Did You Know – nautical mines were called torpedoes?

The Iron Water is Chris Nickson’s new Victorian police procedural, set in Leeds in 1893, with two macabre discoveries in a single morning presenting an intriguing challenge for Detective Inspector Tom Harper. Whilst witnessing the demonstration of a devastating new naval weapon, the torpedo, at Roundhay Park, the explosion brings up a body in the lake, a rope lashed tightly around its wa9780727886439ist. At the same time, dredging operations in the River Aire are disrupted when a woman’s severed leg floats to the water’s surface, still clad in its stocking and boot. Could the two macabre discoveries be connected?

Chris Nickson gives some background on the torpedo trial in Roundhay Park…

It seems that in 1893 there was a trial of a torpedo on Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park, using the missile to blow up a wooden boat. However, references to the event are quite sketchy, with few details. Confusingly, the term used for nautical mines in those days was torpedoes. I’ve stuck to the modern meaning to avoid confusion.

 The case of Charlotte Brooker is based on the death on Mary Ann Brook (or Brooke, or Brookes) in 1885. Her leg was brought up by a dredger in the River Aire, and the rest of the body recovered several days later in the canal. At the inquest the jury delivered an open verdict.

The Iron Water by Chris Nickson, is out now – please see here for further information about Chris Nickson and his work.

Earlier titles in this series include:

Gods of Gold

Two Bronze Pennies

Skin Like Silver


Another spooky tale from Jack Lance

In His Power

A stunning brunette, Nicole had everything going for her. Beautiful as she was on the outside, on the inside it was different, however.

No one could see her tormenting headaches, nor the physical pains in her back and neck which had troubled her since she was involved in a serious car accident a few years before. No physician had been able to help her. One day, in an act of desperation, she consulted a man named Andrew S., a self-proclaimed psychic healer living in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

‘The first thing he told me was that he could rid me of the pain,’ Nicole says, in the living room of her apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend Theo.

Sure enough, Andrew did what he promised, although his treatment was rather unusual. ‘He used crushed bones mixed with dirt, which he rubbed all over me. To my surprise, the pain went away and never came back.’

After this, Nicole trusted Andrew and she told him casually that she used to be into divination and this had given her a guardian angel, or so she believed. Andrew encouraged her to continue exploring this spiritual path, telling her that he could give her an even better guardian angel.

Nicole followed up on Andrew’s encouragement. But strange things began to happen. ‘I suddenly started seeing weird flashes of light, coming from nowhere. Another time I had covered my eyes with a cloth and that cloth moved by itself, although I was lying still and nobody was around me.’

When she told Andrew about these experiences, he urged her to see him immediately. Then he told Nicole that what she was experiencing were warnings of death.

She was shocked. Especially when Andrew told her that she was possessed by the devil.

Nicole believed him.

‘It was the little things that convinced me. My nose had always bothered me. According to Andrew, I was allergic, especially to my pets. Even just saying something like that would block my nose even more.’

Andrew offered to cast the devil out of Nicole. For this ritual, she had to be naked. He asked her to undress and lie still. Andrew then gave her nude body a scrubbing with cold earth; lighting candles as he ordered the demon to depart.

After this ceremony, Nicole felt better. ‘It seemed as if he had helped me again’ she explains.

Now that he had freed her from evil, Andrew told Nicole that their bond was growing stronger. ‘He saw me as his future assistant, all day and all night. I said, that’s not going to happen. I’ve got a boyfriend and I’m living with him. But Andrew told me he had foreseen that I would love him. I didn’t understand any of it. He is not an attractive man.’

Andrew accused Theo of cheating on her. Nicole didn’t believe it, yet the psychic had succeed in casting doubts. ‘He still had power over me. It’s so difficult to free yourself of that. And again it was the little things that raised the most doubts about my relationship. One evening Theo got a phone call from a woman. Just an innocent call. But because of my insecurities we had a terrible fight. It got to the point that I became convinced our relationship was doomed.’

Luckily in the end common sense prevailed. ‘Andrew said ever crazier things and at a given moment I just had enough of him. I shouted at him to leave me alone and I never wanted to see him again.’

That, however, was not the end of Andrew’s manipulative influence in her life.

Subsequently, Nicole’s apartment seemed to be haunted. ‘One evening, I was watching TV with Theo. Suddenly we saw a shadow across the ceiling, moving from one corner of the room to the other. There was nothing which could have produced that shadow. Another time I felt someone or something stroke my hair. But I was alone in the house. So I called Andrew and said, there’s something here and it’s touching me. Grinning, he replied, I know, it’s me.’

Seeking help to protect herself against the terror of Andrew, Nicole consulted another psychic, a woman named Sonya.

Sonya helped her to relax and meditate. But Andrew was a psychic too and knew that Nicole was seeing someone else. ‘The first few nights I heard him scream in my bedroom, like he was actually there, inches away from me. They were screams of rage.’

Andrew also slipped into her dreams. ‘In my nightmares I would look out of the bedroom window, to the parking lot behind our flat. There he would stand, alone. A dark shadow, staring at me.’

Sonya managed to put her mind at ease. She told Nicole that the dreams meant that Andrew was becoming more distant from her. Which was true, because in every new nightmare Andrew was standing a little bit farther away from the window. His control over Nicole was weakening.

This happened some time ago and Nicole is now freed from Andrew. ‘Now I think, how could I have ever believed him? But if you are insecure in yourself, people can do the strangest things to you. Thank God Andrew is out of my life.’


9780727884909Evil has many faces. In my novels, I always like my villains to mess up my protagonists on a psychological level. I’ve done that in Pyrophobia, and I will do it again in my next novel (although the underlying story in that next novel will be completely different, of course). And I think the evil which haunts Flight 582 in Zone is doing pretty much the same to the passengers on board that airplane9780727885692.

I like evil that wants to make you crazy.

That’s my cup of tea and I think I will go on exploring psychological horror. It’s so much more interesting (in my opinion and yes, agreed, that is very subjective) than your traditional whodunit crime stories.

Anyway, just read my books – really, it will be a sane decision J.


Behind the Book – Whirlwind by Hilary Norman

9780727886736Hilary Norman has set many of her books in the USA and here she explains why.

WHIRLWIND has been simmering at the back of my mind for a long time, but I’m happy to say that as with all my novels, none of it was based on or even inspired by real-life events.  I am a fiction writer, my characters and plots plucked out of the ether.  The daily news, of course, with its all-too-frequent reports of atrocities and killings, must necessarily play its part, but like all my previous psychopaths and serial killers, Reaper came entirely out of my imagination. What that may say about me? … perhaps best not to look too deeply into a crime writer’s psyche!   Reaper fascinates and horrifies me; such a terribly damaged, twisted, highly intelligent, monstrous user of vulnerable people.

As for Rhode Island, location of the fictitious village of Shiloh, I did live in the state for some time back in the early eighties, staying with an artist friend in Pawtucket near Providence.  I had spent years obtaining a green card and worked in a dress store for the legal minimum wage, wrote in the evenings and travelled around in my spare time.  And I made another dear friend, a local historian and broadcaster whose New England expertise has been of tremendous value to me in the writing of WHIRLWIND – and also in a previous book, THE KEY TO SUSANNA, located in and around Cape Cod.

hilary_largerAll through the mid-seventies and early eighties, I was back and forth to New York City, lived there for months at a time as often as I could. I worked for a while in Greenwich Village, rented a room in Chelsea. I had a fantastic time, fell in love with (and in) Manhattan at a time when Brits were hugely popular there. My US days gave me the greatest buzz and inspiration at a time when I was lacking that over here; and then my writing took off, my focus changed, and suddenly I didn’t seem to need that escape any more.  I had what I needed back in London, continued to travel regularly for research, and – the proverbial icing on the cake – I got married.

When I lived in New York, I loved escaping to New England and upstate New York, always wondering why I was insane enough to stay in the crazy (wonderful) city when I could have such beauty and peace instead. I usually returned to Manhattan with reluctance, got off the train thoroughly disliking the place – and then, within hours, the magic had wrapped itself around me again.

Over my twenty-five titles, I’ve written several novels located in the UK and around Europe, but the majority of my books have been rooted in the US. I’ve written about characters and their lives in Boston and rural New England, upstate New York, Manhattan itself, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, not forgetting Miami Beach, the location for the Sam Becket series.  My love for the United States continues. It’s been too long since I last visited, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be back.

“Excellent. A gripping, frighteningly real and very disturbing novel.”
David Suchet on Whirlwind

Visit our website for more information on Hilary Norman and her previous titles

Behind the Book – Good Time Coming by C.S.Harris


Published in the US at the beginning of December, C.S. Harris’ sweeping saga set during the American Civil War tells the powerful tale of the surviving women and children left behind.  Here C.S. Harris talks about Good Time Coming...

The American Civil War was so destructive, bloody and divisive that it is still a delicate topic 160 years later. Even today, Americans tend to shy away from the painful realities of its cruel history. There are still those who would like to deny that slavery was an ugly, dehumanizing institution that has left a persistent legacy of racism, hatred, fear and brutality.

At the same time, the war that ended that heinous practice was waged with unconscionable brutality: cities full of women and children were deliberately, ruthlessly bombarded and besieged to the point of starvation. Crops were wantonly destroyed, livestock slaughtered, homes ransacked and burned. Civilians were used as forced labor, subjected to collective punishments and women were raped. Yet talking about the horrible realities of that war, and the way it was fought, is often misconstrued as attempting to condone slavery or the revolt that ended it. This is unfortunate because, apart from the importance of accepting historical realities, the experiences of those days have much to teach us about the human condition and about ourselves.

As a historian and novelist, I wanted to write about the Civil War as seen through the unflinchingly honest eyes of a child: a twelve-year-old girl named Amrie St. Pierre with loved ones fighting for both North and South. As the daughter of fierce abolitionists living in Louisiana, Amrie is both a part of (and in another sense outside of) her beleaguered community. When the deprivations, dangers and heartache of the war intensify, Amrie is forced to grow up fast.  She learns she is stronger than she realized and cherishes the bonds formed among the women and children, who have been left to cope with a world falling apart around them. But at the same time, Amrie must face the dawning recognition that good and evil exist within us all and that’s a painful lesson indeed.


This is top-notch historical fiction, thoroughly researched and vividly presented revealing the Civil War in all its brutality . . . an excellent story, full of suspense and historical detail.”  Publishers Weekly  

“This story of love, loss, and growing up under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable is beautifully written, superbly researched, emotionally engaging and gripping from first page to last. A must for old-school fans of historical fiction.” Booklist Starred Review

Previous posts from C.S. Harris:

‘Did you know this about St Francisville, Louisiana’

Extract of Good Time Coming

For further information about C.S. Harris and Good Time Coming, please visit our website here.