Book Review: Bully Boy Blue, by John Nicholl

Publication date:  13th March 2017

Bully Boy Blue reinforces this author’s trademark to confront sensitive topics head on. This standalone novella may be mini but it’s incredibly mighty.

It voices the raw realism of domestic abuse, capturing the undiluted cruelty of the perpetrator and the torment that his target endures day after relentless day.

The non-believers who dismiss ‘distress signals’ due to the authority of the abuser’s identity shows just how easily victims can be kept captive in a life that is not their own, until all that remains are extreme solutions with unexpected consequences.

Making no attempt to conceal the harrowing daily challenges, it’s not a pleasant read by any stretch of the imagination. But I found it extraordinarily compelling, if only to learn more about the catalyst that may end Kathy’s despair.

In my very recent experience the condensed format of the shorter story makes it difficult to harness substance, atmosphere and characterisation, but Bully Boy Blue ticks ALL the aforementioned boxes. Within the limited time frame of just over seventy pages a genuinely intriguing progression results in the most perfectly satisfying conclusion, which is both powerful and impressive.

Rating:  4/5

 (My thanks to the author for providing a copy of this title for which it is my pleasure to offer an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her abusive bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

A gripping page-turner of a psychological thriller packed with suspense. Discover John Nicholl’s chilling new novella today.


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

John Nicholl, an ex police officer, child protection social worker and lecturer, has written three dark psychological suspense thrillers, each of which have been Amazon international bestsellers, reaching # 1 in multiple categories in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, Canada and the USA. John is always happy to hear from readers, bloggers or the media, and can be contacted via his author website at: Rights enquiries should be directed to Mr Toby Mundy – Literary agent at TMA.




Book Review: A Suitable Lie, by Michael J Malone

Publisher:   Orenda

Publication date:  15th September 2016 (Paperback )


a-suitable-lie-coverFeeling like an intrusive fly on the wall I read this book during an uncomfortably compelling 24 hours.

The beginning is full of hope, as a widower with a young son meets a young woman who offers him a rare and unexpected chance of happiness. The middle is riddled with disbelief at just how well marital carnage can go undetected if you can become practised in telling A Suitable Lie. The conclusion is ingeniously twisted drama at its finest.

As this story proves, never assume anything. No one has the faintest idea of what goes on behind closed doors, or how they would react if they realised they were living with an abuser. Learning that the receiver of this abuse was a broad shouldered, strong minded, career driven male with the full support of his family took my breath away and was a stark reminder that it can happen to anyone.

Seeing how any individual’s personality is painfully manipulated until their confidence is diminished is dreadful to witness, but how does an ordinary family man respond? He’s no stranger to fighting his corner in a pub brawl or dealing with cantankerous customers at the bank, but in his own home does he stand there and take it all, or defend himself and risk being accused of being a wife beater?  It’s a difficult call. How do you escape such a mentally, emotionally, and physically draining situation, learning your new family is growing and the only choice you have is to do nothing, other than reluctantly accept your wife’s Jekyll and Hyde nature believing your own sacrifice will be enough to protect them?

Andy Boyd’s submissive behaviour following the regular humiliation carried out by his wife, Anna, never seems enough for her, so she approaches their intimate moments with new levels of vindictiveness.

Watching Andy become an expert in eggshell walking was excruciating to see, more so as he became withdrawn from his previously buoyant personality. Some scenes are more difficult to digest than others, but as I watched him on the verge of breaking the strength and composure he demonstrated in front of his children revealed more about his character than anything else.

You can see people hovering with concern at the edge of his life, but not really knowing the cause or extent of his problems they are powerless to guide him on a journey of endurance as dark, dark thoughts enter his mind. But it’s not just Andy Boyd who is suffering, as we meet a few other characters who are praying for release from a personal nightmare they are also living. There are so many secrets being hidden by those afraid that the truth consume them if they admit it to anyone, but mostly themselves.

A Suitable Lie is relentlessly shocking and intensely suffocating at times. Despite the sensitive subject matter and acutely distressing scenes it’s staggeringly well written and impossible to walk away from.

Rating:  4/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review.)


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s top crime writers.

‘A terrific read, finished it in one sitting. Disturbing but compulsive. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Loved it’ –Martina Cole

For fans of Mel Sherratt, C.L. Taylor and Angela Marsons.



(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.

BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website and is blog, May Contain Nuts.