The Lies That Bind – DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 1 by Ed Protzel

edIn this darkly ironic, multiple-mystery/drama, even the past cannot suffocate the insatiable human heart.

Driven by overwhelming longings, both the outliers and the establishment in this labyrinthine-plotted tale refuse to accept the roles society has forced upon them.

In 1859, Durksen Hurst, a visionary charlatan on the run, encounters a dozen hungry slaves stranded in the Mississippi wilds. Led by the deceptively simple-looking Big Josh, together, they agree to build their own egalitarian plantation, with Hurst acting as figurehead “master” to hoodwink the town. But wise Big Josh fears that Hurst’s grandiose schemes may doom them all to the hangman’s noose.

In the town, the reclusive widow, Marie Brussard French, manipulates the region’s bankers and cotton brokers, everyone…except her frail, rebellious heir-apparent, Devereau. Driven by unbearable loneliness to mad acts, Devereau threatens to expose the family’s own tenuous façade—which would prove fatal to the Frenches.

Meanwhile, Antoinette DuVallier, a beautiful, Cassandra-like fugitive from New Orleans with mysterious ties to the Frenches, arrives on her own desperate mission. Her overpowering presence detonates long-repressed conflicts, unleashing a devastating upheaval of fire and blood that tears asunder the once-sleepy hamlet.

As the story’s tangled webs of deceit unravel, each startling plot twist and cathartic revelation shines a fresh light on what it means to be a man, a woman, free or enslaved—indeed, what it means to be human.

Title: The Lies That Bind – DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 1

Genre: Historical Novel (U.S. antebellum South)

A review or two:

Talk about imagination! Not only does The Lies That Bind paint a gritty picture of the Antebellum South just before the Civil War, but it does so by creating a fascinating plot with more unforeseen twists than Meryl Streep has accents. The well-executed narrative brings rich characters to life, but like the best storytellers, the author leaves enough room for nuance so readers are able to make the story their own unique experience. This is a page – turner that leaves you feeling enriched about an era of American history.


What a first novel! It seems that for the past few years, well-written novels fall into one of two categories: Either they provide a stroll through a pleasant path, a comforting respite from the madness of the human situation, or they leave me brow furrowed, exhausted from the effort of concentrating on those same problems.

Here’s a novel that entertains with its gamesmanship: The central conceit of playing chess requires careful attention, but attention that doesn’t require the reader to burn brain cells.

Main characters play consequential games of chess, but more exhilarating is the game between the story (the author) and the reader. The former leads the reader along an easy route, only to discover that it has suddenly turned a right angle. While the reader believes only a pawn appears vulnerable, suddenly the board spins and the reader has at least to chuckle. (This reader broke into a giggle when he saw the sudden new direction.)

The book takes the conventions of black and white in chess and turns them on their heads. A bishop flips to become a queen; pawns become knights.

And once the game ends (sort of: This novel marks the start with two more promised to fill out a trilogy), the reader realizes there’s a deeper, more significant set of themes to consider. Having slid easily along, enjoyed some hilarious twists, delightful direction changes, startling shifts, the reader realizes there is more here than a game. The story has dipped deeply into the inherent conflicts of the living out of The American Dream.



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ed2Author bio:

The Lies That Bind is the first novel in Ed Protzel’s planned DarkHorse Trilogy. Ed has written five screenplays for feature film and developed projects for Hollywood. He has a Master’s in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Ed lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he teaches college English.


A GREATER WORLD by Clare Flynn

A Greater World Cover MEDIUM WEBA GREATER WORLD by Clare Flynn

When Elizabeth Morton hears her father wants her to travel to the other side of the world to marry a complete stranger, she decides he must be insane. It’s 1920 and a woman has rights – she might still be too young to vote, but she’s not going to be treated like a chattel. But she’s reckoned without the brother-in-law she’s always despised, who brutally shatters her comfortable world, leaving her no choice but to sail to Australia.

When Michael Winterbourne, a Cumbrian lead miner wakes up with a hangover after his engagement celebrations, he doesn’t know he is about to be the cause of a terrible tragedy that will change his life and destroy his family.

When Michael and Elizabeth meet on the SS Historic, bound for Sydney, they are reluctant emigrants from England. They may start to hope their troubles are over, but they’ll find they’re only just beginning.

A Greater World is set in the early 1920s, a period of transition between the old pre-World War One way of life and the post-War, with the coming Depression, major social change and the evolving role of women in society.
The setting moves from the dales of Cumberland and the docks of Liverpool to Sydney and the beautiful Blue Mountains.

What people have said about A Greater World

“A hugely compelling story that was difficult for me to put down. I was immediately transported to another world.”

“A beautifully written love story that survives against all the odds. The author has great skill in writing good dialogue which gives the story pace and heightens the drama and tension right up until the last page.”

“A great page-turner for the Summer. Twists and turns and the (inevitable!) happy ending. I look forward to Ms Flynn’s next book.”

“Really enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down. Loved the characters and the atmosphere of Australia at that time. A good story well told.”

“An absorbing read”

“Twists and turns all along and a lovely ending”

“Absorbing, exciting, humorous in parts, racy, heart wrenching and epic”

(Reviews from Amazon, Facebook and author website)

About the Author
Clare Flynn lives in the UK in west London and runs a successful strategic management company although much of her time these days is spent writing. She speaks fluent Italian and loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, splash about with watercolours and travel as often and as widely as possible.

The first draft of A Greater World was lost when her laptop was stolen – so with gritted teeth she sat down and wrote it again – and is grateful to the burglar as it was much better next time around. Her next novel, Kurinji Flowers, set in India in the 1930s and 40s will be published later in 2014

More information on her fiction can be found at

Links to the book
A Greater World is available as an e-book exclusively on Amazon and in paperback in Amazon, Create Space and Barnes & Noble and other bookstores

Amazon UK
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The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard

TGF front

The Ghostly Father

Romeo & Juliet – was this what really happened?

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome…

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.


Sue Barnard author picAbout the Author:

Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase “non-working mother” would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she’d write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t, is due for release in July 2014.

You can find Sue on Facebook, Twitter, or follow her blog here.


The Golden Grave by David Lawlor

THE GOLDEN GRAVE The Golden Grave (historical fiction)
1920 – Former British soldier turned republican fighter Liam Mannion is on the run with a price on his head. He looks up with old comrade Ernie Wood, who is being lured back to the battlefields on the Western Front in search of lost gold.
The source of the story is Liam’s former lover, Sabine Durer, who ran a soldier’s bar close to the frontline. Blinded by thoughts of her and buried treasure, Ernie and Liam enlist three other ex-soldiers to find it.
. What starts out as a simple excavation soon becomes much more. Wartime memories and old rivalries are resurrected. The men discover that Sabine has not told them the whole story and that their lives are in danger, but who can you rely on when greed and lust cloud your judgment beneath Flanders’ fields?

DavidAUTHOR BIO: David Lawlor is Associate Editor with The Herald newspaper in Ireland and has been writing features, reviews and working as a produciton journalist in national newspapers for 22 years.

David has written four novels and is currently working on his fifth. This is the second novel in his ‘Liam Mannion’ series. David lives in Greystones, Ireland, with his wife and four children.


5.0 out of 5 starsCracking yarn, hits all the right notes: characters, action, intrigue, settingApril 29, 2013

By Scott Whitmore

Review is based on a copy of the novel provided by the author for that purpose.

What would it take to convince a group of British ex-servicemen to return to the killing fields of Flanders after the Great War? The very location where, just two years earlier, they had endured a hellish, kill-or-be-killed existence in the trenches, knee-deep in stinking mud, senses assaulted by the pounding of artillery, and surrounded by the dead — many whose bodies were violently torn apart by shells and bullets, taking part in futile mass charges into spitting machine guns, choking on mustard gas.

What would it take? Why, gold of course. Enough of the precious metal to set a man up for a lifetime of luxury, enough to make him forget the horrors he experienced — and continues to live through in heart-stopping nightmares — in the very same clay he’ll have to dig through to recover that gold.

In “The Golden Grave,” David Lawlor (@LawlorDavid) has once again written a cracking yarn set during the post-war period, filled with exciting action, intrigue and well-drawn characters led by Liam Mannion, the protagonist of the author’s debut novel, “Tan” (see my review).

Liam, who is on the run from the British after his actions as a member of the Irish Republican Army, and his mates embark on the adventure at the behest of Sabine, a stunning temptress who ran a bar behind the lines where British soldiers would go to enjoy a brief respite from the mayhem of the front. Many a man had his eye on Sabine, and she was more than happy to encourage their interest while selling them beer and cigarettes.

Sabine’s a survivor who just happens to know about a shipment of gold that went missing in the aftermath of the British offensive on Messines Ridge, which has been called “the greatest mining attack” in history. Nineteen large mines were detonated within seconds of each other along a narrow front, temporarily collapsing German resistance as well as the bunker hiding the gold.

There are several sub-plots in play and Mr. Lawlor does an exceptional job keeping the reader in suspense, never giving too much away while at the same time letting us know things are not what they seem. Although the pace of the story moves smoothly, the truth is revealed slowly, to great effect, and there are more than a few surprises in store right up to the end.

The author sets a wonderful scene, especially in the ruined battlefield. Two years after the war life is returning to normal, but the scars are never far from view: flowers bloom around shell holes and livestock graze in fields lined by trenches choking with skeletal bodies and discarded war equipment. The war also left indelible marks on the men who fought it, from the aforementioned nightmares to other, more serious behaviors. As he did in “Tan,” Mr. Lawlor explores the emotional cost of the Great War, which for many men was both the greatest and most exciting undertaking of their lives and the most horrible.

“The Golden Grave” is a deeply satisfying story that hits all the right marks: action, adventure, plot twists and surprises, great setting, a bit of romance and memorable characters. I loved it and recommend it wholeheartedly. I became a fan of Mr. Lawlor after reading “Tan,” and hope he keeps writing stories like that and “The Golden Grave.” For more from him, check out his blog,

5.0 out of 5 starsA James Bond-type thrillerMay 28, 2013

By CarolB

In THE GOLDEN GRAVE, David Lawlor tells a “can’t put it down” story wrapped in a fascinating period of history. In this story, Irishman Liam Mannion and several of his war buddies return to the French countryside where they’d only recently fought in the deadly trenches during WWI. It had not occurred to me that years after fighting ended, there would still be teams of people out recovering bodies from those battlefields. Getting my head around that idea alone made the war and the aftermath as vivid as anything else Lawlor could have written. Add in the likelihood of encountering canisters of mustard gas and other unexploded ordinance, and the men are literally taking their lives in their hands again as they pursue the treasure that brought them there.

As he did in TAN, the first novel in this series, Lawlor created complex male and female characters I loved and others I loved to hate. But don’t get too attached. As in war, there is no assurance any of the characters in this novel will make it out of Flanders Fields alive. Plot twists and action as fast paced as anything you’ll find in a James Bond movie kept me on my toes. In fact, as I read, I could easily imagine Liam Mannion as James Bond.

THE GOLDEN GRAVE is a sequel that can be read independently, though I don’t recommend it. TAN is another great story and it provides important backstory for Mannion. If you enjoy historical action adventure, after you read Lawlor’s novels, you’ll be as ready as I am for the third book in this series.



Twitter: @LawlorDavid