Today I am taking part in the blog tour and sharing an extract from Unjust Bias by Liz Mistry.
A murdered boy disowned by his family.
A teen terrified his past will catch up with him.
A girl with nowhere to go.
Men with rage so visceral they will do anything.
With the unsolved murder of a homeless boy still preying on his mind, DI Gus McGuire is confronted with a similar murder, a missing teen and no clues.
Does the answer lie with an illegal dark web site where ‘slaves’ are auctioned off? Or with an online forum for teens?
How can Gus keep people safe when unjust bias rears its head and being different could cost you your life…?
In many ways, this character, Flynn, is the star of Unjust Bias. He’s the one who niggled in my mind for months until I finally wrote this book. I hope I do him and all the other Flynns out there justice.
I’d agreed to come. To do this for the group. Anything to keep the peace – that’s me. No – it was more than keeping the peace. It’s about doing what’s right. Helping my community, making things better for my friends – or trying to. I know that, even so, it’s getting old now. Old and a bit creepy, if I’m honest – maybe a little threatening? Worrying? I balk at using the word dangerous, but it echoes at the back of my mind. At the beginning, I could just bite my tongue and go along with it, but the last couple of sessions had become worse. More threatening and I was finding it more difficult to keep my true feelings under wraps. When I was with my mates online, I was still full of attitude and bravado, but that was wearing thin. I wondered if all of them felt the same way deep down inside. If they were all conflicted, weary, angry, confused?
I rest my head on the bus window, letting the images flash by me in a whirl as I consider what lies ahead for me and try to ignore the dicks at the back who’re whispering about me in voices intended to carry.
Cradling my rucksack filled with a change of clothes, I wish I was going to my best mate Carrie’s house instead of putting myself through this crap. A sleepover, they said, but I know it’s just an excuse for an extended version of their course. Carrie’s OK with covering for me, but she’s worried about me. The way she gripped my forearm, her purple lips all pinched and how her green eyes seemed duller than usual as she begged me not to go, says it all.
‘Don’t go, Flynn. You don’t have to. It’s not your battle. If they’re your friends, they’ll get it, won’t they?’
The ‘It’s not your battle’ echoes like shards of ice in my head, giving me brain freeze. She’s wrong, is Carrie. It is my battle. It’s OK for her to wash her hands of it all. She doesn’t get how bad things are for kids like me. How could she? Besides, I don’t see many others battling by my side. Too many of them debating toilet issues and not enough of them getting down to deeper, more real issues about keeping us safe and about our rights – we are humans, after all.
As I approach my stop, my chest sort of clams up, like it’s telling me not to go too. I realise my fingers are gripping my backpack way too tight and I release them a little, wishing my palms weren’t so clammy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not confused about me. No, I’m all right with who I am. It’s just some arseholes have issues with it, but day to day I cope with that – the jibes, the sarccycomments, the weird looks. ‘Fuck them all’ is my motto and most of the time it works ’causeI’ve got so many folks in my life who aren’t dicks.
This stuff is so next level though. I get what we’re trying to do with all this undercover, illicit James Bond crap, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for much more of it. Some of the group are sooo strong – so determined – that I feel guilty when I’m online with them and I can’t bring myself to confide my worries. I don’t want to seem weak and needy. God, some of the stories they’ve told me make me want to reach through the ether and hug them. In comparison, I’ve had it easy – they’re the real survivors and I’m like a tagalong. Not that they see it like that. I’ve been up front with them about how supportive my sister and mum have been. It’s only my dad that’s given me any grief. Mum says he’ll come round, but I’m not so sure. Will he? Some of my online mates got chucked out of their homes and ended up homeless. There’s nowhere safe for the likes of us on the streets and nowhere safe in the shelters, either. Fucked if I know how they’ve survived. How they keep smiling. How, after all they’ve been through, they channel their anger into this. Into something so positive, so worthwhile. It’s this that keeps me going. It’s this knowledge that makes me stand up and ring the bell.
I vow that this will be the last time I come here. But even though I whisper the words beneath my breath, they don’t carry the conviction they should. I know I’ll be back to the second session of the week on Friday. Just as I know Carrie, despite her misgivings, will cover for me and my parents would trust me to be at Carrie’s. After all, it’s not like I have friends to hang out with. Most dumped me like I’d asked them to eat shit after the ‘big announcement’ – the one me and Carrie call Flynngate. The one that changed my life forever and signalled the start of my new life – my real life – the one I want to live – the one I’m entitled to live.
UNJUST BIAS BLOG TOUR
Follow the tour along the way for these bloggers thoughts on Unjust Bias.
LET’S GET TO KNOW LIZ MISTRY
Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Richand Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.
Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Liz has completed a PhD in Creative Writing on Diverse voices in crime fiction
In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.
BLOG TOUR ORGANISER
My thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on this blog tour and for the promotional materials.