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Advance Reviews of Laughing Boy

“Would you like an advance review copy of my book, for free?”

If people want the book, they have to agree to post an (honest, genuine, sincere) review of it on Amazon within 48 hours of the book launching. There’s nothing spammy there. I may get some negative reviews as well as some positive ones. I’m asking people to write their genuine thoughts, not just automatic 5-star praise.

Let me know.

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Hunt: An Excerpt

New thing I’m working on. A work in progress but let me know what you think.

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Check this out at

Laughing Boy is out now in paperback.

TOMMY MARTIN is a successful stand up comedian and a single father to PENNY, back off his first tour since the death of his wife Sophie. When he meets EVELYN, an artist, he embarks on the first romantic relationship since the death of his wife. He experiences unusual, violent events around him, which he cannot explain. Tommy finds himself facing a force intent on harming everyone closest to him.

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Check this out at

Laughing Boy is out now in paperback.

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Laughing Boy

Blame Sara Millican. My brain is a magpie for little facts and somewhere it was written she started stand-up after a separation. So that became the seed of an idea. Something relative to Until She Sings in the domestic minutiae but with a different energy.

Then you start writing it and it does what it wants with you. A strident, male voice emerged and underneath the laughter, threat and fear. The kind peculiar to men. Violence, implied or otherwise is the norm in genre and also there was this E.C. Comics sense of cosmic justice just itching to be called upon.

So, what the book became was something else. Yet the spark to me is what does Tommy do when horrible things start happening to him and the people around him?

You can find out here

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Laughing Boy is done and coming soon

TOMMY MARTIN is a successful stand-up comedian and a single father to PENNY, back off his first tour since the death of his wife Sophie. When he meets EVELYN, an artist, he embarks on the first romantic relationship since the death of his wife. He experiences unusual, violent events around him, which he cannot explain. Tommy faces a force intent on harming everyone closest to him.

Coming soon to Kindle in ebook. Paperback will follow.

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Laughing Boy by M B Blissett



Love is forever.

TOMMY MARTIN is a single father to PENNY, since the death of his wife Sophie. When he finds happiness again with an enigmatic artist, Tommy finds himself facing supernatural forces intent on harming everyone closest to him. He must face the darkest days of his past in order to save his daughter, even if it means facing death itself.

Coming soon to Amazon in ebook and paperback.

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ON – Episode 10

The second team had to take a detour to meet up with the courier, who handed them the keys to a pair of utility vehicles loaded with equipment, in addition to the small arms and limited surveillance equipment they had taken out to follow the plane from Washington. They drove in a single column at standard operational speed on Jasper’s orders.


They were joining a hunt in progress.


Olivia Niven had been a former FBI agent before she left for the private sector. She had worked in Behavioural Science and CIRG with distinction before a pending investigation into a previous investigation prompted her to leave. Jasper had found her and kept her on retainer, enjoying the access and skill sets she brought to his operations.


She had been awake for 36 hours, sat in the passenger seat of the new vehicle, putting things together based on what she had been told versus what she had found. This was supposed to have been a sweep and clear, but the change in operational tempo had raised questions especially when they had taken on additional equipment and were moving to support the second team.


Olivia checked the load on her side arm and opened the window to smoke. Her eyes burned with fatigue but she could not show it amongst these men. Olivia was forever apart, and never more so than when she had to go out into the field. She kept up because it was how she lived her life, and the chaos intrigued her.


She almost tasted it.


Olivia and the three others – Fleury, Hobbes and Vincent drove to the cabin and met up with Grant and Gregor. Two of the guys had brought it when they triggered a fail safe and cooked what looked like an underground bunker. Olivia left the men to unpack the equipment and looked around.


The fire had been brief and intense. She found the telltale patterns of magnesium switches and the stainless steel had warped into shimmering patterns against the concrete, wondered why there had been an airlock installed. Grant told her the briefcase had been in here, open and she whistled under her breath with disbelief before she went to look in the cabin.


Little to no personal effects aside from paperwork made out to Walden Inc which she read through and took photographs of on her phone before emailing it to a contact and ringing Jasper from the site.


‘There’s money here, Jasper. Nothing with a single name on, but papers saying this place is leased through a private company. I’ll have it checked out.’


Jasper gave a dry chuckle which broke up over the connection.


‘You’re still going out with the others, love. I need that big beautiful brain of yours on this.’ he said.


She disliked the estuary affectations he put on when he spoke to her. Olivia was not intimidated by him, and she saw his nervy bursts of overestimation as signs of weakness. Still, he was the boss and she knew how to play well with others. It never stopped her asking questions though, even if she seldom liked the answers.


‘It’s a waste of time unless we’ve got aerial coverage. Did your friend come through?’ she said.


Jasper tutted and chuckled.


‘Skenny put together a full spectrum package. You’ll have to tag along but it’ll give you god mode reach, yeah?’ he said.


Olivia cringed and said she would call him when she got anything to report.


Outside they were zipping up goretex clothing, checking the sights on the rifles and opening up the suitcases and unloading the drones for deployment.


The sky filled with the hum of spinning propellers as they twisted into the air. They had been fitted with solar panel arrays which increased the available deployment time and with stronger communications so they were able to cover more ground with better accuracy.


Olivia looked at the delighted faces of the men and rolled her eyes as she picked up the last jacket and zipped it up. She looked towards the trees and wondered who they were hunting and how long it would take before they brought them down.


DB Cooper had moved past forty years but most people were found, even if they took great measures to avoid it.




She had not seen much in the way of guns at the cabin. It was a fact which stuck in her forebrain like a thorn in a lion’s paw, begging to be pulled out. The lease deal had the stink of a cut out operation to it, but it was, to her mind, too sophisticated to waste on infiltrating a militia so she kept returning to the possibilities the evidence offered. It was better than pretending to be in awe of plants and dirt.


The burned out bunker suggested narcotics but it was too small for any decent volume.


All these different pieces turning in her head. Her mind was unpleasant but functional and she set it to work as her body followed the hunt as it moved into the woods.


She looked over the bones and organs. A section of rib drew her attention and she picked it up, held it to the light and turned it over.


It did not look like a bullet groove or even an arrow, it was too deep and there was a jagged quality to the incision which made her smile with surprise.


‘Didn’t see any sign of a dog back there, did you?’ she said.


No one answered and she picked up the rib.


A good shot for a deer is to aim for the lungs. An arrow would require more conscientiousness in terms of placement than a firearm and she had not seen much in the cabin. A big dog, trained to attack from the broadside, she imagined would be feasible but there’d have been hair or a kennel, even dog toys but nothing.


‘We need to be aware they might have an animal with them.’ she said.


Grant chuckled.


‘Scooby Dooby Do’ he said.


Olivia sighed and lifted the bone to his eyeline.


‘Have you ever been attacked by a dog?’ she said.


His jaw tightened as he looked away and gave a short shake of the head.


She laughed at him and rolled her eyes with contempt.


‘Dogs don’t attack without reason. You can train an animal to attack a human, but mostly they’re responding to a threat to themselves or their territory. They go for what’s on their level. So with kids -‘ she gestured to her neck with the rib and grimaced before she continued.


‘Now you, they’d go for the crotch or the stomach. They can knock you over, i mean shit, I read about this one dog, 179 pounds but trained to be gentle and it understood its role in the pack which is all dog behaviour ever is.’ she said.


She walked over to Grant.


‘Imagine it running at you, leaping up and knocking you on your ass. See, once you’re on the ground, your throat is exposed, or you can train it to go for certain areas.’ she said


Grant sighed and adjusted the rifle where it was slung over his shoulder.


‘This is where you mention it chewing on my balls again, yeah? It’s a woman thing, I get it.’ he said.


Olivia shook her head and pointed the rib at him.


‘No, I would train it to go for the inside of the thigh. Some good arteries there, but if you’re on the ground, you’ve got the insides of the forearms or the throat which are good places to bite someone. Simple conditioning and you’ve got something which will die to protect you so long as you show it love and fear, Grant, love and fear.’ she said.


He sighed and picked up his radio.


‘Be on the lookout for a dog out here. On thinks he might have something trained running with them.’ he said.


Olivia tossed the rib bone to the ground and wiped her fingers on the jacket as she raised her eyebrow.


‘On?’ she said.


Olivia Nixon. O.N.


On. She almost liked it but decided to fix him a withering stare and walk into the woods.


A dog would smell them before they got close. Better hearing too, which was a smart move to have if you thought someone was coming after you. It was an interesting possibility, especially if it had been trained to attack or incapacitate on command.


It was starting to become interesting. She had a nickname and an unusual situation to work with, which raised her mood a small degree as she looked into the forest, wondered who or what was out there and how far they were behind them.




John followed the doe further than he intended to. Kelly was safe and the prospect of good meat meant it was worth the detour.


Plus he wanted to move sometimes and the time he spent transformed allowed him to experience a set of perceptions and attributes which he had come to enjoy now he had some measure of control over himself.


John let his enthusiasm fuel his chase and the doe had started to flag, which meant he could charge it, bite into the lungs and let it suffocate without tainting the meat. Dragging it back was a slower affair but he could do it without exhausting himself.


It frightened him sometimes, not knowing what his limits were.


The doe turned her head and looked at him with a final acceptance. He started to leap, ready to push the doe onto its side and bite down.


Which was when he saw the man lifting his rifle as his mouth opened in surprise.


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I wondered how long I could stand out here, waiting for another ride. I gazed up at the sky, white flocks of snow against a pitiless black sky. The snow teemed in my hair and I wrapped the threadbare cardigan around my shoulders.
If Josh had kept his hands to himself, she could have endured the rest of it.

The warm, stale stink of the van.

The suspension that made every pothole and bump take a personal delight in punching into the small of my back until I could barely stand it.

The chorus of hungry, nervous stares whenever they thought I wasn’t looking. Josh, the drummer had been the biggest of them. He had bulging eyes and kept taking his t-shirt off. He had thick, overly pumped muscles, would do press-ups in the parking lot trying to impress me and when that didn’t work, he would stare at me, pawing at his dick through his track pants when he wasn’t behind the wheel, playing NOFX at ear-splitting volumes. If he’d thrown on some Juliana Hatfield or Liz Phair, I might have appreciated the effort, but there was something weak within him that made me uneasy. That night, he had made a point of sitting across from me whilst he drank a six-pack, one after the other. I needed to be travelling more than I needed to point out what a prick he was being.

I woke up, having fallen asleep somewhere along the ride, when his thick, clammy hand started to slide up my right thigh. I revolted, and he took that as a cue to press himself against me. His beer breath was wet and stinking against my face. I brought my knee up hard and felt something burst against my knee cap. He roared and rolled off me, clutching his crotch as the rest of his band woke in various states of unease.

Not surprise.

Bros before hos.

It had not been the first time. I hoped that other girls had gotten away that he hadn’t refined his technique yet but I knew who these things worked. They don’t stop, they either get caught or get better at it. I should have considered myself fortunate but instead it rubbed a little more dirt into me, and despite the fact that it was cold and I had miles to walk, it felt like a good, easy way to get clean again.

I pushed open the door, grabbing my backpack and ran down the road.

No one came for me.

They never did.

I stopped running and started walking. I had fallen asleep before we stopped, so I did not know how far I would have to walk to get back to the gas station. I jammed my hands into my pockets, already numb from the cold and hoped for the best.

It worked out about as well as any other fucking time.


I knew the risks you took travelling alone. Sometimes though, you’re probably safer than you are at home. You had to be aware out there that you couldn’t get fucked up or in somewhere you wouldn’t be able to get out of. It was never the strong ones who gave me any trouble, real strength. It was the weak little boys who had grown older but never grown up. They were always the ones that I had to fight off.

I had met some good people along the way, even some great ones and some of them had become lovers but I couldn’t stay. It was during the worst times that I would think of them. Wonder how they were. Wonder if they missed me or knew that I missed them. We could have called, but we knew what that would do to either of us.

I wiped away tears, but I kept going. My teeth started to chatter, and I walked faster. I looked up, saw the beam of the headlights and put my hand out. I wanted to cheer when it pulled to a stop a little down the road from me.

The driver wound down the window when I walked up. He had pink, round cheeks with a thin line of beard to show any resemblance of a jawline. He had to lower his glasses as they had misted over. He had a tight, quiet smile and his teeth looked too big for his mouth.

‘Do you need a ride somewhere?’

I wrapped my arms around my chest and nodding, I gave the widest smile I could. I was trying to hide my need.

‘Yes, sir. It’s really cold out here.’

He leaned forward and opened the door. A warm bank of air invited me inside.


Chip breathed in shallow metallic rasps and he had doughy, shining hands that gripped the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles had turned white.

‘So, where are you from?’

I lied about that. I was grateful for the ride, but he kept looking at me as I watched the snow fall. I had gotten into the front passenger seat, left my bag in the back. I fought a discomfort as he drove.

‘Long way from home.’

I nodded.

‘Aren’t we all?’

He chuckled and nodded.

‘We are all God’s lonely children finding comfort where we can.’

He looked at my thighs and ran his tongue along his cracked lips. I shifted in my seat, wondered if I could get away with getting into the back or getting out.

‘Where do you go to church?’ I said.

He sighed and looked straight ahead.

‘Everywhere. Are you religious?’

I looked at my hands, wondered how I would answer.

‘I’m spiritual more than religious, I suppose.’

He frowned and turned his head to me.

‘That’s a cop out. Either you embrace the light of the Lord, or suffer in his shadow like whores and drug addicts.’

My reaction was to look straight ahead. Some of the most generous people on the road I met were whores and drug addicts.

I should have left the subject of religion entirely.

‘Are you a preacher, Chip?’

He laughed and shook his head.

‘No, I have fallen too far from the sight of the Lord for that.’

I looked out of the window and thought about the desperate beauty of the snow. Beauty, in that it fell in thick, sparkling drifts and desperate because I knew that if I went out there, it would probably meant I would die of exposure. I saw the light of a cabin as we drove past and felt a desperate leap of faith alight in my chest.

I had spent most of my life choosing between a rock and a hard place. I had never had to choose between a cold place and a hot one.

‘Cat got your tongue, miss?’

His voice had changed, with more careful glances in my direction than before. I shifted in my seat, moving my hand to where I could unclip the seatbelt and open the door if I needed to. Each breath brought the acidic stink of his sweat to me. I shook my head and told him I was tired.

‘We sleep a long time when we enter the Lord’s light, Dawn.’

His lips curved into a reptilian smile and he patted my knee with a smirking superiority. His faux concern only went to his voice, otherwise his actions were of a man who was aware and enjoying the discomfort he created in me.

I looked back, saw my backpack in the back seat and thought about the light in the forest. Wondered if it was a cabin, or even somewhere to hide. Part of my brain was always looking for the exit, and at that moment, it was working overtime.

Chip punched me in the side of the head.


Bursts of white light appeared in my vision and my head rang with the impact. He had been quick despite his bulk and was already pulling the car over, whilst I sought to act through the haze of sudden, violent disorientation his blow had started.

If I did not get out of this car, I was dead.

If I stayed in this car, I was dead.

I unclipped the seatbelt, threw my forearm into his face without any real force behind it, desperate and clumsy with the need to be free. One of the pewter skull rings caught him on the forehead and he swore as I felt his blood ooze against the backs of my fingers. I pushed open the door and threw myself out of the car. My elbows hit the asphalt, partially cushioned by the snow that had fallen but the cold rushed at me like something feral and hungry.
My stuff was in the back seat but I got to my feet and started to run. The snow sucked at each step, made my legs chill and leaden as I went into the woods, into the rough direction of the light I had seen. I could not see far, everything was shadows and plumes of thick, twinkling snowflakes as I raised my hand to my eyes to keep the worst of it away.

I heard the car door open and slam which made me run even faster. He had started to run, and I heard his breathing deepen as he exerted himself. It gained volume and potency in my imagination, the rough charnel house breath of something with appetites too large to be controlled.

My breath plumed and my lips cracked with the cold. I could feel the mucus turning to a chill glaze on my upper lip as each step tested whatever strength I had left within me. I started to pant like a thirsty dog. My consolation was that Chip was no more suited to pursuit than I was to evasion. My diet of coffee and cigarettes versus his simple carbohydrate and opportunistic rape-murder couched in religious misinterpretation was an even bet.

It did not stop him coming.

Time and distance lost definition before the onslaught of the snow, The cold burned, leaching me of feeling and perspective until it was only the twitching dance of my survival instincts compelling me onwards.

Chip did not stop.

Something cracked. I thought that it was a branch being broken until I saw the thump as something hit a tree trunk to my right.

A shot. I wept but kept going. His visibility was as poor as mine, and my only defence was to use that to keep going.

I saw the light ahead. A lantern hung in a doorway and I ran towards it without caring.

Which was when I ran into the low fence and toppled over. I landed on my back into a drift of snow. The force made me wheeze before I rolled onto my side and heard the crack of another shot.

The zing of the round as it whizzed past me.

I heard the click of the door and a shadow fall across me, broad and holding something in its hand.

I lifted my head and tried to shout but I was too winded.

‘He’s got a -‘

The shape turned to me, and dove forward as a bullet cracked into the air above us.

I made out eyes the colour of burnt umber and white teeth pressed together, a dark scrub of beard and a thick neck.

‘Who have you brought to my door?’

His voice was thick and rough, carrying a lack of surprise.

‘He’s trying to kill me.’

He crawled closer, and I caught the scent of his warm skin, a leathery, clean musk that held a reassurance as it crawled over the chill bark of the night air. He reached out his hand and gazed at me.

‘You follow me inside. On the count of three.’

He pulled me to my feet and ran, dragging me along as Chip walked towards us, an indistinct shape illuminated by the flash of the muzzle as he fired another shot. I was pushed forward as he shut the door behind us, and I heard the low growl of something in the dark.

‘Avocado.’ he said.

The grey mastiff stopped growling and started to pant. My eyes adjusted to the low light within the cabin and more details became available to me. I shuddered with a palsied brutality from the cold, and my teeth chattered until he crept away from the door and pulled a blanket from the couch, wrapped it around my shoulders.

He clicked his fingers, and the dog sauntered over to him, quiet and focused as it sat in front of him. He rubbed between its ears and crept over to the other side of the room. He pulled a black, elongated rifle with a black stock and a scope from a rack and picked up a clip of four brass, red-tipped rounds then checked his own handgun, a bulky revolver that he pulled the hammer back on and slipped into a holster on his belt. He had shaved his head, but kept a good crop of beard and wore a thick grey sweater over black jeans and unlaced black leather boots.

‘You stay here with Pork. If anyone but me comes through that door, you say the word I just did. Understand?’

I nodded. The dog was huge, but it regarded me with an uninhibited enthusiasm. Its menace lay within its potential, its loyalty and he had put it to my defence without discussion or explanation. He brought the rifle to bear, slipped in a round and moved slowly to the hallway. He laid flat on his stomach, went still like a lizard on a flat rock and waited. The door flung open with the force of Chip kicking his way in and he stood, gun in hand, framed by the doorway. His face was beet red and his glasses had been lost in the pursuit. He shone like something boiled and saw me, but not the man laid before him.

He tried to raise the gun before the room filled with the boom of the shot. At that range, it threw him through the doorway with a wet, concise thoom, folding in half as he flew away. The man on the floor racked the bolt and slipped in another round.

‘I don’t think he’ll get up from that.’ I said.

He got up slowly, laid the rifle down with care and drew the revolver to hold in front of him in a two handed grip as he stepped slowly to the door. He lifted the gun up, walked outside and shut the door behind him. I sat there with my arms around the dog, listening to the sound of my heartbeat and the roar of the wind waiting for him to return.

He came back and brushed snow from his shoulders. He lit candles from a small petrol lighter and stood a few feet away from me. He had replaced the revolver back on his hip and extended his right hand, the size of a catcher’s mitt towards me.

‘I’ve got you.’ he said.

I took his hand, and he pulled me to my feet. He glanced over at me and asked if I was injured.

‘No more than usual.’ I said.

That got a smile from him and he told me to sit down.

‘My stuff. It’s in his car. His car’s still out there.’

He nodded without looking at me as he reached into an overhead cupboard and pulled a first aid kit and a bottle of brandy as well as two tin mugs. He made coffee on the stove and poured two healthy slugs into each one before adding the thick, steaming black liquid. It burned going down, but it smoothed out the first tremors as my adrenaline dumped away.

‘I’m Dawn.’ I said.

He drank from his mug and looked at me over the rim before he swallowed and spoke.


Tears came, and he did not flinch from them. He watched me with a kindly, animal patience as I took another sip of the laced coffee.
‘Thank you. He was going to kill me.’

He nodded.

‘When it stops, we’ll get your stuff from the car and figure out what to do from there.’

I reached out and put my hand on his knee.

‘I won’t stay long. Just I needed to get out of the cold.’

He sighed and put his hand over mine.

‘That’s how most people live their lives, Dawn, nothing to be ashamed of. Wasn’t any doubt in my mind that a man like needed putting down.’

We did not speak for a time. We talked until the snow stopped or I drifted off to sleep on the soft couch but when I awoke, it was morning and Mac had put another blanket over me. Pork had slept next to me, snoring in the velvety rumble of a mindful animal.

My backpack sat at the end of the couch. His bedroom door was closed, and I woke up, hugged it to my chest and wept with relief.


He got rid of Chip and the car.

We had not been the only ones in the car. Initially, he told me that he was going to drive the car out and run it into a quarry in the next town but after checking the trunk, he drove it to a truck stop, wiped it down and made a phone call to the nearest police department.

The girl’s parents had a right to know what happened to her.


When the kids asked how we met, we told them it was in a coffee shop. I say that I was struggling with a clue in the crossword and he came over to offer his suggestion.

I tell them that he saved my life, and he always looks at me with a flush of pride.

It is the only part of the story that is true, but it is the only part, in the end, that matters.

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Jack of Spades by Joyce Carol Oates



Andrew J. Rush has achieved the kind of critical and commercial success most authors only dream about: He has a top agent and publisher in New York, and his twenty-eight mystery novels have sold millions of copies. Only Stephen King, one of the few mystery writers whose fame exceeds his own, is capable of inspiring a twinge of envy in Rush. But Rush is hiding a dark secret. Under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades,” he pens another string of novels—noir thrillers that are violent, lurid, masochistic. These are novels that the upstanding Rush wouldn’t be caught reading, let alone writing. When his daughter comes across a Jack of Spades novel he has carelessly left out, she picks it up and begins to ask questions. Meanwhile, Rush receives a court summons in the mail explaining that a local woman has accused him of plagiarizing her own self-published fiction. Before long, Rush’s reputation, career, and family life all come under threat—and in his mind he begins to hear the taunting voice of the Jack of Spades.

Joyce Carol Oates takes the notion of the unreliable narrator, the hidden wound and grafts it onto a discourse about writing, unconscious plagiarism, the fickle nature of literary fame and the allure of the alter ego. She adds to that a descent into madness, gaps in perception and the coruscating nature of madness. With all of that, she still grafts it onto a taut, implacable plot that seethes with narrative drive. She asks the question of whether the narrator is losing their mind early on but she witholds answering it until it’s too late. You’re a passenger in the front seat and the road ahead is horrific and uncertain.

The narration posits Rushford as a man who is at great pains to present himself as gentle and humble despite his success, happy with his lot in life who is hiding a secret when a legal summons begins to unravel his psyche. Oates maintains a nervous, pounding energy alive with devious justifications, over compensations and eventually confessions. It is not an orgy of violence, Oates understands that the horror comes from paying attention to the crime of impulse, the gentle man turned savage and the justifications afterwards. She writes carefully and deliberately, maintaining a pace that had me reading from when I picked it up until I was turning the last page with feverish focus.

Joyce Carol Oates is brilliant. Her work is red in tooth and claw, she tells compelling stories that pull the rug out from under your feet and as you catch your breath, she keeps telling the story that even pain cannot keep you from listening to.