May 31

Deadly Harvest – Michael Stanley

Deadly Harvest A/W.inddA young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama – new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department – suspects that the girl was killed for muti; traditional African medicine. She enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Benga to help her dig into the past. But as they begin to find a pattern, Kubu and Samantha suddenly find they are in a race against time…



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

The hunt is on for a Witch Doctor in Botswana.  Not my normal type of read I had thought – but this is a cracking police procedural with a very distinctive setting and subject matter and I absolutely loved it.

A sinister Witch Doctor is promising power to men in Botswana who crave success in their chosen fields. The price of power is a high one which few can afford to pay. Even if you have the money then the Witch Doctor will require extra special materials to make his magic work.


The remains of a young human, a life once full of energy and drive who will be murdered to fuel the ambitions of the corrupt and unworthy.  It was quite unsettling reading how innocent young girls are abducted in plain sight and taken away to a fate unknown.

Detective Kubu is implored by his new colleague, Samantha Khama, to dig into the disappearance of several young girls but Kubu is focussed on the murder of a prominent politician. His bosses have stressed that Kubu must find the politician’s murderer as a matter of utmost priority.  However, as the story unfolds it becomes clear that the politician’s murder may also tie in with the disappearance of one of the girls Samantha has been looking into.

Kubu and Samantha methodically work the cases and I loved seeing how their investigation progressed. Where leads start to run cold it was fascinating to see how Kubu utilised local beliefs and customs to shake information out of reluctant witnesses. Samantha, being younger and (in her eyes) much more practical, shunned Kubu’s superstitious methods – until it seems that they are starting to work.

How can the police overcome the deep-rooted fear of the evil power of the Witch Doctor, a man that can apparently make himself invisible if the need should arise, to get to the bottom of a series of murders? The challenge that faces Kubu is great, particularly when his own department is in a state of turmoil as a battle for power is subtly playing out.

I thought Deadly Harvest was magnificent, I just wanted to keep reading – I had to know how the story was going to play out.  I know nothing of Botswana yet the authors made the country seem so real and vibrant. I look forward to meeting with Detective Kubu again in the future – a high bar has been set.

Deadly Harvest Blog tour

Deadly Harvest is published by Orenda Books and can be ordered in paperback or digital formats here:

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May 29

Nick Quantrill : The Dead Can’t Talk: Evil Bad Guys

TDCT - Final coverI’ve been musing on the nature of evil in crime fiction, wondering if my bad guys are, well, evil enough? Do they have to be larger than life and display a level of genius not found in mere mortals? I think we all know when crime fiction does evil badly; the bad guy moves from one killing to the next, hapless cops a step behind him as they aren’t clever enough to decipher the clues he kindly leaves for them. If you’ve seen “The Following”, you know what I’m talking about. It’s glossy, gets your heart pumping, but like eating a McDonald’s, it’s empty and you’ll hate yourself within half an hour.

               No, evil can be done better. Luca Veste’s Liverpool-set Murphy and Rossi series is a great example. It’s dark and dangerous, but with a twist on the serial killer trope. Luca’s background in studying psychology gives the evil in his novels real depth. Similarly, Steve Mosby knows how to play on a reader’s sense of terror, drawing on fairly mundane lives. If you don’t believe me, read the first chapter of “The Nightmare Place”.

As much as I try, I can’t write evil in the same way. It takes a certain type of skill and mindset, though I’m pretty sure you’ll be safe in the company of Luca and Steve. No, the evil I write about in my novels is different. My bad guys are motivated by money, power, influence and prestige in a provincial city. Hull is home to a quarter of a million people, with the rich and poor never too far away from each other. It’s an isolated city, essentially sitting in the middle of nowhere on the Humber estuary with Leeds sixty miles west, York forty miles north. It’s a city with a myriad of social problems, but also one with great hope for the future. It’s a city that excels in small town heroes, good and bad.

               In ‘The Dead Can’t Talk” we meet people corrupted by money and people who use violence first and ask questions later. They’re people who make mistakes and don’t know how to put them right. We meet Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, and Luke Carver, a drifter fresh from prison. Maybe some are essentially good people who are forced by circumstances to act differently. It’s a different type of evil, but one that I hope doesn’t read as being any less dangerous or without consequences.


NQ photoThe Dead Can’t Talk”

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May 25

Play Dead – Angela Marsons

Play-Dead-KindleThe dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?
The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.


My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour.


Let me cut to the chase – Play Dead is brilliant. I am going to give it a 5 star score and I am going to urge you to read it. The only excuse you are permitted for not reading it immediately is that you have not yet read the first three books in the series.  To be clear, you don’t *need* to have read them to start Play Dead…but why miss out on all the previous amazingness?

Still here?  Then let me elaborate a bit on why Play Dead has had me hooked over the last couple of days.

First is the return of Kim Stone – a lead character that shuns social niceties, keeps everyone at a distance and has a deep rooted sense of justice that makes her an excellent police officer. She has, for me, been one of the stand-out characters in crime fiction since her debut in Silent Scream.

Next up a serial killer. Through flashbacks we are given a small insight into what may be motivating the brutal murders of local women, faces smashed, soil forced into their mouths. Their bodies are dumped in a secret research centre (a ‘body farm’) – the researchers particularly disturbed to have unexpected bodies landing in their facility. Nasty. But good Nasty.

Three – the return of Stone’s nemesis, journalist Tracy Frost.  The interplay between these two makes for fabulous reading.  Frost plays a much larger role in Play Dead but this may not necessarily be a good thing for her! Readers will get to know Ms Frost very well in Play Dead and I will wager that some opinions of the odious journalist will change as readers progress through the story. I found myself wondering how her relationship with Stone would have developed had they both been aware of their respective backgrounds before they crossed swords in a professional capacity. Shame we will not get to see how that develops in future books…or will we?  **NO SPOILERS**

Four – not content with hitting her heroine with a demanding series of crimes to investigate we also learn a bit more about Kim’s background. And here Angela Marsons broke me a little.  Returning readers will know that Kim had a tough childhood, elements of this are explored in more detail through Play Dead. If you have developed any emotional attachment to Kim’s character (and it seems I have) then some of the revelations will make for tough reading.

Getting upset on behalf of a fictional character? Yeah, that happened.

Five – EVERYTHING ELSE. The pages practically turned themselves and I didn’t want to stop reading. Play Dead sees Stone back at her tetchy best and I just cannot get enough of these stories.  5/5…oh I said that already.


The blog tour draws to a close tomorrow but you can catch up on all things Play Dead if you follow through all the tour hosts.



Play Dead is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order a copy of Play Dead here:

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May 23

The Dark Inside – Rod Reynolds

The Dark Inside1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.

But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

Loosely based on true events, The Dark Inside is a compelling and pacy thriller that heralds a new voice in the genre. It will appeal to fans of RJ Ellory, Tom Franklin, Daniel Woodrell and True Detective.


My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy

The Dark Inside is one of those stories which will totally get under your skin – in a good way.  It made me rage at the characters, it made me worry when the lead character (Charlie Yates) wouldn’t listen to reason and the bullying – oh the bullying – at times it made me hate everyone in Texarkana. So well realised is the world of 1946 USA that Rod Reynolds took me to a time and a place far away from my mundane commute to work.

Charlie Yates is a disgraced reporter.  He has clashed with his boss one time too many (early signs of the temper which will cause him problems throughout The Dark Inside) and he is sent to small town Texas to report on a series of brutal murders.  But when he gets to Texarkana the authorities do not want a city reporter sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.  They also don’t want to accept the possibility that the murders which have taken place may be the work of one man – a man as yet unidentified and who may possibly kill again.  Yates is facing opposition to his investigations every where he turns. He is warned off pursuing leads and, when he doesn’t listen, the warnings become more forceful.  Yates needs to leave town – while he still can.

The Dark Inside captures the mood and feeling of 1940’s USA.  The setting is so very unusual in today’s crime fiction releases that it stands out from the crowd, distinctive, different and very memorable. Charlie Yates is a likeable lead character but he has some very real flaws which have brought his life to a real low-point, the inner demons that he faces add an interesting angle to the story.

I touched on the bullying.  I hate bullying, but it is rife in Texarkana and Mr Reynolds plays this to wonderful effect. Was it a sign of the times?  The powerful men of the town all believe that they call the shots, but there is always someone more powerful, someone with more knowledge and clout and one by one the bullies will fall. It kept me reading, that wait to see justice done, fairness restored and ‘good’ winning through. Did it?  Well that would be a *spoiler*.

When when an author can make me angry at his characters then I know that I am reading a book I am going to love.  When that book finishes and I immediately want to read more from that author then I am a happy reader.

This is a debut novel – it is a mighty fine thing. Assured writing, excellent pacing, wonderful characterisation (even those odious bullies) and a cracking murder mystery. Read this!


The Dark Inside is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats.  You can order a copy by clicking through this link:

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May 22

Baby Doll – Hollie Overton

Baby DollYou’ve been held captive in one room, mentally and physically abused every day, since you were sixteen years old.

Then, one night, you realize your captor has left the door to your cell unlocked.

For the first time in eight years, you’re free.

This is about what happens next …

Lily knows that she must bring the man who nearly ruined her life – her good-looking high-school teacher – to justice. But she never imagined that reconnecting with her family would be just as difficult. Reclaiming her relationship with her twin sister, her mother, and her high school sweetheart who is in love with her sister may be Lily’s greatest challenge. After all they’ve been through, can Lily and her family find their way back after this life-altering trauma?

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.


My thanks to the publishers for the review copy I received through Netgalley

So many crime stories that we read feature a kidnap or abduction and we follow the police or the central character in their quest to rescue the abductee before harm can befall them.  Sometimes the hero arrives in the nick of time, other times the abductee is not so lucky the hero will do some soul searching and vow to save the next person (as there is nearly always a next person).

Baby Doll doesn’t follow this pattern.

In Baby Doll the story begins with the abducted girl (Lily) realising that the door to her prison has been left unlocked. She has been a captive for over 8 years, beaten, raped, terrorised and left broken by a man she once thought she could trust. The story begins after all these things have occurred. There is no hero coming to the rescue, no flashback of an investigation to track her down – just a mistake by the man that took her captive which offers Lily a chance of freedom. If she can take it!

Hollie Overton has taken one of the most neglected part of crime fiction – the aftermath.  Lily comes home to her family after 8 years but so much has changed.  Her twin has felt her loss most terribly, that strong bond stretched to a breaking point for the sister left at home.  Lily’s parents took her disappearance hard and for Lily there will be some horrible truths to face as she tries to pick up her life again.

But most chilling of all is the fact the man that kidnapped Lily and turned her into a victim over such a long period of time is not going to surrender quietly.  He is a master manipulator and will use any means possible to deflect any possible blame or suspicion from himself.  Although this may seem a pointless task there will be unpleasant confrontations for Lily and her family – nothing will ever be the same again.

I have to say that Baby Doll was, at times, quite a harrowing read but it is a really well told story. The fallout of Lily’s ordeal impacts upon the whole community and there are some heart-warming moments and some shocking revelations too.  I can honestly say that I had no idea where Hollie Overton was taking the story, how it could reach an ‘end’ or if Lily would find peace.  I cannot tell you how any of those questions pan out but I was not disappointed when I turned that last page.

Don’t be fooled by the light tone of the title as there is a sinister undertone to that phrase. This is a strong debut from Hollie Overton, which I hope will cause a buzz when it is released as this is a dark tale of survival. One to watch.


Baby Doll is published by Century and is available from 30 June 2016 in Hardback and Digital format.  You can order a copy here:


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May 20

Smoke and Mirrors – Elly Griffiths

Smoke and MirrorsPantomime season is in full swing on the pier with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin, but Max’s headlines have been stolen by the disappearance ­­of two local children. When they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the press nickname them ‘Hansel and Gretel’. DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The girl, Annie, used to write gruesome plays based on the Grimms’ fairy tales. Does the clue lie in Annie’s unfinished – and rather disturbing – last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime? Once again Edgar enlists Max’s help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key. But is this all just classic misdirection?


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


A Stephens and Mephisto story – I had really enjoyed their first outing in The Zig-Zag Girl so was delighted when Elly Griffiths released Smoke and Mirrors. The 1950’s post war setting is perfectly captured and these stories have a nice “ago” feel to them.

In Smoke and Mirrors it is Panto Season –  Max Mephisto is in town to tread the boards and bring elements of his magic show to the masses as he plays the evil wizard in Aladdin. Although he has toured for many years, Max is finding pantomime to be something of an unusual beast and isn’t sure he is enjoying being routinely ‘booed’ each night.

Elsewhere Edgar Stephens is tackling the sobering double murder of two young children. They disappeared on their way home one evening and their bodies turned up buried in snow and surrounded by sweets.  The local sweetshop owner is not trusted by the town’s residents but appears to have a solid alibi for the murders.  Stephens and his colleagues have their work cut out to find a killer and bring a shred of comfort to two devastated families that have had their world torn apart.

Smoke and Mirrors was such a fun read and a really good “whodunit” that I could get my teeth into.  I knew who the killer was (with absolute certainty) from about page 40 and only changed my mind about half a dozen times.  Each guess was wrong and Elly Griffiths played me perfectly – I love it when I am wrong!

Despite the grim investigation that runs through the book there are some great comedy moments, the personal lives of Max and Edgar are explored in much more detail and the other supporting characters also get their chance to shine.  All these elements give Smoke and Mirrors the depth that many novels I have read recently don’t quite seem to achieve.

I don’t know if Elly Griffiths plans to bring Stephens and Mephisto back – but I certainly hope to see them again.


Smoke and Mirrors is published by Quercus Books and is available in Hardcover and Digital formats and also in audiobook.

You can order a copy of Smoke and Mirrors by clicking here:

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May 17

Grady Hendrix: Why The 80’s Were The Best Decade Ever


I’m sorry if you were born after 1987, but you have to accept facts: the Eighties were the best decade to grow up in, period. If you refuse to take my word for it, suck on these factoids, spazmoid.


Guns n Roses 1000METAL WAS FUN – Metallica came along in the middle of the decade and sowed the seeds for heavy metal to get ugly and self-important, but if you can ignore their baleful influence then you’ve got a decade when bands like Bon Jovi were “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Van Halen were “Hot for Teacher,” and Guns n’ Roses were living in “Paradise City.” No one wanted to change the world, save the children, or whine about their heartbreak, they just wanted to get drunk and party.


ARCADES WERE THE ORIGINAL SOCIAL MEDIA – the internet has turned us into a nation of trolls, posting racist YouTube comments, clogging up Facebook with pictures of our cats, and Tweeting what we had for breakfast. We’re a bunch of shut-ins who overshare online but turn into stuttering, stammering trainwrecks when confronted with meatspace interaction. Even worse, online gaming allows drunk dudes in their boxer shorts to run up credit card debt playing video poker. In the Eighties, if you wanted to play games, you went to the arcade where you interacted with actual human beings, some of whom were real live girls. Also, you had to put on pants.


Annie LennoxSO MANY LADIES WERE MAKING SO MUCH AWESOME MUSIC – yes, there are women in music today, but the Eighties spawned many more unique flavors of Pop Diva. Whether it was the butch k.d. lang, the androgynous Annie Lennox, the hard rocking Joan Jett, the nonsense-burbling Björk, hip hop soul sister Queen Latifah, or the Queen herself, Whitney Houston, there was someone for everyone. Are you a goth? Have Siouxsie Sioux. An art nerd? Try Laurie Anderson. You like to sit in your room and light candles and cry? Tracy Chapman has got you covered. And let’s not forget that Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga are all just pale imitations of Madonna.


NO PHONES ALLOWED – every time I see some asshole walking down the street playing on his iPhone I pray that he’ll keep strolling right out into traffic, because mobile phones make us lame. But in the Eighties, no one ever knew what time it was because only dorks wore watches, and you could actually argue about ridiculous things for hours without some delicate flower whipping out their Steve Jobs ouija board and delivering an atmosphere-crushing answer from Wikipedia. Thanks for ruining our banter, jerkwad.


MAIL WAS BETTER THAN EMAIL – all email does is deliver herbal viagra ads and semi-literate, punctuation-free screeds from your dad faster than ever before. In the Eighties, the highlight of your day was when the mail arrived, bearing catalogues full of two-seater hovercrafts from Hammacher Schlemmer and the Sharper Image, mix tapes from your best friend, and, if you were lucky, actual love letters written with thought, care, and sometimes a lipstick coated kiss next to the signature. I’ll take that any day over LiVE Russian BRIDES WHo Want To MARYY Yoiu NOWWW.


Video ArcadesNO ONE CARED WHERE YOU WERE – today’s children are tagged and tracked every second of their lives, with even the most laidback parents becoming OCD monsters possessed by a compulsive need to know where their offspring are at all times. Even though crime was higher in the Eighties, parents just didn’t have the energy to care where we were. Probably because they didn’t have mobile phones. When summer hit, our parents didn’t even want us in the house, turning us loose on the neighborhood at 10am and not expecting us home until sundown. To get around our ruse of wanting to get into the house for “just a quick drink of water” they would put a plastic jug on the front porch or hang a cup by the garden hose. The message was clear: we could go out and shoot fireworks at each other, break into storage sheds and play chainsaw tag, or hike up the train tracks to see a dead body. Just so long as we weren’t bothering them, we were free.


My Best Friend's ExorcismMy Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favourite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil



My Best Friend’s Exorcism is published by Quirk Books and can be ordered here:

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May 16

Carry on Sleuthing – The Inside Poop

Douglas Skelton is back to join me on his ‘not a blog tour’ tour. We are absolutely not talking about his new book Open Wounds (the one I scored 5/5 in the review that you could read if you click on that wee link).

Instead Douglas is sharing the inside scoop (as I am sure that title is meant to read) on the truly amazing spectacle that was Carry on Sleuthing.

Over to Mr Skelton:


author author
Author, Author

‘Madness….madness. Madness.’

The final lines of ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’ spring instantly to mind when talking about ‘Carry on Sleuthing.’

If you didn’t see it, let me fill you in.

In other words, for all those sitting on the couch, here’s the story sofa…

Last year I was asked to write a mystery play to be performed by staff at Ayr’s Carnegie Library. I’m not known for writing whodunits but I thought, hell, I’ll try anything once. Maybe not sushi. Real Glaswegian don’t eat anything that’s not deep fried.

The magic of mystery is in misdirection. So I chose to make my play a comedy. Wacky humour would be my misdirection.

Carry on Sleuthing was born.

In it, spinster sleuth Lavinia Luvibod investigates the murder of a reviled lawyer on board an ocean liner.

Michael J Malone
Michael J Malone

There were eight characters. Fellow author Michael J. Malone took two of them, I played three, the library staff everybody else.

It was a success, I think.

So much so that I thought it could stand a big city run (for one night only).

Caro Ramsay, Michael J Malone and Theresa Talbot
Caro Ramsay, Michael J Malone and Theresa Talbot

Waterstones in Argyle Street said they were up for it. Bestselling authors Caro Ramsay and Theresa Talbot agreed to lend their talents.

We rehearsed it one and a half times. We only got halfway the second time because we already knew who did it and were bored.

The version seen in Glasgow was different from the one seen in Ayr, where it was very much done as written. For the Glasgow show, the cast members brought their own material.

If you saw it and laughed, then that would be a bit they added.

Among Caro’s contribution were some bits of business (ooh, I’ve got all the thespian polari). There were cards with characters’ pictures on them. There was a boat on a stick. There was an intermission card. For a bestselling author and professional buttock squeezer she has a lot of time on her hands. And a lot of buttocks. (She’s an osteopath, by the way).

We tried to get Michael to go round the audience during the break with a tray of Kia Ora but he refused. Prima donna.

Product Placement! Theresa is 'casually' clutching a copy of her novel Penance.
Product Placement! Theresa is ‘casually’ clutching a copy of her novel Penance.

They all really got into the spirit of it and any success is down to them. Although, Theresa – can I have some mayo with that ham?

The approach was that of a radio play, so there were no lines to learn. Thankfully.

There were costumes, though, which caused some tension backstage (in reality a screen Caro brought from home). Both Theresa and I had quick changes to perform. Don’t worry, there was no nudity. And no Janet Jackson costume mishaps. Although my surgical stockings did prove troublesome.

There was an actual mystery to solve, and not just why the hell we were doing it. The clues are all there in the script. The audience just had to find them among the double – and single – entendres (that’s your actual French), puns, ad-libs, one-liners and rejects from ‘Round the Horne’.

(NOTE – For those of tender years, Round the Horne was a seminal radio show in the 1960s. I loved it then, I love it now. The word polari above and the phrase ‘’that’s your actual French come from there.)

Welcome back. For those of you sitting in palm trees, here’s the story up to date…

A crime author was asked to write a whodunit for a library. The show was later taken on the road. Well, to one other venue. Top named authors took part. Was it a success? Did the audience laugh? Did anyone solve the mystery? Does anyone care? Did little Jimmy get out of the well? Why am I asking these damn silly questions? Why can’t I stop? What the hell’s going on here?

That last question was asked on the night. It was asked A LOT.


It was a bit chaotic but I think we pulled it off. We shouldn’t have given it such a hard tug.

One or two people solved at least half of the mystery. No-one got it completely right. That pleased me. On the other hand, I think everyone was so confused, including the cast.

Would we do it again? Speaking for myself, yes. The script needs a bit of work. (For “a bit”, read “considerable”). We need to rehearse more. We need more bits of business. We need to rehearse those bits of business.

We are, however, available for weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs.

Here’s some STOP PRESS: Largs Players may well be presenting Carry on Sleuthing during July. Good luck to them.

They’ll need it.


Carry On Sleuthing was brought to you by Douglas Skelton, Michael J Malone, Theresa Talbot and Caro Ramsay.  By the clicking of your thumbs (or by clicking on their names) you can peruse their books on a well known online bookstore.

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May 16

Psycho: Sanitarium – Chet Williamson

Psycho SanitariumThe dark and chilling sequel to the classic story

The original Psycho novel by Robert Bloch was published in 1959 and became an instant hit, leading to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film a year later. Norman Bates’s terrifying story has been seared in the public consciousness ever since.

It took Bloch 23 years to write another Psycho novel, revealing that Norman had been in a mental institution the entire time. But what happened in that asylum?

Until now, no one has known. It’s 1960. Norman Bates is in the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and it’s up to Dr. Felix Reed to bring him out of his catatonic state. Dr. Reed must face both twisted patients and colleagues who think of the institution as a prison. And the greatest obstacle is the building itself, once a private sanitarium, rumoured to be haunted.

A delicate peace is disturbed by the arrival of Robert Newman, Norman’s twin brother, taken away at birth after a doctor pronounced him brain damaged. As Robert and Norman grow to know each other, Norman senses a darkness in Robert, perhaps even deeper than that which has lurked in Norman himself.

Psycho: Sanitarium is an intense psychological thriller of murder and deranged madness, and marks the first new appearance of Norman Bates as a main character in over 30 years.


My thanks to Hayley at EDPR for my review copy

There are few characters more that can be considered as iconic as Robert Bloch’s Norman Bates.  Psycho, with some assistance of Alfred Hitchcock, is a story known by millions, the disturbed world of Norman Bates and his controlling mother has thrilled and entertained many generations since the original novel released in 1959.

Now, all these years later, Chet Williamson is bringing readers back into the company of Norman – in the State Hospital for Criminally Insane – where Norman is in a catatonic state and under the treatment of Doctor Reed. The setting is perfect and Williamson’s depiction of Bates is (for me) absolutely on the money.

We get to follow Norman’s treatment under the nurturing care of Doctor Reed.  He is living in relative seclusion within the Sanitarium, his treatment is slow and Norman is not mixing with the other residents. The head of the Hospital is keen to treat Norman with some of the more traditional measures – force feeding if he does not eat, electro-shock therapy if he does not come out his catatonic state and start talking.  As you can probably imagine, not all the staff in the hospital are pleasant individuals and there are some who enjoy the more ‘forceful’ treatments which take place.

While the reader gets a feel for how the Sanitarium operates, Norman is making some small steps towards recovery. The notoriety of his crimes made the newspapers and his elder twin (long thought dead after being born with a seriously debilitating condition) has turned up at the hospital and wants to meet with Norman.  The brothers slowly bond and Norman feels comfortable sharing some of his concerns with his elder sibling – his world is rather small though so Norman can only speak of staff or residents that have upset him or fears he has about his treatment.

However, after Norman shares his worries with his brother (Robert) the worries seem to go away. Staff members are vanishing from the hospital and cannot be traced. The reader gets a peek at why these people are vanishing but there is a nice dose of mystery into how they are making it happen. Norman becomes increasingly concerned that his brother may know something about why people are vanishing from the hospital, but the increasing chaos within the hospital are making it hard for him to find someone to confide in. But there is always one person that is looking out for Norman, someone that listens to his worries, his fears and someone that will always look out for his best interests – as a Mother should…

I flew through Psycho: Sanitarium, the story is slick, the sanitarium creepy and the characters are really well defined – particularly Norman who just oozes suppressed danger, even when he is at his most vulnerable.


Psycho: Sanitarium is published by Canelo and is available in digital and hardback formats.  You can order a copy here:


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May 11

Doctor Who: 365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things – Justin Richards

Doctor Who 365 days23 November 1963, The first-ever episode of Doctor Who An Unearthly Child is broadcast.

21 July 1969, Silence will fall.

23 August 2014, Deep Breath is Peter Capaldi s first full episode as the Twelfth Doctor.

3 March 2472, The Master tracks down the Doomsday Weapon.

For over half a century, Doctor Who has entertained and enthralled fans with the adventures of the Doctor. From the first glimpse of a police telephone box in a junkyard to the fall of Gallifrey, Doctor Who has provided a near-inexhaustible list of indelible memories.

Doctor Who: 365 Days is a unique and captivating chronicle of drama or humour, terror or joy, for each and every day of the year. Revisiting classic battles, iconic characters, game-changing plot twists, and more, it s a fascinating portrait of the Whoniverse and an essential addition to any fans collection.”

My thanks to Sophie at EDPR for my cherished review copy


As I write this review it is May 11th.  It’s a reasonably quiet day in the history of Doctor Who but it does mark the first day (in 1973) that Harry Sullivan gets a mention. It happened during a Jon Pertwee episode – even though Harry did not appear on screen until Tom Baker’s first episode (Robot).

If you know who Harry Sullivan was, did not need me to add the word ‘Robot’ when mentioning Tom Baker’s first episode and are now wondering what else happened on 11th May (Episode 3 of the Wheel in Space) then this book is absolutely for you.  365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things is a day to day guide of over 50 years of Doctor Who and is a book written with the fans firmly in mind.

I have had this book for a few weeks and have regularly checked in to see which events would get a mention.  I had wondered if the initial novelty would pass and I would stop picking up 365 Days…no sign of it yet.  I’ve been watching/reading Doctor Who for over 35 years so there are many moments I am delighted to be reminded of and it makes me want to re-watch so many classic episodes all over again (if time would only permit it).

Although I have mentioned two events from the ‘classic’ years the book does also feature events for the newer fans that are more familiar with the recent incarnations of The Doctor: 18 September “Donna’s Life Is Changed By A Time Beetle”. The daily entries are detailed, informative and often fun.

The book cover is in TARDIS blue and pleasingly embossed. Inside there are many illustrations (beautiful sketches) to highlight the text heavy tome. Important to be aware (if you are ordering online) that 365 Days is monochromatic once you get past the cover – this in no way detracts from the overall beauty of the book but on this occasion don’t expect the luxurious colour illustrations which usually come with the BBC publications.

365 Days is a book written for the fans of the show. It is likely to be too niche for those that will watch an episode of Doctor Who if it happens to be on – younger kids may also find it a bit too text heavy (particularly if they are only aware of the Doctor’s more recent adventures).

As a long-standing fan of the show (who cannot in any way claim to be young) this book captures all the reasons I have devoted so much time towards following the adventures of an alien known only as “The Doctor”.


Doctor Who: 365 Days of Memorable Moments and Impossible Things is published by BBC Books in Hardback and Digital format.  You can order a copy here:




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