The Bluebell Informant – Guest #Recipe Post by Nick Tingley

Today I’m mixing 2 of my favourite things; books and baking and I’m delighted to welcome Nick Tingley to Bookboodle to share with us his recipe for Maple and Almond Cookies  which features in his novel The Bluebell Informant.  Without further ado, onto Nick to give us a little insight into his character Evelyn’s hobby!  Do read on for cookie recipes, info on the book and where to download for free!

NICK SAYS..

The tiniest details are what makes a truly engaging character. This is particularly true of the main character of my debut crime novel, The Bluebell Informant – Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles.

It took me a while to realise that Giles was a baker, but when I did it, everything else made total sense. This is a detective who is brilliant and intelligent, moral and incorruptible, and willing to go the extra mile to solve whatever case is put in front of her. So it made sense to me that she would have a hobby that she pursued with the same unshakeable determination – that hobby is baking.

Although we only see Giles baking for a few moments in the opening chapter of The Bluebell Informant (after all, she can’t take a break from fleeing across the countryside with an important witness to stop and whip up a couple of flapjacks, can she?), it is one of the few moments that I feel we see Giles at her happiest.

And it was during my research for Giles that I accidentally created a recipe for some great, chewy, maple and almond cookies (that’s right, I used book research as an excuse to make cookies)! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did “researching” them…

What you will need:

These amounts will make somewhere around three-dozen cookies, depending on how much almond you’d like in the mixture, although they are perfectly good without.

190g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium egg
100g margarine
220g dark soft sugar
125ml maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
35g chopped or flaked almonds
50g desiccated coconut

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/ Gas Mark 5 and prepare your baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and cream the margarine and sugar together until it looks airy.
  3. Then beat in the egg, syrup and vanilla extract until it’s all mixed nicely together.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together and then add it little-by-little to the creamed mixture, giving it a good stir after each addition.
  5. Once all the flour has been added, add the desiccated coconut and almonds. At this point, you can alter the recipe to suit your taste. If you want your cookies to be less chewy, replace the coconut with another 40g of almonds instead – likewise if you don’t want almonds, replace that with an additional 25g of desiccated coconut.
  6. Spoon the mixture on to the baking tray with a tablespoon so that each cookie is roughly 5cm apart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and leave on a wire rack to cool.

And that’s it. The whole batch should take about half an hour to make. Have a try yourself and let me know what you think.

Maybe you could bake a batch and enjoy them whilst reading The Bluebell Informant – it’s free to download, so you really have nothing to lose.

You can connect with Nick via his website, Twitter or Facebook

Download The Bluebell Informant for FREE at » Amazon «

About the book

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Thanks again to Nick for sharing his baking expertise and insight into his character Evelyn Giles.  I’ve downloaded my copy of The Bluebell Informant and look forward to trying the biscuit recipe also!

Book Review: The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

What’s it about?

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible.
But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

My thoughts

This was our book club read for May and one I was really looking forward to.  The book is marketed as “for fans of I Let You Go” which I loved so of course I had high hopes because when books are compared to or billed as for fans of blah blah blah they don’t always live up to your expectations do they but I’m pleased to say this one did.

Told from three points of view by Emma, Peter and Hanne: Emma a store assistant hiding a secret relationship, Peter an aging police detective with a shitty homelife and zero relationship with his son and Hanne a police advisor, Peter’s jilted lover and wife of an emotional abuser. Plenty to get your teeth into this mystery!

As with murder and crime novels there are scenes of a violent nature which might not suit all readers particularly the scenes of decapitation.  They made me wince but didn’t stop me reading.  It’s reminiscent of the Scandi Noir stuff that has been really popular on TV just lately particularly with the cold freezing dark setting which is enough to chill your bones without any creepy murders.

What really did it for me was what I didn’t see coming and not just because I never pick up on the clues but because the outcome was something I’d never read before in books of this nature – so top marks for this! 🙂

However, the ending was somewhat of an anti-climax given that the rest of the book was quite fast paced and gripping.  As a group we thought the last two chapters would have been better swapped around.  But overall, it’s a really impressive crime procedural debut that would suit fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.  A solid 4* read for me!

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Goodreads

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Zaffre

Audio Book Review: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

What’s it about?

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

My thoughts

I’d seen this book doing the rounds on various book blogs via a book tour and seen very positive reviews so picked it for my next Audible download.

The story is told via a series of podcasts so was absolutely perfect to experience it with an audio book.  It’s a unique and interesting way to tell the story and like nothing I’ve ever read or listened to before, made all the better I think by the fact I listened to it, just as if it was on the radio or I was actually listening to real time interviews.

For me, I felt the book started off quite slowly.  This, I think, is down to me in part, as I’m a) not used to listening to audio books yet and b) I’ve never listened to a podcast before either.  I just needed to get used to the format and try really really hard to remember all the information given by the six different characters.  I found that the second half picked up pace considerably and I then found it hard to stop listening.

It does help that the main character’s voice, Scott King, is a very appealing voice and easy to listen too.  In fact, the audio book as a whole is very well narrated and there are a lot of voices,  something like 17 I believe.  The only one I wasn’t quite sure of was Anya, her voice sounded like an automated voice.

The events reveal the darker side of groups of teenagers and the things they’ll do to fit in; drugs, alcohol and bullying to name a few.  It’s chilling, sometimes uncomfortable with plenty of red herrings but overall, very now, a very clever idea and 100% worth the listen!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Facebook

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Orenda

Book Review: Redemption Road by John Hart

What’s it about?

Elizabeth Black is a hero. She is a cop who single-handedly rescued a young girl from a locked cellar and shot two brutal kidnappers dead. But she’s also a cop with a history, a woman with a secret. And she’s not the only one.

Adrian Wall is finally free after thirteen years of torture and abuse. In the very first room he walks into, a boy with a gun is waiting to avenge the death of his mother. But that is the least of Adrian’s problems.
He was safer in prison.
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen. It is not the first to be found.

My thoughts

I received this book as part of a goody bag at the Crime Rooftop Book Club last year – shame it took me so long to read it as it’s a pretty decent mystery crime novel.

With often brutal content that may not suit everyone this book doesn’t hold back in grittiness.  Cleverly constructed, well paced with a sharp but vulnerable lead female detective, fans of Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series should like this one too!

However, the stand-out character for me was Faircloth ‘Crybaby’ Jones.  He reminded me very much of Lucien Willbanks from A Time to Kill.  Old -timer lawyer with a drink problem but with a heart of gold and not afraid to take a few risks and liberties.  I could have done with reading a lot more about Crybaby!

What did surprise me at the end is that due to the ordeals suffered by some of the main characters in this book, we’re meant to feel empathetic and sympathetic towards these characters, which I did, however in my opinion they are guilty of murder and I’m meant to think their actions are justified.  I don’t know if I can justify and condone and as such this would make a really excellent discussion point.

Overall a solid 4* read for me and I would read more from this author.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: ARC
No of pages: 432
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Book Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

What’s it about?

A city destroyed.

A killer exposed.

London, 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a traitor, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, the body of a man is discovered in the ashes of St.Paul’s. But he is not a victim of the blaze- there is a stab wound to his neck and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Acting on orders, Marwood hunts the killer though London’s devastated streets- where before too long a second murder is uncovered.

At a time of dangerous internal dissent, Marwood’s investigation will lead him into treacherous waters- and across the path of a determined and vengeful young woman.

My thoughts

This was our latest book club read and one which held such promise and one which we were all looking forward to reading.  I initially started with an audio book copy but I switched half way through to the Kindle version.  Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the narrator’s voice, it was flat and dull and didn’t work for me. However with hindsight, it matched the story.

If historical fiction is your thing then the factual parts of this novel will really please but therein ends the pleasure I’m afraid.  The book couples mysterious deaths during the period of the Great Fire of London but this book is so much more about the history rather than the mystery; which really isn’t a mystery in the regular sense.  If you like books or TV series such as Columbo whereby you know the culprit and are being lead through the mystery as the detective discovers what’s going on then this will appeal.

Marwood is a pretty dull and uninteresting character and narrated in the first person, the only real character of substance is Cat/Jane and is only given a third person narrative which is a shame and so I didn’t find myself having any real engagement with the characters or empathy towards them.  Although the time period and the historical aspects were the most interesting parts there’s possibly too much historical content and description which is somewhat repetitive; once a place has been described once, I don’t need it to be repeated the next time someone goes there.

The mystery is rushed, all very coincidental with a predictable end.  If you enjoy historical fiction I’d recommend Sarah Waters over this one (but it did make for a good book club discussion).

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins