The Invisible Crown Blog Tour

Once again, I’ve teamed up with Royal James Publishing on their blog tour of The Invisible Crown by Charlie Cottrell.

I’ve always enjoyed a good detective story, and The Invisible Crown, book one in the Hazzard Pay series, proved to be an amusing addition to the genre, with a few sci-fi elements thrown in for good measure.

While at first glance the novel appears to fall into the classic noir genre, it detours a little from the norm. Today, I’d like to take a look at the top ten characteristics that distinguish noir from hard-boiled detective stories.

  • Deep 1st person narrative. Traditionally, the noir genre takes you deep into the mind of the character, with a narrative told from their often quite twisted perspective. Eddie Hazzard, the narrator of The Invisible Crown, fulfils this criterion splendidly, with a voice that’s mildly annoying, often ironic, but never dull.
  • Doom and gloom. Noir is not about happy endings. Or middles, or even beginnings. More often than not, things go from bad to worse, and then end up in hell in a bucket. Needless to say, check this one off the list for Cottrell’s story as well!
  • Morals, or lack thereof. The characters in a classic noir novel, have few to no morals. They won’t hesitate to lie, steal or kill to get their way, and their actions shove them over the edge of doom – ensuring the happily never after ending. In The Invisible Crown, Eddie Hazzard doesn’t quite manage this, making him a strangely endearing anti-hero.
  • According to Otto Penzler, “pretty much everyone in a noir story (or film) is driven by greed, lust, jealousy or alienation…” Check another one off for Cottrell. The characters in the novel are twisted and strange, not just because of their genetic modifications (which are fantastic to imagine), but because of their motivations. As for the gen-mod descriptions they’re woven into the narrative so well, that for a while I kept walking around expecting to meet a talking gorilla.
  • Self-destruction of the narrator. Because it’s not enough that the world hates you and you’re doomed to eternal misery; you also need to try and destroy yourself – slowly. Eddie Hazzard meets this criterion with an often annoying aptitude. His hangovers, while entertaining at first, soon became tedious – a sad distraction from his other charms which could have been avoided had Cottrell given the reader slightly more insight into his addiction. Of course, bordering on noir, Hazzard doesn’t need a reason to drink – he just has to live with it.
  • A corrupted system. Check, and double check. The layers in this novel just sink deeper and deeper into rot. The sense that there was, quite literally, no completely innocent person in the entire city of Arcadia, was created so perfectly by Cottrell, I needed a shower to wash off the stench of corruption.
  • Frank descriptions of violence and sex. Tick this one off. While there were no erotic scenes in The Invisible Crown, Eddie Hazzard certainly has an eye for the ladies, and there was no shortage of violence and death.
  • The femme fatale. Enter Vera Stewart. Rich, sexy, dangerous. Just how dangerous, depends on how far Hazzard is prepared to go to solve the case she brings to him.
  • A hyper-localised setting. The city of Arcadia may be vast, but we only ever see a few settings throughout the whole novel. The descriptions of these settings are vivid and emotive, evoking a surreal clarity of the environment Hazzard operates in.
  • In noir, the protagonist is the victim, suspect or perpetrator. This puts The Invisible Crown firmly into the hard-boiled category, as Eddie Hazzard is not only a raging alcoholic, but the PI hired to solve a mystery.

All in all, while The Invisible Crown doesn’t quite fit into the noir genre, it certainly makes it into the hard-boiled detective category and does so exceedingly well. I look forward to what the rest of the series holds in store for us.


Dream in Words Competition


Chasing Dreams Publishing is thrilled to be able to present Dream in Words, a competition hosted in conjunction with Nico Venter Art. See the details below:

How to Enter

  • Entries should be made via e-mail to in a Word or PDF document which should contain a one page synopsis and the first three chapters or 5 000 words of your novel.
  • Corrections may not be made once a submission has been received. Proofread your entry before submitting.
  • Entries must be received before midnight South African time at the end of the closing date 31 January 2017.
  • There is a no limit to the number of novels you may submit, but each entry should be submitted separately.
  • Entry fees are per individual submission. Multiple submissions with one entry fee will be rejected.
  • Your e-mail should include the following information:
    • Your real name and surname.
    • Age.
    • Parental consent if under 18.
    • Title of the novel.
    • Genre of the novel.
    • Nom de Plume if you choose to use one.
    • Approximate length of the novel.
    • Contact details via e-mail.
    • Proof of payment of the entry fee
  • Entry fees should be submitted via PayPal at this link:

N.B. Please choose the ZAR currency or alternatively use the currency converter to find the latest exchange rate to the currency of your choice.

  • Entry fees are non-refundable. Please ensure that you pay the correct amount in the currency of your choice.
  • Entries will be acknowledged by email within 48 hours of receiving them.
  • Please check your email address carefully before submitting your entry.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation email (don’t forget to check your spam) please contact us by sending an e-mail to
  • Entrants are responsible for completing the submission process correctly and alerting us to any problems they encounter. Chasing Dreams Publishing accepts no liability for entries not received due to a failure on the part of the entrant to follow the submission process correctly.


  • Entrants must be 18 years or over on the closing date, or have written consent from their parents or guardians to enter.
  • Entries must be in English.
  • Entries must consist of a synopsis and the first three chapters or 5 000 words of a completed novel. If the novel is incomplete, the first draft needs to have been completed by the 28th February 2017.
  • Entrants must be willing and able to participate in edits, cover design discussions and online marketing such as blog tours during the course of 2017.
  • Publication of the winning entry is scheduled for December 2017. This date may be subject to change at the discretion of Chasing Dreams Publishing and in discussion with the winning entrant.
  • Entries must be the work of the entrant and must not have been published or accepted for publication elsewhere in print or online including blogs or personal websites.
  • Entries must be fiction but can be on any subject, excluding erotica and poetry, and may be written in any style or form.
  • The competition is international and welcomes entrants from all countries.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted but please let us know if your entry wins a prize or is published elsewhere so we can withdraw your entry.


  • Prizes are sponsored by Chasing Dreams Publishing and Nico Venter Art.
  • 1st Place – A full assisted self-publishing contract, including beta-reading, editing, book layout and design, promotional marketing, and final publication on online platforms and print-on-demand from Chasing Dreams Publishing. Full cover design and promotional artwork from Nico Venter Art.
  • 2nd Place – Full Manuscript Evaluation from Chasing Dreams Publishing and Preliminary Cover Design from Nico Venter Art.
  • 3rd Place – Full Manuscript Evaluation from Chasing Dreams Publishing.
  • Winners will be announced on the 28th February 2017 and given two working weeks to respond to an e-mail notification in acceptance of their prize.
  • Should the winners should not respond, the judges reserve the right to award the unclaimed prize to the next runner up.

For a full list of Terms and Conditions, please see this PDF file. By entering the competition, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions therein.