March 13

Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

Girl Waits With GunFrom the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten, true story of one of the US’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mould. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out that Constance has a knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element, which might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life.

Through Amy Stewart’s exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from a forgotten historical anecdote to an unforgettable historical-fiction heroine – an outsized woman not only ahead of her time, but sometimes even ahead of ours.

 

My thanks to Molly at Scribe for my review copy.

Using source documents and reports from around 100 years ago Amy Stewart has written a fun tale about Constance Kopp, a real life character caught up in some very hazardous situations.

Constance and her sisters find themselves facing off against an unsavoury and powerful adversary in the form of a local factory owner. His reckless driving caused a crash and damaged Constance’s buggy – the repair bill of $50 is a significant sum and Constance is not prepared to write it off.  However the factory owner is not keen to pay and it is not long before Constance and her sisters find themselves fearing for their safety when bricks (with warning messages) are thrown through the windows of their home in the wee small hours.

Yet Constance has another concern demanding her time.  Her initial endeavours to have her $50 repair bill settled has brought her into contact with a young girl who is hunting for her baby, taken when the mother was not in ‘a good place’ to care for the baby.  Constance is determined to do all she can to help track down what happened to the baby and pass word back to the anxious mother.

Amy Stewart tells a fun story in a style very much reflective of the time the story is set.  There is almost a quaint or twee feel to the read and I found that I was flicking pages at a fair old rate as the story flowed and the world was built around me.  Not my normal style of story and perhaps a little less action oriented than I would ordinarily go for.

HOWEVER…Girl Waits With Gun was a fun read, I enjoyed the time I spent with Constance and when I finished the book I was genuinely glad I had taken the time to read it. Although I said it was not my normal choice of story it is still a very entertaining book and I like to mix up what I read when the opportunity arises.

Perhaps one best suited for the girls as the boys, in the main, don’t fare too well or come across in a very positive light. It is a charming read, nicely balanced with actual historical influences and (coming on the back of a few of the more ‘graphic’ books I have read recently) it was a refreshing change of pace.

 

 

Girl Waits With Gun is published by Scribe and is available in paperback and digital format here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Waits-Gun-Constance-Kopp/dp/1925228576/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457877176&sr=1-1&keywords=girl+waits+with+gun

 

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March 1

Guest Post…Deborah Bee: Writing a Dual Narrative

The Last Thing I Remember_Deborah BeeTwo protagonists/dual narrative – rooky error or good plan?

Why did I do it for my novel, The Last Thing I Remember. I don’t really know. It just seemed eventually (after two years of thinking about it) like a good idea.

Writing this blog piece, I just googled “a novel with two protagonists” and now I’ve been put off the very notion of a two-hander. Basic fiction writing, it says, warns against prologues, dream sequences, flashbacks, adverbs and dual/multiple protagonists. Oops. I’ve got some of them as well. And it says they are absolute rules. ABSOLUTE. RULES. Shriek.

The problem, it seems to be, is that apparently you can’t tell a compelling story if it’s split down the middle, UNLESS, each protagonist is equally weighted, with their own story arc that contains similar highs and lows, conflicts and resolve, leading to a balanced conclusion. But even if you do that, it’s never going to work.

I didn’t know that. I haven’t been to a creative writing class. I wish I had. But now I do know, I’m in the foetal position under my desk. I’ve made a rooky error. Are my protagonists equally weighted? Do they have similar highs and lows? All I know was that it was sodding complicated running two stories at the same time. Even though they are tightly woven together, I got lost so many times along the way.

Then there’s the dual narrative bit. Similarly, that’s considered a bad idea, mainly because it’s so easy to get confused over who is speaking. The received wisdom seems to suggest that unless the story calls for it, a dual narrative is a bit of a triumph of style over content. The secret to success…to create two utterly distinctive voices that cannot be confused.

So thinking about it, the reason I did a two-hander? Well, to start with my first protagonist, the one I really started with, is in a coma. She has Locked-in Syndrome. She can’t move, blink, see, swallow, breathe. However she can hear. And she can think. She can’t remember how she got there, but she’s piecing it all together by the conversations she can hear, and from her slowly-returning memory. The problem I created for myself was how to keep the audience interested in a woman who is totally stuck in her own head. She’s sad, frightened and desperately trying to grasp hold of her memories.

Deborah BeeProtagonist 2 then was really a pair of eyes. An undercover agent almost, who could describe life on the outside. Kelly is fourteen and should be the innocent of the piece. But right from the start we discover that she is far from innocent, far from her school-girl appearance. She’s mouthy. She swears constantly. She uses the wrong words. She’s funny. I wanted Kelly to be the antidote to Sarah.

The reason that a dual narrative was a useful structure – because Sarah can tell you things about Kelly that Kelly would never say. And vice versa. And both of them are fantastically unreliable witnesses.

Then, anyway. Along came Gone Girl. Two protagonists, dual narrative. It worked so well they made a film out of it. Rules out the window. It’s all her fault. Blame Gillian Flynn. You maverick Gillian Flynn. ABSOLUTE MAVERICK.

 

The Last Thing I Remember is published by Twenty7 Books and is available to download now:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Thing-Remember-emotional-thriller-ebook/dp/B0196P0S4W/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456867082&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+thing+i+remember

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March 1

The Last Thing I Remember – Deborah Bee

The Last Thing I Remember_Deborah BeeSarah is in a coma.

Her memory is gone – she doesn’t know how she got there. And she doesn’t know how she might get out.

But then she discovers that her injury wasn’t an accident. And that the assailant hasn’t been caught.

Unable to speak, see or move, Sarah must use every clue that she overhears to piece together her own past.

And work out who it is that keeps coming into her room.

 

My thanks to at Hannah at Midas PR for my review copy and the chance to join the Blog Tour

 

When I read the description of The Last Thing I Remember my immediate reaction was that I HAD to read this story. Narrative from a character who cannot interact with any other characters, who cannot remember what has happened to her and who is scared that someone may be out to cause her more harm?  I couldn’t even begin to think how that story may play out…but I wanted to see how Deborah Bee could make it work.  Brilliantly as it turns out!

This was a very cleverly constructed book.  Much of what we learn from Sarah (as she lies in a coma in hospital) is prompted by the interactions of the people around her.  Her family chat while they visit, the doctors and nurses in the hospital share gossip while at her bedside, the police are investigating what happened to Sarah and then there is Kelly – she is Sarah’s neighbour and something of a mystery character.

Narrative switches between Sarah (recollecting events which led to her hospitalization) and Kelly who offers an alternative window into how Sarah’s life may have been prior to THE INCIDENT. The unpicking of memories takes time as Sarah slowly pieces together how her life may have been before the hospital.

The nature of the reveals through the story make it hard for me to dwell too much on what we learn about Sarah. I should make it clear that I loved this book. It is cleverly written, it is engaging and from very early in the story you are willing Sarah to recover and have the danger she faces taken away. No spoilers is the rule here but there are some nasty shocks ahead for Sarah.

This is definitely a book that I will be urging people to read, it is memorably different and wonderfully written.

 

 The Last Thing I Remember is published by Twenty7 Books and is available now. You can download a copy here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Thing-Remember-emotional-thriller-ebook/dp/B0196P0S4W/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456867082&sr=1-1&keywords=the+last+thing+i+remember

 

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February 28

Missing Presumed – Susie Steiner

Missing PresumedMid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

 

My thanks to the team at Harper Collins/The Borough Press for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

 

Edith Hind is missing. She should be at home yet her front door is ajar, her coat and phone are still in the house and there is a blood splatter that no-one can explain. Thus begins a police investigation to track down a clever, independent and headstrong young woman.

Missing Presumed follows the investigation with a narrative which switches between key players in the tale. DS Manon Bradshaw is the primary voice of the police and we see behind the scenes of a major incident through her eyes. What I found particularly refreshing was that everyone on the force seemed so human – police officers booking their holiday travel while at work, comparing dates, struggling with day to day tasks with young twins at home. There are loads of lighthearted scenes sprinkled through the story (particularly when Manon is embarking on her latest internet date).

The characters in the book are well mixed – the reader will come to like some more than others…some being totally unlikeable. The constant switch in narrative actually had me looking forward to certain characters returning to the spotlight as I enjoyed their contributions more than most.

As you would hope from a good police procedural there are plenty of red herrings and dead ends to try the patience of the investigative team. You may think that you know where the story is heading…I was convinced I knew how the plot would resolve – yet I was totally wrong (which as a reader is a pleasing outcome). It is not a fast-paced tale but it is wonderfully constructed and the reward is there for those that stick with the story.

A very realistic investigative story and a highly enjoyable read.

 

Missing Presumed is published by The Borough Press and is available in Hardcover and digital format now.

 

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February 22

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas – David F Ross

Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas

 

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager guided by malevolent voices… Can Max Mojo’s band of talented band of social misfits repeat their success and pay back an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best? Features much loved characters from The Last Days of Disco.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and the chance to be part of the Vespas blog tour.

 

You may recall that last year David Ross released The Last Days of Disco? It was set in 1980’s Ayrshire, it was very Scottish, very sweary and was a very, very good story.

Good news…Mr Ross returns with The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas which is very Scottish, very sweary and is another very, very good story. It also features quite a few familiar faces from Disco which I really enjoyed!

But The Miraculous Vespas allows new characters to take centre stage (literally) so you do not *have* to have read Disco to enjoy Vespas.  The familiar faces are mainly kept in the wings which allows the wonderful Max Mojo to steal the show!

The Miraculous Vespas are a musically talented bunch of social misfits that Max brings together. He is fully convinced that they can unite as a band which would have what it takes to make it big in the music industry – Max will be the one to see their talents get the recognition that they deserve.

As the book opens we learn how The Miraculous Vespas fare in their quest for musical excellence. Max is reminiscing over the journey the band took and so the narration picks up at a time before he had met the band members. As we read we follow Max as he rounds up potential band members, the calamitous practice sessions, the early gigs and then their efforts to secure a wider audience.

If you read The Last Days of Disco you will know that there are guaranteed laughs along the way. However, Mr Ross once again succeeds in taking his cast through some emotional highs but down into the darkest places too – it is compelling reading.

One key element of the book which cannot be overlooked – the musical influences which pull the story along.  David Ross has a phenomenal knowledge of the music of the time and the number of band and song references are staggering. If you have any memories of the music of the 1980’s you are bound to come across some favourite songs as you read.

Everyone loves a rags to riches story. The Miraculous Vespas are on that path – you should join them to see how it turns out, you won’t be disappointed!

 

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rise-Fall-Miraculous-Vespas-David/dp/1910633372/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456098879&sr=8-1&keywords=rise+and+fall+of+the+miraculous+vespas

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February 6

Behind Closed Doors – B. A. Paris

Behind closed doors coverThe perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

 

My thanks to MIRA for my review copy

As I read books I often try to work out which of my friends or family would also enjoy the story I am reading. In the case of Behind Closed Doors it was an easy match – ALL OF THEM!

Jack is a successful lawyer, his wife Grace was a buyer for Harrods, travelling the world sourcing the best produce for her illustrious employer. However, after a short courtship, and the unexpected wedding that Jack’s many admirers never thought they would see, Grace leaves her job to assume the role of the perfect housewife.

Though they frequently attend social functions hosted by friends and neighbours, Grace is never seen without Jack by her side. She wriggles out of coffee dates with friends and does not carry a mobile so cannot be contacted to re-schedule missed appointments. Guests at their dinner parties enthuse over Jack and Grace’s beautiful home and admire the paintings Grace has created, however, could there more to the couple’s relationship than meets the eye?

Behind Closed Doors is such a clever thriller. Domestic Noir seems an apt description…family life can be very dark and this is a prime example of how little we know about how others live their lives and what may go on Behind Closed Doors.

At first you start to read and you think it couldn’t work, how could a charming and sophisticated woman be so stifled by her husband that she is never seen without him? However, as the story develops and you become drawn into Grace’s life, you realise what a dark picture BA Paris is painting and what a powerful presence Jack is. There are some genuinely creepy moments in Behind Closed Doors and often I was perturbed by what I was reading.

I will not bring spoilers into this review – suffice to say that Grace is facing a forthcoming event which is drawing ever closer. She needs to resolve her domestic situation as a matter of urgency or the consequences of her failure will have broader repercussions than she is prepared to accept.

No more – just go and read this one…and prepare to be unsettled.

 

Behind Closed Doors is published by MIRA on 11th February 2016 in paperback and digital format. You can secure a copy here.

Follow the Behind Closed Doors blog tour and keep your eyes out for the #staysingle hashtag

Behind Closed Doors Banner

 

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February 5

The Cassandra Sanction – Scott Mariani

Cassandra SanctionA TRAGIC DEATH.

A GRIEVING BROTHER.

A PLOT TO DECEIVE THE ENTIRE WORLD.

Ex-SAS major and kidnap recovery specialist Ben Hope is looking for peace in a quiet Spanish town. What he gets instead is the kind of trouble that only a man like him can handle.

Raul Fuentes can’t accept that his sister, Catalina, took her own life. Ben isn’t convinced, but ghosts from his own past compel him to help Raul discover the truth.

What connects Catalina’s apparent suicide to the suspicious fate of three of her fellow scientists? And why do a gang of professional killers follow Ben and Raul wherever they go?

Ben will soon discover the terrible truth: a fraudulent conspiracy to dupe all of humankind. And those responsible will soon find out they’ve met their match.

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour

The Cassandra Sanction is the 12th Ben Hope thriller by Scott Mariani and (not having read any of the previous titles) it has caused me a bit of a problem. I now have 11 new books I need to add to my TBR pile and some serious catching up to do.  Yup it’s a good ‘un and I most definitely want to read more of Mr Hope’s adventures.

Customary considerations:  12 books into a series and you would expect to need to know something of the back story. I didn’t and I still really enjoyed the book – at no point did I feel I was missing something or that I lacked understanding about previous events. There are likely to have been nods and elements which returning readers will enjoy that will have flown right over my head but I missed them and I am comfortable with that!

Turning to the actual story…it was fun to have a proper action adventure to read for a change. A grieving brother refusing to believe his successful sister has taken her own life suddenly finds a kidnap recovery specialist (Hope) will listen to his story and believe him when he asserts that his sister is still alive. Throw a few seemingly unconnected deaths into the mix, a crew of well resourced hitmen following Hope and an international conspiracy designed to keep us in the dark about ***SPOILERS*** and you have a page-turner that will keep you reading long into the night.

Ben Hope was an interesting lead character. Dynamic, highly skilled, frequently irritable, yet focussed and fun to read about. A great balance of flawed yet effective. I can see why so many readers are delighted to see him return for another outing in The Cassandra Sanction.

The balance of the book is also quite important to me when I read an action thriller. If there is a life-threatening event in every chapter (and the escapes become too wild to believe) I just don’t get the same buy-in to the book. With The Cassandra Sanction the action sequences are very much there but they are not constant, ridiculous or beyond belief – it is a great read and the author hit the credible mark for me.

So just to be clear:

1 – Ben Hope and Scott Mariani have a new fan.

2 – I definitely need to read more adventure stories.

3 – The sun is much more interesting than I had thought so now I have a bit of non-fiction reading to do too.

 

 If, like me, you are new to Ben Hope then you may enjoy the chance to discover what you have been missing. As luck would have it, the lovely people at Avon have provided me with a link to share which will let you hear an audio clip from the very beginning of The Cassandra Sanction:

The link to the audio is here: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio/the-cassandra-sanction-by

 

The Cassandra Sanction is published by Avon and is available in paperback and Digital formats here

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January 29

Fever City – Tim Baker

Fever City Nick Alston, a Los Angeles private investigator, is hired to find the kidnapped son of America’s richest and most hated man.

Hastings, a mob hitman in search of redemption, is also on the trail. But both men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal that spreads from the White House all the way to Dealey Plaza.

Decades later in Dallas, Alston’s son stumbles across evidence from JFK conspiracy buffs that just might link his father to the shot heard round the world.

Violent, vivid, visceral: FEVER CITY is a high–octane, nightmare journey through a Mad Men-era America of dark powers, corruption and conspiracy.

 

My thanks to Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

My friends will groan when they find I have read a book with a conspiracy theory element to it as I love ‘em. Roswell, the Moon Landings, JFK and Nessie all provide hours of fascination. Obviously from the 4 I listed one is a total fabrication of the truth but I am quite happy to believe that there was a UFO at Roswell, JFK was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald and I have seen pictures of Nessie so she clearly is a real thing too.

In Fever City Tim Baker has crafted a phenomenal story around the JFK assassination – putting forward new observations and casting more suspicions over the ‘official’ story on the death of a President. Many famous names crop up through the story and relationships, alliances and adversaries are explored.  It is a compelling read and as I reached the end of the book I could not turn the pages fast enough to see how everything would resolve.

The narrative is handled from three viewpoints and events cover three different points in history. 1960 when the child of one of America’s richest (and most loathed) men is kidnapped – Private Investigator Nick Alston is called in to help locate the kidnapped boy.

Jumping forward to 1963 when Alston is reunited with a hitman called Hastings (the two had first met during the kidnap investigation). Obviously 1963 is of huge significance and we follow events which will eventually build up to that fateful day in Dallas.

fever-city-_-blog-tour-graphicThen the narrative jumps forward to 2014 when the son of one of the key players (that of Nick Alston) is looking into all the theories which surround the assassination of JFK. As Fever City progresses Alston (junior) comes to realise that his father may have been very close to some of the key players who are implicated in one of history’s greatest cover-ups.

The switching narrative is brilliantly handled and the way the story flits across the time periods works really well. I initially had fears that this may fragment the story but these fears were short lived as Baker builds so much tension into the story you don’t mind being drawn through the years.

Fever City should come with a ‘dark’ or ‘gritty’ warning. The male characters can come across as hard, uncompromising or aggressive and the females are brilliantly balanced initially appearing to be femme fatales but ultimately showing more depth and inner steel than most of their male counterparts.

A deeply enjoyable story. Compelling, twisty and downright nasty at times. All plus points for me – definitely a bit of a favourite.

 

Fever City is published by Faber & Faber and can be purchased here.

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January 28

Guest Post – David Mark: Villains

Why are we obsessed with murder? What is it that make the act of killing so intriguing? Best-selling novelist DAVID MARK asks why it is that terrible acts are lethally compelling. 

Go on, admit it – when you hear there’s a serial killer on the loose, you’re more excited than scared. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a human being. We can’t help it. We’re thrilled by that which terrifies us; we’re invigorated by the idea of a little extra peril in our day-to-day. If you discovered there was a dragon on the loose in Chipping Norton you’d be hooked, and a part of you would be hoping that the next bulletin involved a politician or a tabloid executive being roasted alive. Serial killers are our dragons. They add some danger. They add some colour. They brighten up the drive home. Me? I love ‘em.

These aren’t my actual opinions, by the way. They’re what I like to think of as loaded contentions. They might strike a chord with some, but please don’t think any of the above represents my actual view. I don’t really have a view. It comes with voting Lib Dem. It’s fun to wonder, though. I’ve never actually been to university but I’d imagine this is what it feels like at some of the more elite seats of learning. Right now I feel like I should be in my philosophy master’s private rooms, drinking some obscure liqueur and positing obscenely inflammatory hypotheses in the hope of impressing some overseas student who reads Kierkegaard for pleasure.

David MarkWhere was I? Oh yes, death. Murder. Villainy. Hmm. Well, crime fiction is my stock in trade. If it weren’t for people’s continued interest in the act of murder then I would probably be writing romance novels and indulging in self-harm. But do I understand the allure? Do I actually have any real ideas about why pretty much every crime novel has the act of murder at its heart? Do I know why millions of readers around the world expect at least one corpse per novel and hope for plenty more? Why for example, do readers gladly overdose on serial killer novels but turn our noses up at the idea of an investigation into other types of crime? Why doesn’t Jack Reacher go after corrupt hedge fund managers? Why isn’t Rebus bringing down corporate price-fixers? And why isn’t my own Detective Sergeant McAvoy spending 400 pages a year chasing after trawler owners who deliberately break EU quota agreements?

Well, for me personally, it’s because there is something unique about murder. When you take a life, you don’t just take the victim’s life. You take their future. You take all they will ever be. There is no opportunity for revenge, redemption or redress. You stop a heart and you are making a decision from which there is no return. It’s the crime that most fascinates and terrifies us and it sells newspapers at an impressive rate of knots.

It’s the same in the entertainment business. Murder mysteries are the true kingpin of the TV schedules. Whether it be cosy poisonings in St Mary Mead or psychopaths cutting people’s feet off in Whitechapel, any show that promises a body, a culprit, an investigation and a resolution, can expect big ratings.

So am I being mercenary? Am I writing about murder because I know people are attracted to it? Or am I writing about murder because I’m capable of looking out at the world through eyes that sometimes scare me and that I’d rather channel that gift into planning murders than committing them? That’s certainly a theory. People do ask me where I get my ideas from and they don’t always think of it as a compliment when they say that the murderers in my books seem terrifying believable. But I’d like to take this opportunity to let readers know they are safe in my company. I don’t see myself going on the rampage any time soon. I suffer with bronchial problems and the idea of a hammer attack sounds awfully tiring.

David Mark 2What was I talking about? Villains, that’s right. Murderers. Killers. Why do they fascinate? Why do they sell? Could it be that they are simply the most interesting characters? If you can think of anybody in your social circle who is more interesting than Hannibal Lecter, you should probably ask them some searching questions and stop letting them babysit.

I’ve been asked several times whether I believe that everybody is capable of murder. My answer is ‘yes’. Given the right motivation and enough opportunity, I believe that everybody on earth could take a life. That’s not based on innate bleakness. That’s based on many years spent covering murder trials as a journalist. For every hundred murderers who stood in the dock, perhaps only one or two seemed to be cut from a different cloth to those in the public gallery. They were just people: men and women who had lost their temper, or their reason, or whose greed had overcome their sense of right and wrong. Most felt remorse for their crimes and those who didn’t seemed reconciled to the fact that there would be a punishment for their crime. They had killed for what they saw as a good reason and they had been caught accordingly.

Dead PrettyThose handful of ‘different’ killers were the ones that fascinated me. Those men and women who had a little bit missing in their make-up, or perhaps, an extra little bit in their brain. They were the ones who killed because they wanted to know what the inside of somebody’s head looked like. They were the ones who took a life because they enjoyed the sound of screams. They were the ones who gave me the chills. Perhaps I write about such people because it is a way of keeping them contained; I put the monsters on the page so they don’t escape. But then again, I’m not sure I write about monsters. I write about people who could exist. People who kill, for good or for bad. I write about the different notions of justice and how good and evil are just a double yoke in the same cracked egg. I write about a good man chasing bad people and the toll that takes upon his soul.

Was there a point to this? I’m caught up in it now. I’m thinking about killers. I‘m wondering about goodness and badness and what it all says about me and my species. Perhaps that suggests that we haven’t resolved anything. It certainly suggests that murder remains fascinating. Perhaps that’s why I write about it. Hmm.

 

DAVID MARK’S new novel featuring DS Aector McAvoy, DEAD PRETTY, is out now, published by Mulholland Books.

 

 

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January 8

Nightblind – Ragnar Jonasson

NightBlind BF AW 2Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house.

With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will.

Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all.

 

Thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and also the opportunity to join the blog tour.

Last year we met Ari Thór Arason in Snowblind and followed his move to Siglufjörður. He struggled to adapt to being the new cop (and a stranger) in a small town while also dealing with the added distraction of conducting a murder investigation. Snowblind was one of the reading highlights of 2015 and you can read my review here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=854

Nightblind picks up with Ari Thór some five years after the events of Snowblind. The book opens with an explanatory note for the reader outlining the significant events in Ari Thór’s life and explains that his colleague Tomás has moved to Reykjavík. Ari Thór now has a new boss, Herjólfur, but the two do not appear to have bonded – perhaps as Ari Thór applied for promotion but was unsuccessful.

Trouble is not far away for Ari Thór: the murder of his colleague brings tragedy too close to home. He knows not why his colleague visited a deserted house in the middle of the night, why he may have been targeted or even if the killer has remained in town. Ari Thór’s investigations will become political as the local mayor joins the suspect pool and small town grapevine speculation threatens to spill into scandal. A local drug dealer may hold some vital information but their co-operation may come at too high a price for Ari Thór.

Jonasson builds a brilliant narrative as Ari Thór’s investigation progresses. We have a small circle of characters who will play an important part in the story, red herrings, side plots and subtle clues – all the hallmarks we have already come to expect from Ragnar Jonasson. The frequent comparisons of a writing style that is similar to Dame Agatha’s are well merited.

Nightblind is a murder story so to reveal too much about the actual story would require massive spoilers – nothing should be allowed to spoil your enjoyment of Nightblind, it’s magnificent. I felt it pitched slightly darker than Snowblind with one plot thread (not to the detriment of the story) but it was a book I didn’t want to end. I could read about life in Siglufjörður for days, Jonasson makes the town come to life around me as I curl up with his books.

Ragnar Jonasson (courtesy of the beautiful translation by Quentin Bates) has delivered another literary delight – I cannot heap enough praise upon Nightblind.

 

Nightblind is published by Orenda Books and is available now in digital format and in paperback from 15th January 2016.

The blog tour continues and I urge you to check out as many of the hosts as you can – the full schedule is included below.

Nightblind Blog tour

 

 

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Nightblind – Ragnar Jonasson