Thursday, October 25, 2018

Reprobation by Catherine Fearns - Book Tour + Giveaway

Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

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Reprobation Exclusive Extract for Jazzy’s Book Reviews

 In this scene, Sister Helen Hope is confronted by the police over her involvement with death metal band Total Depravity, who are suspects in a murder investigation. Helen is a young Calvinist nun who is beginning to have doubts about the life she has chosen for herself, and when a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach near her convent, this bizarre and gruesome incident triggers something in her. Against her better judgement, she takes matters into her own hands.

 Helen had finished cleaning the stone floor and dusting the pews, and then rounded off her Tuesday morning rota by laying out the Bibles and psalm books on freshly wiped shelving along the rows. She then took a few minutes to sit in contemplation, trying as ever to speak to God. She had struggled to focus during Terce this morning, and there was another hour before Sext in which she could perhaps clear her head and ask for God’s help. The Order’s daily programme was intense, with six compulsory prayer sessions beginning at six in the morning and ending at eight in the evening, and not including the public services administered by the Deaconess. In between all that there was the rota of cleaning, cooking and other duties, a full schedule of manual tasks that seemed almost designed to prevent any time for self-questioning. Helen usually had to do her University work in the evenings, staying up late under lamplight. When she did find time to herself she used it to pound the dunes and forest paths, trailing wet sand on her skirts and fancying herself as a female warrior in the Wars of Religion, or perhaps a misunderstood Jane Austen heroine.
But today she needed to be in church. She felt His weight upon her, as she had all those years ago, and yet she felt somehow that this time she may be closer to a truth. God was testing her in some way, or was about to test her in some way, and she prayed for the guidance that was rarely forthcoming.
St. Michael’s Church had been built as an Anglican chapel in the Gothic Revival style, all pointed arches, lattice-work and grotesques. But when it was endowed to the Sisters of Grace along with the house in the Twenties, the church underwent its own mini-Reformation; a stripping of the altars designed to remove any suggestion of joy. Now, with its austere white walls, plain wooden pews and stone pillars, the only concession to beauty in this church was the large stained glass window behind the altar, depicting the Crucifixion in glorious, gaudy colours. Other than this aesthetic indulgence, there was to be no distraction from communion with God.
But Helen was currently distracted by the conflating images described by Mikko and Shepherd, and in particular the details – the cockerel, the wrought iron railings, the hooded figure, the precisely depicted colours of the sky. Of course images of the figure of Death and the gate to Heaven were ubiquitous in human cultures, so there was nothing strange in them both having the same dream or vision. But such details – could that really be a coincidence?
She was disturbed by the sound of the heavy door creaking open at the back of the church, and the sounds of echoing footsteps, whispers and a cleared throat. Helen looked behind her, and there they were again, with a certain inevitability: those detectives. They walked down the central aisle towards her, Swift’s voice resonating off the stone pillars:
‘What kind of music do you like, Dr. Hope?’
Neither of them seemed as gentle or as on her side as last time. They were brusque, almost hostile.
‘I… don’t…’
‘D’you like heavy metal, do you?’
As they reached Helen, Quinn took an iPad out of her bag, swiped her finger across the screen to bring it to life, and handed it to her. It took Helen a few moments of peering to realise what she was looking at. It was a post from Facebook, from a fan page for Total Depravity, with a photo which was captioned ‘Does Mikko have a new girlfriend????? Nooooooo!!!!’ It was a slightly grainy photo, taken from far away on someone’s phone, but unmistakeable nonetheless; it was him, and her, sitting on top of that picnic bench at the side of the motorway. They were side by side and the photographer had captured the moment when she had put her arm around him to comfort him. Helen looked in the mirror so little these days that she hardly recognised herself, and she was taken aback at this long-haired female figure in secular clothes, sitting with a man, on an adventure that she could hardly believe really happened. And she couldn’t help but feel a guilty thrill of excitement that she had been spotted with a sort-of celebrity. My one claim to fame, she thought. But Swift snapped her back into the present.
‘A coincidence, that double-headed axe. The body. The band. And there you were, in both places.’ He paused for effect.
‘Where were you on the night of the seventh of October?’
It took Helen a few moments to realise the significance of the question.
‘I was at …. I was here. Where I always am. Here.’
‘You’re not always here though, are you?’
‘I was, that night. You can ask anyone… I mean this is absurd,’ She was panicking slightly and wasn’t sure why.
‘OK then, don’t worry we can check that. So why were you with a heavy metal band on the M6 last week?’
‘Oh yes, my goodness that must look so strange to you. I was looking on the internet the evening before - the day the body was found and you came to see me - and I just wished I could help more, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I found this band with the same symbol as the body, and their lyrics from the same passage in the Bible as the… Oh, I don’t really know, I’ve been very stupid haven’t I?’ And then she was struck with a sudden horror and inexplicable sadness: ‘They didn’t do it, did they? The band?’
‘You’re not the detective here, Sister Hope. I’d appreciate it if you stuck to lecturing and… praying. We’re perfectly capable of doing Google searches ourselves. And lo and behold, when we do, what do we find? You.’
‘Well I didn’t think—’
‘This isn’t Miss Marple or, who is it, Father Brown. Next time you feel like playing detective… come to us. Can you do that?’ Quinn winced at Swift’s harshness.
‘And next time you fancy a night out, how about a nice girls’ dinner and a white wine spritzer at Pizza Express? Instead of satanic metal gigs.’
Swift turned and left, Quinn offering a vaguely placating shrug to Helen as she followed him. Helen stood looking at the church door as it closed behind them, her heart racing from anxiety and, perhaps, a certain defiance.


Author Bio – Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018. As a music journalist Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction.Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor. Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly. Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot. 

Social Media Links – Twitter: @metalmamawrites
Facebook: Catherine Fearns

Giveaway to win a gift pack which would include signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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