Blog Tour: Breaking the Lore

Hey gang.

I'm here today to talk books at you. I know,  quelle surprise.

I am though, because that's what I do, and I want to chat a little bit about the brilliant Breaking the Lore, which was published in April, and is so much fun. It's part mystery, part fantasy and has been described as the perfect read for fans of Terry Pratchett, which, if that's you (oh hello best friend of mine, that's totally you) then you should totally be giving this book a go.

Guess what though, you don't just have to go with what I say today, because I've got an exclusive extract to share with you, which I reckon will totally whet your whistle and have you heading right out to your closest bookshop.

I'll give you a teeny bit of the blurb shall, I and then go smack bank into the extract...

Inspector Nick Paris is a man of logic and whisky. So staring down at the crucified form of a murder victim who is fifteen centimetres tall leaves the seasoned detective at a loss...and the dead fairy is only the beginning.

You're intrigued already, am I right?

I'm right.

Let's see how you feel after I've introduced you to Malbus, the talking crow...

Paris plonked his empty glass on the coffee table as he let out a long, slow sigh. 
‘Needed that,’ he said.
His living room’s only reply was the ticking of the clock. Quarter past eight, fourteen hours since he’d been called out this morning. Doesn’t time fly, he thought. And it hasn’t even got wings.
He poured himself a refill and considered it for a moment. A cop on his own with a bottle of whisky was hardly an unusual occurrence. Some of them drank due to stress, or depression, or failed marriages. Paris drank because he got paid to. Years ago he’d hit upon a novel way of cracking cases. He would go home, gather his thoughts, study the evidence, analyse the problem – then lubricate his renowned logical brain to work everything out. This method had helped him to solve numerous complicated investigations successfully. So successfully, in fact, that these days his superiors not only knew his technique, they also supplied the alcohol. Of course, the more confusing the assignment, the more working out it required. Paris mulled over the current case. He reflected on the peculiar crime scene, the astonishing corpse. He sighed once more.

‘Looks like I’m going to need another bottle.’
The current one stood on the coffee table in front of him, half empty from previous nights. It occupied pride of place between the ashtray and the screwed-up takeaway wrappings. When she came to clean tomorrow, Mrs Doherty would tell him off. Again.

He plucked his cigarette from the edge of the ashtray. One deep inhale, one slow breath out, then sit back on the sofa. All day long, through mountains of paperwork plus interminable meetings, the mystery had gnawed away at him like a hyperactive beaver. Now, finally, some quiet time. Time to think.

A tapping sound interrupted the tranquillity. Paris turned his head towards the French windows. Long evening shadows of trees spilled in from the garden, with no sign of a person. The inspector got up and walked to the back of the room. He leant against the window to examine the gathering darkness.
The tapping came again, down by his feet. Paris peered at the ground outside. He could just about make out something moving in the gloom. Crouching down, he pressed his face to the glass.
Two black eyes squinted back at him
‘What the hell?’ said Paris. ‘A bloody crow?’
He banged on the window.
‘Shoo! Clear off!’
The crow remained in exactly the same place, indifferent to the protests. Paris stood up to unlock the door. He opened it and waved his foot at the feathered nuisance. ‘Get out of here!’
The bird glared up at him. ‘That’s not very friendly, is it?’
Paris lowered his leg and stared at the creature. Had it really talked to him? In a broad cockney accent?
‘Did – did you just speak?’
‘Course I spoke,’ replied the crow. ‘Do I look like a ventriloquist?’
It tilted its head to one side, peeking around him.
‘You letting me in then?’
Paris moved out of the way, holding onto the window handle to stop himself from falling over. The crow hopped past him, then jumped up and flew onto the coffee table. It appraised the lounge from its new position.
‘Not bad,’ it said, as it strutted around. ‘Even if the place does stink of curry. Bit boring, though. Bit functional. No cushions or photos or stuff. Never settled down, eh? Too busy with your career, I suppose. Know the feeling.’
It circled to face Paris, nodding its head towards his left hand.
‘Gizza fag.’
‘One of them you’re holding. Fag. Tab. Stick of death. Go on. Pretty please.’
Paris let go of the handle and stepped slowly across the room. He fumbled in his shirt pocket for another cigarette. Lighting it with his own one, he bent down, extending his arm so the bird could reach. It closed its beak over the filter tip and began to smoke.
Paris moved round the table to his seat. He lowered himself onto the chair carefully, not taking his gaze off the strange entity in front of him. It appeared the same as every crow he’d ever seen; maybe half a metre long, with glossy black plumage and intense beady eyes. It smelt the way he imagined they would too; of grass and trees and eating from bins. But it sounded like an East End gangster.
At least the damn thing had stopped talking, presumably while it concentrated on getting the cigarette going. Whatever the reason, Paris wasn’t about to complain.
They studied each other warily for a few moments, neither of them speaking. Eventually the visitor broke the silence.
‘You seem kinda shocked.’
Paris blinked and shook his head. ‘Really?’ he said. ‘I’m talking to a crow who’s smoking a fag. So yeah, I’m a little surprised. This isn’t a conversation I ever planned on having.’
‘Me neither. But you know how it is. Times change. Someone gets killed. You’re Inspector Nick Paris, right?’
‘Think so. Unless I’ve become Doctor Dolittle.’
‘Nah,’ replied the bird. ‘You’re still you. I’m Malbus. Saw you this morning, from up in the trees. Heard one of the uniform bods say Inspector Paris is in charge. Course, he didn’t say which detective he’s on about. I had to work it out. Your scientist man hadn’t turned up yet, so there’s a choice between two of you. And there’s a younger bloke, like mid-thirties, big and strong but dopey-looking. I figure it can’t be him. You gotta be the other guy.’

‘The one who isn’t dopey-looking?’
‘The one who’s starting to go grey and getting a bit podgy. Couldn’t talk to you there, though, not with all those other folks around. And it took a while to find you afterwards. Had to do a bit of detective work myself.’
Malbus puffed away, blowing out smoke rings. Paris shook his head again, trying to take everything in. A talking bird. Smoking a cigarette. While criticising his appearance. Gradually his policeman’s logic overcame his confusion. And his indignation.
‘Someone gets killed,’ he repeated. ‘You said “someone”.’
‘I’m using your language. What do you want me to call her? Anyhow, what do you think she is?’
‘We’re still investigating.’
The crow leant towards him. ‘Yeah, yeah. What do you reckon? You personally.’
Paris evaluated the question. He knew how he was supposed to respond, even if he couldn’t accept it himself. In the current circumstances, however, the answer didn’t sound quite so mad.
‘I reckon,’ he said, ‘she’s a fairy.’
Malbus stood up straight. ‘You’d be right. Well done. Her name’s Daffodil.’
‘You knew her?’
The bird ruffled his feathers in what looked like an approximation of a shrug. ‘Friend of a friend.’
Paris frowned. ‘I see. You acquainted with many fairies?’
‘A few. They keep themselves to themselves. Now me, I’ll talk to anyone. Only not normally humans.’
‘So why are you talking to one now?’
The crow hopped closer to him.
‘Because you need my help,’ said Malbus. ‘And we need yours.’
‘Yup. See, young Daffodil being put there on them two chunks of wood: it’s a warning.’

‘A warning?’ said Paris. ‘You mean like a reprisal for being an informant?’
‘Not exactly. If they wanted her for talking, they would’ve stuck her head on a pole. This is much worse. It’s sending a message.’
‘A message to the fairies?’ asked Paris, still struggling to believe this discussion was happening.
‘Not only them. To the goblins, the trolls – to all magic creatures.’
‘How do you know this?’
Malbus looked at him.
‘I’m a talking crow,’ he said. ‘How magical do you want?’
Paris didn’t reply. The bird moved the cigarette round in his beak.
‘Your scientist bloke did brilliant this morning,’ he said. ‘Swiping a doll from the next garden, sticking some tissue paper on the back. Weird enough to make it worth calling you in, rubbish enough to be clearly bogus. Very clever way of keeping things under wraps. Course, me and you understand she ain’t a fake. So who do you think killed her?’
Paris hesitated. Discussing an active case was absolutely not part of normal procedure. This, however, was not a normal case.
‘I told you,’ he said, ‘we’re investigating. I presume we’re after one of those perverts who torture small animals.’
The crow nodded his head. Flakes of ash dropped onto the table.
‘Knew you would. This is why I’m here. You can stop hunting for anybody like that. Matter of fact, you can stop looking for anyone. Well, anyone human.’
Paris almost felt his eyes growing wider. ‘Not human?’
‘This is what the message means. They’re called the Vanethria. And they’ve come to get us.’
Malbus paused. Whether for dramatic effect or simply to have another suck on the stick of death, Paris had no idea. Then again, he had no idea about a lot of things right now. His famously rational mind battled to cope with the current irrational situation. Questions flashed around his head, fighting to come out.
‘Y’see,’ said Malbus, before Paris managed to ask any of them, ‘we’ve been hearing rumours for a couple of weeks now. Things going on which got us a bit concerned, but you lot wouldn’t ever notice. Course, we wanted to check ’em out before we said anything. We were trying to keep things under wraps too. All out in the open now, though, innit? So this is where you come in.’
‘Me?’ asked Paris. ‘What do you mean?’
The crow said nothing, and seemed distracted. He swivelled his head towards the French windows. Paris followed his gaze, peering out into the garden. He could see nothing except darkness.
‘What’s the matter?’ he asked.
‘Heard something,’ replied Malbus, without moving.
Paris faced the bird again. ‘Never mind hearing things. You’re supposed to be telling me what’s going on.’
The crow turned back towards him. He took a long, deep drag on the cigarette. Then he exhaled slowly, as if savouring the taste.
‘’Fraid not,’ he said. ‘Didn’t have as long as I thought. Bugger.’
He leant forward, dropping the fag into the ashtray.
‘You better do some more detective work,’ Malbus said quietly. ‘Get on your interweb thingy. Find out about magical creatures. Everything you can.’
‘That’s it? That’s all you’re telling me?’
‘Yeah. I’ve got to go out there.’ He glanced through the open doorway into the garden.
‘Right,’ said Paris, not fully comprehending what he was agreeing to. ‘Are you okay flying in the dark?’
Malbus cawed. ‘I’m magic, remember? Night-time’s the least of my problems.’
He jumped off the table and flew out the way he had entered. Paris tried to watch him go, but the crow vanished into the blackness as soon as he left the room.
Paris walked over and closed the door. He shook his head.
‘I am definitely going to need another bottle.’

Breaking the Lore is out now and you can get hold of it in eBook form right now. In fact, it's only a bargainous £1.99 on Amazon