• Search
  • Lost Password?
Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

“Who really killed Leo Fenton?”
‘The Scorched Earth’
by Rachael Blok
Blog Tour

Another Blog Tour brought to you courtesy of the team from Head of Zeus publishers and their partners in crime at NetGalley, without whom things just wouldn’t be the same.

As you can see by the schedule below, I shall be joining this tour right near to its end, so why not check out some of the earlier posts for more extracts from the book, guest posts and interviews with author Rachael Blok.

Loving this dramatic and brooding cover art too!

THE SCORCHED EARTH – (DCI Maarten Jansen Book #2)

Cover image of the book 'The Scorched Earth' by author Rachael BlokWho really killed Leo Fenton?

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.

Ben’s girlfriend Ana Seabrook has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heat wave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?

St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her boyfriend, she must unearth the truth alone.


Image of author Rachael BlokRachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University.

She taught English at a London comprehensive and is now a full-time writer, living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

Her crime series is set in the cathedral city of St Albans.

Here, Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city.

Check out all her latest news at Rachael’s website

Follow Rachael on Twitter

I’m constantly surprised how differently stories turn out on paper than in their original planning. Fiction has a life of its own.

“If you want to write a book you need to write. Actually sit down and try to do a little bit as often as possible. You’ll be amazed how quickly a few hundred words becomes a few thousand. Try to commit to a piece of time that works for you.”

“If you want this to be your job rather than a hobby then you need to write a book that people will buy, but your first book might not be the one. You need to stick with it. It takes some writers years to get published. You need to keep chugging away, and keep doing the best job you can do.”

Cover image of the book 'The Scorched Earth' by author Rachael Blok


“Here’s the water you asked for, sir.”

Sunny is by Maarten’s side, passing out paper cups to an already overheated team. Adrika kneels in the dirt. It’s brittle and crumbling, despite the storm.

The graveyard lies in an arc in front of the Palladian church. Nicknamed ‘the temple’ by the locals, its pillars maintain their cold against the burn of the sun; surrounded by the flurry of the crime scene, already sweating. Fingers hot in plastic gloves; equipment slippery to oily hands.

“Adrika, drink. It’s hot. Only getting hotter.” The heat has crawled under his skin and it’s barely 9.30 a.m.; the call centre had received a 101 call around 5 a.m., from a runner who had seen the grave. He was on the committee for the temple and graves here are fought for tooth and nail. His tone had been outraged rather than concerned: “…and they think they can just bury anyone they like…”

Niamh had been in charge of the call centre and had set in motion the crime scene. She’d called him personally. “Sorry, Maarten, but so many are on holiday, and the SIO on call this morning has come down with food poisoning after last night’s curry. Is there someone else I should call?”

Adrika, newly promoted to DI, could have run it. But it would be her first one. He’d planned to begin and then step back; she’s assisted as SIO previously and there didn’t seem to be any immediate threat involved.

She steps forward, just off the phone. “Forensics are set up and have finished the area sweep. They’re going to start the body evacuation now.”

Maarten nods, wincing. The runner had kicked back some of the fresh dirt that morning when he’d seen the mound of earth. Part of a skeleton had appeared. It had been the size of the mound and the length of bone that had led the PC, first on site, to raise the status to SOCO. It’s not unheard of for some people to bury their pets in graveyards. But the unearthed suspected human bone had killed that theory.

“Let me know when the pathologist is doing the first look,’ he says.”

“Only a skeleton, so it’ll be tricky to tell much. Takes a month, doesn’t it, for the flesh to start to decay?’ Adrika looks over to where the ground has been divided into grids. A tent has been set up. ‘They seem to be taking longer today.”

“No immediate threat of rain, so the DNA is fairly stable. And it’s even hotter. Come on, I can see Robyn. She must be on today.” He heads over to the grave, swallowing bile. Decomposition: autolysis, bloat, active decay, skeletonisation. He knows the stages, but discussing the disintegration of once warm flesh… The sense of death lies in the heat heavily, not dispersing. Decay is dense in the thick air.

It’s buried quite deep, given the hardness of the ground. About half a foot.

Pausing, he hunkers down , prodding the earth with his fingers. “It must have been a difficult job,” he says. He’s far enough away from the site to avoid contamination, and he scratches the earth with his fingernail, feeling his nail pull back, against the pink skin. His hands are raw with blisters from a bike ride at the weekend. The heat creates friction everywhere. “Someone wanted it buried here, knowing we’d just dig it straight up. A lot of effort.”

“How long do you think it took them, to dig the hole?” Adrika asks, only half aloud. “Maybe there was more than one?”

Image of author Rachael Blok

Image of Blog Tour banner #2 for the book 'The Scorched Earth' by author Rachael Blok


Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

View all articles
Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This sounds good, Yvonne, and I really like the cover. I don’t recall you featuring this author before, so I’m assuming you haven’t read the first in the series. It’ll be interesting to know what you think and if it works, jumping right into book two.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I hadn’t come across this author before, until the lovely Vicky from publisher Head Of Zeus, contacted me to see if I would like to take part in this Blog Tour.

      The premise of the book had me intrigued and the cover art is definitely dramatic enough to have caught my eye right away!

      I am not sure whether I shall just jump in and read this, book #2 in the series, or if I shall track down a download for book #1, ‘Under The Ice’ and read them in sequence.


      ‘The Scorched Earth’ has had some pretty amazing Goodreads ratings and reviews, with the general consensus of opinion being that the book works just fine as a stand alone story, although if you want to know more about DCI Maarten Jansen’s past, then you might well be advised to start at the beginning!

      I also really like Rachael Blok’s down-to-earth approach to writing a story, especially when she observes that “Fiction has a life of its own.”

      Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for taking time out to stop by 🙂

    • Hi Cath,

      DCI Maarten Jansen is a Dutch detective, living in St. Albans, which makes this an intriguing storyline, although perhaps going back to the start of the series is the route I may have to take after all, just to fill in some of Maarten’s personal background and how he comes to be living in the UK.

      Either way, this is a premise which holds great promise!

      I hope that you enjoyed your short break in Swansea. Just enough relaxation to prepare you for the Christmas rush? 🙂

    • Hi Naida,

      Like most quotes, it is always good to share thoughts and ideas, and although much of it is common sense, we all need a little reminding and encouragement sometimes!

      I enjoy it when an author takes the time to share snippets like this, which I can then include in a post to make it all a little more personal!

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you in the run up to Christmas 🙂

Written by Yvonne
Load More