I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas with a guest post from Mike and a review!
About this book…
A dark slice of Cardiff crime for fans of TONY PARSONS, JAMES OSWALD and LUCA VESTE. There isn’t always a welcome in the valleys . . .
Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .
In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .
MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.
But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.
My First Sudden Death
(** Warning: graphic**)
Reading reviews of my novels is odd, sometimes. Dark, they say. Gritty, disturbing. I turn to my wife – also an ex-police officer – and we wrinkle our noses, unable to understand what the reviewer is talking about. Too much, horrific? We find my books rather tame.
Let me explain why, via the power of Rutger Hauer in ‘Blade Runner’: we’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Which leads me to dogs.
Dogs: they’re great, aren’t they? Loveable, daft, loyal, entertaining, and much less hard work than kids – what’s not to like about our canine friends? I’ve always been a dog lover, a dog owner.
But I will never – ever – let one of them lick my face.
I used to. Used to let them nuzzle against my hand, or rub their snouts against my neck, laughing and mussing their stupid floppy ears and wrinkling my nose at their Pedigree Chum breath.
That all stopped immediately after an incident I attended when I was a cop.
Let’s set the scene. There’s a woman, whose real name I won’t include here, so let’s call her Diane. Diane lived alone, in a tiny terraced house in the Welsh valleys, in a weird little hilltop community where people still used outdoor toilets and – even in the early nineties, when this happened – had intermittent telephone service. Where a couple of the locals insisted on having their weekly coal delivery dumped in the lounge because they din’t wanna traipse outside, mun. Where there was one tired shop, and nothing else bar graffiti, and shit-stained nappies in gutters, and a general air of gloom as the village continued its extended death-rattle that began when Thatcher closed the nearby colliery.
Diane was in her fifties, and a weapons-grade alcoholic. Rain or shine – and this is Wales we’re talking about, so it was usually the former – Diane could be found sitting in a deck chair in the little patch of weeds and cracked paving slabs she called a front garden. ‘Hello, Diane,’ you’d call as you walked by, and she’d gurgle and spit and call you a wanker and you’d laugh and carry on with your day. She was a character, was Diane. Sweary and funny and perpetually drunk, the booze ageing her prematurely, her skin sallow and hair thinning and her nose a worryingly dark shade of purple. She was also violent in drink, which led to her husband – we’ll call him Peter – leaving her, and moving to a tiny terraced house in the next street, where he could do exactly the same as Diane was doing, except in the lounge rather than garden. Peter was also an alcoholic, you see. I’d attended numerous calls to their home when they were together: domestics, the cider and gin and lager and whisky making them lose their senses, Diane usually besting Peter each and every time, which eventually forced him to move out.
He graciously let her keep their dog, a small, oddly ginger muppet whose name escapes me, so we’ll call it Poppy.
Peter still kept an eye on Diane, though. Would peek out from his bedroom window, check she was in the deck chair and happily ranting at a thin air. Peter loved his wife. Diane loved Peter, but somewhere along the way she’d forgotten that fact.
It was Peter, though, who despite his constant state of inebriation had the wherewithal to realise one spring afternoon he hadn’t seen his estranged wife for what he believed was around three days. More or less, anyway.
When she didn’t answer her door – she always answered, whatever the state she was in, because she enjoyed pointing and shouting at callers – but the dog could be heard whining inside the house, Peter became concerned enough to ring 999.
And lo, the police attended. My colleague and I rolled up, teeth gritted and prepared to referee a drunks’ shouting match. We were met with a miserable-looking Peter who seemed a little bit lost.
“I dunno where she is,” he offered.
We did the usual. This was pre-mobile phone times, so we knocked doors and got family to ring other family and tried the front door and called for Diane repeatedly until in the end it was decided we could climb in through one of her downstairs windows.
I went first.
Let’s be charitable and say that Diane was not one for intensive hygiene regimes. I could smell the interior – that familiar odour of rancid milk that I’d breathed in so many times before – as I lumped myself through the sash window and into the dining room. As ever there was rubbish everywhere, and dog mess, and empty alcohol bottles, and used sanitary towels littering the floor. Nothing unusual, then.
And Poppy. There she was, whining and approaching me with tail wagging, so happy to see a human being, it seemed, so I let her nuzzle me and I tickled her chin and told her what a good dog it was and where’s your mummy, eh? Where’s Diane?
I found her in the lounge.
Diane was lying on the sofa, eyes on the television. She wasn’t seeing any of the programme it was tuned to, though, because she was very dead. My first dead body. And her lips, jaw and most of her throat were missing. A horrific, skeletal smile beamed from beneath the nub of her ruined nose.
I looked from Diane to Poppy.
The dog wagged her tail. Licked her lips. Scampered onto the sofa and resumed chewing on what it had been chewing for the last day or two: its owner.
My colleague appeared in the doorway and moaned.
I unlocked the front door and, gagging, wandered into the front garden, desperate to breathe on some fresh air. I found Poppy pottering about at my feet. I looked upwards, at slate sky, shaking my head.
Diane had suffered a massive heart attack while searching for a bottle of gin hidden in the fireplace. Had fallen backwards, onto the sofa, where she lay, not feeding her dog for days, at least not in the normal sense, until the dog had become so hungry it had done the unimaginable.
Poppy was taken away. Put to sleep. It was a small village and word got around. Nobody wanted her, not after that.
I still love dogs. But I cannot, to this day, let one of them nuzzle me or bring myself to touch anywhere near its mouth.
Because I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
This is the second Will Macready book by Mike Thomas and although I’m sure you would be able to read it as a standalone novel, I would recommend also reading Ash and Bones so that you are hit with the full force of the emotions behind Will that follow him to Unforgivable. I also think the title will make much more sense right across the entire plotline then as well. I enjoyed Ash and Bones so was looking forward to Unforgivable and it definitely lived up to my, what can sometimes be quite unreachable, high standards!
Will himself draws the reader in with ease and he makes this book for me. He is a very complex man, an overthinker struggling with his inner conflicts and a personal life that probably has much more drama in it than his professional life will ever see! I do love a man with flaws and I think Will will appeal to both male and female readers due to the complexity of his character. He is definitely someone I want to know more about! His interactions within the police force were given a dark and gritty realism by the author which I’m sure has come from his own experiences of working in the police force. His observations went beyond expectations and I would love to find out which little anecdotes where based on fact as I’m sure a lot of them were!
This is a great series that’s developing all the qualities I look for in my crime friction. It’s well written, unputdownable and with a gripping storyline that doesn’t pull it punches. It’s also a tough read at times but a relevant one that has left me wanting more! Highly recommended by me!
Unforgivable available to purchase now at Amazon UK
Meet the author…
Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff’s busiest neighbourhoods. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.
Mike has previously had two novels published and was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and was on the list of Waterstones ‘New Voices’. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part series with the BBC.
He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife, children and a senile dog who enjoys eating furniture.