Review of North to South by J.K. Brighton

Review by Sue Brown
I’m a crime/detective/mystery fiend, so when AB Gayle recommended North to South by J.K. Brighton, I was more than willing to forgo my embargo on buying more books (I fail so badly) and spend Sunday evening reading the tale of a Glaswegian detective forced to go down to Brighton by his homophobic boss to investigate the death of his son – the boss, not the detective.
Amazon buylinkBrighton as you have never seen it (or him) before…

The male polar by nature is a solitary creature, but to solve this case Polar needs an ally. Who in Brighton can be trusted? Who will work with Polar North when the detective himself isn’t trusted by his colleagues?
Accidental death was the initial conclusion when Prentice Fullerton’s body was found on Brighton beach – a drug overdose being the pathologist’s verdict. His father isn’t convinced, however, and as the man in charge of Greater Glasgow police, Chief Superintendent Fullerton won’t be easily fobbed off. He demands that one of his own detectives is assigned to the case. The out of favour Polar North being the ideal candidate. So DI North travels south to Brighton, and to the backdrop of its annual arts festival, he finds some unlikely allies in Brighton’s gay community

Review:   As I said up top I’m fanatical about crime, and I love Brighton, so reading a whodunnit which combines the two is my idea of reading heaven. I haven’t read J.K. Brighton before but I like his style, light to read but with enough twists and turns to keep me interested til the end, and a main character with an interesting background. Yes, Mr. Brighton, I read until the early hours of Monday morning, which I’m somewhat regretting now, as I’m knackered. My only real niggle is the characters are a tad predictable; the gay guys banding together, the boo-hiss pudgy homophobic cops, the female ‘ball-crusher’ boss who seems extremely easy to manipulate. However, it made for a good read, all the characters are well-rounded and I can forgive the predictability for a good plot that kept me reading late into the night. I highly recommend North to South, and I hope there will be more in the series.

Location, location, location by Melanie Tushmore

Location, location, location! A guest post by Melanie Tushmore

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside! When searching for a picture of Brighton, this about summed it up for me:

Brighton Pier

Oh, dear! Well, Brighton is a notorious party town, and sometimes it can party a wee bit too hard!

If you read M/M and want to know about Brighton, just read either of my two stories set here. It’d be akin to taking a walking tour, albeit in the seedy underbelly of the Brighton alternative scene. Welcome to my world!

The first novella I wrote was A Bar Tender Tale, and it’s set in Kemp town (aka ‘camp town’) known for being the gay hotspot of Brighton. The council had a temporary erection (snerk) of a ferris wheel, like a mini London eye, for a while. (Yes, I did go on it. The voice in the speakers narrating the history was Steve Coogan; amazing.)

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A Bar Tender Tale starts with our hero, Nathan, a young bartender, bimbling around Kemp town one sunny morning, visiting his friend’s pub opposite the dingy courthouse, ogling hot solicitors in suits. As you do. It’s all set in Kemp town, which is only a few paces away from The Royal Pavilion, and Victoria Gardens.

After bagging a date with the hot solicitor and going for a curry–Britain’s favourite meal, naturally–the story heats up when Nathan goes to his job at a local gay bar and venue. In my story, it’s called Rainbows. In real life, Legends is a pretty good example of a Brighton club, and it’s right on the sea front.

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Gay clubbing. It can be intense. I wrote a previous blog post about the history of poppers, here: In case you weren’t aware what that odd smell was whenever you entered one of these establishments.

Legends is great, as it also does cabaret. It’s only up the road from the Palace Pier, and the Aquarium (Sea Life Centre).

If you’re looking for a fun and cute story set in Brighton, A Bar Tender Tale is just the ticket. There is pretty much zero angst in the story, it’s light-hearted and fun. Fans will (hopefully!) be pleased to know that I’m currently halfway through writing a sequel, of sorts. At the request of fellow writer, Piper Vaughn, I’ve taken bartender Justin, and relocated him to London. That’s where his story will be.

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The Royal Pavilion (aka ‘The Pav’) at night time. Very pretty!

So, the next story I wrote was a novel called The Haunted PubThis one is a bit more serious (ooh er!) and is a horror/paranormal. Although a lot of the same elements remain; I couldn’t contemplate writing without including lots of British humour.

This story is set in a pub, and I actually merged the history of two pubs for my fictional pub, The Queen Anne’s Revenge (yes, Blackbeard’s ship!). In real life, just along the road from the Royal Pavilion, is a huge old pub called The King and Queen. It’s an original build from the 1930s, and is a theme pub inspired by Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Yes, really!

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The whole place is covered in plaster cast statues. Here’s a close up of the king and queen out front:

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What’s also fascinating, is that this public house was built on top of the site which was the old army barracks. Brighton having had piers and lots more boats, back in the day. I find this all extremely interesting, and had to include it in my story. In my haunted pub are ghosts of gents and ladies, and also a soldier from Napoleonic wars. (Major Sharpe, anyone?)

Here is the Royal Pavilion during the daylight hours (no more than a couple of minutes’ walk from the King and Queen).

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Did you know that during the first world war, the Royal Pavilion was used as a temporary hospital for the British army Indian soldiers? It was thought because of the eastern look of the building that housing the wounded Indian soldiers within would make them feel more at home.

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The only part of the Royal Pavilion that is actually from India is outside, and it’s India Gate, gifted to England by India after first world war.

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The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is well worth a visit, especially to see inside.

I really could’ve written several more novels about the history of Brighton, but my heart lies with contemporary. So while my ghosts all had very rich historical backgrounds, the focus of my novel is on the modern day characters, and the modern setting. One of my favourite scenes is where the naughty gentleman ghost wakes up after ninety years, sees all this modern day surround, and comments on the little differences, like how fashionable people drank their coffee cold these days. Iced latte, anyone?

For those unfamiliar with the inside of an English pub, here’s a good example: The Hobgoblin in Brighton displaying its taps. (The Hob also appears in A Bar Tender Tale, and any Hobgoblin pub is always on a crossroads because that’s where the devil will meet you… according to the bartender at the Hobgoblin in Angel, London!)

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And as much as I hate tourists, I am rather fond of Brighton pier, which is where I chose to send two of my characters in Haunted Pub on their first date. Because it’s too cute, isn’t it? You can’t visit Brighton and not go on the pier!

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Melanie’s links:

Website www.melanietushmore.co.uk

Twitter @melanietushmore

Melanie’s next release (September 25th) is a historical fantasy from Less Than Three Press:

Goblins 

Author bio:

Melanie Tushmore is British, half English, and knows rather a lot about pubs, although she very rarely drinks. She doesn’t like beer, ale, cider, or wine, much to her colleague’s despair. Melanie is currently a bartender in London, and has decided that the rum punch is her tipple of choice. Melanie’s books and current projects are either about rock bands and bartenders, or goblins and elves. More or less the same people, as far as Melanie believes.