July 18

Death Do Us Part – Steven Dunne

Death Do Us Part 2Even death cannot part these couples . . .

DI Damen Brook is on a rare period of leave and determined to make the most of it by re-connecting with his daughter Terri. But with her heavy drinking proving a challenge, Brook takes the opportunity to visit a local murder scene when his help is requested.

An elderly couple have each been executed with a single shot to the heart and the method echoes that of a middle-aged gay couple killed the previous month.

With the same killer suspected and the officer currently in charge nearing retirement, Brook knows that he has little choice but to cut short his leave when forced by his superiors to take the lead on the case.
Brook believes that he can catch this ruthless killer, but already distracted by Terri’s problems, is he about to make a fatal mistake and lead the killer right to his own door?

My thanks to Headline for a review copy which I received through Netgalley


I make no secret of the fact I love a serial killer story. Steven Dunne does them well (I am finding this out the fun way).

Death Do Us Part puts you straight into the action. A home invasion, a brutal attack and a double murder yet somehow (no spoilers) one young woman escapes the carnage and disappears into the night.

Spin forward 12 months and DI Damen Brook is on a holiday – his daughter is in town and he has been trying to spend some quality time, however their relationship is strained.  Brook is in communication with a convicted killer an ongoing chess match was part of the terms of the confession. But the latest move that Brook receives contains a challenge – Brook is invited by his opponent to investigate the killings from 12 months ago, important clues were missed and justice has not been served.  Brook cannot resist the challenge.

Concurrent to Brook’s private investigation is a very current double murder to be investigated.  An elderly couple shot through the heart in their own home. Dressed in their best clothes and seemingly having enjoyed a final glass of champagne is this really a murder or could it be an assisted joint suicide?  The police are perplexed but this is not the first double murder that they are investigating – could Brook’s cold case also be connected to the latest murders?

I will admit that Steven Dunne totally bamboozled me with this one.  Bluff and double bluff and I can honestly say that I had no idea of the who, when or why. The cast of suspects were nicely pitched – each were potential murderers in my eyes. There were some brilliant scenes where Brook is having to manage his team despite some unrest in the ranks, were his personal problems clouding his judgement and impairing his ability to do his job? I will admit that I was worried – there was an air of finality over some of the scenes which made the finale all the more shocking.

But I’ve said too much.

Death Do Us Part. Absolutely one to look out for, Steven Dunne writes a wonderfully twisty whodunit, manna for crime readers.


Death Do Us Part is currently available in Hardback and Digital Format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Do-Part-Damen-Brook-ebook/dp/B011IYIDQY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1468874735&sr=8-1

Paperback due 25th August 2016.


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July 15

Guest Post – Gina Wohlsdorf: Serial Killers

Last month I raved in my review of the fabulous “slasher movie” book Security by Gina Wohlsdorf.  You can read my review here.

I have often discussed my love of a “good” serial killer thriller and ask guests to discuss why we crime readers like books featuring serial killers.  Today I am delighted to welcome Gina Wohlsdorf to Grab This Book – Gina, on hearing about my fascination with these stories, kindly sent this fascinating post for me to share.


Gina WohlsdorfBy Gina Wohlsdorf, author of Security (Algonquin, £17.99)

On July 3, 1954, Dr. Sam Sheppard and his wife, Marilyn, hosted a neighbor couple for a late movie at their home in Bay Village, Ohio. Sam fell asleep in the living room, so Marilyn escorted their guests out and bid them good night.

Sam’s story goes like this: he woke in the early hours of July 4. Noises were coming from upstairs. He looked around and found himself still in the living room; Marilyn must have left him there to sleep. He went upstairs and saw a shadow standing over his wife. He fought the assailant, received a fearsome blow on the back of his head, and blacked out. When he came to, he took Marilyn’s pulse and discovered she was dead, then checked on their son in the next room. The boy was unhurt, sound asleep. Sheppard heard a noise downstairs and went to investigate. He saw his wife’s attacker near the back door. Sheppard chased him outside, down to the lakeshore, fought the man again, and was knocked unconscious. Again.

Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted of his wife’s murder later that same year. Many called it then, and many call it now, a gross miscarriage of justice.

And yes, the police investigation was sloppier than a first-grader’s doodles. And yes, the trial was a carnival with a preening prosecutor who’d make his name and win elected office on his brutal, biased, media-decided case. And yes, F. Lee Bailey would get the conviction rightly overturned twelve years later by no lesser authority than the United States Supreme Court.

Most interestingly, Sam’s surviving son — in a lifelong crusade to exonerate his father — would turn history’s attention to hired man Richard Eberling, who did a few chores around the house for Marilyn Sheppard. Thirty-five years after Marilyn Sheppard’s death by bludgeoning, Eberling would be convicted of killing an elderly woman. By bludgeoning. The specifics of the two modi operandi are virtually identical.

Except there’s a problem: Sheppard’s version of events still sounds ridiculous. It neatly splits, with an almost mathematical precision, the thinking person’s dual reactions of: 1) that story is so bad he must be lying, and 2) that story is so bad he can’t be lying.

True crime devotees often balk first at the idea Sheppard’s wife let him snooze the night away downstairs, but I can let that go. Married people develop odd hinterlands of permissible behavior. Plus, he’s a doctor. He gets called away a lot, Marilyn is used to sleeping alone. Fine.

The next place people get hung up is on that initial fight — if he sees an intruder hurting his wife, why wouldn’t he run, call the cops? Again, I have no issue here. I think plenty of husbands would throw down if confronted with this situation. The killer’s blood is up, he’s already inflicting blows, so Sheppard taking a knock to the head and blacking out, I buy it.

So far, so good. Here’s where the story goes bad.

Go on a journey with me. The horror thus far recounted has happened to you. You awaken dizzy, in pain, off-balance. You check your wife’s pulse and can’t find one. You bolt for your sleeping son, and you find he’s okay. You hear a noise downstairs. What do you do next?

Let me reiterate: your wife is dead, your son is fine, and you are hurt. A murderer is downstairs.

It flies in the face of everything I know about human instinct to posit for one bald second that anyone would race down and try to nab the bastard. Evolutionary priority is to protect the offspring, and especially if you’re injured (which Sheppard was, badly — he had mild trauma to his cervical spine), you keep quiet and listen for the killer to leave.

But Sheppard’s disoriented, right? He’s out of it, so he chases this guy, gets knocked out again, awakens with his legs in Lake Erie.

We go from there, to a public outcry, to a slipshod trial, to a verdict overturned by the highest court in the land. DNA testing decades after the crime (and decades after Sheppard died of liver failure, having turned to the bottle to assuage either his crippling guilt or his life’s lottery-winning bad luck) successfully linked Eberling to Marilyn Sheppard’s brutal murder, because she died biting a nice big chunk out of the handyman’s hand.

And yet. The dog didn’t bark. There were no signs of forced entry. The defense’s motive for the murder (escalated burglary) doesn’t dovetail very nicely with the meager handful of stolen items recovered from shrubs on the Sheppard property.

What makes the most sense to me, purely on the basis of available circumstantial and forensic evidence, is that Sheppard hired Eberling to kill his wife. Sam had been having an affair with a nurse for years. Testimony from friends suggested Marilyn was sick of it. Spouses have been murdered for less.

Only, if you hire someone to kill your wife, and you leave the door unlocked, and you find a way to shut the dog up, and you tell your hitman not to touch your kid . . . then your next step is to swear up and down to the cops that you chased him (twice!), got knocked out (twice!), it must have been a burglary gone bad, Officer (and you throw a few trinkets by a bush when there’s a lake a few feet away!) — that’s your master plan?

His story’s too unlikely to be false or true.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us, in the context of Marilyn Sheppard’s murder, in a perfect middle ground between incredulities. But it does offer us an excellent explanation as to why people enjoy reading fiction about killers.

People enjoy reading fiction about killers because killers in fiction make sense. Art is the imposing of order on chaos. It is taking sounds from their random occurrences in reality and arranging them into music. It is selecting feelings from their chaotic jumble inside us and presenting them in harmonious drama.

It is selecting events from the maelstrom of all that is possible, creating human characters from the infinity of characteristics at our disposal, and organizing them in narrative form in such a way that the terrifying high-wire act of our ostensibly ordinary days seems slightly more manageable.

Whether Sam Sheppard had something to do with his wife’s murder or not, his story is scarcely endurable. Imagine, either way. It’s over sixty years after the fact, and I still can’t decide if the man was a murderer.

Even murderers who we know did it don’t make sense. Berkowitz is this pathetic, dumb doughnut of a human being, yet he held New York hostage for months. Bundy murdered over thirty young women, quite likely triple that, yet he was smart, attractive, charismatic — why’d he need to kill?

And Dahmer: I mean, what the hell happened there?

A writer, if they made Dahmer up, could tell you. But it’s the fact that writers can tell you that makes what they tell you inaccurate. They don’t know. I don’t know.

When a real-life killer does try to tell you, he can’t, or he can’t/won’t. Berkowitz blamed a dog. Bundy spoke in bland hypotheticals, determined to the end not to self-incriminate.

Dahmer: for real, what the hell happened there?

securityJack Henry Abbott, brought to you by Norman Mailer, actually did get an opportunity to write a book, but it says little to nothing about the killing impulse. It says a great deal about Marxist politics and uses them tirelessly to show that nothing Abbott ever did was ever his own fault, ever. Perhaps that is the closest we can get to understanding. Perhaps it’s an uncanny capacity for inner elisions that makes impulse control not only impossible, but irrelevant.

For me, to be frank, that’s close enough. The number-one complaint I hear about my debut novel, Security, is that I never explain the Killer’s motives. I don’t fold him comfortably into some larger plot. I don’t even reveal his face. I ask my reader to be content with not knowing, and it’s possible they’re correct in seeing this as a betrayal.

But then I imagine I’m Marilyn Sheppard’s neighbor. She’s telling me good night on her front porch. Her smile is lovely as she offers a quiet apology for her husband, deeply asleep — or deeply faking it — behind her. I tell her no problem, it happens, sleep well.

I hear the grind of gravel under my practical ‘50s pumps, hear the Sheppards’ door closing behind me. The night is summer-warm, summer-quiet. Crickets chatter in the green, lush lawns of boring ol’ suburban Ohio. I’m tired, thinking of bed. Thinking of tomorrow, a to-do list forming. I take my husband’s arm for balance, for warmth, and I don’t think to relish — why would I? — the last night I’ll travel to dreams on the soft, delicate lie of certainty.


Security is out now in Hardback and Audio CD


Gina Wohlsdorf was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. An insomniac in childhood, she crouched over her pink desk in the wee hours and wrote illustrated storybooks that no one but she could follow. Her father, a high school English teacher, began bringing Gina the novels he was teaching and giving her quizzes on the material to demonstrate to his students that an eleven-year-old girl could ace the tests they were failing. Once she got to high school, she attempted to write a novel and discovered, to her embarrassment, that she was still the only person who could follow it. She triple majored at Tulane University. Following graduation, she lived in northern Florida, southern France, and Minnesota. She held a variety of jobs that afforded her time to write, including bookseller and massage therapist. She found, after two decades of trying, that her novels had begun to make sense. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Colorado.



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July 12

When The Music’s Over – Peter Robinson

Before I get to my review of the 23rd DCI Banks novel, When The Music’s Over, I am thrilled to be able to share a short Q&A with Peter Robinson. I wanted to get a sense of the history of Alan Banks, it’s been a few years since I first picked up book 1 (Gallows View).

From Gallows View to When the Music’s Over

When the Music’s Over is the 23rd Banks Novel how do you feel looking back over the Banks Legacy?

It’s hard to believe there are 23, but I feel pretty good about it. Looking back at Gallows View and then at my more recent titles, I think both Banks and I have come a long way, and it has been interesting journey. I hope it continues that way.

What changes have you noticed through the years, how does publishing book 23 compare to that first publication day?

Too many changes to list. When I started out in 1987, I remained relatively unknown for many years, and then I became known a bit more but was mostly neglected for a few more years. It was only In a Dry Season, my 10th Banks novel, that brought me to wider attention, and things have got even better since then. As for Banks, he has aged well, been through divorce, children leaving home, the death of his brother, and he now lives a more isolated life and is perhaps more philosophical and melancholy than he was when he was younger. He still enjoys wine, women and song, though!

How does the passage of time in the books compare to the real world?

It’s complicated. Basically, time passes more slowly in the fictional world. Although I publish a book a year, more or less, the cases Banks investigates are never a year apart, so less time has passed for him. On the other hand, the contemporary references, such as music and world events, are of the time when I’m writing the book, so there’s a sense of anachronism there. I try to get around that by not mentioning dates. So Banks remains younger than me, but inhabits the same time period as me. I told you it was complicated. I try not to worry about it too much.



In a remote countryside lane in North Yorkshire, the body of a young girl is found, bruised and beaten, having apparently been thrown from a moving vehicle.

While DI Annie Cabbot investigates the circumstances in which a 14-year-old could possibly fall victim to such a crime, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Alan Banks is faced with a similar task – but the case Banks must investigate is as cold as they come.

Fifty years ago Linda Palmer was attacked by celebrity entertainer Danny Caxton, yet no investigation ever took place. Now Caxton stands accused at the centre of a historical abuse investigation and it’s Banks’s first task as superintendent to find out the truth.

While Annie struggles with a controversial case threatening to cause uproar in the local community, Banks must piece together decades-old evidence, and as each steps closer to uncovering the truth, they’ll unearth secrets much darker than they ever could have guessed . . .


A huge thank you to Kerry at Hodder for my review copy of When The Music’s Over

I have been reading Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks books for more years than I initially realised.  I remember meeting Mr Robinson at a signing event in Glasgow.  It was hosted in Ottakers bookshop and I got my talking book signed (on cassette). Gosh things have changed.

What has not changed, however, is the enjoyment I get when I return to Yorkshire with Banks and Annie Cabbot. I have loved following how the characters have evolved, the stories they get caught up in and the hours of reading pleasure that Peter Robinson has given me. In fact, Aftermath remains one of the best police procedurals I have read.

When The Music’s Over is the 23rd book in the series and takes on one of the more uncomfortable topics to read about.  Banks is asked to investigate a (very) cold case – an allegation of sexual offences made by a national tv celebrity many years ago.  Although the accused is now in his advanced years he still maintains a degree of celeb status and Banks is under no illusion that pursing an investigation so many years after the incident will be a challenge.

Sadly recent years have shown that investigations of this nature are all too real. It was actually quite fascinating seeing the investigation unfold as I have never given too much consideration towards how crimes of this nature could be investigated.

The scenes where Banks conducts his interviews of the victim and also the alleged perpetrator were quite unsettling at times. They were well handled by the author and I felt my anger rise as events (fictional but all too believable) were laid bare for Banks to consider.

Elsewhere Annie Cabbot is investigating the murder of a young girl. Her body has been found on a remote road, seemingly beaten and thrown from a moving vehicle.  Annie has to identify the victim with virtually no clues to work with. However, as her investigations proceed we find that Annie risks stirring up deep rooted tensions within the local community – diplomacy skills may not be sufficient to quell an angry mob if Annie doesn’t tread carefully.

I was delighted how quickly I fell back into step with Banks and his team. The familiarity of the characters and the story telling skill of Peter Robinson made this an enjoyable read. It is always a disappointment when the book is finished and I know there will be another 12 months before the next.

When The Music’s Over is one of the more memorable DCI Banks stories and one which fans will surely love.


When The Music’s Over is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 14 July 2016 – you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Musics-Over-Banks-Mystery/dp/1444786717/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468277880&sr=1-1&keywords=when+the+music%27s+over

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July 10

Beast In The Basement – Jason Arnopp

Beast in the basement2In a big house in the countryside, a recently bereaved and increasingly unstable author toils over a novel which will close the best-selling trilogy of Jade Nexus fantasy books.

Speculation and rumour are rife among hardcore Jade Nexus fans that their heroine will die at the novel’s conclusion – a possibility against which they loudly protest via social media as the release date nears.

How do you deal with grief, under such intense pressure? How do you cope with distractions from your work such as a violent intruder, panicked messages from your agent and a potential love interest moving into the cottage across the field? And far worse than any of those problems… what do you do about the Beast in your basement?


Normally I write my reviews by discussing the story and flagging/highlighting what I liked.  I may discuss the characters that stood out and cover some of the subject matter (it’s a murder story, an espionage thriller, a dark comedy…). Normally that’s what I do.

Not with Beast In The Basement.

First rule on my blog is NO SPOILERS. So I am not even going to hint at Beast In The Basement, not going to discuss the story, not going to even name the characters. I AM going to tell you that this is a cracking story and I really enjoyed it.

Jason Arnopp has penned a wonderful wee shocker of a story. One of the stories that draw you in really quickly and keep you guessing right up to the point the clues fall into place and your jaw hits the floor.  From that point (after you have picked up your jaw) you devour the rest of the book as you need to know what will happen next.

Beast In The Basement is recommended for those that enjoy their stories to have a bit of a twist, some tragedy, a shock or two and basically anyone that enjoys a bloody good read.

Don’t spoil it for anyone.

Only discuss it with people that have also read the book.

Tell others to read it too.

Get your copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beast-Basement-Novella-Jason-Arnopp-ebook/dp/B0099Y6EVM/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1468189945&sr=1-2&keywords=jason+arnopp


Beast In The Basement is published by Retribution Books and is available in digital format.





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July 5

In The Blood – Jenny T Colgan

In The BloodAll over the world, people are venting their fury at one another on social media. Dropping their friends, giving vent to their hatred, and everywhere behaving with incredible cruelty. Even Donna has found that her friend Hettie, with her seemingly perfect life and fancy house, has unfriended her. And now, all over the world, internet trolls are dying…

As more and more people give in to this wave of bitterness and aggression, it’s clear this is no simple case of modern living. This is unkindness as a plague.

From the streets of London to the web cafes of South Korea and the deepest darkest forests of Rio, can the Doctor and Donna find the cause of this unhappiness before it’s too late?

An original novel featuring the Tenth Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate.


My thanks to Tess at BBC Books for my review copy

I am writing this review in the early days after UK EU referendum – the internet is awash with anger, fear, accusations and aggression and it makes for a pretty bleak outlook.  Why am I mentioning this in review of a Doctor Who book?  Well it is that internet anger that Jenny T Colgan is highlighting in the excellent 10th Doctor adventure: In The Blood. I don’t believe any new book will have a better timed release this year.

 The Doctor is on Earth and travelling around without his TARDIS – a jetsetting adventure takes him into peril in different corners of the globe as he tries to track down who is using the internet to interfere with the human race. People are going online and what they see is making them angry, there does not seem to be a single contributing element…people are just getting annoyed when they spend time surfing.  That anger is pouring through them and when they return to the world around them people are lashing out at those nearby – a volatile situation is about to get 100 times worse.

In The Blood features The Doctor in his 10th incarnation and he is travelling with the Runaway Bride, Donna Noble. Where we have Donna we also get her grandfather, Wilf, too so a welcome return to two fan favourites.

Capturing the Doctor/Companion dynamic is essential in any Doctor Who story. Nothing lets down an original Doctor Who novel quite like a generic story which could be ANY regeneration with ANY companion. Jenny Colgan captures the David Tennant/Catherine Tate relationship perfectly and it is an absolute joy to read. I am not sure there has ever been a companion less in awe of the Doctor than Donna Noble (except perhaps Romana) and Jenny Colgan gives Donna all the best lines in this book. It is great to have the chance to enjoy a Doctor Who adventure that remembers to include the fun.

In The Blood sees Donna given the chance to shine. I felt she had much more time driving the story and (without spoiling too much) it is her determination to get to the cause of the excessive internet rage which seems to push the Doctor into action. A fun adventure with the added bonus of a cross-over with the 10th Doctor Big Finish audio adventure (also written by Jenny Colgan) Time Reaver.

I hope BBC Books have asked for a few more adventures featuring previous incarnations of The Doctor. I’ve always been a 2nd Doctor & Jamie fan…


In The Blood is published by BBC Books and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Doctor-Who-Jenny-T-Colgan/dp/1785941100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466624789&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+blood+doctor+who


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July 3

All Is Not Forgotten – Wendy Walker

All is not ForgottenYou can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.


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


 All Is Not Forgotten is one of “those” books.  You know the ones I mean…the kind of story that you will finish and then immediately wish you knew who else that has read it so that you can discuss it with them.  A Godsend for Book Groups. But Book Groups who are battle-hardened as there are some distressing scenes and themes in this story and you cannot flinch away from them.

A young girl attending a party finds that the boy who invited her has been making eyes at another girl. She is 15 and feeling pretty let down. She leaves the party alone and starts to walk through the woods beside the party house.  What follows next for young Jenny will forever change her life and that of family and friends.

Jenny is attacked in the woods by a masked man who rapes her. A long, sustained and seemingly planned attack.  Her rapist mutilates her during the attack and leaves a deep gouge in her back which will leave a lasting scar. The scar is important as later Jenny cannot stop touching it.

Jenny’s family agree the use of an experimental treatment which will remove the memory of the attack. But if the book is called All Is Not Forgotten you can be assured that this experimental treatment may not be 100% effective.

The narrative in All Is Not Forgotten is driven by an outsider to the action – Jenny’s therapist (Alan) links the key players in the story. He outlines the background the reader needs to know and his professional detachment from the events allows us to have a clinical overview of events without the “unreliable narrator” feeling.  The detail and discussion proffered by Alan had a very astute and professional feel, adding the ring of authenticity which lifts a story.

A powerful story which may be too graphic/unsettling for some tastes but a remarkable piece of storytelling and one of those must read books.


All Is Not Forgotten is published by Mira and will be released on 12 July.


You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Not-Forgotten-gripping-thriller-ebook/dp/B01ARSC5IE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467573824&sr=1-1&keywords=all+is+not+forgotten

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July 1

Karl Drinkwater Q&A – They Move Below

They Move BelowI am delighted to welcome Karl Drinkwater to Grab This Book as I have the honour to kick off the They Move Below blog tour. My review of They Move Below follows this post but before you scroll down, Karl has kindly taken time to answer a few of my questions.


Were you always most likely to write horror stories or are there other genres you enjoy?

I was always a horror fiend, and had no intention of writing anything else. “Darkness or nothing,” I would mutter. But then I did English Literature at A level and university, and was forced to read other books. I recently wrote about how that changed my attitude to Shakespeare; the same happened with Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Toni Morrison, Charles Dickens and so on. At one point I studied Byron and the cult surrounding him for a full year. I learnt to appreciate other modes of expression, and thus began my strange writing career where I alternate between horror and literary/contemporary fiction.

When we talk horror stories the name that most people jump to is Stephen King. Are we overlooking other great horror writers?

Absolutely. I love and respect King’s work, but the danger in any genre is that some authors are so successful and shine so brightly that it is hard to make out the struggling waifs in the shadows. There are so many great writers in every genre. When I came across The Descent by Jeff Long I was amazed – it had one of the best-written and tense (yet understated) openings of any book I’d read, which was then backed up by an imaginative plot that kept growing in scope. My own Claws Truth Forebear was probably inspired by it subconsciously.

Should a horror tale ever have a happy ending?

Yes. A horror tale only implies you have to experience horror and fear, but doesn’t define whether that is at the start, mid-point, end, or any combination of those. In fact, it’s a common pattern to front-load the horror but resolve things and restore order (for writers in the “horror is a conservative genre” school). Let’s take Stephen King’s The Shining. People seem to remember the ending of the film more: coldness, Dick Hallorann being axed, endless evil. But in the novel Dick Hallorann survives, and the novel ends in the sunshine with Wendy, Danny and Dick on a kind of holiday by a lake. Their strength is rewarded with life.

Harvest FestivalWhat do you feel makes a good horror story?

You need to feel fear. It’s almost physical – a shudder, the hairs on your neck raising, faster breathing. That comes from being able to imagine yourself in the position of a character. It is a team effort between the reader (suspending belief) and the writer (creating the convincing narrative). Horror is very different from the baser effects such as revulsion.

I tend not to read many short stories and I find that when I do I turn most often to collections of ghost stories. Do you think “scary” stories are more effective as a short story (perhaps shades of campfire tales)?

I remember loving ghost story collections: I think I read everything by Algernon Blackwood, possibly by M.R. James too. Often short stories do work better. With limited words we are unlikely to have everything explained, so you finish it and look around nervously, your subconscious tricked into believing it has experienced a slice of reality. With a novel, where things are usually tidily-wrapped up, the sense of closure can often weaken the feeling of horror. “That’s all over then, well done Guvnor, another case closed.” If horror is about uncertainty, then closure is an end to horror.

Which horror tales do you rate most highly?  Are there favourites you revisit?

Here are a few!

  • Lot (Ward Moore, 1953). End-of-the-world panic. It’s as unsettling as you’d expect.
  • Children Of The Corn (Stephen King, 1978, in Night Shift). A gripping horror that captures a sense of place brilliantly (and happens to be one of the many inspirations for Turner).
  • To Build A Fire (Jack London, 1908). I read it as a child and decided I would rather freeze to death than burn.
  • Weekend (Fay Weldon, 1978). I count this as horror, even though I may be the only person to do so. [Can’t find a good link about it.]
  • More Tomorrow (Michael Marshall Smith, 1995). Internet horror. You put this one down with a mix of relief and horror.
  • Splatter Of Black (Charles A. Gramlich, 1995). A great example of how to write an action-packed tale.

Have you ever experienced a supernatural phenomenon?

I’ve never been asked this before, but … yes. Even though I’m a rational person, there are things I’ve experienced which I would count as supernatural. All were in my childhood and teenage years, when strange events seemed to follow us from house to house. We moved home a lot. My family was made up of me, my mother, my sister (Sarah); my father died when I was young. If there was a single event it might be easier to block it out, but this was a sustained sequence of events that can’t be easily explained. Hauntings? A poltergeist that followed us? The element that stands out was that this wasn’t just creepy things in the night (though there were those) experienced by the same three people; many things occurred in broad daylight, when other people were present. People who didn’t believe in the supernatural, but who were so shaken afterwards that their views had changed. My best friend of the time (I was 14 or 15) was with me during one of them, and his opinion that I was being over-imaginative totally reversed one night when something happened that left him visibly pale, afraid to cross a room, and admitting that he believed us totally; I don’t think he was helped by my calm statement that it wasn’t out of the ordinary and we should just go back to my computer and that we’d be okay as long as we didn’t go near the dark end of the kitchen. My first girlfriend a year or so later was a creature of awe to me; I couldn’t believe this beautiful and tough woman had somehow fallen for a nerd like myself; but when she told me what she’d heard downstairs in the night, and that she couldn’t wake me up, and she also now believed in the things she’d scoffed at before, I realised that it wasn’t just my imagination. Some time ago I met up with her after many years of being out of touch, and she mentioned again, unprompted, how scared she’d been. It was still with her over 25 years later.

TurnerOkay, I’ve skirted round any details. It’s too big a topic. I could fill a book with it, and no-one would believe half the stuff we came to take for granted. I’m going to tell you about one thing, quite minor in many ways, but I’ve never written about this before.

I was about 15. We lived in a council house on Barton Road in Stretford, Manchester. There was only me and Mum and the dogs in the house. It was a grey day, had been drizzling earlier, but wasn’t particularly creepy: just Manchester. I was watching TV in the living room downstairs. Mum was hoovering upstairs, the drone of the subdued vacuum cleaner somehow comforting. We had two dogs back then, Toby and Tiny, Yorkshire Terriers. They wanted to go on the back garden so I opened the French door and let them out. I could see them through the glass trotting round and sniffing and taking it in turns to wee on the same spots. I usually left them out for a quarter of an hour, or until one of them came back to the door. I lay on the floor in front of the TV again. I heard a noise upstairs, like furniture being moved. All so normal. The hoover stopped. Footsteps coming down the stairs. Measured and slow. Nothing to make me look up.

“Karl,” said my Mum from the doorway. “Where are the dogs?”

“Outside. I just let them out.” I could see them near the bushes.

“Will you come upstairs with me for a minute?”

“Sure. Why?”

I was now following her up the stairs.

“There was a noise under my bed. I just want someone with me when I look.”

I nearly laughed. A noise! In daytime!

“No problem.”

We went into Mum’s bedroom. The vacuum cleaner was still plugged in but off. We stepped over the cable. The bed was on low legs, so there was a dark shadowed area underneath that you couldn’t see into while stood up. I wasn’t in the least bit perturbed. We both started to kneel. Then there was a growl from under the bed. A deep, rumbling, throaty growl like nothing I’ve heard before.

To my shame I didn’t stay with my mum. I pegged it out of there and pretty much flew down the stairs and out the front door, stood by the main road and ready to run even further, leaving my mum to follow calmly. “What’s the point of running?” she asked me later. It was half an hour before I went back in the house.

Mum let the dogs back in. Both of them.

I wouldn’t go in her room for a long time.

If you wanted to be rational, you could maybe argue that the floorboards there creaked in some way. They never creaked like that at any other point in the years we lived there, even when you knelt on that same spot. But it could be an explanation, even if my gut tells me it’s wrong.

After writing that I have just dug out my old diaries. It took me nearly two hours to track down a mention of the event – but I was pleased to find it, because so many things in my diary of the time seem to be just about boardgames, role playing games, computer games, money, and school, and the weird events rarely got a mention. I cringe a bit to read them, but here’s the entry. (Actually, I cringe a lot to type it up, but it also makes it seem more real to see it in a record that’s been closed for about 28 years!) My memories actually differ from the entry, but the gist is the same; there were some surrounding details in the diary entry I’d totally forgotten.

Monday 14th March 1988

I write this with beating heart. Last night Sarah woke up screaming, Mum and Eddy heard noises, smelt burning and sensed something and when I got home today I heard a noise. Mum asked if it was me. We went upstairs to make Mum’s bed and she bent down to look under it. We then heard a horrible growl and ran for fuck. I feel a bit like crying – there have been noises all night. Sarah is in my room tonight and some medium people have contacted us.

Tuesday 15th March 1988

Nothing too bad has happened so far tonight except for knockings outside. Last night I only got 3 ½ hours sleep. I was well scared. On a lighter note, I completed Monty On The Run. A gas mask & rope help.

[Then some normal entries, then this.]

Friday 18th March 1988

Paul likes BMX Simulator as much as me – it is ace. The vicar came round with his friend and daughter. I felt strange after a while and could not help breathing deeply and quickly. I started shaking and crying – I don’t know why. It was really bad. I hated it.

By the way, just in case you suspect I’m making this up – I have attached a photo of the diary entry I took just now. It’s like unearthing the past!


1988 diary


My most sincere thanks to Karl. I can honestly say that no question I have asked in a Q&A has ever returned such a surprising reply and nobody has ever shared their diary either!

You can find and order all of Karl’s books by clicking through this link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Karl-Drinkwater/e/B006JZWOPE/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1467407789&sr=1-2-ent


Category: Blog Tours, Guests | Comments Off on Karl Drinkwater Q&A – They Move Below
July 1

They Move Below – Karl Drinkwater

They Move BelowIt exists under the earth’s surface in ancient caves; below the vast sea’s undulating waves; under dense forest cover; within a storm’s thick, rolling clouds; downstairs in our homes, when we hear the knife drawer rattle in the night. Even our minds and bodies harbour the alien under the skin, the childhood nightmares in our subconscious.

In this collection of sixteen tales Karl Drinkwater sews flesh onto the bones of our worst fears whilst revisiting some of horror’s classic settings, such as the teen party, the boat in trouble, the thing in the cellar, the haunted museum, the ghost in the machine, and the urban legends that come true. No-one is safe. Darkness hides things, no matter how much we strain our eyes. And sometimes those things are looking back at us.


My thanks to Karl for the opportunity to join the blog tour for They Move Below

If you look through the archives of my blog you will notice an absence of short story collections. I rarely read them. If I *do* read short stories then it is virtually guaranteed to be a collection of ghost stories or horror tales. So when I was offered the opportunity to join the blog tour for They Move Below I jumped at the chance.

I first encountered Karl’s work when my friend Sarah (By The Letter Book Reviews) shared her review of Harvest Festival. I loved the sound of the story so made a quick trip to the Amazon Kindle Store and was not disappointed.  You can see my review here. I loved Harvest Festival and it made me want to read more (more from Karl and also more ‘creepy’ stories). They Move Below was the natural next purchase.

Sixteen stories in one volume and chills guaranteed.  The aforementioned Harvest Festival is one of the stories and is still one of my favourites (I read it again). I also really liked a story called Creeping Jesus – think Disney’s Night at the Museum with an 18 certificate!

I am not going to run through each tale and single out the high points (plus I am saving a few stories for later so have 4 or 5 still to enjoy). What I can confirm is that They Move Below is a great collection of dark tales. Nobody is guaranteed to come through a story unscathed, and there was enough variety in the scenarios that I was able to read through more than one story in a single sitting and still think each new tale felt fresh.

Mr Drinkwater has a delightfully warped imagination. A couple of the twists and shocks were quite perturbing (in a good way) and by the time I had read a few of the stories I began to speculate what may be coming next. My eye immediately fell to a story called The Scissor Man – in a collection of horror stories that sounded particularly unpleasant!

A collection I absolutely recommend to horror fans. Now if you will excuse me it is late and I need to go and turn on all the lights…



You can order They Move Below & Other Dark Tales by clicking through the following link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B006JZWOPE/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Karl+Drinkwater&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Karl+Drinkwater&sort=relevancerank



Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on They Move Below – Karl Drinkwater