The Abattoir of Dreams: Still Being Discovered Three Years On

On 28th February 2017, The Abattoir of Dreams was published. With the help of some supportive and enthusiastic book bloggers, the book began to gather some fantastic praise and reviews. Although the story does include the subject of institutional child abuse, readers have also said that the friendship, love and trust between the two main protagonists, Michael and Liam, are what has kept the book in their minds a long time after reading it. Here are just a few of the reviewers thoughts on the book:

‘I have to mention briefly Michael’s relationship with his childhood pet Oxo as well as Liam who he befriends in the boys home. These relationships moved me to tears and are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.’
5* from Sarah Hardy @ By The Letter Book Reviews.

‘The characters in the book grabbed my heart – Michael – seriously my heart was torn out reading his journeys – the wasted opportunities for him to be saved; the adults who let him down and horrors he faced, I wanted to reach into the pages and rescue him! Liam – I loved – he was not willing to stand back and let the bad guys win and I cheered for him throughout, what a strong and determined character!’
5* from Sharon Bairden @ Chapter In My Life.

‘Liam Truman is someone we meet along the way and my heart went out to this kid. Tough on the outside, his loyalty, friendship and desire to protect those he cared about …no matter what the cost….really pulled at my heartstrings!’
5* from Noelle Holten @ Crime Book Junkie

Here’s an extract from the book that shows the friendship and humour that can be shared, even in difficult situations. Michael and Liam have run away from Woodside, a children’s home. They’ve found a way into a run down and empty pub:

‘We’re in luck,’ Liam said.
I could think of better words to describe the place. Shithole, sprang to mind. ‘What?’
He pointed at a small plastic square set in the bottom of the door. ‘It’s got a cat-flap.’
I was about to remind him we weren’t cats, when he unhooked his rucksack, dropped onto his knees, and tugged at the flap. Within a few seconds, it came free. He held up a hand triumphantly, and then pushed his way inside. I wouldn’t say it was a tight squeeze, but it had probably been easier for his mother to give birth to him. He pushed and grunted, shoes scrabbling on the ground for a foothold. Eventually, he
popped through the hole.
A few seconds later, he poked his head back through the hole.
‘Come on, Mikey. Pass your bag and my rucksack through. Then,come in.’
He looked so happy, as if, for the first time in his life, he’d played a game and won. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting through there. I was slightly bulkier than him, and a damn sight less enthusiastic. But, it was better than nothing, and nothing was all we had right now. I passed the rucksack and my small canvas bag through.
‘Careful. You’ll squish the cakes,’ he said, grinning like a clown.
I suppose it was inevitable. I got stuck halfway through. To tell the truth and shame the devil, as my Aunt Jean used to say before she got her loyalties all muddled up, my arse got stuck.
And then one of my shoes fell off.
It’s hard to explain the panic that sets in when you can’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I felt dizzy. Liam grew two grinning heads. He tried to pull me through the flap, but the harder he pulled, the more I flapped (no pun intended). To make matters worse, I caught my knackers on the metal rim of the blasted thing. Searing pain ripped up into my belly.
‘Can’t you push with your feet at the same time as I pull?’
‘I’m trying.’
‘Well try harder.’
‘You pull harder.’
He did. And virtually castrated me. ‘YOW! My nuts. My fucking nuts.’
He stopped pulling. ‘How am I supposed to help you if you keep squealing like a girl about your bollocks?’
‘Girls haven’t got bollocks,’ I shouted.
‘I doubt they’d make as much fuss as you if they did.’
‘Seriously, Liam. They feel as if they’re in my guts.’
He laughed. ‘Watch you don’t get yourself pregnant.’
‘Ha, ha, very—’
Without warning, he yanked again. Harder. Short sharp jerks, like Oxo on his lead when he saw a cat. And then I was through. Lying on a filthy kitchen floor, with my chin resting on a large coconut mat.
‘What a girl.’
I was off that mat and up in an instant. I think Liam thought I was going to hit him. I never told him the real reason for my sudden burst of energy: a spider. More related to a money-spider than a tarantula, but a spider all the same.

Later on the book both Liam (Truman) and Michael (Tate) have been ‘charged’ with criminal offences in a kangaroo court in the boiler room underneath Woodside. DI Carver, and teachers Kraft and Malloy, play judge and jury as Liam maintains his strength and courage:

Carver referred to his notebook. ‘Truman is charged with theft, criminal damage, unauthorised absence, wilful neglect, assault, arson, carrying a weapon with intent to endanger life, resisting arrest, abusing a man of the cloth, blasphemy, and dereliction of duty.’
Kraft nodded, as each of the trumped-up charges was read out. He shouted across the room to Liam. ‘Do you understand the charges, Mr. Truman?’
Liam hung from the railing, like an animal in a butcher’s shop window. ‘Fuck you.’
Kraft shook his head. ‘I see the prisoner has lost none of his appetite for insolence. Have you anything to say in your defence, Mr. Truman?’
Liam didn’t answer. He made a hacking noise in the back of his throat and spat on the floor.
Kraft turned to Malloy. ‘Can defence offer any mitigation for the prisoner?’
Malloy shook his head. ‘Unfortunately not, your honour. Truman has always been an awkward character. He has consistently shown a flagrant disregard for authority. On reflection, he might have benefited from a stricter approach regarding discipline, but,
as I’m sure you’re aware, your honour, hindsight is a wonderful thing.’
‘Indeed. But, it is not the duty of this court to rake over the ashes of a prisoner’s past. What’s done is done. I understand the prisoner’s father committed suicide?’
Malloy preened himself like a strutting peacock. ‘That is the case, your honour.’
Kraft looked at Liam. ‘The apple never falls far from the tree, does it, young man?’
Liam held his head as high as he could and looked Kraft in the eye. ‘No. And sometimes people end up swinging from that same tree.’
Kraft banged his mallet down hard enough to split the wood.
‘I see that tongue of yours makes a very effective noose. I would like to remind you that you’re in a court of law. Everything you say can and will be used as evidence against you.’
Liam turned away, his face crushed by pain.
Kraft addressed Carver again. ‘You say the prisoner resisted arrest?’
‘Yes, your honour. We pleaded with both defendants to see sense, but Truman seemed to take some sort of perverse pleasure in taunting us. He said he’d poured petrol down the cellar steps, and he would set fire to it if anyone came through the door. We didn’t have a key, your honour. The best we could do was try to appeal to their better nature.’
Kraft adjusted his wig and dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief. ‘It might be fair to surmise characters such as these don’t possess a better nature.’
‘I fear you’re right, your honour,’ Carver said. ‘That has already been made apparent by the prisoners’ behaviour in the church.’
‘As I can unfortunately bear witness to. His language was both foul and abhorrent.’ He turned to me. ‘Why did you go to the church, Tate?’
To rob the place. ‘I don’t know.’
‘If I might offer a suggestion, your honour,’ Carver intervened. ‘They went there to steal.’
‘Steal what, Mr. Carver?’
‘Perhaps the gold candlesticks?’
Kraft wrote something down on a jotter. ‘Is that true, Tate?’
‘No.’
Kraft turned to Carver. ‘I’d be interested to know why they went to the church, Detective Inspector. The vicar is a personal friend of mine. I’m sure he would appreciate an answer. It might be prudent to see if you can elicit one from Truman.’
‘Certainly, your honour.’ He walked over to Liam and stood a few feet in front of him. ‘You heard the judge. He wants to know the real reason why you went to the church.’
Liam tried to straighten his head and look Carver in the eye. His breath rattled in the back of his throat. His glasses were perched precariously on the end of his nose. ‘We… went…there… to… pray…’
‘Pray for what, boy?’ Kraft said. ‘Salvation?’
‘To… pray… you… lot… die… a… slow… and… painful…death…’

If you’d like to see how Michael and Liam became friends and what happens next, then you can find the book using this link. I hope that you enjoy the rest of it.

As always, thank you for your continued support, and special thanks to all those who continue to praise and recommend The Abattoir of Dreams.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Near-Death Experiences – Fact or Fiction?

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are profound psychic experiences commonly occurring in life-threatening conditions. They include feeling a sense of peace, of seeing a bright light, encountering deceased relatives or religious figures, and of transcending space and time. NDEs may occur in adults or children, have been reported from the time of Plato, and in a variety of cultures around the world. They are one part of a spectrum of significant human spiritual experiences.  An experience can be deeply significant and meaningful to the person going through it, without meeting the strict definition of NDE.  Such experiences may be referred to as “NDE-like experiences”.

In my fifth novel, The Key to Death’s Door, 14 year old Lee Hunter drowns and has a NDE. Here’s a small extract:

I tried to call out to Charlie. Tell him what was happening, but the words were washed down my throat with another mouthful of the river. Then I sank. No more sky. No more riverbank. No more Charlie. Just greenish-brown slimy water everywhere. My mind screamed at my legs to work, demanded one last push, but all my legs delivered was an excruciating pain that reached right up into my groin and squeezed my balls.

       Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it, my mind chanted. I tried to use my hands to pull upwards, but you can’t grip water, even when your life depends on it. My heart thumped in my throat. Continue reading

Book review of Exclusion Zone by J. M Hewitt

Exclusion ZoneBook Description:

On 26th April 1986, reactor four exploded at the factory in Pripyat, Chernobyl.

At the same time teenager Afia Bello vanished from her home without a trace. The damage from the nuclear fallout is examined over the following weeks, months and years by Afia’s younger sister Sissy, as she unwittingly uncovers clues relating to her sister’s disappearance, and the secret life that Afia kept hidden from her family. In the summer of 2015 Private Detective Alex Harvey is hired to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring within the exclusion zone. He can think of only one person to bring along with him to help; Ukrainian national Elian Gould. Elian – who was adopted at birth – has her own reasons for accepting the job; namely to search for her own family history which has always been a mystery to her. But the remaining citizens of Chernobyl are hiding their own secrets and with a darker force at work, the missing person’s case suddenly turns into something much more serious.

Exclusion Zone is a gripping thriller that will keep readers hooked to the last page.

Extract:
A man clutching a shirt to his face rushes past and I reach out and grab him.
“What has happened?” I ask
He slows to a stop and sags against me. I push him upright and he teeters for a moment before dropping to his knees. The shirt falls to the ground and I stare at his blooded face. I pick up his shirt and press it into his hands, silently willing him to cover up the macabre mask that used to be his face. He flaps the material at me and I lurch away from the drops of blood. He tries to get up, stumbles back to the ground and crawls away from me.
As I walk onwards I see more men like him. They line the road, dazed and bleeding. The closer I get to the building the worse off they seem. At the gate to the factory there is a man sitting in the road. He claws at his face, his mouth stretched in a silent scream. He does not see me approach as he is too busy trying to hold the skin onto his face. Muscle, skin and bloody tissue slips through his fingers.
I am aware that my balance has gone, I am light headed and I drop to my knees and pull myself backwards away from the gate. Now I am too dazed, just like the men who litter the road around me.
Last year, I thought what I witnessed between Afia and Niko was the worst thing I could ever see. Now I know I was wrong. That carnal act, although brutal and violating was life. This, what I see before now, this is death. Continue reading