life is at stake, and the only one who believes in the mysteries of the past is Joe — and the killer who is prepared to murder anyone who interferes.
The second of The Larkspur Mysteries continues from book one, ‘The Guardians of the Poor.’ The Larkspur Mysteries are inspired by existing locations and newspaper reports from the time and combine fact, fiction, adventure and bromance.
If you have not yet read the preceding series, ‘The Clearwater Mysteries’, you might like to start with book one, ‘Deviant Desire.’ There are 11 books in the ongoing series including a prequel, ‘Banyak and Fecks’ which can be read first, although it is not a mystery. To get the most out of it, you should read it just before you read book nine, ‘Negative Exposure.’
The Clearwater and Larkspur Mysteries all feature gay main characters and are set at a time when homosexuality is illegal. They are a combination of MM/romance, mystery and bromance, and are inspired by historical fact.
I am aiming to have ‘Keepers’ up on Amazon by the end of the first week in November. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for details.
And now, finally, the cover. Again, another masterwork by Andjela K. Click the photo for the reveal, and I’ll see you next week.