Cyprus Kiss by Murray Bailey #BookReview #BlogTour

Help Me!

Those were the words on the back of a woman’s photograph. And yet she vanished six months ago.

It’s 1948 and military investigator Ash Carter has arrived in Cyprus. 

A gang has been operating for two years, leaving a mark known to police as the kiss of death. Is this something to do with them? And why ask him for help?

After a murder, Carter begins to realize this is personal. In a race against time, Carter must work out the connection between the gang, the missing woman and the murder before it’s too late.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the blog tour for Cyprus Kiss today. Many thanks to Murray Bailey for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

I came late to Murray Bailey's Ash Carter series but after loving the last two books, Singapore Killer and Singapore Fire, I was delighted to learn that he'd written a prequel featuring Ash as a military investigator before his later move to Singapore.
Carter has only recently moved to Cyprus from his intense first posting in Mandatory Palestine where he was one of the last to leave as it transitioned to Israel. He is part of a two man Special Investigations Branch team stationed in Cyprus but when his commanding officer, Captain Wolfe receives orders detailing their true role, meaning he is sent elsewhere, it's left to Ash to fill his days on the island. An early encounter with a group of drunk and obnoxious soldiers gives readers and his date, Penny Cartwright, the opportunity to see what sort of man he is; his chivalrous albeit unflinching response a reminder of his pugilistic past. Penny is impressed by what she sees but later that same evening they witness a shocking crime and with little else to do and rapidly becoming increasingly bored, Carter becomes involved in the investigation.
He also receives anonymously sent photos of a striking woman who seems to be asking for his help but after discovering that she is the estranged wife of Major Johnson, the provost marshal, his attempts to look into her apparent disappearance are discouraged by Wolfe and by Johnson himself. Life becomes even more complicated for Carter when Penny Cartwright finds herself in trouble too and with two recent murders, an organised crime gang known as Kiss of Death which might be linked to Greek separatist beliefs and which is believed to have carried out several execution-style murders in the past and possible high-level corruption, this complex story is a pacy, compelling read throughout. I did manage to work out one revelation ahead of Carter but there was still much I didn't see coming too as Ash tries to figure out who he can trust. There are several tense moments and scenes of high drama with Carter in very real danger as the riveting, labyrinthine plot with its numerous red herrings kept me glued to the page. 
Set in 1948, the vivid descriptions of the island and the cleverly included subtleties observing geopolitical concerns and widely-held attitudes and prejudices ensures that as with the previous Ash Carter novels, the sense of time and place is utterly superb. Carter is a hugely likeable protagonist and in a book which, due to its historical setting in a largely male-dominated environment, echoes action thrillers of the past, it's refreshing to find his perspective contrasts with the British imperialism and racism reflected amongst many of his peers. He's become a character I've become invested in and whether, as here, Murray Bailey gives us an insight into his earlier life, or if in the future, we discover more about what happens to him after Singapore, I've no doubt that this gripping series will continue to be compulsive reading.
Cyprus Kiss might well be my favourite book in the series so far, it's an intricately plotted, exciting and immersive read which left me both immensely satisfied with how everything eventually plays out here and desperate to find out what lies in store for Ash Carter in the next book, The Killing Crew. A cracking read from start to finish, I thoroughly recommend it.

Cyprus Kiss  will be published on 24th July 2021. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Murray Bailey got his first taste of success when he was published in the Times at 18. He also had articles published in his local newspaper. Although he went on to pursue a different career, he continued to write and became the editor of an international magazine and editor of 4 technical books.

His first work of fiction, I Dare You, was published in 2016. He has a series set around ancient Egypt (starting with Map of the Dead) and another set in 1950s Singapore.

Born in Manchester, England, Murray now lives on the South Coast with his wife and family.