The Nursery by Asia Mackay

Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for The Nursery by Asia Mackay. I have a great extract from the book to share with you all and would like to say thanks to Charlotte Cooper at Midas PR for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:

About the Book

KILLING EVE MEETS MICK HERRON IN THIS GRIPPING AND WITTY PAGE-TURNER ABOUT HAVING IT ALL, KEEPING IT ALL AND SURVIVING IT ALL.

Lex Tyler is trying to have it all, but being a working mother is so much more difficult when you’re a secret agent for an underground branch of the security services.

Platform Eight have been tasked with tracking down and eliminating the traitor in MI6 who has been selling information to the highest bidder through a headhunting website for the criminal underworld that connects intelligence operatives with all manner of bad people with a simple right swipe.

Deals get made. Secrets get sold. Missions fail. Agents die. 

It’s down to Lex and her team to identify and eliminate the traitor before they assassinate China’s Minister of Commerce and ruin relations between the UK and China forever. But when your husband doesn’t know exactly what your job entails and the future of the intelligence services rests on your shoulders, can one working mother save the day? 

This is one mission that Lex cannot afford to fail.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Google Play | Apple Books

From the Book

A busker with a topknot was singing about running in an enthusiastic falsetto at the bottom of the escalators at Holborn tube station. I recognised it as a Florence and the Machine song. A few commuters winced. It was a little too high-pitched for early morning.  I gave him a nod as I walked past him and joined the escalators up into the daylight.  I walked up to the grey office building adjoining the tube station. I swiped my specially modified Oyster card against the double doors and entered. In the small reception area was a waiting lift. I walked in and pressed a combination of buttons that took me down to the hallowed halls of Platform Eight.  

Our offices were located in a disused network of rooms and tunnels coming off Platform Eight at Holborn tube station. It meant we could roam all over London, under the streets and away from the all-seeing CCTV and the inconvenience of traffic. The sounds of the trains also helped disguise any troubling noises from our less cooperative interviewees. ‘Signal failures,’ for example, were often caused by over-enthusiastic interrogating shorting the electricity supply and affecting the whole underground grid. Whereas a ‘person on the tracks’ was actually a highly effective way of disposing of those who would rather die than answer our questions. This tactic worked well for us because ‘splatters’ were near impossible to do autopsies on.   I entered the lift an everyday commuter and exited an underground secret agent.   This was our world. Officially we were the Government Communication and Data Specialisation Branch used by MI5 and MI6 for specialist data analysis. Unofficially we went by the catchier Platform Eight and were a covert division tasked solely with missions that left no paper trail and no target alive.  

We were Rats.   We scuttled around underground doing the unpalatable work necessary to keep everyone in Britain safe. 

We were the security services’ dirty little secret.

I ran my hand against the concrete wall as I walked towards my meeting room. The division was a hive of activity. There were people hurrying up and down the corridors. Phones ringing. Shouts from office to office. Around sixty people work out of Platform Eight. Only half were Rats, the rest were Tech Support or working in departments like Surveillance, Special Projects and Research and Development. We may all have different skillsets, differing motivations but for all of us who worked at Eight we shared the unfaltering belief that what we were doing was vital to national – and international – security. Sanctioned assassinations for the greater good. Saving lives by taking lives.   This was our final morning before a full lockdown. Unit Leaders were calling in all Rats abroad or undercover.   Platform Eight was on high alert and we needed everyone in our network to be told.  Throughout London buskers were singing their hearts out. Today certain carefully positioned performers were singing songs specially chosen by us. Songs that had a special meaning to our undercover operatives.  In certain spots around town new graffiti would be appearing on key street corners. The homeless begging in specific alleyways would be holding signs in red.   In the days where electronic correspondence was monitored and could no longer be trusted we relied on a wide network of more simple forms of communication.   Everything usually ignored we used to our advantage.   The public – or the Sheep, as we liked to call them – wouldn’t notice these tweaks. These little changes. But all our people would know the symbols, the signs, the lyrics. 

Run. Watch out. You’re compromised. This was what London was screaming to our operatives, to our informants.  

We had got to Agent Black in time. The others might not be so lucky. There was a Snake in our midst and no one was safe. Slithering around alongside us, using their inside knowledge to hurt us above ground. None of us would be safe until this traitor was found. Until they were eliminated.   As I walked past an open office door I heard, ‘I’m worried. She hasn’t liked my latest photo on Instagram and I know she’s been on it this morning as she liked a photo of a dog walking in snow boots.’  It may have sounded like typical office watercooler chit chat but this was important work. Tech Support were using social media to make sure Platform Eight operatives were getting the message all over the world. Key Accounts posted photos of sunsets and planes in flight. Status updates like ‘Time for holibobs!’ Inspirational quotes along the vein of ‘Every ending is just a new beginning’. Every post was a call to get out, to get somewhere safe and hide out.   It was a flurry of activity now but soon the corridors would be quiet.  

I’d been a Rat for twelve years and this was the first time we’d ever had a full lockdown.

If that has got you all intrigued, you can buy the full books at the links above.

About the Author

Asia does not enjoy talking about herself in the third person but she understands it’s expected for author bios. Asia studied Anthropology at Durham University, and despite people fearmongering that a random degree would mean she’d never get a job, she managed to start a career in television. But had to move to China to do it. She presented and produced lifestyle programmes in Shanghai, went out a lot and failed to improve her Mandarin. Returning to London she worked for (name drop) Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as Project Manager on their round the world motorbike documentaries – her fleeting appearances on screen wearing headbands and earnestly discussing visas continue to be a source of great enjoyment for her friends. Asia started writing ‘Killing It’ on maternity leave and undertook a Faber Academy course to help her finish it. 

‘Killing It’ was the Runner Up in Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller competition and Runner Up/ Exceptionally Recognised for the Comedy Women In Print prize. Her second book ‘The Nursery’ is out September 2019. Asia lives in London with her husband, four young children and two dogs – she never succeeds in calling any of them by the right name. She is always very very tired.

Asia is rubbish on Twitter and Instagram as mostly lurks and rarely posts but please do follow her to help get her follower count to double figures
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