October 20

A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

a-suitable-lieAndy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too.

When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy.

 

Domestic Noir has a new high bar and it is called A Suitable Lie.

This is Andy’s story, it is told in the first person and it makes for uncomfortable reading. Andy works in the local bank, he plays rugby, he is a single dad having tragically lost his wife who died during childbirth. His life is ticking along but his friends and family feel he needs to get out more so one evening he finds himself in a pub and he meets Anna.

Anna is a beauty, new to town and not happy that her “date” for the evening may have forgotten to mention his wife to her. Andy rescues Anna from a miserable evening and the two click. Before long they are a couple and then wedding bells beckon. On his wedding night Andy’s life will go from bliss to misery and he will find himself trapped in a living Hell.

Anna, petite and beautiful, is hiding a dark side – a violent and obsessive personality. She is controlling, vicious and yet loving and apologetic. Author, Michael J Malone, brings out Anna’s temper slowly and we see the violence and her control over Andy grow with each new chapter. I read A Suitable Lie with a knot of tension in my stomach – I feared for Andy and I hated everything that Anna put him through.

Yet Andy knows that he cannot (and will not) hit back. He endures beatings, humiliation and his confidence is undermined. We see him at work when he is struggling to hide his secret. His work life is also providing challenging as there are problems at the Bank and, with the distractions in his home-life, Andy is not as vigilant at work as he needs to be. His world is coming apart around him but who can he turn to?

A Suitable Lie is an intense read which is highlighting a topic which is a far bigger issue than most realise. It is a story that will stick with you for a long time to come and it is important that it does. Not to be missed.

 

A Suitable Lie is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can get your copy by clicking through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suitable-Lie-Michael-J-Malone/dp/1910633496/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476911441&sr=8-1&keywords=a+suitable+lie

 

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October 18

The Mountain in my Shoe – Louise Beech

the-mountain-in-my-shoeA missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

I’d seen so many glowing reviews for The Mountain in my Shoe that before I had even picked up my copy I had high expectations. I was not let down, this was a powerful read and a story which will stick with me for some time to come.

The Mountain in my Shoe was, for me, the story of watching a child grow up through the eyes of other people. It is all done through a lifebook, Conor’s lifebook. It is his story as told by the people responsible for him as he grows up.

Conor’s mother cannot look after him when he is born but she is not willing to put him up for adoption so Conor is placed into foster care.  His lifebook is his story, it is updated by social workers, foster parents, his mother, teachers and so on – everyone that plays a significant part in Conor’s life updates the book in some way and we chart how he grows.

Bernadette had Conor’s lifebook but she has lost it.  She has also lost her husband (misplaced may be more accurate, as when the story begins he hasn’t come home when she had expected) which is unfortunate as she had planned to tell him she was leaving him. Thus begins Bernadette’s trauma, by the time the book draws to a close a lost lifebook is going to be the least of her concerns.

Many reviews you will read of The Mountain in my Shoe will focus on the emotion, the character love and the relationships angles. I loved the mystery. The missing husband, the secrets, the shocking twist in the tale.  It is a wonderfully layered story – a great domestic thriller and a powerful tale of relationships and family.

Eye-opening, traumatic and totally engaging…The Mountain in my Shoe should be on your reading list.

 

The Mountain In My Shoe is published by Orenda Books and you can get your copy by clicking through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mountain-My-Shoe-Louise-Beech/dp/1910633399/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476742416&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mountain+in+my+shoe

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October 15

Dancers in the Wind – Anne Coates

dancers-in-the-windSHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.

When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.

 

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

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is working for one of the national newspapers who are running a feature on the prostitutes of Kings Cross. The assignment appears to be a bit of an eye-opener for Hannah who finds that she is extremely uncomfortable learning about the lifestyle some of the girls are living.

What Hannah does not realise is that some of the working girls have been going missing – their battered bodies turn up a few days later but the nature of their occupation means that it has not been widely reported. One of the girls that Hannah interviews (Princess) seems to have had a particularly tough childhood – Hannah has paid for her story and they spend some time together while Princess tells the story of her path to prostitution.

When Princess turns up badly battered and bloody at Hannah’s door, Hannah finds she is compelled to get urgent help for Princess and also agrees to the girl’s request not to involve the police.  Hannah takes Princess into her home for a few days but these days stretch on as Princess recuperates and Hannah tries to encourage her to stay off the streets.

The pair have a somewhat troubled relationship, their very different backgrounds lead to some feisty clashes but both seem to realise that Hannah just has the best interests of Princess at her heart. Problems arise, however, when it becomes clear to Hannah that Princess has a few dark secrets and that some people will do whatever it takes to ensure Princess never gets a chance to share her knowledge with the “wrong” people.  Can Hannah keep her young friend safe?

Dancers in the Wind comes under the dark and gritty tag. The nastier side of London prostitution is laid out and we learn that Hannah simply cannot trust anyone. The police do not appear to be handling the prostitute murders with any sincerity, the newspaper Hannah works for is editing and spinning her stories and Princess is dropping mysterious hints about the past actions of several characters that Hannah encounters. The story keeps you on your toes, the only person you are reasonably sure is not keeping secrets is Hannah herself!

Take a great deal of suspicion, add in some cleverly edited story jumps which keep the reader off guard. Liberally apply some great end of chapter cliff-hangers (always guaranteed to keep me reading late into the night) and we have a nice wee thriller for readers to get their teeth into.

 

Dancers in the Wind is published by Urbane Publications and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dancers-Wind-gripping-crime-thriller/dp/1911129635/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476484752&sr=8-1&keywords=dancers+in+the+wind

 

 

 

 

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October 13

Angela Marsons and Caroline Mitchell

Last month’s visit to Bloody Scotland reminded me how much I enjoy having the opportunity to hear authors chatting about their books. Having grown up in the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, I am very aware that not everyone has the opportunity to get to festivals or book launches – I hate the thought that readers may miss out on the chance to hear their favourite authors discussing their writing.

In a few short weeks Caroline Mitchell and Angela Marsons will both release their new novels. Caroline is introducing a new lead character, DS Ruby Preston, in Love You To Death.  Angela is bringing us the next instalment in the Kim Stone series: Blood Lines. It is fair to say that I am more than a little excited about having the chance to read both books.

I asked Angela and Caroline if they would be willing to let me listen in while they discussed their new books, I was thrilled that they agreed. I also had a burning question that I wanted to put to them both, I just had to find a way to get a word in edgeways….

 

C – I’m very curious to know if Kim is based on anyone in particular, or is she your alter-ego Angie?

A – Kim Stone isn’t based on anyone in particular but she had been in my ear for years.  I didn’t let her out because even in my own head she sounded rude and abrasive and I didn’t think anyone would like her.  Even I didn’t like her all that much.  But once I gave her control of the pencil I did realise she had some redeeming qualities.  I gave her free reign after trying to write about characters I thought publishers would like and after years of rejection just decided to write the book I wanted to write. Even after five books I still feel as though I’m getting to know her.

On that same note I absolutely adored Jennifer Knight.  I loved her dedication and strength but also her flaws and idiosyncrasies. I devoured all three Jennifer books and hope there might come a time when you bring her back. Is that a possibility and how long had she been living with you before you put her to paper?

C – Thanks Angie, I’m so glad that Kim Stone hung around for her story to be told. It’s amazing how our characters take on a life of their own. Jennifer had been living in my head since my own real life paranormal experiences while working in the police. I’d love to write another book one day, and I’ve left it open for her to return. At the moment I’m concentrating hard on my new DS Ruby Preston series. Brought up in the East End of London, she’s a real tough cookie. In a scene in book two, she learns how to shoot a gun. I’ve been itching to visit a firing range and try it out for real. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done in the name of research? And don’t worry about the gun, you’re safe for now! 

caroline-mitchell2A – Well, I must say that Ruby Preston already sounds like my kind of main character and imagining you with a gun makes me happy (for once) that we live so many miles away from each other. I’m not sure about the most interesting thing I’ve done but certainly one of the funniest was only the other day when Julie and I were standing out on the decking with a piece of plastic roughly the same size as a shotgun trying to see how practical it would be to shoot yourself in the back of the neck.  I must say that research is one of my favourite parts of the process as I love to learn about things that interest and intrigue me.  Some writers hate the research part. How do you feel about it and how long do you normally take to research each book?

C – Ha! That made me laugh out loud. My husband sleeps with one eye open as it is, without me throwing a gun into the mix! It’s no stretch of the imagination to picture you and Julie on the decking play acting with your plastic gun. 🙂  Yes, I love research too, it’s so much fun. As we write for digital publishers, time is of the essence, so I’m limited with the amount of time I can spend on research for each book. I do spend a lot of time thinking about my characters though, they practically move in to my head for the duration of the book. I think that’s what’s nice about series; I get to spend time with the same characters that I’ve invested in. With stand alones, it can be hard to get them to move out when I’m done. You’ve written two stand alones prior to Kim, would you like to write any more, and if so, what genre?

blood-linesA – My two published stand alone novels (and others that shall never see the light of day) were stories that burned inside me.  They were subjects that I wanted to explore to see where they went and what I could learn about the subject matter.  I really enjoy analysing the mechanics of human relationships and the psychology behind what makes us act in certain ways. With the Kim Stone schedule of two books per year it would have to be a subject matter that  I just couldn’t let go of or I might be tempted to introduce the odd crime scene where it would be totally inappropriate.  Talking of different genres I recently read your psychological thriller Witness to be released later this year and absolutely LOVED it. The crossover from your previous work appears seamless to me but did you experience any problems while writing it?

C – The thought of some of your manuscripts languishing under your bed never seeing the light of day is a travesty. I think we need to start a petition to have them freed! I’ve heard such great things about Dear Mother and The Forgotten Woman. Thank you for your lovely words about Witness. I loved writing it. It was meant to be a straight thriller but as I began writing, stories of domestic abuse just flowed onto the page. I used to safeguard high risk victims of domestic abuse in the police, helping victims leave their abusive partners and begin their lives again. As the story formed, it portrayed that domestic abuse is as much about coercive control as it is violence, and it takes enormous strength to break away from such a relationship when someone has control of every facet of your life. It’s set between Frinton where I live, and Wales – near where you live. I see that many of your readers love your Black Country setting. What inspired you to use it as a setting for your Kim Stone books, and do you get many messages from readers about particular places that you use?

A – Before I wrote Silent Scream I had always tried to use both characters and settings that I thought publishers and agents would like even though they weren’t too familiar to me.  It was in a post-rejection fit of rage that I wrote the character I wanted to and used the area I know well. Traditional publishers rejected Silent Scream and said the setting and main character would never work. I get so many messages from local people thrilled at seeing places they know in the books but I also get messages from people wanting to know more about the Black Country.  I think the dark, industrial past of the area works well with Kim Stone’s character.  She would not do well in the Cotswolds, I fear!! It sounds to me that Ruby Preston is well represented by the setting you have chosen too.  Was that deliberate?

 C – I love this response, I can’t imagine Kim Stone anywhere else either. The dark broodiness of the Black Country setting suits her perfectly. I’ve gobbled up every one of your thrillers and it’s been a pleasure to watch her character progress throughout the series. As for me, well London has always been a source of fascination. Every time I visit I’m like a child, eyes wide in wonderment as I take in the sounds and smells of this amazing city. Such a diverse place makes for rich pickings when it comes to describing characters and scenery. Like you, my character seems to fit in with the setting and I can’t imagine them being based anywhere else. Fair play to you for having the dogged determination to keep going with your manuscript and writing the setting that struck a chord with you. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to writers still trying to make it? 

 love-you-to-deathA – I also love visiting London but I find the roads around Covent Garden can be quite hazardous!! I think my one piece of advice above all else would be to trust your own instinct.  Once you enter the world of submissions there will be advice, comments, directions, improvements from a variety of sources and you have to know when to follow that advice.  There is no-one closer to the characters, story and journey than the writer and it can be easy to take everyone else’s opinions on board but you have to keep hold of the story that you wanted to tell in the first place.  Given your journey, what would you say to anyone following your path?

C – Ha! You wouldn’t be referring to the time we met in Covent Garden and I almost got you and Julie run over by a car would you? I blame Siri myself! I love your advice above and totally agree. It takes time to find your voice. I started off writing paranormal, then crime and now thrillers too. My advice is that it can be hard, so you’ll need to grow a thick hide, but just remember that this is meant to be fun too. Always try to keep your writing as an enjoyable process. It’s all about perspective. I count my blessings every day. Now Gordon I must apologise as we’ve not allowed you to get a word in edgeways! I hear you have a question for us …

G – There didn’t seem a good point to interrupt! But thanks Caroline…given that Jennifer’s investigations can take somewhat mysterious and supernatural twists, how do you think Jennifer and Kim would get on were their paths to cross on a case? 

C – That’s a really good question Gordon. Kim does not suffer fools gladly and I believe in past books she’s been skeptical when it comes to the paranormal. I think at first they would clash, but if they came together over the course of an investigation Jennifer would admire her investigative abilities and win her around. Things always seem to happen when Jennifer is near so if the evidence was right before Kim’s eyes, I think Kim would rub her hands together and say to Jennifer ‘right, what are we dealing with?’ Then crack on with the investigation as calm as you like. 

Tell me if I’m wrong Angie, what does Kim say? 

angela-marsonsA – I absolutely agree with Caroline’s assessment of how the two of them would respond to each other. Admittedly, Kim is definitely a ‘don’t believe it until I see it’ kind of girl but once someone has proven their ability or understanding of a subject about which she knows very little she would give them the benefit of the doubt and work with it. Like Jennifer she is all about moving forwards and doing everything necessary to solve a case so I think they would work it very well. I can even imagine Kim giving her a good-natured nickname like ‘mystic meg’ and Jennifer would probably do the same back.  Now, here’s a little secret – when I first wrote Silent Scream I wrote Kim with hint of unexplained intuition which I took out later as by that time I knew it didn’t fit with the rest of her sceptical character. 

Intuition is good and Kim has it in bucket loads. I think most good investigators have that initial gut feeling and put it to good use. It’s when the CPS is demanding evidence that it gets frustrating. I suppose it’s a matter of finding a balance. Here’s to a long a fruitful investigative career for our fictional characters. May they continue their crime busting efforts for long to come. *Raises glass. Cheers! 

 

I cannot thank Caroline and Angela enough for letting me eavesdrop on their conversation, I got the feeling that it had been running long before I joined them and will continue even longer.

 

 Love You to Death is published on 11 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Death-Absolutely-Detective-ebook/dp/B01LYPU1MW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1476308879&sr=8-3&keywords=caroline+mitchell

You can find all of Caroline’s books through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Caroline-Mitchell/e/B00GUUATPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 Blood Lines is published on 4 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Lines-Angela-Marsons/dp/1786810999/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476309070&sr=1-1&keywords=angela+marsons

Angela’s books can be ordered on this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Marsons/e/B00J6D3914/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

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October 12

I Know Your Secret – Graham Smith

i-know-your-secret-book-cover“What would you do if your most intimate secrets got into the wrong hands?”

Set in modern day Cumbria, I Know Your Secret is a police thriller in which a priest is found crucified to the stone floor of his church. Fearing more attacks on the clergy, DI John Campbell and his team of misfits race to find the killer before he strikes again.

Meanwhile, DI Harry Evans, spends his days attending the trial of his wife’s rapist and his nights interfering in the investigation.

Can they catch the killer before he strikes again?

 

My thanks to Caffeine Nights for my review copy

DI Harry Evans has featured in two previous Major Crimes books and also in Graham Smith’s Snatched From Home. He is very much master of his home patch in Carlisle but is facing the prospect of imminent retirement and with that he may well lose the last thing that is important to him.

As the description above mentions Harry is also having to contend with the trial of his wife’s rapist. Previous books outlined events leading up to this confrontation but you do not need to have actually read them to keep up with the events in I Know Your Secret, it stands up well as a jumping on point for new readers.

I Know Your Secret opens with a very powerful murder. A priest is crucified on the floor of his chapel. Cumbria’s finest are called to investigate and Harry’s replacement (DI John Campbell) is leading the team.  I like Campbell, he is battling against the demands of being a supportive new father, battling the influence of the outgoing Harry Evans who does not want to give up his patch and battling against the constant pressure of understaffing and minimal resources.

Graham Smith balances the central characters well. We switch between Campbell’s investigation, Harry’s interventions, the court case and….did I mention a Killer and Blackmailer? As you may have guessed from the title I Know Your Secret is a tale about secrets. With secrets comes knowledge and with knowledge comes power – or sometimes blackmail.

There is loads going on in I Know Your Secret and Harry Evans is determined to be at the centre of everything. It will take its toll, physically and mentally Graham Smith is putting DI Evans through a personal Hell – it makes for intense reading.

Dark in all the right places, I Know Your Secret is a nicely constructed police procedural with some clever twists that caught me off guard.

 

I Know Your Secret is published by Caffeine Nights and releases on 17 October and can be ordered by clicking here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Your-Secret-intimate-secrets-ebook/dp/B01LSVRL5G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476224783&sr=8-1&keywords=i+know+your+secret

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October 10

Cut-Throat Defence – Olly Jarvis

cut-throat-defence-2There is no man richer than a man without a price

Jack Kowalski is a young and newly qualified barrister, who finds himself working on the biggest drugs importation trial ever played out on English soil. With the assistance of his equally inexperienced instructing solicitor, Lara Panassai, Jack argues a savage ‘cut-throat’ defence – a risky tactic where the defendants blame each other – and quickly embroils some of the most eminent QCs in the land.

As the son of Polish immigrants, the sensitive Kowalski has always found it hard to fit in, with a sense of inferiority and constant nervousness in Court. Now he must face his demons and fight not only for his clients, but for his very future at the Bar.

But when the defendant then unexpectedly absconds, Jack and Lara must fight on regardless, following a tip that leads them out of the courtroom and into Manchester’s seedy underworld – crime bosses, strip clubs, corrupt lawyers and all manner of hidden sins.

As the case grows darker with each new discovery, who in this viper pit of deception can Jack and Lara trust?

 

My thanks to Heloise at EDPR for my review copy

 

There was a time (back when I was a student) when I only wanted to read legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, I could not get enough of them. But then I exhausted the titles published by the “big name” authors and my local village library didn’t have a vast selection to choose from.  It is only now that I have started Grab This Book that I realise I have not read very many courtroom dramas over the last couple of decades – shockingly few considering how much I used to enjoy them.

Cut-Throat Defence has made me want to read more courtroom thrillers, re-sparking my fascination with the clever interplay between the lawyers and the judges. I was particularly delighted to learn that Cut-Throat Defence is not just a sinister sounding name but an actual legal situation and one which Olly Jarvis has positioned brilliantly.

Central to my enjoyment of any book is the need to like the principle character and I more than liked Jack Kowalski. His Polish roots are mocked by his peers, he finds himself put down by the pompous establishment figures Couple this with his crippling lack of self confidence and it made him an immediately endearing character that I was willing to succeed (I do love rooting for the underdog).

Without giving away too much detail of the story, Jack finds himself at last chance saloon – a promising career is under threat as he cannot contain his nerves when he gets into court.  As it looks like his last chance to save his career is slipping by he accidentally lands a new client, one who is caught up in one of the biggest drugs busts in the NW. However, Jack’s client has a story so remarkable and unlikely that it is going to be virtually impossible to prove in a court of law.

Fighting against the clock, and impossible odds, Jack’s story in Cut-Throat Defence was a really fun read – I found I read longer and later than I should have done in the evenings as I didn’t want to stop reading. If you are a fan of legal thrillers then I strongly recommend adding Cut-Throat Defence to your library.

 

Cut-Throat Defence is published by Canelo and is available in digital download here.

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October 9

The Bird Tribunal – Agnes Ravatn

bird-tribunalTV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy

The Bird Tribunal is a remarkable read and at no point in the story did I know where it was heading, I just knew that I wanted to keep reading to learn more.

There is mystery around Allis. She has left a successful career to take up a housekeeping and gardener role. She has no previous experience but is prepared to learn as she goes.  Her employer, Sigurd Bagge, is a strange man who hides himself away through the day and only initially comes out to speak with Allis at mealtimes. He will not let her eat with him and he is extremely secretive, choosing not to share any personal information with Allis. It seems he is married, however, his wife is absent and there is no sign she will return.

Allis is determined to make a success of her new role despite the peculiarity of her employer but she is facing her own personal demons. As The Bird Tribunal developed I became transfixed upon how Allis may overcome her personal angst. I also wanted to get to understand Bagge better, his character and behaviour were so odd that I had to know what had led him to that state.

The Bird Tribunal is beautifully written. Yet it is tense, chilling and at times disconcerting. Think Misery (different tension and no axes) but two people living in a remote location with a strained/artificial/complicated relationship.

A special mention has to be made for Rosie Hedger who has done a wonderful job of ensuring the translation of the author’s original text reflects the haunting atmosphere of the remote isolation that Allis has sought.

 

The Bird Tribunal is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital editions here.

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October 7

Deep Down Dead: Steph Broadribb – Countdown

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If you want to write then you should read…oft quoted words of wisdom. So imagine what may happen if one of the most respected crime fiction bloggers turned her hand to writing a thriller.

Now imagine a publisher with a phenomenal drive, an uncanny eye for spotting amazing stories and the desire to ensure these wonderful stories find their way into the hands of readers.

Now imagine what may happen if these two ever got together!

 

 

DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb  (published by Orenda Books) will release on October 15th and I cannot wait!

 

Here is today’s teaser extract from Deep Down Dead…

Too close to punch, I hooked my right leg around his left, and pulled hard to bring him down. He was too quick. One solid punch to my ribs pushed the breath right out of me. I gasped, doubled over, gulping for air. I clawed at my pocket for the pepper spray. Got a hold of it and pulled it out. The can felt cold, slippery. I couldn’t grip it. Heard it hit the ground.

Failed.

Deep Down Dead is published by Orenda Books on 15 October 2016 and you can order a copy here.

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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

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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:

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