The Gift Maker


by Mark Mayes

published by Urbane Publications, February 2017

Genre: Literary fiction/mystery and thrillers

the-gift-makerSometimes only a stranger can give the gift of hope.

Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard’s seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.

My review: A curious mixture of humour and fantasy makes Mark Mayes The Gift Maker an interesting debut novel. Not normally a fan of fantasy fiction, I was drawn into this novel because of the story, the language and the setting.

The plot is…

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Celebrating Indie Publishing: @urbanebooks @Mark_J_Mayes @ggaffa #Fridayreads

The Quiet Knitter

Welcome along to the first post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  I am delighted to introduce you to Urbane Publications run by the lovely Matthew Smith, who endeavours to bring some of the best books to the reading populace as possible.

Today I have the great privilege to share with you a review of The Gift Maker, the debut novel by Mark Mayes which will be published on 23rd February 2017 and a fantastic short interview with Urbane author David Gaffney.

Book Feature:


Published: 23 February 2017

4.5 out of 5 stars


Gifts ought to be free, but they never are. They tie you to the wishes of others. To your own sad expectations. To the penitentiary of your dreams.’

Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These ‘gifts’ will change their lives forever…

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Operator – by Jim Croce (covered by Chuck Aaron and Mark Mayes)

The very brilliant Chuck Aaron, my Soundcloud buddy, very kindly gave me the chance to collaborate on this cover of Operator – by the awesome Jim Croce. As well as singing, Chuck did all playing, mixing, and technical wizardry – we live thousands of miles apart – but so glad this was possible – was a lot of fun doing it! 🙂 Here is the lovely Chuck’s Soundcloud page – great songwriting and covers too!

FICTION: The Cure by Mark Mayes

FICTION: The Cure by Mark Mayes


It was the line of those hills seen from a distance that started it. At first, purple-grey in the fading evening light. From their vantage point of the bench, dedicated to Thomas J Pyne, Who Loved this View, that Tuesday evening in late August, they watched them change, become almost as one with the sky as the sun sank effortlessly, inexorably. Imperceptible changes became sudden realisations of loss. As lights came on in the far town that the hills loured over, those orange-green flickers grew to a concatenation of twinkling. Like the circuits of a distant brain, in communication with itself alone.

‘We could live there,’ said Robert. ‘I’ve seen a place on the Internet.’

Theresa stroked his hair. ‘Living somewhere’s different to visiting it for the day.’ She was silent for a moment, then added: ‘The rents would be lower, I suppose. It could work.’ She looked at…

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Review of ‘The Brief’ by Simon Michael (Urbane)

I read, and hugely admired, ‘An Honest Man’ (the second in the Charles Holborne series), before reading ‘The Brief’. Taking the two books out of order certainly did no harm to my enjoyment of this splendid novel.

I am completely hooked by Charles as a character: his struggles, his background, his continually tested honour and courage. I find him utterly compelling and attractive, as I do the legal milieu in which he operates, and the wider setting of 60s London, reproduced in meticulous detail.

The clarity and economy of Simon Michael’s writing, his way of building a scene, internalising at just the right moments, his descriptive abilities, authentic dialogue, and his masterful plotting, all combine to make ‘The Brief’ a joy to read. On completion, you sit back, and think, “Bloody hell, that was good.”

The choice to render the trial as a transcript, thereby making it read like a play, is a stroke of genius. What was spoken was more than enough to manifest the scene in your mind – you simply fill in the tone of voice, body language, and any other physical details yourself.

Simon Michael places Charles in some terrible fixes, and does it so skilfully, cranking up the tension to an unbearable level, that you are wholly riveted to the plot to see how on earth the hero will come through with his life, let alone his reputation.

Essentially, I see Holborne as a man for whom truth and fairness trump all other concerns. This does not make for an easy life. Under increasing pressure, he acts in the way we all feel we would like to, but suspect our nerve would fail us. Yet he is no plaster saint – he is fully rounded, capable of all shades of feeling, of impetuousness, and burdened with a deep vulnerability.

In this series of books, I believe Simon Michael is really achieving something special, both as a storyteller and as a creator of a character sure to capture both the mind and heart of any discerning reader; a character with longevity, archetypal yet wholly individual. I am more than keen to read the third in the series, ‘The Lighterman’, when it comes out later in 2017.