March 15

Night Show – Richard Laymon

Night ShowWhen the horror becomes real.

Dani Larson is the queen of horror movie special effects. Grisly murders and mutilated corpses are all in a day’s work for her. Nothing frightens her—not even watching herself torn to pieces on the screen. But now the gore is real, and Dani is terrified. She’s being stalked by the Chill Master, a psychopath who wants to be Dani’s apprentice, her lover, and eventually…her replacement.

Can Dani find a way to survive? Or will this real-life horror movie scare Dani to death?


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

Back when I was a teen (many years ago) I discovered I enjoyed horror stories. This came as a bit of a shock to me as I really do not like horror films so making the decision at age 13 to read a collection of ghost stories was a pretty big deal to me at the time. Hooked from that point on!

Having whet my appetite with some Stephen King and James Herbert books I stumbled upon the works of Richard Laymon. These were stories I could get into very easily and the plots were sufficiently nasty that the (now) 14 year old me felt I was reading ‘real’ books. What I found about particularly pleasing at the time was Laymon’s writing style was very easy to access (handy when exam studying should have been happening).

Zip forward a couple of decades (and some) and I am revisiting Night Show. I was keen to see if I still enjoyed Laymon’s books and if they had stood the test of time. Yes and Sort of.

The story did not show any real signs of aging, however, there are lots of horror film references and the passage of time since writing means that lots of modern ‘classics’ cannot be mentioned leaving the impression that the characters are slightly obsessed with ‘old’ horror movies. There are also a couple of scenes where modern characters would have had a mobile phone handy so the terror of their situation could easily have been diffused by whipping out their phone to call for help….best keep in mind that this story is very much of its time.

But the actual story is quite good fun.  A stalker tale – the creepy kid that want’s to scare people becomes fixated on a beautiful film-maker and decides that she is the only woman for him, even if she does not know it yet. The detail in the film-making scenes was fascinating reading, the obvious love that Richard Laymon had for the horror films (which he frequently references) shines through.

Laymon’s books never quite had the depth of King, Hutson or Herbert but they were fun, solid reads which always guaranteed to keep me entertained.  Night Show still ticks all the right boxes for me – I enjoyed the silly scares and the OTT characters but I also remembered the other great books Laymon wrote and I want to revisit them too.


Samhain will release Night Show on 3 May 2016 – you can order a copy here:

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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:


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March 9

Tastes Like Fear – Sarah Hilary

Tastes Like FearYou’ll never be out of Harm’s way

The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.

A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.

To the one man who understands her.

Gives her shelter.

Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He’s the head of her new family.

He’s Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear…


My thanks to Elizabeth Masters at Headline for my review copy.


The third Marnie Rome thriller and another triumph for Sarah Hilary. Tastes Like Fear is a gripping read and is helping cement Sarah Hilary’s place amongst the best of the current crop of UK crime writers.

Tastes Like Fear has a focus on teenage runaways, girls who have left home and found themselves living rough on the streets of London. The girls have found that they become almost invisible, doing whatever it takes to survive. Yet for a select few there comes an offer of a place of safety – a home where food and shelter will be provided.  All you have to do is live by the house rules, his rules…Harm’s rules.

Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake have been investigating the disappearance of May Beswick a teenage girl who left home (for no apparent reason) and has been missing for several weeks. We are first reunited with Marnie and Noah when they are called to the scene of a road traffic accident – a teenage girl in a state of disarray has walked into the traffic causing a crash. The girl has left the scene, heading towards one of London’s more notorious housing schemes, yet there appears to be some doubt between the survivors of the crash as to what the girl looked like or even if she was ever there!

I enjoyed the shifting focus in Tastes Like Fear, the story follows Marnie and Noah and their investigations into May’s disappearance and the attempts to track down the girl from the crash scene. Then the narrative switches into the ‘haven’ that Harm is providing and we see how the girls who are living under his protection are dealing with day to day life under Harm’s watchful eye. There is a real feeling of unease as you read these scenes – an unpredictability – as Harm does not seem to act how you expect him to (yet you are also not quite sure how he SHOULD be acting).

However, as you may expect trouble lies ahead for the girls as rules have been broken, some girls have not behaved the way Harm expected and there will be…repercussions.

With all the twists and turns, shocks and surprises that I have come to expect from one of Sarah Hilary’s books I found that I could not put Tastes Like Fear down. The story flows brilliantly, the characters are the perfect blend of likeable, unpredictable or deeply deplorable and we get more insights into Noah and Marnie’s personal lives giving loved characters even greater depth.

There is also the added anticipation of what I am beginning to think of as ‘The Sarah Hilary Jaw-drop Moment’…one scene where everything I thought I understood about the story is crushed and I am blind-sided by a twist that I can never see coming.  LOVE IT, nobody else consistently messes with my brain in their books the way Sarah Hilary can – she has the golden touch.

An easy review score for Tastes Like Fear…5/5 and a reader desperate for more.


Tastes Like Fear is published by Headline and is released on 7 April 2016 – you can order a copy here:


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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:

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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:


thelastthingiremember blog tour2

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