Monday, 8 August 2016

Excerpt from 'The Perfectionist' - Chapter 1: Meet Gerry Stokes

Only 5 weeks left until my first book signing event in Toulouse.

In the run-up to the event, a few excerpts from 'The Perfectionist' will be published on my website - http://simongduke.blogspot.com. Today, you get the chance to read Chapter 1.




Chapter 1
Clarion, Iowa - February 2, 1988.
 
The fog came rolling in from the fields, closing in, and shutting out the world. Impenetrable and hostile like the eerie silence engulfing the town. An opaque layer of frost covered front lawns and rooftops, gutters bent under the weight of crystal daggers. Trees shimmered pale gray, and parked cars had turned into sculptures.

Cautiously breaking through the dense white mass of dawn fog, a noisy GMC Sierra pick-up drove slowly down Madison Avenue. The fog swirled in the light of the headlamps in a thick flow of white dust, and the truck’s windshield wipers painfully scratched away at the thin but stubbornly resistant sheet of ice. A minute later, the Sierra’s driver hit the brakes and pulled up to the curb beside the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, the only source of light in the deserted street.

Gerry Stokes cut the engine and stepped out of his vehicle. He looked around. Fog and silence. The merciless cold of the icy blasts hit him hard. Surprised by how cool it was, he shivered and zipped up his coat. Rubbing his hands, he walked energetically towards the sheriff’s office. Stokes knocked and entered without waiting for an answer. Despite the early hour he knew he was expected.

Two men he knew well were sitting in an office near the entrance. Both turned to look at him. They were clutching coffee mugs, inhaling the hot brew’s fumes as if their lives depended on it. They seemed nervous, preoccupied, stricken by some intangible menace.  

The elder of the two, Sheriff Dwayne Clanton – a gray-haired and weary man, who was counting the days until his retirement - waved slowly at Stokes and pointed to a spare chair in the corner of the room. As Stokes grabbed the chair and placed it nearer the Sheriff’s desk, he couldn’t help noticing how tired the man looked. His eyes were bloodshot, with dark circles, surely nicotine-induced. He was badly-shaven and his uniform was creased and scruffy. Stokes was unaccustomed to seeing Clanton in such a neglected state.

‘Sheriff… Earl. Morning to you both… Can you tell me what’s going on?’ Stokes asked.

‘Take a seat!’ Earl DeVries, Stokes’s Editor-in-Chief, ordered.

‘Seriously, guys. You’re making me nervous.’

‘We got a situation here, Gerry. Dwayne’s going to give you the lowdown,’ DeVries said.

Dwayne Clanton glared at Stokes before gulping some more coffee.

‘It’s a fresh pot. You want some, Gerry?’ he asked, wiping his mouth with his shirt cuff.

‘I’m fine, thanks.’

‘I need your help.’ He turned to DeVries. ‘Both of you. I got a dead man. Found him a couple of days ago in one of Jim Hardy’s corn fields bordering Hancock Avenue, right near Eagle Grove. Coroner tells me he’s been dead for at least a week. There was no way to I.D. him at the scene and I still haven’t been able to put a name on the stiff. We reckon he could be in his sixties. Deputy Hobbs and I looked through all the Missing Persons reports. We cross-checked with the sheriff’s offices of Humboldt, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin, and Franklin counties. We got nobody matching the description.’

‘Well if he’s not a local, he could be from just about anywhere,’ Stokes said. ‘Have you considered casting the net to all counties or state-wide?’

‘Dwayne wants to keep this contained. He doesn’t want to spark a panic wave in Clarion,’ DeVries interjected, brushing off Stokes’s remark.

‘It’s the first stiff I’ve had for a long time,’ Clanton added. ‘I don’t want townsfolk going haywire, thinking we got a killer on the loose. I can’t imagine the shit-load of pressure I’d be under if this goes public.’

‘Then why request our help?’ Stokes asked.

‘Well, Earl and I go way back. Don’t we Earl?’

DeVries nodded. ‘I’ve been tipping the Wright County Monitor for years and I’ve never shunned away from making comments.’

‘Dwayne, you don’t need to justify yourself to Gerry,’ DeVries said. ‘He’s still junior and learning the tricks of the trade.’

DeVries stared at Stokes for a while; his dark eyes questioning his employee’s amateurism, suggesting he keep his mouth shut. Stokes remained unfazed.

Looking back at Clanton, he said, ‘Dwayne, if you need a favor, you know you can count on us.’
Clanton seemed relieved. ‘Thanks Earl. Appreciated.’

He pressed the coffee mug to his lips again and sipped some more.

‘I was telling Earl that I kept you guys out of the loop because I didn’t want any media coverage until I was sure about what I’d be dealing with. Now I’ve got to the point where I need some assistance from the public.’

Stokes nodded out of politeness, hiding his frustration that they were already a few days behind on a murder story.

‘Gerry, I need you to go see Blake Anderson,’ Clanton resumed. ‘He’s got the stiff in cold storage. He’s only going to keep our John Doe there until tomorrow. Afterwards we’re going to have to get the funeral home involved. He’s not going to need a full-sized casket, though.’

Stokes waited for the explanation. As it wasn’t coming he steered his gaze to DeVries, who wasn’t acting surprised. The Sheriff waited for his cue to continue.

‘What do you mean?’ Stokes asked.

‘Well Gerry, we ain’t got a body. All we got is a hacked-off head.’

Taken aback Stokes felt shivers down his spine. He finally realized why Clanton was so worked up and why DeVries was showing support for the old man. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

‘Just a head, you say. That’s fucking sick!’ Stokes said.

‘In my entire career in law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything so crazy. Clarion has had its fair share of homicides under my tenure. Mainly husbands beating up their wives too much or the occasional harvest accidents, but this is something else. This is cold-blooded fucked-up shit, young man!’ Clanton said, rubbing his chin anxiously. ‘Jim Hardy found the head when out checking the frost damage on his crop. First he thought it was some kind of sick prank. Then he realized it wasn’t and lost his balance, tripped over, crashed to the ground. That’s what he told me. Anyhows, Jim hurried home and called me. So I got off my ass and drove there like a bat out of hell. Jim was waiting for me, shaking and clutching his rifle. He led me to the head, right in the middle of the field. It was there on the ground. Eyes shut. Bruised and smashed up. The teeth had been jerked out. There was dirt all over. It seemed like the guy had been buried and only the head was above ground. I took Hardy’s rifle, pressed it against the earth right next to the head. Ground was solid. I then gently touched the head with the rifle’s butt. And it fucking rolled over.’

Clanton took a deep breath. He’d been through this only minutes before with DeVries, yet his tale seemed to frighten him as if he were physically reliving the experience.

‘I told Jim to go home, stay put and mention this to nobody. I surveyed the scene for a few more minutes. Then I returned to the car and radioed Deputy Hobbs for assistance. Franklin arrived with all the gear I’d asked him to bring. We sealed off the crime scene, looked around for the body or any trace of evidence, but found nothing. Later Hobbs returned to town, picked up Dr. Anderson, and brought him back for an expert opinion. After a preliminary inspection he told us it was likely that the head had been there for a few days and the cold weather had already inflicted a lot of damage. The only bright spot was that the cold had helped slow down the head’s deterioration. We decided to place the head in a bag and take it back to town. It’s been at Blake Anderson’s clinic since.’

‘Dwayne wants us to run a short article in tomorrow’s edition in which we’ll include a picture of the head,’ DeVries said.

‘What about the panic factor? I thought this needed to be contained,’ Stokes replied.

‘Well this is where we do a favor for Dwayne. Blake Anderson has cleaned the head. He’s camouflaged the bruises, used some make-up and whatnot. He’s also stitched the head temporarily to another corpse retrieved from the county morgue, and worked his magic again to hide the neck level stitches as much as possible,’ DeVries continued.

‘I’ve seen the end result. It’s real Dr. Frankenstein crazy shit!’ Clanton said.

‘Anyhow I need you to go see Blake Anderson, take the best headshots you can. No pun intended, Gerry. And we’ll make sure our dead guy looks as much alive as possible. Hopefully with the picture being black and white, the readers won’t notice what we did,’ DeVries said.

‘Don’t think I’ll manage anything better than a headshot,’ Stokes interjected.

DeVries seemed oblivious to the joke. ‘Just take care of the article. We’re just going to say that the Sheriff’s Office is looking for this man. The guy may be able to help in an ongoing investigation. We’ll add a phone number. Who knows? Maybe some good Samaritan might have some information to share.’

Sheriff Clanton nodded approvingly. ‘Yeah, maybe it’ll help us catch the sonofabitch who did this?’ he said, smiling for the first time.

Stokes struck back angrily, ‘Sheriff. With all due respect, I think the sonofabitch who did this is long gone by now. He’s got a week’s head-start and you’ve been wasting time by not involving the state police or the media. And all that for the sake of not frightening the people of Clarion… I don’t buy it Sheriff. It seems like this case if way above your head and you are too old and proud to admit it!’

‘Shut the fuck up, Gerry!’ DeVries hollered. ‘You’ve got no idea what’s at stake here. Covering a murder story, sure, it’ll sell a few papers. It’ll get us some attention from TV crews in Des Moines. We’ll be local heroes. We’ll get the spotlight for a day, maybe two. But when the dust settles, we’ll return to our normal state of anonymity. The people of Clarion will be insecure. They’ll hate us for not reporting the facts earlier. And Dwayne, well he might just end up becoming the laughing stock of Iowa. There’s no way in hell we’re going to let that happen.’

‘But Earl…’

‘No buts, you arrogant little prick! Just do what you’re told. I knew I’d made a mistake in hiring you. You simply don’t get it, do you? We run a tight ship here in Clarion, and we’ve got no room for recklessness. You’ve got ambition to report big murder stories? That’s fine, but you’re keeping your mouth shut on this one. Do I make myself clear?’

Stokes hesitated, before replying a feeble ‘Yes, Earl.’

‘Guys. Keep this bitchin’ for later. You got jobs to do,’ Clanton said. ‘Oh, and Earl, I want to see that article before you run it.’

‘Sure. Will do, Dwayne,’ DeVries answered, bobbing his head like an obedient dog.


**
 
Where to buy 'The Perfectionist'
 

Amazon.com (Paperback price $9.99 / Kindle price $3.25): http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfectionist-Simon-Duke/dp/1517648491






Smashwords ebook (Price $2.99): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/585299


- FNAC.com ebook (prix €2.68): http://www4.fnac.com/livre-numerique/a9184739/Simon-Duke-The-Perfectionist#FORMAT=ePub

Monday, 9 May 2016

Author Event: Book signing - Librairie Privat (Toulouse, 17 September 2016)

Simon Duke, the author of 'The Perfectionist', will be in Toulouse on September 17, 2016 for a book signing event at Librairie Privat.

Time: 3pm onwards.

Venue: Librairie Privat, 14 rue des Arts 31000 Toulouse

http://www.librairieprivat.com/agenda.php?agenda=4579&date=20160917#356076


 



Thursday, 17 March 2016

Our Battle

Below is my entry for the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook Short Story Competition 2016 (theme: ageing): ‘Our Battle'. I wrote this short story in November 2015.

Our Battle

By Simon Duke


I don't know why but my wife thinks she lives across the street.
She walks up to me, determination and purpose evident in her pace, and points at the house the other side of the street. 'I've got to go there,' she says.

'No you don't. That's Keith Robertson's house,' I reply as I hit the mute button on the TV remote control, putting a sudden halt to John Motson's commentary. Man U and Liverpool are level at 1-1.

Clearly having none of it, my wife continues, 'No, I live there.'

For drama's sake, she looks me down with fiery and unforgiving eyes. She's suspicious and somewhat austere. The football match goes on in silence.

'No, you don't live there,' I say, turning my gaze away from the screen for the first time.

'I want to go home!' she hollers.

'But you are home, Judy, darling.'

She turns on her heel and storms across the living-room, yanks nervously at the front door handle.
I don't have enough time to rise from the armchair and intervene; the door is wide open and she's already halfway across the dimly-lit street.

I stand up and gaze at her from the window as she continues her furious march toward our neighbour's house. I then watch her ring the bell. She waits for the door to open, somewhat awkward in her posture.

A minute or so later she walks back and I come to meet her on the porch. Her disappointment is almost tangible. She says to me, 'There's nobody home.'

I do my best to speak clearly and naturally in a warm and calm voice. 'Where did you go?'

'I went home,' she says earnestly, in her usual animated tone.

'But this is your home', I insist, hoping I don't hurt her feelings.

She walks inside briskly, brushes past me, nearly bumping into me in the process.

'I'll make supper,' I say while shutting the front door and turning the key in the lock.

She turns around and looks at me with inquisitive yet softer eyes. 'Don't leave me alone,' she pleads.

It's better not to argue with her and change the subject. I've come to the realisation that it's OK to let delusions and misstatements go.

'Perhaps you could lay the table, darling?'

A cue. A purpose. A new challenge.

Judy says nothing. She heads for the kitchen, full sail ahead.

I search for the remote control to turn the TV off but am momentarily distracted by the game. Man U are a goal ahead. 2-1. Rooney must've scored while I was watching Judy from the window. Liverpool have a corner kick and about another half-hour to draw.

I eventually switch off and join Judy in the kitchen. To my surprise, she is pacing around aimlessly, looking disoriented. She is opening cupboards and shutting them for no apparent reason.

'What are you doing, darling?' I say, warm and calm again.

'Nothing. I…' The rest of what she says is incomprehensible. Utter gibberish. None of the words make sense or are real words at all. She's talking to herself, feeling confused and panicked.

'Can you grab us two plates, darling?'

A cue. A purpose. A new challenge.

She reaches for not two but all six plates in the cupboard above the sink. She accidentally knocks over a glass into the sink with her elbow. I hear it shatter. Judy remains unfazed but holds all six plates in both hands. I tell myself that it's only a glass. No need to cause a fuss, or worse, spread panic to my wife.

Her grasp on the plates isn't firm. She turns around and looks at me. All of a sudden she can't remember why she is here, in the kitchen. I focus on the plates as she shakes them. Her hands are arthritic, clumsy, and hard to bend. She doesn't know where to go next, can't decide what to do.
Yet she staggers away, eventually finds the living-room and sets the plates on the coffee table.

She says, 'OK'. She pauses, obviously regrouping, trying to organize her mind, acknowledging each little step made.

She studies the plates on the table, maybe trying to figure out what's missing. But then she tells me that she's got nothing to do. So she gives up.

I sometimes think that's her biggest problem.

'It's getting a bit chilly,’ I say. ‘Why don't you put on your lovely white sweater, you know the one I got you for Christmas?'

A cue. A purpose. A new challenge.

She heads for the stairs, climbs them, finds our bedroom. I hear clanging and banging of drawers and cupboard doors opening and closing, the hustle and bustle, and endless racket of mayhem and despair as the search for the sweater begins.

Judy suddenly talks to herself again, surely responding to the constant jabbering going on in her head.

'I'm hearing all this stuff and I can't turn it off,' she used to tell me back when we didn't know she was living with dementia - dementia that was here to stay, cruel and unforgiving in its hold over Judy.

I listen to the ongoing noise of drawers slamming and the hurried footsteps on the floor above.

I sigh and take a deep breath before climbing upstairs myself. Witnessing my wife working herself into a frenzy is a painful and disheartening sight, perhaps the one facet of her manic behavior I have the most difficulty getting used to.

I press my back against the doorframe and look at the mess she has created.

'This is most annoying,' she says standing amidst clothes spread all over the carpet. Looking for a sweater and not finding it can do that to you if you are unfortunate to have her condition.

She opens another drawer and pulls out half its contents, dumps it all on the bed in a new heap. 'This is not a sweater,' she protests frantically, holding a skirt. 'This certainly isn't my white sweater!'

She flings the skirt on top of the pile of clothes and proceeds to open the last drawer, the right one. She seizes all her sweaters in a bundle.

'OK, sweaters found,' she mutters. One small step made.

'OK, I think I've found the white sweater.' Another step. The elimination process continues but she unloads the bundle on the bed. The desired clothing item is lost in the heap. Eventually she bends over, feeling confused, no longer knowing what she’s supposed to do.

She starts folding all the clothes on the bed, forgets that she was looking for a white sweater. The white sweater is in her grasp but she folds it along with everything else.

Moments later Judy sits on the bed out of sheer frustration, visibly unhappy and lost. I push a few clothes aside and sit next to her, wrap a reassuring arm around her shoulders. 'You're doing OK', I lie. And we sit there in fidgety silence.

'I'll make your supper now,' I say to put an end to the lull. 'Don't worry about the white sweater. Just put something on that'll keep you warm and join me downstairs.'

A cue. A purpose. A new challenge.

Five minutes later I realise my wife has once again lost the notion of time. Her bowl of soup and her hot melted cheddar sandwich are ready and starting to cool down.

I call her name again. Judy soon staggers into the kitchen wearing her old fur coat, looking a bit eccentric. I'd like to voice an opinion and ask her to remove the coat she herself is supposed to find old-fashioned. But as I said, it's simply better not to argue with her. Now I can't help but smile as she sits down like a stubborn queen waiting to be served.

In spite of her condition and regal posture, Judy loves to eat. I make her supper every night. After the chaos of the day it's a comforting ritual for us both, a few shared moments when things rarely go wrong.

I set the bowl of soup and the plate with her sandwich in front of her on the table. She looks down at her food with delight and says, 'You made that?' Joy fuels her gaze but her manner is still suspicious.

I shrug, big smile smacked on my face, 'I'm a good cook.'

I don't tell her that some of stuff on her plate comes from the nutritionist's, some I got from the supermarket. It's only a hot cheese sandwich but she thinks it's great.

I watch her munch on the sarnie and slurp the soup with pride.

My cue. My purpose. A challenge I gladly take up.

I return moments later with pudding. I give her coffee and then I give her a slice of carrot cake.
She's happy. She never says I'm not hungry.

I kneel down and hold her hand. I gently massage her palm, softly reviving the intimate bond I crave for. My wife is peaceful.

I look up at her. We maintain eye contact and smile simultaneously. I see the beautiful woman I fell in love with all those years ago; the woman I married and with whom I had two wonderful children; with whom I will finish the final chapter of my life.

I say to myself that I'm lucky at this point. But what it's going to be like down the road, I don't know.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

More Praise for 'The Perfectionist' by Mystery/Thriller Reviewers

A big thank you to Lance Wright at Omnimystery News and Jeff Kivela at Buttonholed Book Reviews for their recent support for 'The Perfectionist'. Jeff has written a new review and Lance has published our recent Q&A interview.

Make sure to check both articles in full at:

http://buttonholed.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-perfectionist-by-simon-duke-2016.html

&

http://www.omnimysterynews.com/2016/01/a-conversation-with-crime-novelist-simon-duke-5f7125f0.html

Here are some excerpts:

Buttonholed Book Reviews

"The Perfectionist took me as a tale of exceptional writing crafted by a seasoned pen. Simon Duke wrote a superb tale of crime and mystery not to be missed folks."

"Enthralling read folks.  Really really good read. There are plenty of  twists and turns as you travel with Gerry across the United States and when you come upon the part with Avery - just watch how Simon Duke's characters meld into other character development."

"There were, it seemed to me, places Simon Duke wrote The Perfectionist almost like a procedural manual on how to go about uncovering a murderer. He had to have done his homework to make plausible scenes go according to plot. I'm not an expert, I can say though, I've read Patricia Cornwell's Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper Case Closed - that's how you do your homework for plausible scenes."

"As I read, the scenes and settings were coherent with my senses, so, being in the midst of all the action is a must for a reader and Simon Duke does a beautiful job in handling that bit of necessity."


Omnimystery News

"Omnimystery News: Introduce us to the lead characters of your crime novels. What is it about them that appeals to you as a writer?

Simon Duke: I have a soft spot for loners. Kyle Hunt, the lead protagonist in my first novel, 'Out of Bounds' (published in 2014), is an anxious man, someone who fights for his family's safeguard, someone who tries his best in risky situations. He's someone with inner demons and past angst. And he can only find his way out using his brain capacity and by persevering. I like the idea that my lead protagonists, be it Kyle or Gerry Stokes in 'The Perfectionist', have realistic behaviors. When threatened, these guys don't just pull out guns and shoot to kill. Instead we read their minds and connect with their emotions. Gerry Stokes is a seasoned business journalist working for the Chicago Tribune — a real hotshot with talent and flair, yet he's also human: he's a self-centered, obnoxious and arrogant guy with a soft spot for sex with prostitutes. But like Kyle, Gerry Stokes is a complex character. The morbidity and seriousness of the investigation will change him, and so will his relationship with the woman who puts him on the track in the first place, Sarah Howard. Gerry's shift in attitude enables him to open his eyes to what he needs to preserve from the evil surrounding him during his investigation to track down the killer. Gerry's evolution in the book is gradual and we grow to like his character. I also have a journalistic background and I've always dreamed of stumbling on a killer myself and pursuing him before submitting the proof of his guilt to the police. So in some ways, Gerry Stokes lives that dream for me."

"OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your stories?

SD: I enjoy researching prior and during my writing. Most often it is carried out using the Internet or by reading books and watching videos. For locations, I tend to favor the places I've already been to and that I'm more or less familiar with. However, there again, the Internet is a handy tool when it comes to researching details (street names, addresses, overall vibe of the area …) when lacking your own photographic support. The challenge whilst writing The Perfectionist was exploring the minds of serial killers and reading about some pretty gruesome and deterring details of what these people did, and still do. However, it was a very intense and exciting experience. I've always wanted to write about serial killers. They fascinate me. In fiction, serial killers are highly stylized and even real-life serial killers have become celebrity monsters through media coverage. Serial killer behavior seems inexplicable to us, so we feel a duty to try and understand what their motives are. The killer in The Perfectionist could be considered the ultimate serial killer. He seemingly chooses his victims at random across America; he has been at large for more than two decades; he has flown under the radar of the cops and the FBI by navigating through the loopholes of the federal law enforcement system; he respects a unique and horrific modus operandi and fine-tunes methods of execution to seek artistic perfection. In the world of law enforcement, there exists a scale on which to rate killers. My killer does not feature on the scale."

"OMN: You mentioned that you work in a local movie theater. What kinds of films do you enjoy watching?

SD: I'm a movie geek who's loved cinema since childhood. I even studied films in the UK when at university. I grew up watching many American film classics and loved the 80s films and music (some of it). I grew fond of the modern gangster and of the transition from film noir and epic to the more gritty and realistic portrayal of crime in more recent times. Some direct influences for The Perfectionist include Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986), Thief (Michael Mann, 1981), Se7en (David Fincher, 1995), Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (John McNaughton, 1986), Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994) … I have been told that my writing is rather visual. That's true because I like to picture scenes in my head as if I were maintaining a mental storyboard. Nursing an image in my mind is a means to more easily translate thoughts into words. On November 16th, I posted a video trailer for The Perfectionist, which I produced myself. I integrated some very eerie footage, still shots of the book cover, and I incorporated (courtesy of the Marmoset music agency) a track by Josh Garrels. I'm very proud of the result, and putting aside the promotional nature of the video it's real proof of my love for writing and the cinema, all merged into one."

"OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a crime novelist and thus I am also …".

SD: … what George Orwell would call a "thought-criminal". My mind is geared a little differently than your average man in the street; slightly quirky and sometimes brooding, but my heart's in the right place!"


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

More Reviews for 'The Perfectionist'

A big thank you to Rowena Hoseason at Murder Mayhem & More, to Léa at Léa Touch Book, and to author Carla Kovach. This is what they say:

"This intriguing mix of investigative procedural and road trip, wrapped around a tale of personal redemption, is given a chilling menace by a calculating, appallingly accomplished serial killer ... Author Simon Duke incorporates some clever plot conniptions and a selection of plausible supporting characters – each presented as a potential suspect for our consideration. In this respect, The Perfectionist echoes an old-fashioned whodunnit, where the reader gleefully participates in the investigation (although I totally missed the final twist) ... The Perfectionist is something of an American epic, spanning three decades and sprawling from one side of the continent to the other. Yet, like the very best crime fiction, it tells a relatively simple story – of an isolated man, who is reunited with the better aspects of humanity through an encounter with the very worst that man can accomplish." - Murder Mayhem & More. Full review available at: https://murdermayhemandmore.wordpress.com

"This is a very good crime fiction: a terrifying serial killer, mastered writing and a surprising end! ... This is a real page turner with a wonderful and very surprising ending. The writing mixes fitting dialogue, fascinating descriptions and impactful action scenes." - Léa Touch Book. Full review available at: http://leatouchbook.blogspot.com

"The Perfectionist is an epic feeling, crime investigation novel. It spans many years and follows the gathering of evidence intricately. The characters are real and gritty, and the story is dark and compelling. If you are a crime novel fan, this book is a must. It also has a ‘killer’ ending with more than a couple of well laced surprises." - Carla Kovach. Full review available at: https://griffbuck.wordpress.com

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Perfectionist: Happy Launch Day

Well, today’s the day! My second book, 'The Perfectionist', is out. It's been a long but very enjoyable road - and not always a straight one.

This particular trail started about two years ago. I began writing the first words and drafting the storyline in January 2014; put the project aside while promoting the launch of 'Out of Bounds' in the March-April period, before putting pen back to paper all through spring, summer and the start of autumn 2014. Re-reading and proof-reading took a few months and then I began sending submissions to agents and publishers as 2015 started. January-September 2015 was marked by promising leads, some agent interest in getting the full manuscript, a deal with an indie publisher I decided to turn down, and the writing of my third novel. And since September 2015, I have been preparing for this launch and promoting the book well in advance while crafting my own video trailer and working on some pre-launch promotional pictures, while not losing track of the third novel. My efforts to find pre-launch publicity for 'The Perfectionist' paid off as early as November and December with some nice reviews, and January is following that same pattern. And now here we are. Everything is ready and I sit back and watch the world go online to buy 'The Perfectionist' and make my new book viral. Well, at least I hope so. Fingers crossed.

The release of 'The Perfectionist' today not only marks the end of the lengthy pre-release publicity period but also the beginning of a new phase for me. I could go as far as saying that the lion's share of the pressure is gone. And now I can be happy to say "the book is here" instead of "the book will be here soon."

Book launch days are weird days. Mostly I walk around trying to figure out what is happening, how to measure reader reactions, or how to ignore my impatience. My eyes are glued to the screen, scrutinizing any online activity associated with the book. My mind is occupied with puzzling thoughts and uncertainties, only to be temporarily put at rest with the occasional rewarding phone call or words of encouragement that arrive in one form or another. 

I hope you’ll help me spread the word and boost the post-launch promotion. Short reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are ideal. Sharing them or anything else about 'The Perfectionist' on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms is great too. But above all, do read the book and enjoy. Dear readers, thanks so much for tuning in and sharing the excitement of my book launch with me!

The paperback and the Kindle versions of 'The Perfectionist' are available on Amazon. The ebook can also be found at Smashwords, and very soon at most online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, FNAC or Kobo. 

 
Amazon.com (Paperback price $9.99 / Kindle price $3.25): http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfectionist-Simon-Duke/dp/1517648491






Smashwords ebook (Price $2.99): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/585299