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 23

Guest Post: A.K. Benedict – The Sound of Writing

A busy few weeks coming up for my guest today A.K. Benedict.  Not only is her new novel, Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts, published on 25th February but March sees the release of her Torchwood audio play – The Victorian Age – from the wonderful team at Big Finish.

With two very different projects coming to fruition in such a short space of time I was keen to find out a little more about the ‘sound’ of a story and how the author hears the characters.

My most sincere thanks to A.K. Benedict for unexpectedly bringing Captain Jack to my blog and for brilliantly answering the questions I had such trouble phrasing!


The Victorian AgeWhile reading Jonathan Dark I discovered that you had written a Torchwood play for Big Finish (I have been a BF fan for many years). As I read I try to envisage characters and how they may speak…Jonathan Dark was (for me) very London – setting it around the Thames fixed that perception early in the story.

When you write for Torchwood the cast (and their voices) are so well known…a Welsh accent for Gwen, Jack’s American/Scottish twangs etc. Does that make it easier to feed the lines?

YES! I have been a fan of Captain Jack for ten years so I know his voice very well. I also rewatched Dr Who and Torchwood episodes before I began writing the script – it felt at once naughty and virtuous to do this for an actual job, not just my pleasure! This made it wonderfully easy to slip into character while writing and, hopefully, to get as near as I could to Captain Jack’s tone, rhythm and wit. His quips darted onto the page without much intervention, as if repeated viewing had led me to internalise him, as it were. I have only written for Jack out of the original Torchwood characters so far but I hope the same would apply, it certainly did while writing Queen Victoria, the other main character in ‘The Victorian Age’. Her character, played by Pauline Collins, was so distinctive in ‘Tooth and Claw’ that it made it much easier to expand and build on, even though Rowena Cooper’s Victoria in TVA is nearing the end of her reign and life.


When you write an audio play do you hear the actors voices speaking the lines?

Definitely – it is as if I have audio playback in my brain! When the voices stop, I know it is time to take a break and make a cup of tea.


How does that differ from a novel where you create the characters from scratch, do you give them a voice?

Writing for existing characters is a case of slipping on their coats; for original characters, I tailor an entirely new set of clothes, right down to the pants and socks. This takes some time and is full of surprises. I start by asking them questions and then scribble down their answers. When I interviewed Jonathan in a coffee shop in 2007 (he had a caramel latte and a BLT), he told me all about his life situation, worries, likes and dislikes, pets, comics, shortcomings and shadows. His revelations, and the broken way he saw the world, gave me an insight into his narrative voice. The rest came when I started writing.

I feel like a medium at times – very appropriate for ‘Jonathan Dark. . .’ –transcribing from the other side. Maria from ‘Jonathan Dark’ and Stephen Killigan from ‘The Beauty of Murder’ came very quickly. As did Jackamore Grass. It’s unnerving to have a murderer’s voice, like Jackamore or the stalker in ‘Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts’, speaking through me. At the end of a chapter, it is a relief to step out of their blood-stained clothing.Jonathan Dark


The next step in this question comes when you pass your novel to the team that will turn it into an audiobook. Does the narrator of the audiobook change how you had intended a character to sound? As most authors will not hear their books read aloud by their readers is it strange to see how actors or narrators interpret your writing?

It is very strange but also fun. Sometimes lines are performed just as I intended, sometimes much better, sometimes it jars with what was in my head. That’s as it should be. Once the words are on the page and out in the world, a book becomes another entity. Readers hear different voices, make different pictures to the ones in my head and that is beautiful – the alchemy of reading a book and creating something new.

In a collaborative medium like drama and audio work, it is so exciting to hear what actors make of a script or story. Rowena Cooper elevated every single line as Queen Victoria, performing with pathos, gravitas and panache and John Barrowman as Captain Jack was even better than I had hoped. I grinned all the way through the recording. Some of it was as I imagined while writing; some not all: every bit was delightful. I was lucky enough to play a teeny cameo in ‘The Victorian Age’, and even I didn’t perform it as I’d heard it in my head!


Last question, do the Big Finish actors look to make tweaks to your script to make a conversation ‘fit’ how they perceive the character would phrase a sentence?

AK BenedictIn my limited experience, the actors don’t play with lines much at all, bar an ad lib or two, some very funny outtakes and the odd line tweaked for ease of expression. They mainly bring their own skills, breathing life into a line and making it sing.


‘The Victorian Age’ is out in March from Big Finish and can be ordered here:

Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts is published by Orion on 25 February 2016 and can be ordered here.

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February 22

Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts – A.K. Benedict

Jonathan DarkMaria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it.

Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways.

Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never knew. Finding the truth will mean seeing a side to the city where life and death is a game played by the powerful, where everyone is lost but nothing is missing, and where all the answers are hiding, if only they listen to the whispers on the streets.

Shot through with love and loss, ghosts and grief, A K Benedict weaves a compelling mystery that will leave you looking over your shoulder and asking what lurks in the dark.


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


Ghosts – it is right there in the title…Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts does contain actual ghosts (lots of them). But it is not a ghost story, well not in the traditional ‘haunted house’ ghost story way that you may have initially imagined.

In Jonathan Dark we learn that ghosts are all around us, they are living amongst us and (on rare occasions)interacting with the environment around us.  Most of us cannot see these ghosts but a select few people can look beyond the normal and see the spirits around us. There are a few key characters in Jonathan Dark who are actually ghosts – it works brilliantly, their capacity to interact with the main characters is virtually nil but they have a massive impact on the story.

Having accepted the fact there are ghosts in the book you can now get on with enjoying a brilliant crime story which contains the threat of a murderous stalker, a powerful crime syndicate with a chilling recruitment ritual and an evil entity which feasts on the neurosis and fear of its victims.

The most chilling aspect of Jonathan Dark was the danger that A.K. Benedict heaped upon Maria King.  Maria was born blind but has recently undergone surgery that was able to give her the ability to see for the first time. Maria is reluctant to give up the darkness she has known and still elects to wear a blindfold rather than accept the reality of how the world around her looks.

Following the shocking discovery of an engagement ring left for her to find ***Spoilers prevent me from telling you WHY it was shocking***  Maria is further rocked by the revelation that her flat has been equipped with video cameras which have allowed someone to spy on her while she believed herself safe (and alone) at home.

The police are called and head of the investigative team is the titular Jonathan Dark – a wonderfully complex character who has more than his share of secrets too. Dark is facing a race against time to keep Maria safe from the stalker and his investigations will bring him into direct competition with the powerful crime syndicate who do not like the thought of the police getting too close to some of their members.

I want to tell you more, there are so many side plots I want to discuss, characters that I would love to see feature in future books and there is something that Dark does which makes me want to know WHY! But I can only hope he returns and that A.K. Benedict gives us more of these wonderful stories.

I wish that every book I read was as enjoyable as Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts. A 5/5 review score is a given.


Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts is published by Orion on 25 February 2016 and can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jonathan-Dark-Evidence-Ghosts-Benedict-ebook/dp/B00M88VQWS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1456184627&sr=1-1


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February 22

Guest Post: The A-Z of David F Ross

Rise and Fall of the Miraculous VespasThe Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas blog tour kicks off right here.

As I read through the book I was gobsmacked over the sheer volume of musical references which cropped up during the story. The music of the time plays such an influential part of the story that I knew I had to ask David for some of his musical influences. But how to ask the right questions in a Q&A without knowing which songs or artists may feature?

My solution – cheat!  I asked David if he would share his music A-Z.  I thought that finding 26 songs may be a bit of a challenge. It turns out that the challenge he faced was narrowing down his selections – there are some amazing songs in here and I am loving discovering some new ones too from his recommendations:

You will need this link: http://open.spotify.com/user/dross-gb/playlist/0yjz4c7830vwSsrjsrhlZn

David has kindly assembled a Spotify playlist so you can enjoy his selections.


A is for… Amoeba Records up at Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco; the greatest place on Earth. ‘All Mod Cons’, Amy Winehouse, Almost Famous, and Alex Turner, the last of the great lyricists.

And ‘A New England’ by Billy Bragg.


B is for… Bowie, Bolan, Broadcast, Bill Callahan, Burt Bacharach, The Barrowlands, Bobby Bluebell, and three quarters of the Beatles. Also Boy George who hopefully won’t mind my kidnapping him for other people’s entertainment.

And ‘Black Boys on Mopeds’ by Sinead O’Connor.


C is for…’Curtis’ by Curtis Mayfield (one of my all time top 3 LPs), Costello, Creation Records, Chic, The Chi-Lites.

And ‘Cath’ by The Bluebells.


D is for…’Definitely Maybe’, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, ‘Detroit 67’ by Stuart Cosgrove, ‘Days of Speed and Slow-time Mondays’ – a story about the inspiration behind The Miraculous Vespas .

And ‘Don’t Look Back’ by Bettye Swann.


E is for…”Electric Warrior’, Eels, ‘Exile On Main Street’, Everything But The Girl’s ‘Eden’, Eton Rifles, ‘England’s Dreaming’ by Jon Savage, David Essex in ‘Stardust’, Echo & The Bunnymen,

And ‘Eventually’ by Tame Impala


F is for…The Fall, ‘Forever Changes’, ‘Fools Gold’

And ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’ by Arctic Monkeys.


G is for…’Going Underground’, The Go-Betweens, ‘Ghost Town’, Gil Scott-Heron,

And ‘Give Me Your Love’ by Curtis Mayfield.


H is for…’Hatful of Hollow’, ‘Heart of Glass’, Heatwave Disco, Hendrix.

And ‘How Soon Is Now’ by The Smiths.


I is for…Iggy, ‘In Rainbows’, ‘It’s A Miracle (Thank You)’, ‘I Am The Fly’, ‘Is This It’.

And ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ by Super Furry Animals.


J is for…John Peel, The Jam, Joe Strummer (who’s signed LP remains one of my most prized possessions), James Brown, Johnny Cash.

And ‘Jeepster’ by Marc Bolan & T.Rex.


K is for…The Kinks, Kate Bush, Kurt Vile. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

And ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ by The Ramones.


DSC_5361 David Ross 2010L is for…’Like A Rolling Stone’, The La’s, Lambchop, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, Lee Dorsey.

And arguably the greatest love song ever written, ‘Love Letter’ by Nick Cave.


M is for…Morrissey & Marr, and of course…The Miraculous Vespas.

And ‘Magnificent Seven’ by The Clash.


N is for…NME, Nick Drake, New Order, ‘Native New Yorker’.

And ‘New Amsterdam’ by Elvis Costello.


O is for…Orange Juice, ‘Odessey & Oracle’, Oasis in Lucca 2002, ‘Ong Ong’, ‘Oedipus Schmoedipus’, ‘Ocean Rain’, Old Blue Eyes.

And ‘On Battleship Hill’ by PJ Harvey.

P is for…Postcard Records, Primal Scream, PJ Harvey (after whom we named the dog), The Pale Fountains, Pet Sounds, Parallel Lines.

And ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ by The Velvet Underground.


Q is for…Quadrophenia, ‘Queen Bitch’.

And ‘Quiet Houses’ by Fleet Foxes.


R is for…Radiohead, Radio 6 Music, Ray Charles (whom I met once in Montreal) ‘Revolver’, Rickenbacker Guitars, Rock Against Racism, The Ronettes, REM.

And ‘Roadrunner’ by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers.


S is for…The Smiths, Sex Pistols, ‘Screamadelica’, Sly & The Family Stone, Springsteen, Sparklehorse, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and Michael Head’s masterpiece, ‘The Magical World of The Strands’.

More than any other, The Strands LP was the record that prompted me to write. The night after I listened to it for the first time, I had a dream so vivid I wrote it down thinking it would make an interesting novel:

The central protagonist – a recovering addict – searches for something very personal and important to him (we will never exactly find out what it is) which he has lost, or has had taken from him. His uncoordinated search forces him to confront the challenges and temptations he faces, the decisions he has made, the broken relationships, the turbulent Liverpool streets he somehow can’t leave … but also the joy and hope in things previously taken too much for granted; a necessary catharsis. The time sequence is uncertain and the story could be taking place over a year, rather than a day. There are four phases – morning, afternoon, evening and night – each with a different weather, reflecting the protagonist’s changing emotions.

The story is about transformation and seeing things – his relationships, his city, his life – with a new clarity, but not always with the positivity he had assumed that would bring. He ultimately comes to the conclusion that, although he knows it will soon kill him, he preferred the anaesthetised life of an addict where he doesn’t have to deal with, or confront the pain he has caused others. One of these days, I’ll get it started.

And naturally, ‘Something Like You’, by Michael Head & The Strands.


T is for…Tindersticks, T.Rex, T in the Park, Top Of The Pops, The Triffids, Tame Impala, Terry Hall, Tracey Thorn.

And ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam.


U is for…U2’s ‘Boy’ LP (but absolutely nothing that followed it). The Upsetters.

And ‘Unsolved Child Murder’ by The Auteurs.


V is for… ‘Velvets in the Dark’ (the song AND the group it refers to), ‘The Village Preservation Society’.

And ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ by The National.


W is for…Weller (obviously), Wire, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. The Wedding Present, Wah!, Wilco, ‘Wichita Lineman’, Waterloo Sunset’, The Walkmen. Wigan Casino.

And ‘What A Waster’ by The Libertines.


X is for…X-Ray Spex, The X-X,

And ‘X-Offender’ by Blondie.


Y is for…’Young Americans’ , ‘Youth & Young Manhood’, Neil Young, ‘Young At Heart’

And ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ by Bob and Marcia.


Z is for…Zappa, the Zombies,

And, of course, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ by the most influential artist in music history, David Bowie.


You can follow The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas blog tour at the following venues:

Vespas Blog Tour



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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 15

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy 3) – Pierce Brown

Morning StarDarrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars, generations of people who spend their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that, one day, people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their society.

My thanks to the Hodderscape team for my (treasured) review copy.


It started with Red Rising. It continued with Golden Son and now FINALLY Morning Star has arrived and Pierce Brown’s epic trilogy is complete.  Epic. Not a word to be used lightly but wholly justified in the case of the Red Rising trilogy – these three books are outstanding examples of storytelling.

Picking up the story after the traumatic Golden Son cliff-hanger Morning Star reunites us with Darrow (The Reaper) and his seemingly failed mission to bring down the elite Golds.  Confused?  Well it is book 3 of a trilogy – you really MUST read the books in order to appreciate the scale of the story which Pierce Brown has woven.

It was a long 12 month wait for Morning Star but it was absolutely worth it in the end. I cannot tell you WHY, nor can I reveal who is still standing at the end of the book or even if Darrow and his allies manage even a partial success in their mission. What I CAN tell you is that Morning Star is the finale that you hoped it would be.

Tears, cheers and trauma. Twists, shocks and tragedy…Pierce Brown nails them all and keeps you flicking the pages long into the night.  It is the story you never want to end AND the story you simply must finish!

Morning Star is waiting for you – if you have not yet met Darrow you can order a copy of Red Rising HERE and start the journey.  If you have finished Golden Son then you owe it to yourself to find out what happens next – get your copy of Morning Star right this bloodydamn minute – things will never be quite the same again.


Morning Star is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in Hardback and Digital Format.

You can order a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Morning-Star-Red-Rising-Trilogy/dp/1444759051/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455576722&sr=8-1&keywords=morning+star



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February 11

James Goss – Douglas Adams: City of Death

HOW DOUGLAS ADAMS WROTE THE MOST POPULAR DOCTOR WHO STORY IN A WEEKEND. (and other things to shame all other writers)

If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, the chances are you’ll have met one at a party. They’ll have backed you into a corner, saying “No, but seriously, have you seen City Of Death? It’s really, really good. I mean, it’s by Douglas Adams and it’s set in Paris and it has Tom Baker in it and…”

At that point you’ll either be excusing yourself to lunge at the guacamole, or you’ll be hooked. And City Of Death is well worth your time.  True Doctor Who fans (especially the ones blocking your path to the ham and pineapple pizza) will perhaps opine that it’s not the best Doctor Who story ever, but it’s certainly the most popular. On its original broadcast it got the show’s highest audiences ever – thanks in part to ITV being on strike, but we prefer to ignore that and concentrate on how brilliant it is.

City of DeathCity Of Death is a breezy story about time travel, art theft and a villainous Parisian Countess. It’s also terribly, terribly annoying – because Douglas Adams wrote it in a weekend. You look at the hundreds of other Doctor Who stories out there – some dogged by the elaborate excuses of late authors, some rewritten on the studio floor, and some painstakingly developed over the course of years – and then there’s City Of Death. When the original script fell through, Adams was grabbed by the show’s producer and stuck behind a typewriter until it was done.

Could such a thing be done now? 1979 was such a primitive time for the internet that it had never even got cross about Katie Hopkins (imagine that). Without the distraction of emails, texts, and wikipediaing Paris’s geography, Adams was forced to rely on his wits and a lot of coffee. And he got through it, and produced something brilliant – a story that’s genuinely funny, and a fiendishly complicated time travel plot that just works.

That’s the real legacy of City Of Death – one that haunts the rest of us. Anyone who’s ever used the “#amwriting” hashtag; Anyone who’s ever handed in a first draft and said “It’s rough but we’ll get it right in a few goes”. Douglas Adams wrote City Of Death in a weekend, and they pretty much started filming that first draft on Monday. It’s a fact which haunts everyone.

In fact, next time a writer friend of yours Facebooks to say “Managed 2,000 words today and nearly reached the summit! #Phew #SmashedIt”, why not just reply “Douglas Adams wrote City Of Death in a weekend”? I’m sure they’ll thank you.


City Of Death – Douglas Adams & James Goss – BBC Books

The Doctor takes Romana for a holiday in Paris – a city which, like a fine wine, has a bouquet all its own. Especially if you visit during one of the vintage years. But the TARDIS takes them to 1979, a table-wine year, a year whose vintage is soured by cracks – not in their wine glasses but in the very fabric of time itself.

Soon the Time Lords are embroiled in an audacious alien scheme which encompasses home-made time machines, the theft of the Mona Lisa, the resurrection of the much-feared Jagaroth race, and the beginning (and quite possibly the end) of all life on Earth.

Aided by British private detective Duggan, whose speciality is thumping people, the Doctor and Romana must thwart the machinations of the suave, mysterious Count Scarlioni – all twelve of him – if the human race has any chance of survival.

But then, the Doctor’s holidays tend to turn out a bit like this.


City of Death is published by BBC Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here.

HaterzJames Goss is the author of two Doctor who novels: The Blood Cell and Dead of Winter, as well as Summer Falls (on behalf of Any Pond). He is also the co-author, with Steve Tribe of The Doctor: His Lives and Times, The Dalek Handbook and Doctor Who; A History of the Universe in 100 Objects. While at the BBC James produced an adaptation of Shada, an unfinished Douglas Adams Doctor Who story, and Dirk is his award-winning stage adaptation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. His Doctor Who audiobook Dead Air won Best Audiobook 2010 and his books Dead of Winter and First Born were nominated for the 2012 British Fantasy Society Awards.  His new book, Haterz, is out now.

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February 11

Perfect Days – Raphael Montes

Perfect DaysThe path to true love rarely runs smoothly…

Teo, a medical student, meets Clarice at a party. Teo doesn’t really like people, they’re too messy, but he immediately realises that he and Clarice are meant to be together. And if Clarice doesn’t accept that? Well, they just need to spend some time together, and she’ll come to realise that too.

And yes, he has bought handcuffs and yes, he has taken her prisoner and yes, he is lying to her mother and to his mother and to the people at the hotel he’s keeping her at, but it’s all for her own good.

She’ll understand. She’ll fall in love. She’ll settle down and be his loving wife.

Won’t she?


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


Perfect Days is one of those books that I cannot actually talk about in any great detail.  It needs to be read. And once you find out what Teo has planned you will probably want to read it in a single sitting!

This one comes with a warning though – not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. The story will take some very nasty turns along the way, there will be bad language and there were even some scenes which had me wincing as I read them. I couldn’t put it down!

Perfect Days is a dark tale of obsession and neurosis. Teo is socially awkward but believes that he may have found his soul mate in Clarice. He is prepared to go to any lengths to ensure Clarice gets to see him in the best light. Unfortunately for Teo, Clarice is just about to take an extended vacation to work on her screenplay and has no plans to be around Teo long enough for him to show her his limited charms.

Taking matters into his own hands Teo plots to abduct Clarice so that they can spend some quality time together. What follows is a sequence of events that will spiral out of Teo’s control in ways which he could never have anticipated. Oh and it gets messy. Very messy.

Perhaps the most chilling aspect of Perfect Days is the finale. I was NOT prepared for the ending that Raphael Montes delivered. My gob was smacked. I utterly loved the journey but the finale was…well I cannot tell you THAT. But trust me when I say it will get to you.


Perfect Days is published on 18th February by Vintage and you can pre-order your copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Days-Raphael-Montes/dp/1846559529/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1455142355&sr=8-2

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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

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February 5

The Cassandra Sanction – Scott Mariani

Cassandra SanctionA TRAGIC DEATH.



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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