September 29

Bone By Bone – Sanjida Kay

bone-by-boneLaura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.

But nine-year-old Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

My thanks to Corvus for my review copy

 

If I were to draw up a list of everything that I dislike then this would be the longest book review ever. Future generations of psychology students would have it included in their university set text lists and spend many frustrating hours in tutorials unpicking just how irrationally angry one person can be over very random things.  So we are not going there.

If I were to do a very short list of things that I dislike then I can guarantee that bullying would feature.

I hate bullying. Completely. Totally. An all consuming hatred of bullying.

Bone By Bone is a story about bullying.

So in a departure from my normal style of review I am not going to try to describe how the story unfolds. Nor shall I even give away much about the characters, what form the bullying takes or even who the bullies are.  All I will share is that Laura’s daughter is being bullied.  Laura finds out and does what many parents would do for their child – tries to help and tries to stop the bullying.  Needless to say that in such an emotive situation tempers will flare and there will be consequences. It made for intense reading.

I have to give Sanjida Kay a huge amount of credit for making Bone to Bone so screamingly realistic (my screams). I anguished over what I was reading. I wanted to reach into the book and make the bad things stop.  I hated the bullies.  I hated how they grew in number and I hated how the victim retreated to the safety of isolation. It was too real and I couldn’t stop it.  But I kept reading because I HAD to know what would happen. No spoilers – but I did not expect THAT.

A debut novel which I can honesty say put me through the emotional wringer. Highly recommended.

 

Bone By Bone is published by Corvus and is available in paperback and digital format now.

You can order Bone By Bone by clicking through on this link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bone-Psychological-Thriller-Compelling-Wont/dp/1782396896/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475183219&sr=8-1&keywords=bone+by+bone+sanjida+kay

September 25

In Conversation – Alan Jones and Brian Stewart: Self-Publishing

I am delighted to be able to be able to welcome two new guests to Grab This Book.  Alan Jones and Brian Stewart are both self-published authors who have written books that I have loved. Brian’s debut Digital Circumstances was included in my top reads of 2014.  Alan Jones has guested here in the past, I reviewed his novels Blue Wicked and Bloq and each received a 5/5 score.

 

Brian, can I start by asking you for a quick introduction and give you the chance for a shameless plug for your books?

Brian – I’m Brian Stewart. I was brought up in Grangemouth, worked in Edinburgh as a teacher for a couple of years, and moved to Nairn and I’ve been here for over forty years now.

Digital Circumstances is a classic rags-to-riches story, though I didn’t know that when I wrote it. The book follows the life of Martin McGregor and also tracks technology development from the late 80s till the present day. I was really pleased with some great reviews! Digital Investigations is more of a straight crime thriller with a technological dimension and a cybercrime theme running alongside it. It involves credit-card skimming and sex trafficking, both very relevant issues.

digital-circumstancesThroughout my books I try to be very accurate about the technology: there’s no facile guessing of passwords, no simple ‘hacking into’ computers. As my main character keeps telling the detective, ‘it’s not like the movies’. Enough from me. Alan, I know you are a vet – what else?

Alan – Thanks for the intro. Our self-publishing routes have been sort of similar – I tried to get my first book traditionally published, and I think I got rejections from most of the agents and publishers in the Writers and Artists yearbook. An agent with quite a large agency said he gave my book serious consideration but declined it in the end. He advised me to put It on the kindle store, and I’ve stayed with the self publishing route since, not really wanting to put myself through that process again.

My first book, The Cabinetmaker, took me 10 years to write on and off, and was a gritty crime story. A Cabinetmaker’s only son is brutally murdered, and the gang of thugs who killed him walk free after a bungled prosecution.

Blue wicked 2I wrote and published my second book, Blue Wicked in just over a year, and it was even more gritty, and much shorter and punchier.  The tortured corpses of young alcoholics and drug addicts are turning up in Glasgow and only unlikely investigator Eddie Henderson seems to know why.

A combination of my first blog tour, and a Street Cabinetmaking stunt at Bloody Scotland to launch The Cabinetmaker paperback raised my profile as a writer and made it much easier to do a proper launch of my third book shortly after. I had a bigger blog tour and distribution of ARC’s to various Facebook book club members, so that Bloq got off to a flying start, collecting 70 reviews in the first three months.

 How have you found the self-publishing experience?

Brian: My first – Digital Circumstances – was a long and complex book, so much so that I found it very hard to summarise it to anyone! ‘Investigations’ is, like yours, shorter and more focused. The self-publication process is, of course, easy. I’ve stuck to Amazon, and set up print on demand through Lulu.com (who also manage to get those onto my Amazon page). As every self-published writer finds, the process is much, much faster than the traditional route. Like many others, I had a six month wait for an agent to go from summary to asking for the full text, then another six months for them to finally say no. If they’d said yes, it would have been at least another year to publication. After my first experience, I decided to stick with self-publication for the ‘Digital’ series.

The hard bit is letting people know about the book. Circumstances didn’t sell much, but it got good reviews: for a long time it was well up there in Scottish (and even British) Crime if you searched by average review, but I suspect people search by best-selling.

I think Digital Investigations is a better, more accessible book, but I’m having to work hard to try to get it out there. Recently Amazon has been emailing me, suggesting I might like them. I hope they’re emailing other people too! I’ve sent copies to newspapers who might be interested, and I’m trying to reach online reviewers and bloggers Now, what are your writing habits, Alan? Regular slots or snatched opportunities?

Alan – I write when I can. At the moment, that’s not at all, as work and life have taken over. When I’m writing hard, I can write anywhere, and often write in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. I’ve never done any research on writing – I’ve learned as I’ve gone along, taking constructive criticism on board when and where it’s been offered. I don’t think good reviews are enough for a self-published book. I think you need a bit of luck and a whole lot of perseverance, both in writing and in promoting.

Brian – It was only when I did a short OU course on creative writing that I started to learn the craft properly. That included sharing my work, and giving and receiving criticism. But nothing beats writing – and writing and editing and writing more. I look back at short stories I wrote in the past, which I thought were really good at the time, and they’re not great at all! When you’re working on a novel, Alan, do you work out the plot beforehand or do you construct the characters and let them run?

Alan – I usually have a good outline of a plot in my head before I ever start writing, but often I’m not quite sure of the detail of how to get there. That usually comes while I’m writing and so far it has always come together. I come up with the characters when I do the plot outline, but many of them don’t fully develop until the book is well underway.

What about you – do you wing it or are you a planner?

digital-investigationsBrian – In everyday life I’m a planner but not when I’m writing, strangely enough. Maybe it’s therapy. When I started ‘Circumstances’, I began with my hero in Orkney, on the run, and I had a good idea that the book would be about his whole back story and the events that had led him to where he was now. But I had no idea how he was going to get out of the situation he was in. I edited and re-wrote, and then did more research into cybercrime and found that the FBI fight cybercrime worldwide. That gave me the idea for the resolution. Writing ‘Investigations’ was different. I had my two main characters from the first book, and I wanted a straight crime and a cybercrime, and I wanted them linked, somehow. Other than that, I had nothing, so I started writing. The book I’m working on now grew out of an idea I had a year or so ago, and again I’m letting the plot grow as I write, then back through it. I’m more experienced now, so I recognise pitfalls more easily – and hopefully avoid some of them. Who do you rely on, apart from yourself?

Alan – One of the reviews of my first book was by an author/ blogger who gave it 3 stars but it could have been much better if it had been professionally edited. I contacted him for advice and he was incredibly helpful, putting me in touch with a freelance editor. By that time I had more or less finished my second book, and with the income generated from sales of my first book, I had the second one professionally edited. It was an eye opener!

BloqI also have a number of beta readers who are very helpful, especially with Bloq. I had moved from the familiar locations in Glasgow of the first two books, and set this one in London. I managed to find two Londoners to proof read it to make certain I’d got it right, and they both made great suggestions to add ‘London’ flavour to the book.

Do you rely on help from friends when writing?

Brian – My wife is my first and best critic. I complete a draft, edit, and then leave it for a while before re-editing. When I have a good draft, I let her read it and make comments. I then re-edit. At that stage I send to two beta readers, one of whom was on a writing course with me. I take their comments and re-work, and then my wife has another read through. Finally, in Word, I pick up grammar errors, spelling mistakes, inconsistencies in people’s names. Gordon – I would like to thank Brian and Alan for giving up their time to share their experiences of getting their books to readers. It is clear that for self-published authors reviews are a vital element in their challenge to spread the word about their books. I cannot recommend Alan and Brian’s books highly enough and I would encourage other readers (and especially the bloggers) to seek out their books and leave them a review.

Alan Jones can be found on Twitter as @alanjonesbooks

Brian Stewart is @BRMStewart

Give them a follow, they post some fascinating stuff!

 

Brian’s Amazon page can be found here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=BRM+Stewart&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=BRM+Stewart&sort=relevancerank

 

Alan’s Amazon page is on this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Jones/e/B00ONBKHLE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1474804171&sr=8-1

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September 23

Killer Women: Rachel Abbott & Louise Voss

killer-women

In this article Rachel Abbott and Louise Voss talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

Voss is whats known as a ‘hybrid author, with a publisher for some of her books whilst others are self-published. All of Abbotts novels are self-published in the UK. In 2015 she was named as the No.1 self-published author on Amazon Kindle UK and the fourteenth best-selling author overall.

 

LV:  Hi Rachel!  Many writers these days are asking themselves whether they should self-publish or try to get a traditional deal. So, lets kick off with why you chose to self-publish.

RA: Some people believe that writers only self-publish because they cant get a publishing deal. But thats not always true. I self-publish out of choice. I like being my own boss and making the decisions, and for now I am prepared to put in the extremely long hours I have to work.

the-venus-trapLV: Self-publishing is definitely work heavy! With a traditional deal, the publisher takes responsibility for the editing, the cover design, and all the tasks essential to make a book available online. They also organise the printed version for bookshops and, in theory, do the marketing – although lots of authors find they still need to devote energy to that. How do you manage your time?

RA: Its hard – I want to write more than anything, but I have to split my time between managing a business – because its not just the marketing, theres a mountain of admin too – and writing. I employ two part time assistants and I also have an agent and publicist.

LV:  I like the sense of control you get over everything when you self-publish. I can update books, change the pricing and covers, and if I want to I can pay for additional marketing. You dont get that with a traditional publisher. So what do you think are the positives about a traditional deal?

RA: You would normally expect to receive an advance on royalties, and for some people thats crucial. But the main advantage is that your publisher organises the whole process and takes the decisions, so you have less to worry about. They are experienced and knowledgeable and they give their authors support. But the big thing for me is that with a traditional deal, you get printed copies of your books in shops. Thats my one regret – I do get some in shops, but Im never going to be on Waterstones’ front table.

LV: And the negatives?

kill-me-againRA: You basically get a smaller share of the income from sales. If you self-publish successfully, the financial rewards can be higher than with a traditional deal in the longer term.

LV: Theres another publishing option that weve not discussed, and that is to sign with a small independent publisher.  There are several around at the moment having big successes for their authors.   

RA: They certainly seem to have their marketing nailed, and thats the key. For me, though, I also think a good agent is important too. Many people find it strange that I have an agent, but its the best decision I ever made.

LV:  Yes, and ideally one who will give editorial input so your novel is as good as it can be. 

RA: They dont all do that, apparently, so its really worth doing the research before signing up with an agency. A good agent will also sell translation rights, and my books are now in over twenty languages.

LV: In the end, the decision on the type of publishing for each writer comes down to their appetite for risk, their desire/ability to work their socks off to make their books a success, and their attitude to control, or lack thereof. Theres definitely no right or wrong answer that works for everybody.

RA: Were just scratching the surface here, though. Hopefully well be able to go into more detail and help the decision making process at our workshop at the Killer Woman Festival in October. 

 LV: Heres a link for anyone interested in coming along to meet us: http://www.killerwomen.org/festival2016 Shoreditch Town Hall in London on October 15th . Its going to be a fantastic day!  Look forward to seeing you then.

2016-09-23_23-35-52

All of Rachel’s books can be ordered by clicking through this link:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rachel-Abbott/e/B0068FBVCW/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474670804&sr=1-2-ent

Louise’s books can be ordered via this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Louise-Voss/e/B001HPFHJQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474671021&sr=1-2-ent

 

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September 22

Paul Finch – If you had to meet a serial killer…

 

paul-finchIf you had to meet a serial killer, how would you go about it?

It’s a fascinating question. Where would you arrange to meet a serial killer, to interview him (or her) if you had the opportunity? Well, assuming you ever wanted to do that, the location is certainly something you’d have to give considerable thought to.

Even meeting such a person in the controlled environment of a prison would be no guarantee of safety. Far from it.

In the 1980s, Robert Ressler was a senior FBI agent who’d investigated a number of serial murder cases. Around this time, he began to devise what we know today as Vi-Cap (or the Violent Criminal Apprehension Programme), which required him to get into the minds of repeat violent offenders and attempt to understand their motivations. As part of his mission, he interviewed numerous multiple murderers in US jails. One particularly disturbing story he later told involved an encounter with a 6ft9in convict who’d killed and decapitated ten victims. The interview was going swimmingly, the convict seemingly cooperating. Ressler felt perfectly safe. They were in the heart of a maximum security facility, under full and constant surveillance by the prison staff – and yet they were alone. Ressler later said that he only realised how vulnerable this made him when his interviewee’s mood suddenly changed, and he said: “Do you realise … if I attacked you now, I could twist your head off before anyone even gets in here.”

Ressler later described it as a wake-up call with regard to the kinds of people he was dealing with.

This is the important thing, I suppose. Serial killers are not like the rest of us. In fact, they are not like ordinary criminals either.

By their nature, psychopaths lack empathy with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are violent – as long as they get their own way. However, add other factors. Such as narcissism, which involves a reckless pursuit of self-gratification (and wherein any opposition, whether real or imagined, is deemed intolerable), and maybe sexual sadism disorder (which speaks for itself), and you’ve got the devil’s own brew and a fairly typical blueprint for the average serial killer.

The other thing to say, of course, is that these people are very plausible.

A genius like Hannibal Lecter would be a rarity in real life, but most serial killers are smart enough to know that it will benefit them to conceal their true personality. You only need to look at the numbers of killers who’ve managed to talk their way into people’s houses or have persuaded strangers to climb into their cars, or have used endless other strategies to charm or lure the innocent and gullible.

So, this gift of the gab is something else we’d need to take heed of. Robert Ressler emerged alive from his interview with his 6ft9in nemesis, but for a couple of minutes – because he’d allowed a pleasant demeanour and a glib tongue to fool him – he’d almost become number eleven on the maniac’s butcher’s bill.

In light of that, how can we take them at their word? How can believe anything they tell us? Why would we even expect them to be truthful?

strangersHannibal Lecter is a good case in point here. Thomas Harris created in Hannibal such a deadly adversary that even the most experienced detectives had no option but to converse with him either through shock-proof glass or with him strapped to a gurney. That would certainly be an attractive idea for our interview, but I’d query if the killer would even talk to us under such circumstances.

I’d be surprised if any hardcore criminal, even one who hasn’t committed murder, would be prepared to talk to us about anything unless he or she was getting something in return. Consider that, and then bear in mind that the average incarcerated serial killer is almost certainly facing a full life tariff (and maybe even the death penalty) – and you can how tough it’s going to be.

At the very least we’d have to be nice to them. So … no straps, no gurney.

And where exactly does that leave us? A rubber room, where there is nothing nasty the killer can put his/her hands on? Maybe, but the killer can still put his/her hands on us …

Might they be prepared to talk to us on the phone over a long distance?

Well, in that case we’re back to the old chestnut: it depends how much info we want. I remember hearing about a US journalist who regularly spoke on the phone to a serial killer serving life, asking his assistance in other unsolved murder cases. At first, the journo got the impression the killer was being helpful. But then he realised that the guy was playing games, imparting some information but on the whole offering just enough to make his correspondent come back for more. In other words, these phone-chats made pleasant breaks for the killer from his otherwise mundane life inside, and he wanted as many of them as possible.

After this, there aren’t too many options open to us.

Ultimately, I suppose, this is a question I can’t answer.

hunted2In a novel I’ve got planned for the future, Serial Crimes Unit officer, DS Heckenburg interviews an imprisoned serial killer in a quest for information, but in that one I’m opting for the gentler approach (it all takes place in a ‘soft interview room’, with comfy furniture and pictures on the walls). This female felon is showing contrition, you see, and so she’s deemed by her jailers to be lower risk. But she still wants something in return … and she wants it so badly that Heck has made a judgement call that she won’t try anything stupid.

Will she or won’t she?

At this stage, who knows.

I’m suppose I’m just glad this terrible business is something I write about rather than something I actually do.

 

Paul Finch is the author of the bestselling DS Heckenburg series and the newly published Strangers which introduces PC Lucy Clayburn. His blog is at www.paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk and he is also on Twitter: @paulfinchauthor

The Strangers Blog Tour continues:

blog-tour

 

September 21

Strangers – Paul Finch

strangersUnknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come.

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon Books for my review copy and the opportunity to be the first leg on the Strangers blog tour

 

I suspect that one observation shall crop up quite frequently when Strangers is reviewed…No Heck.  But what is it that makes Heck so good?  Well it’s Paul Finch of course! So when I heard that Lucy Clayburn would be the lead character in Strangers I was actually really pleased. New characters means new opportunities, new adventures and a blank canvas for an author to take a very different approach – one that would not work for the characters we may already associate with that author.

As it turns out that is exactly what we get as Lucy Clayburn is going undercover on the streets to pose as a working girl. No matter how good Heck may be I just cannot see him pulling off that role!

The good news (not that it comes as a surprise) is that PC Lucy Clayburn is a fabulous character.  There are so many spoilers to avoid but I can say she has a dubious reputation in her role which has put a blight on her career to date. Lucy has a wonderfully “punky” attitude which I immediately warmed to and when she is driven to do the best in her role and prove her worth to her colleagues she is a force to be reckoned with.

As we have come to expect from Paul Finch’s books the streets are full of some really nasty bad guys and in Strangers I am delighted that this theme continued.  A female serial killer is murdering and mutilating men and the police have very little to work on. Lucy is recruited to join a team of undercover officers who will pose as prostitutes in a bid to win the confidence of other street girls who may give some clues towards the possible identity of the killer.

But for Lucy a different opportunity arises when she is given some information which could bring the police closer to closing down the activities of some of the worst members of the North West’s criminal underworld. Lucy is desperate to redeem herself in the eyes of her bosses and agrees to put herself right into the heart of the gangster operations.

What she finds, and the consequences of her actions, make for a 5 star thrill-fest. One of those stories which you just do not want to end and one where you feel that no characters are absolutely guaranteed to still be alive come the last page. The best kind of story!

Paul Finch writes books I want to read. If you like crime fiction of the highest calibre then look no further.

 

Strangers is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strangers-Paul-Finch/dp/0007551312/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474496962&sr=1-1&keywords=strangers+paul+finch

 

blog-tour

September 21

Exclusion Zone – J.M. Hewitt

Exclusion ZoneOn 26th April 1986, reactor four exploded at the factory in Pripyat, Chernobyl.

At the same time teenager Afia Bello vanished from her home without a trace.

The damage from the nuclear fallout is examined over the following weeks, months and years by Afia’s younger sister Sissy, as she unwittingly uncovers clues relating to her sister’s disappearance, and the secret life that Afia kept hidden from her family.

In the summer of 2015 Private Detective Alex Harvey is hired to investigate the disappearances that have been occurring within the exclusion zone.

He can think of only one person to bring along with him to help; Ukrainian national Elian Gould.

Elian – who was adopted at birth – has her own reasons for accepting the job; namely to search for her own family history which has always been a mystery to her.

But the remaining citizens of Chernobyl are hiding their own secrets and with a darker force at work, the missing person’s case suddenly turns into something much more serious…

 

I received a copy of  Exclusion Zone from the author. But as she had very kindly signed it for me I bought another copy so I could keep the signed one good!

Not going to mess around on this one – it is a 5* read and I loved it.

Chernobyl as a setting is fabulous for a crime thriller – the place where nobody wants to go. A place where time stands still. And a place where evil can seemingly thrive without consequence. The scenes in the book that take place in Chernobyl are extremely dark, darker than I had expected (but this is a good thing). A killer is hunting victims and revelling in their capture. His crimes are escaping the attention of the authorities and he keeps his base of operations mobile to reduce the chance of capture.  We know this as throughout Exclusion Zone the narrative will swing away from our hero, detective Alex Harvey, to focus on the murderer – we follow the escalation in his crimes.

I mentioned Alex Harvey – he is the star of the show (and hopefully many more shows to follow) he has been engaged to investigate the disappearances that have been taking place in the Exclusion Zone.  To assist with his investigations he recruits the services of Elian Gould, a secretive young woman who will prove to be both a help and a hindrance to Harvey as his investigations take him to the edge of the exclusion zone and the mysteries that lie within.

The narrative swings between past and present with a story spanning around 3o years. It is handled brilliantly and the story flows really well – time leaping in a novel can sometimes jar or feel clumsy, not so in Exclusion Zone. The characters we meet are really well defined and you will cheer, cry and despair at how they fare (did I mention the dark edge?)

As I stated at the start of this review I loved Exclusion Zone. If you are looking for an engrossing story set in a distinctive (and fabulously described) environment with a decidedly nasty bad guy then this is a book you need to read.

Exclusion Zone is published by Endeavour Press and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exclusion-Zone-J-M-Hewitt/dp/1530118778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474395377&sr=1-1&keywords=exclusion+zone

 

I would also recommend catching up with JM Hewitt chatting all things Ukraine with Alex Shaw – they joined me earlier this year and you can see their full conversation here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1577

 

 

September 18

Fahrenheit Press 1st Birthday Competition

fahrenheit-pressIn just one year Fahrenheit Press have been challenging the conventional norms of publishing and shaking things up in their own unique way. Oh and they have brought some phenomenal books to the attention of crime fiction lovers. To celebrate their 1st birthday Fahrenheit Press are giving me the chance to find one lucky competition winner who will receive a 2016 subscription to their Book Club – this means you will get a copy of all the books they release this year (a prize of more than 50 books).

So who are Fahrenheit Press and how do you win the books?

Well if I look to Twitter then their bio should give you a good starting point:  “Crime Fiction Publishers. Bad seeds. Debasers. Renegades. Your mother probably warned you about us“.

A quick look to the Fahrenheit website and we get a bit more detail:

Fahrenheit Press are a brand new publishing house founded by international publishing veteran Chris McVeigh.

“We’re intent on doing things differently and we’re building a publishing company that’s heavy on curation and deadly serious about marketing.”

After many years helping the world’s biggest publishers build authors and create best-selling titles we’ve decided the time is right to step out from behind the curtain, set up our own publishing house and do things the way we think they should be done. We definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but that’s just the way we like it. If we’re not ruffling some feathers, we reckon we’re doing something wrong.

 

How are they changing things?  Well they managed to persuade Amazon to list a book with no title, no author and no description – the book was initially marketed on trust. They also managed to persuade Amazon to include a NSFW word in a book blurb (another first).  Their Twitter feed is lined with some very frank exchanges, they share sales figures and for God’s sake never ask Chris about Millport as you risk him sharing too much info.

Right – you want to win some amazing books?

I needed a competition which would sit with the Fahrenheit ethos so decided it should be fun but also reflect their “bad seeds” approach.  So I just need you to answer this – TELL ME HOW YOU BROKE THE RULES…

It can be funny/painful/awkward or inappropriate.  If it is criminal I don’t want to know (remember the fun part of this question).

Comments are enabled on this post – gimme your best shot.  Winner will be notified after the competition closes.

 

 

 

September 15

Holiday Reads – Part 4

Summer is always a busy time, the long Scottish summer evenings mean that my kids get to stay up a bit later, which then means less time for me to sit with the laptop and catch up on my reviews. To attack the review backlog (and ensure I still get to share my thoughts on the books I have been reading) I am doing a series of shorter posts which will cut back on my waffle and cut to the chase. Or perhaps that should read Cut to the Bone…

 

Cut to the Bone – Alex Caancut-to-the-bone

What I got wrong with Cut to the Bone was that I read it by the pool on my holiday.  It is a dark thriller and deserved a more appropriate atmosphere to really set the mood of the story.

A vlogger has gone missing her fans are distraught (and there are many thousands of them). Investigations led by DI Kate Riley uncover some dark truths of life away from the camera for the darlings of You Tube. We are treated to an engaging tale of internet survival of the fittest, tech talk and cyber trickery all help to make this a quite distinctive story.

Cut to the Bone is a strong police procedural, with a diverse and fascinating ensemble of investigating officers. Alex Caan does not shirk away from graphic and upsetting situations for his characters and this carries the story along leaving the reader constantly wondering where trouble will land next.

On a personal note I had a bit of trouble differentiating between the characters as I read (again I am blaming the holiday distractions) so I would recommend giving Cut to the Bone the full attention it deserves. Not having a memory like a goldfish will also give you the edge over me!

I have no qualms recommending Cut to the Bone to the crime readers and I hope that Alex will bring Kate Riley back for more.

 

Nomad – James Swallow

nomadThis is a story which opens with a bang and keeps the reader gripped throughout.

Marc Dane works for MI6 – although he normally operates from behind a keyboard providing tech support to the advanced tactical units of his team – he is also quite handy at looking after himself. This comes in very handy when the operation he is engaged in suddenly goes horribly wrong and his team are wiped out.

Marc has to escape the area before his position is discovered and then try to piece together what may have gone wrong.

Nomad is pure action adventure. If you like your stories fast paced and are a fan of the Bourne stories or Homeland then you are in for a treat with this book.

 

The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

woman-in-cabin-10The most Agatha Christie-esk book that I have picked up for many a year.

Lo Blacklock comes home and finds herself confronted by a masked intruder in her home.  Badly shaken and more than a little traumatised by the incident Lo (a journalist) finds herself on assignment on a luxury yacht.  Can she keep herself together and relax in the splendour of one of the most exclusive cruises money can buy? Can she successfully grasp the opportunity to enhance her career by interviewing the multi-millionaire that owns the boutique cruise ship and submit a suitably gushing article for her bosses?

Well possibly not. On the first night on board Lo thinks she sees the woman in the cabin next to her throw a body overboard.  However, next morning Lo discovers that the cabin next door is actually empty and that all the guests and crew are  fully accounted for. But Lo knows that there was definitely a woman in the “empty” cabin – Lo had spoken with her. Did she imagine seeing a body?  Did she imagine meeting a woman in the empty cabin?  Did someone wipe away the bloodstain that Lo thinks she saw?  And most alarmingly for traumatised Lo…has someone been in her cabin?

Ruth Ware totally hooked me with this story, a traditional whodunit that I could not read fast enough.

 

 

 

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Holiday Reads – Part 4
September 13

Corpus – Rory Clements (cover reveal)

Rory Clements is the bestselling author of the John Shakespeare series of Tudor spy thrillers and today I am thrilled to be able to share the cover of his next thriller: CORPUS.

Due for release on 26 January 2017 from Bonnier Zaffre this is our first chance to see what Mr Clements has in store for us this time around…

 

corpus

 

An eye-catching cover – love the deep red.

Also – while I am no historian, I am pretty sure the Tudor period was over by 1936 so I am very intrigued to see what lies ahead.

 

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September 12

Apprentice in Death – J.D. Robb

apprentice-in-deathThe shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people lay dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. There’s a sniper loose on the streets of New York City, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is about to face one of the toughest and most unsettling cases of her career.

Eve knows that only a handful of people could have carried out such an audacious but professional hit. Even more disturbing: this expert in death has an accomplice. Someone is being trained in the science of killing – and they have a terrifying agenda of their own. With a city shaken to its core, Eve and her team are forced to hunt not one but two killers. Worse still – this talented young apprentice has developed an insatiable taste for murder…

 

My thanks to Piatkus for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

Eve Dallas 43. That’s not her age – that is the number of full novels that she features in (and there are also a number of short stories). I’ve read them all, more than once in most cases…I love these books. As much as I love them I am aware that there are some stories which I enjoy more than others – there are books where the characters are developed but the “in Death” element is not as gripping as I would like.

So where does Apprentice in Death sit in the collection?  Happily it is one I will be revisiting, a really strong addition to the series and one of the more chilling stories.

A sniper is terrorising New York. Three dead at Central Park and no apparent link between the victims. Dallas and her team have to analyse the murders, work out why they were targeted and ensure that the sniper does not strike again.  It’s a race against time novel and J.D. Robb always does these well – she can easily convey the urgency and Dallas’s frustration over lack of progress. We see how she pulls in the resources of her team, husband Roarke is on hand to lend his unique skills and financial weight, Dr Mira to analyse the psychology, dependable Peabody and even “Dickhead” the lab tech – all present and correct as you would expect when Dallas is on the case.  One of the strengths of the series is that the author has had so long to develop her supporting cast that regulars such as Eve’s oldest friend Mavis can be dropped to cameo role – we don’t need to see all the players in every book as we know they will return soon enough.

The sniper story takes an unexpected twist after a second attack takes place. This really raises the stakes and we get a proper look at one of J.D. Robb’s coldest killers to date.  There were scenes which totally chilled me, a killer without compassion and Dallas unpicks their behaviour, lays out how their evil streak was nurtured and gives examples of how they terrorised others. It was often an uncomfortable read but it was handled expertly by the author and the reading was compelling.

Away from the murders regular readers will enjoy some interchanges between Dallas and Summerset – their relationship is going to hit an unexpected dynamic in Apprentice in Death…will things ever be the same again?

 

Apprentice in Death is published by Piatkus and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Apprentice-Death-J-D-Robb/dp/034941081X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473720998&sr=1-1&keywords=apprentice+in+death

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