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Friday 18 September 2015

FFB – Blood of the Dragon Trees

Sales of Blood of the Dragon Tree have decreased in the last few months, which I find puzzling since it has picked up a good selection of favourable reviews.

They say never believe your own publicity, and that’s true enough. Yet when reviewers use phrases like ‘difficult to put down’, ‘excellent holiday read’, ‘a breathless read’, ‘well-drawn characters’, ‘evocative descriptions’, ‘felt like I had physically and emotionally travelled’, ‘add another layer’, ‘a memorable villainess’, ‘emotive and gripping thriller’, ‘stomach-churning danger’, and ‘a visual feast’ I have to wonder why the book is still not finding a bigger readership. [I write to be read, not to become rich].

This is a problem with any so-called mid-list author – finding a wider audience. Word-of-mouth isn’t working, maybe. And, to be fair, there are thousands of books out there to choose from, so why pick this one?

What’s the book about? It isn’t a fantasy and there are no dragons in it. It’s a romantic crime thriller. The blood and gore is minimal, but it isn’t a cozy crime book either. Certainly, the subject of people smuggling is ever-present in today's news reports, and the book reflects several aspects of this.

Crime on the sunny island of Tenerife. Something to do with dealing in the products from endangered species and people trafficking...

Laura Reid likes her new job on Tenerife, teaching the Spanish twins Maria and Ricardo Chávez. She certainly doesn’t want to get involved with Andrew Kirby and his pal, Jalbala Emcheta, who work for CITES, tracking down illegal traders in endangered species. Yet she’s undeniably drawn to Andrew, which is complicated, as she’s also attracted to Felipe, the brother of her widower host, Don Alonso.

Felipe’s girlfriend Lola is jealous and Laura is forced to take sides – risking her own life – as she and Andrew uncover the criminal network that not only deals in the products from endangered species, but also thrives on people trafficking. The pair are aided by two Spanish lawmen, Lieutenant Vargas of the Guardia Civil and Ruben Salazar, Inspector Jefe del Grupo de Homicidios de las Canarias.

Very soon betrayal and mortal danger lurk in the shadows, along with the dark deeds of kidnapping and clandestine scuba diving…

Here are samples from a selection of reviews, gleaned from Amazon UK, Amazon COM and newspapers:

1) Blood of the Dragon Trees is a fast paced thriller and a book that is difficult to put down… but it is the characters rather than the crime that stand out in this book…
2) What a fantastic fast-paced read this is! The plot twists and turns and keeps us guessing… Morton has cleverly illuminated this text with his knowledge of Tenerife and of Spanish. Yet he does not overwhelm the reader with these details. They just allow the story to seem more real…I actually read the book whilst staying on Tenerife. That probably enhanced my enjoyment of the novel - many of the places mentioned I knew from this visit… It certainly made this an excellent holiday read on this beauty-endowed island.
3) We are introduced to some colourful characters as the flavour and nature of the island is revealed, and the hint of romance hangs in the air…There is also something deliciously sensuous about the description of Senora Pineda, the cook, vigorously slicing open a fresh wholemeal roll, her pendulous chest and upper arms wobbling with the cutting motion. And when she lops off thin slivers of cucumber and places them on top of the cheese and tomato, why do I think of knives, and blood, and sliced flesh? This is vigorous, dramatic writing, and sends shivers down my spine. Another scene where Laura takes a bath is blissfully described. These gems give pause while the story races on, scene giving way to action-packed scene, where neither the characters nor the reader knows exactly what is happening or why. Despite the danger, with surprisingly little bloodshed, the Dragon Tree wins out, and the cleverly crafted story comes to a surprising but credible close. This is a breathless read - totally satisfying.

4) When Laura Reid, a linguist, comes to work for the Chavez family in Tenerife, she cannot imagine the terrifying twists and turns her life will take… crimes committed by the well-drawn characters on this seemingly peaceful and beautiful island. Lots of pace, a really good yarn and a skilfully painted picture of Tenerife made it an excellent read.

5) Visitors to the Island of Tenerife will recognise the beauty of the island in Morton's evocative descriptions of what the island has to offer to the tourist, but few, if any, will recognise the darker side so vividly portrayed in this novel… It is a fact that immigrants head for the Canary Islands from Africa, but here Morton has added spice to the tragedies that often unfold through people trafficking… Morton takes the story along at a fine pace, and readers of his past novels will not be disappointed in his narrative, his characterisation and careful plotting.

6) Mr. Morton’s skilful descriptions of the environment put the reader there, and his careful delineation and development of the characters lead to a thoroughly enjoyable read. There is romance, action, and danger as the novel carries the reader through more twists and turns than a roller-coaster. The reader journeys with Andrew, Laura, Felipe and others as the thieves, murderers, and kidnappers are hunted down. Morton drops clues for the perceptive reader along the way as to the identity of the mysterious “el Jefe” making Blood of the Dragon Tree a delightful, enriching, informative puzzle wrapped in mystery and intrigue… I felt like I had physically and emotionally travelled hand in hand with the characters through their arduous ordeals.

7) Set in Tenerife, a place I have visited several times, I hoped the author would be able to recreate the setting without giving it the feel of a travelogue. I needn't have worried. His clear knowledge of the place enables him to put the reader on the island without overdoing the settings in the slightest… The action is fast paced and the romantic elements don't slow this down, rather they add another layer to the intrigue. For those who like to try to guess who the bad people are while reading (like me) there are plenty of artfully placed clues and misdirection, which only become obvious towards the end of the novel. The crimes are appalling, the characters well-drawn and credible, and the settings superb. What more can I add, except this: go and buy a copy…

8) This book benefits from an exotic setting that may be new to many (as it was to me). This setting has a very strong bearing on the story line, including quite a few exciting chase scenes. The crimes that drive the plot are interesting and highly relevant to the world today. The characters have good depth, and there's a memorable villainess. There's no small measure of violence, but it's tempered in a rather surprising way. The story also has a strong romantic element.

9) Morton has woven a masterfully written fictional story based on these appalling facts - a thriller and romance rolled into one that draws you in with plenty of suspense and fast paced action. Each chapter ends with a hook leading you eagerly on to the next. The characters and all the location settings on the island are colourfully realised. The author, who clearly knows Tenerife well, gets it absolutely right. Not once did I feel that all the research that must have gone into writing such an emotive and gripping thriller becomes too obvious…

10) …The intense contrast between stomach-churning danger and the relief of rescue is terrific. And it doesn’t just happen once, either, so hang onto your hat. The story never lets up, but somehow finds time to immerse the reader in the beauty and atmosphere of Tenerife.

11) … Without ever falling into the trap of being a tourist guide of Tenerife, Morton's book offers the reader a visual feast, a detailed view of the island, its scenery, its people and its culture. For any Canary aficionados, this is a must… It's a well-constructed love story and thriller with plenty of suspense, false trails and derring-do. The bad people get their comeuppance, the good find the justice they seek, and love conquers all. And there's a final twist in the tail to tantalise the most critical reader. Well written, visually descriptive but fast-paced, this is a must for any holiday anywhere!

My sincere thanks to all the readers who have made the effort to review the book, many at such great length too. Your views are greatly appreciated!
Blood of the Dragon Trees – paperback and e-book

Amazon UK here
Amazon COM here

And if you like Blood of the Dragon Trees, you might also like Spanish Eye, 22 cases from Leon Cazador, half-English, half-Spanish private eye, 'in his own words'.
Spanish Eye - paperback and e-book
Amazon UK here
Amazon COM here




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