Blog Tour- David McCaffrey- Hellbound- Review and Extract

 

Hellbound Poster

Obadiah Stark aka The Tally Man, is executed at ADX Absolom, his death sentence watched by the world’s media, victim relatives and one investigative reporter, Joe O Connell. Penning an account of Stark’s personal history and subsequent crimes in the hope of determining what elements make the sociopathic mind tick, Joe discovers clues and inconsistencies which cause him to investigate Stark’s execution. While this is happening in the real world, Obadiah Stark awakens to an afterlife where he has a wife and daughter bound to his childhood hometown in Ireland. Following his natural predatory instinct, Obadiah proceeds to torment the town, committing multiple murders before being gunned down by the police. He awakens to find that everything has reset, with no one recalling his murderous spree a reality which offers no escape. As the scenes repeat, he is forced to submit to emotions he has never experienced before… and with it, a poisonous dose of morality…

Hellbound, by debut novelist David McCaffrey, quickly reveals itself as a serial killer thriller that goes beyond the normal tropes of the genre. Moreover, what transpires between its pages, is an intelligent and balanced exploration of the possibility of love and redemption for those capable of the most heinous acts. The book is punctuated by not only the psychological reports undertaken on Stark after his capture, but also by the omniscient narrator’s observations on the death penalty and the power of redemption that add a real punch to the reader’s own emotional responses to the central plotline. As we view Stark’s experiences post- death sentence, we are fully immersed in his emotional struggle as he embarks on a path to redemption through the interaction with his albeit virtual family consisting of a wife and a daughter. As he seeks to dampen down the more destructive aspects of his own psyche, imbued with the unconditional love of his family, he himself begins to be morally tested when their safety is compromised. It’s an interesting psychological exploration of the nature of evil in what could ostensibly be simply labelled as a thriller, and one which McCaffrey achieves admirably throughout.

Building on the strength of the psychological ruminations of the story, McCaffrey’s strong characterisation is another stand-out feature of the book. I grew to like Stark very much as we begin to bear witness to the man behind the mask, and our minds begin to question the validity of the death penalty for individuals such as him. Although seemingly unrepentant from the outset for his killing spree, the life beyond his death really brings to the fore the inner emotions and the propensity for love that he has buried for so long. Responding to the threats on his family a different man emerges, and there is a real feel that his could have been a life well-lived under different circumstances, shoring up the author’s questioning of the validity of the death penalty. Likewise, O’Connell, embarking on the writing of Stark’s life story, and the bizarre anomalies surrounding Stark’s death, acts as a good counterpoint to Stark’s seeming lack of morality. O’Connell handles his research with sensitivity, demonstrating his solid moral compass, before being sucked in to the onerous world of a mysterious organisation called The Brethren, who exact their own cruel and unusual form of punishment on Stark. Naturally, O’Connell finds himself the victim of violence and manipulation, but also acts as a conduit for the reader’s own changing viewpoint on the question of redemption, and was an extremely likeable character indeed.

Aside from a few niggles over some aspects of the dialogue structure, I felt a very positive response to Hellbound as a book that challenged my own opinions and beliefs, Compounded by the fact that McCaffrey is a debut author, I thought it a well-structured and intelligent book, that also ticked the necessary boxes in marking it out as a gripping and pacey crime read. All in all, a thriller that makes you think, but keeps you entertained as well.

EXTRACT

The darkness drops again but now I know that twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle. And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.

William Butler Yeats

Chapter Nine

September 28th

20:06

O’Dywers, Ashe Street, Tralee (Trá Lí)

County Kerry, Ireland

Evil can be subtle, insidious, capable of infiltrating the most secure of philosophies and ideologies, planting its ‘vicious mole of nature’ in even the most righteous of minds. Oligarchies and organisations can be founded with the most noble of aspirations in mind, and yet find themselves becoming the most capricious of despots, with their power resting amongst a small segment of society, the wealthy, royalty, military and corporate. But what constitutes an evil act? To answer that, it must first be defined what evil actually is. Is slapping one’s child considered evil? Were the acts committed at Auschwitz during wartime evil? The rape and murder of children? Is it the act which is evil, or the person who commits it?

* * *

Daylight was a distant memory by the time Joe arrived at O’Dywer’s. Despite the month, the air was warm as he finished the last of his cigarette outside the entrance to the pub. Anyone who smoked in Ireland nowadays was pretty much made to feel like a leper, the social ostracisation akin to being an endangered species. Joe was immune to the attention it now brought. He had only ever been a social smoker anyway, and given he was about to have a pint, it was his excuse for having one now. The open fire to his right was burning as Joe stepped through the doorway. He made his way down the narrow walkway adjacent to the bar, stopping long enough to order a pint of Guinness before removing his coat and taking a seat on the brown, velvet banquette in the empty booth at the bottom as instructed by his mysterious caller. The Guinness was refreshingly cold as Joe took a long drink, emptying half the glass. He realised he hadn’t been here in a while. He had always preferred O’Dwyer’s around this time, its early evening occupants mostly consisting of regulars ruminating over the newspaper or talking about their day at work. The sounds of the hushed conversation and the smell of brewed hops and whiskey were comforting. A presence made itself known by sliding onto the bench opposite. Glancing at his watch, Joe realised he must have dozed off. The man before him was stocky, built like a rugby player. Middle aged with auburn hair thinning on top, he had the intense stare of someone who took life extremely seriously. His black coat with its wide collars, buttoned almost right to the top, made him look like a spy from an old 1930’s movie. Joe rubbed his eyes and quickly centered himself, shuffling forwards on the bench slightly. “Hello,” he said firmly. “Can I get you anything to drink?” His journalistic instincts kicked in, knowing he could get more from someone if they felt at ease. The stranger glanced from side to side, quickly checking behind him and towards the bar before speaking. “No, I’m fine.” His Belfast-accented voice was strong, the voice of someone used to having people do as he told them. “So, mate. Can I ask who you are?” He paused before speaking. “Peter Stamford.” His hands were clasped in front of him, the thumbs methodically working around each other in a thoughtful fashion. Joe took another mouthful of Guinness as he assessed the man before him. So far, he wasn’t giving much away. “So, Mr. Stamford. Why am I here?” “I work at Absolom, Mr. O’Connell. I was one of Obadiah Stark’s strap-down guards.” Joe shifted in his seat. “Okay, you have my attention.” Stamford leaned towards Joe, his breath smelling like he had already frequented a pub before arriving here. “You were there, when he died, at the back of the room. What did you see?” Joe smiled at the direct nature of the question. “Straight to the point. Okay, what did I see? Well, I saw one of history’s most infamous serial killers strapped to a table, receiving a cocktail of non-recreational medications, whilst most of the world’s media and a dozen or so people who wished him dead looked on. Am I missing anything?” Stamford smiled a knowing smile. “You’re missing everything.” “Oh, really? Okay, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you’re not jerking my chain. What did I miss?” Joe did little to hide the intrigue in his tone. “What do you really know about Absolom, Mr. O’Connell? Did you know that we pretty much provide an environment where the inmates eat, sleep and defecate in their cells and only leave them for one hour a day? With the full support of the Government, we have ensured that the prisoners never allowed themselves the audacity of hope that they would ever see the light of day as free men.” “That’s quite a profound statement,” Joe said quietly. Stamford ignored him and continued.Joe Fort imprisoned on drug trafficking charges; the only Irishman ever convicted of terrorism for hire. Santiago Margarito Rangel Varelas, murdered his two year old stepdaughter with kicks to the head. Upon investigation she also had numerous broken ribs and had been sodomised, all injuries Varelas told the police she had sustained having fallen at home. Stuart Swango, physician and serial killer. David York, serving 135 years for child molestation. Mohammed Rassim, one of the four former al-Qaeda members sentenced to life imprisonment in 2007 for their parts in the London July 7th bombings. The list goes on. I can’t think of one inmate there who deserves any leniency or compassion of the slightest modicum. And then you had Obadiah Stark.” Stamford hesitated for a moment as though thinking. “He never showed signs that any of those measures had any deterrent effect on him. He was simply a vacant, black hole of a human being. I hesitate to even call him a man, as he seemed to lack the most basic human emotions. There was no empathy, no remorse, not even hatred. Varelas demonstrated anger at his incarceration, denying he had committed a crime. Stark didn’t emote at all. You simply couldn’t gage the man for a baseline. He never caused any trouble, but you could see it in his eyes. It was more than darkness. It was simply…emptiness, as though he had no soul.” Stamford’s voice slowed as though recalling Obadiah had forced him to experience a deep disquiet. “Stark was kept in Sector 17; call it an ‘ultramax’ within the supermax. A group of cells where there is virtually no human contact whatsoever, not even with the guards. Almost the entirety of Stark’s incarceration at Absolom was spent in Sector 17.” Joe’s expression remained impassive as he finished his pint and wiped his top lip. “Okay, I can count at least four violations of civil liberties going on at Absolom, but assuming I actually give a crap that they are happening to criminals, why should any of this interest me?” “It should interest you, Joe, because you’re not reading between the lines. What I’ve just told you illustrates how well oiled a machine Absolom is. There are no mistakes or oversights. It has a perfect record for a reason. Which is why what I am going to tell you is all the more disturbing.”

HELLBOUND  is available to buy at  Amazon.co.uk

David lives in Redcar in the North East of England and works as an Infection Prevention and Control nurse in a local Acute trust. A huge fan of Steve Alten, John Grisham and Lee Childs, David loves reading as much as he enjoys writing. Hellbound is his first novel, all thanks to Britains Next Bestseller and the aforementioned Steve Alten who took a chance on him as a writing coach client and taught him so much about what it takes to be a writer. A self professed geek, David loves Doctor Who, Arrow, Supernatural, Batman, Superman, D.C Comics, Person of Interest, Continuum, Gotham, Star Wars, The Flash, The Walking Dead, The Blacklist…beginning to see a pattern here? He also knows he only exists as an author because of you, so thank you very much. Learn more about Hellbound and upcoming projects at www.davidmccaffrey.net Follow on Twitter @daveymac1975 and on Facebook here

(With thanks to the author for the ARC)

 

 

Attention budding authors! BNBS announces a quest to find Britain’s Next Bestsellers…

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Competition alert – on a quest to find Britain’s Next Bestsellers!!

The announcement of the launch of a fantastic new writing competition on December 1st 2014. Britain’s Next Bestseller.co.uk B(BNBS) and Scriggler.com are teaming up to look for the best 10 crime/thriller short stories to feature in a compilation book. The 10 shortlisted stories will get a crowd-funding campaign that may see their story published and sold around the world. All author royalties earned from the book sales will be donated to “The Hope Academy for Girls” – A self-sustaining, multi-purpose school for at-risk girls in the western rural area of Sierra Leone, West Africa. So not only could you get to see your work in print, but you could help to fund the education of young girls in West Africa. A cause very close to our hearts.

The competition runs from 1st December 2014 until 31st January 2015 and is open to ALL authors whatever your country of residence. So whether you have always wanted to write a short story or you have a manuscript under your bed, you have until 31st January to enter. Remember the theme is crime/thriller and ideally word count should not exceed 7,500 words. But don’t fret if it does. Once you have your manuscript ready you will need to register with Scriggler.com and publish your story to their site. Details on how to do this are below.

The overall winner will also see their story’s title chosen as the compilation’s title. Each winner will receive 10 free copies of the book and a 50% discount on any further copies they would like to purchase once published.

Britain’s Next Bestseller are proud to be joining forces with Scriggler.com in their quest to find Britain’s Next Bestsellers. We hope you are as excited as we are!

How will we select the winners?

  • A shortlist of stories will be created on the basis of points (Scriggles) they receive from the audience. 
  • The final list of 10-12 stories for the book will be selected from this shortlist by the judges.
  • The winning stories will be put together into one collection.
  • The overall winner will see the title of their story used as the title of the entire collection.
  • Winners will be notified within 28 days of the competition closing. Should the number of entrants exceed expectations and longer time be required for judging, the entrants will be made aware of this via social media channels so we would encourage entrants to continue following both BNBS and Scriggler on Twitter and/or Facebook after the competition has ended.

How will the crowdfunding campaign work?

 

  • BNBS will create a project page on www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk for the collection.
  • BNBS will create a short trailer video for the book, a book cover and populate the project page, all of this is free of charge. Browse the manuscripts on BNBS site for examples.
  • The Authors of the winning entries together with BNBS and Scriggler, will then need to secure 250 pre-orders for the book between them within 8 weeks of launching the crowdfunding campaign. This should be very achievable.
  • 12 weeks later the book will be printed. BNBS will look to secure shelf space with the appropriate booksellers.

 

How do you register and publish on Scriggler.com?

  • Registration on Scriggler is very straightforward and only takes a minute.
  • Once registered authors are able to publish immediately.
  • Authors maintain all rights to their publications and can remove them from the platform at any time.
  • All publications are promoted by Scriggler via other social media outlets.
  • In order to take part in this competition, participants must publish their entries in the ‘Story’ category and use ‘BNBS’ as a tag.
  • All entries are eligible for the standard monthly writing contest run on Scriggler, with winners receiving additional promotion as a prize. This will not have an impact on BNBS competition as the final shortlist will be chosen by the panel of judges.

 

What are the publishing agreement terms?

 

  • The royalties’ are 50% net receipts. However the Author’s royalties in this instance will go to The Hope Academy for Girls – for information about the great work they do go to www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/index.php/sites/giving_back
  • If the crowdfunding campaign is successful, Authors will get 10 free copies of the published collection and be able to buy additional copies at 50% discount once published.
  • If the book is published, the author licences BNBS to publish, print, sell and distribute their book. The author retains the copyright.

Introducing BNBS

Hopefully we have explained everything you need to know about the competition. Now a little about BNBS and Scriggler. BNBS launched in March 2014. We offer authors a new, fairer, more profitable and faster way to publish their manuscripts. We empower readers so they can decide the books that get published. The books they want to read! And it would appear that both writers and readers agree this is a good idea… in the first seven months of business 16 authors have been awarded publishing deals already!

 How Does BNBS Work?

Any UK author can submit a manuscript to us. As long as it is unpublished and fully edited. We agree a pre-order target (usually around 250 books) and a deadline (8 to 16 weeks). Our authors have access to a vibrant online platform via www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk and powerful social media tools. They must demonstrate demand for their book by securing their target pre-orders. If they do they are guaranteed a publishing contract, with industry beating royalties. They will then see their book go from manuscript to printed masterpiece in just 12 weeks. The more popular a manuscript is, the more resources we throw at it to make it a Bestseller. If the public want to read it we want to publish it!

Readers get a great deal too… browse exciting manuscripts, search out and support that next bestselling author, their name printed in every edition of the book, along with getting a copy of the book two weeks before public release.

Introducing our new friends Scriggler

Scriggler.com is the first content platform focused on helping authors maximise their outreach. A hub for writers, poets, thinkers, scientists, activists – anyone looking to share their writing on any topic, in any genre, in any level of detail. Contributors keep the rights to their work. All publications are easily sharable, authors get access to analytics on audience engagement. There is a number of tools and algorithms for the readers to discover content relevant to them. Scriggler aims to democratise the information flow and make it easy to connect authors with the right audience and readers with the right content.

We are excited to be offering our followers this opportunity. All that is left to say is good luck, enjoy and we look forward to reading your stories! Remember the competition opens 1st December 2014 and you have until 31st January 2015!

The boring bit – rules of Entry

  • Participants need to register and publish their entries on Scriggler.com
  • All entries must be previously unpublished.
  • Entry is not limited to UK residents. Authors can be based in any country for the purposes of this competition.
  • Only entire stories would be considered, no extracts.
  • Word count should not exceed 7,500 words.
  • While authors keep their rights when publishing on Scriggler, the purpose of the contest is to compile and publish a book of short stories and winning authors would be expected to enter into an agreement with BNBS. Please consider this when entering.

If you have any questions about the competition please contact Clare from BNBS via clare@bnbsbooks.co.uk or Dmitry from Scriggler via selemir@scriggler.com

You can follow BNBS : www.facebook.com/BNBSbooks and Twitter: @BNBSbooks

You can follow Scriggler: www.facebook.com/Scriggler and Twitter: @IScriggle