November 16

Whiteout – Ragnar Jonasson – Audiobook

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

 

Huge thanks to Karen at Orenda for the opportunity to listen to this audio book.

 

Whiteout was sublime listening. A tale of Iceland at Christmas time and the audiobook wonderfully conveyed a feeling of chilled darkness.

In a very remote settlement a young woman has been found dead at the foot of a steep cliff. Ari Thor Arason is drafted in to help his former boss investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. Suicide seems likely but when it is discovered that the woman’s mother and sister both died in the same spot it merits a little more investigation.

If the potential suicide is actually a murder then there are very few suspects – three residents in the house she had been visiting (all three older than the dead woman) and in the neighbouring house resides a couple who were roughly of ages with the deceased. None appear to have any possible motive for wishing her dead, she has not been in their company for over 20 years so why can murder not be ruled out?

Unpicking the mystery of this unusual death will be a challenge but it makes for excellent reading. Masterful teasing out of clues, slow reveals and clever, clever plotting by Ragnar Jonasson kept me hooked.  I have always been a fan of the Dark Iceland series but Whiteout is easily my favourite thus far, it was quite brilliant.

The audiobook was narrated by Leighton Pugh and he does a terrific job. Character voices were easily identifiable and perfectly fitted how the players had been described in the text. The story flowed around me as I listened and I felt transported to the craggy cliff edges, the stone lighthouse and the old houses where the five suspects tucked away their secrets.

Whiteout is set at Christmas and I discovered so many wonderful Icelandic traditions whilst listening to the book. Hearing about the Christmas Messages, the gifting of books and other heartwarming memories contrasted sharply with the investigation into a death – my sadness accentuated at the timing of a life lost.

 

Whiteout is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whiteout-Dark-Iceland-Ragnar-J%C3%B3nasson-ebook/dp/B06Y6HWP9Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510871147&sr=1-1&dpID=51j8pDxoAML&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

 

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November 12

See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Just after 11am on 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are discovered. He’s found on the sitting room sofa, she upstairs on the bedroom floor, both murdered with an axe.

It is younger daughter Lizzie who is first on the scene, so it is Lizzie who the police first question, but there are others in the household with stories to tell: older sister Emma, Irish maid Bridget, the girls’ Uncle John, and a boy who knows more than anyone realises.

In a dazzlingly original and chilling reimagining of this most notorious of unsolved mysteries, Sarah Schmidt opens the door to the Borden home and leads us into its murkiest corners, where jealousies, slow-brewed rivalries and the darkest of thoughts reside.

 

My thanks to Anne Cater for the chance to join this blog tour

Lizzie Borden took an axe

and gave her mother forty whacks,

when she saw what she had done

she gave her father forty-one.

I first heard that rhyme years ago – long before I knew it was based upon actual events. I took it at face value and did not give it much thought beyond the fact it was a slightly more grim rhyme than other chants I heard.

What I have never given any thought to in all the years I have known of Lizzie Borden’s gruesome legacy was WHY. What prompted Lizzie to pick up an axe and slay her parents?  I also never gave any consideration to the fact the rhyme may be misleading.  Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders and spent less than a year in prison while her trial was conducted. I had always assumed she had been guilty,

Sarah Schmidt takes the Lizzie Borden story and builds a story around the facts as known. She brings us into the Borden home and gives the reader an insight into the lives of the family and how they may have interacted.

The tale is told from a variety of viewpoints and will shift in time a little too. It gives us a chance to see a broader view of family life and of the period and places where the story is set. Fans of historical crime fiction will love See What I have Done. Sarah Schmidt does a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the time and plonks the reader in the midst of a terrible moment letting everything unfold around us.

Compelling reading and at times it is utterly entrancing.

 

See What I Have Done is published by Tinder Press and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/See-What-Have-Done-Critically/dp/1472240871/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510440797&sr=8-1&keywords=see+what+I+have+done&dpID=51juSb%252BhKbL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

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November 9

Neil White – Lost In Nashville

I am delighted to welcome Neil White back to Grab This Book.

Neil’s new book, Lost in Nashville, was published on 8 November and takes the reader on a nostalgic road-trip as a father and son go traveling through the life of the one and only…Johnny Cash.

As is always the case when someone reveals a favourite artist there is one question which must be answered.

 

I’ve been asked to pick my favourite Johnny Cash song as part of the lead-up to the release of Lost In Nashville, my novel about a father and son who travel Johnny Cash’s life and songs in some effort to reconnect. When I apply my mind to it, it seems an almost impossible task. Try looking across a sun-dappled meadow and being asked to pick your favourite flower. 

I don’t know when I realised I was a Johnny Cash fan, because he was very much the soundtrack to my childhood, my father blasting him out whenever he put music on. Eventually, it seeps into you and becomes part of you. 

What I do know is that Johnny’s music covers such a wide spectrum and that they all have their own particular appeal. 

There are the early Sun records, raw and young, and then there are the songs about the wild west and cowboys. Historical songs were a common feature, and a lot of my knowledge of American history is down to Johnny’s songs. Like, who assassinated President Garfield, or the story behind one of the men hoisting the US flag at Iwo Jima, Ira Hayes. Tales of the American west and its characters, from the legendary cowboy figures to the stories of great Native Americans, they were all handed down to me by Johnny Cash, the son of a sharecropper from some small dusty Arkansas town. 

Johnny wasn’t just about history to me though, because he sang about hardship and the lost lives of those who ended up on the wrong side of the law. The raw energy of the prison concerts sent shivers down my young spine, Johnny singing tunes that spoke to them, was in their language, tales of murder sung to whooping audiences of murderers that sparked an interest in criminal law. I ended up a criminal lawyer and an author of crime fiction. Johnny shaped me as well as entertained me. 

That is why it is so hard to choose a favourite song, because they cover so much and all spark different emotions. 

I’m going to settle on one though, because I’ve been asked to choose, and that song is Orange Blossom Special. 

The reasons are numerous, but most of all because it’s a great song, Johnny’s version of an old fiddle tune about a train that ran from New York to Miami. There is a story about how it was written, but I’ll leave that for the book to explore, but the story centres on Jacksonville, Florida, and it does for me, in part. 

I’ve picked the song partly because of the rhythm. It’s about a train and the rhythm of the song captures it perfectly, from the whistle-wail of the mouth organ to the way the steady pluck of the guitar matches the wheels on the rails. It’s impossible to listen to it without imagining the train hurtling south. 

Another reason is that it was the song that turned my father on to Johnny Cash, and without that, my musical education would have been much different. 

A final reason is that the album of the same name created a romantic image that stayed with me, of cruising the wide open plains on an old boxcar, feet dangling, the country moving slowly by. The album cover shows Johnny sitting on top of an old boxcar, looking into the far distance, and in my head he’s looking towards the prairie, of distant opportunity. 

I know the reality of boxcar living was less romantic, hopping from train to train looking for work, town to town, dodging the beatings from the guards, but the romance of carefree travel is one that stayed with me. 

Back to Jacksonville, pivotal for the story of how the song came about, and I was there once, travelling from Tampa to New Orleans by train. There was lay-off of about eight hours, and I spent it on Jacksonsville station, unaware of its place in the song, watching long lines of freight trains going past and thinking of how great it would be to hop on and rumble into the distance, my mind on that album cover. 

For all of his great songs, Orange Blossom Special gets the top spot. 

 

Lost in Nashville is published by Manatee Books and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Nashville-Neil-White/dp/1912347008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510267687&sr=8-1&keywords=lost+in+nashville&dpID=51TrbUTk2JL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Lost in Nashville

James Gray is a lawyer and his life is a success. Or at least, he thinks it is, but something is missing – a bond with his father, Bruce. Bruce Gray is old, retired and estranged from his family. He spends his time drinking and drifting in the small seaside town in England that James once called home. James decides to take Bruce on a road trip, to try and connect with his father through the one thing that has always united them: a love for Johnny Cash and his music. Together they travel through Johnny Cash’s life; where he grew up, the places he sang about – a journey of discovery about Johnny, the South and each other. Always fascinating, an evocative and emotional road trip, Lost In Nashville will captivate you, inform you and along the way may even break your heart

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November 9

Trading Down – Stephen Norman

A new kind of terrorist…

Chris Peters loves his work in a multi-national bank: the excitement of the trading floor, the impossible deadlines and the constant challenge of the superfast computers in his care. And he loves his beautiful wife, Olivia. But over time, the dream turns sour. His systems crash, the traders turn on him, and Olivia becomes angry and disillusioned. So much bad luck.

Or is it? A natural detective, Chris finds evidence of something sinister in the mysterious meltdown of a US datacentre. A new kind of terrorist. But can he get anyone to believe him? His obsessive search leads him to a jihadist website, filled with violent images; a man beaten to a pulp in a Dubai carpark; and a woman in a gold sari dancing in the flames of her own destruction. Slowly, a tragic story from decades ago in Yemen emerges.

Too late, Chris understands the nature of the treachery, so close to him. His adversary knows every move and is ready to strike. Even his boss agrees: if this program is run, it will destroy this bank as surely as a neutron bomb. And Chris Peters has 48 hours to figure it out…

 

My thanks to Alice at Midas PR for my review copy of Trading Down and for the opportunity to join the blog tour.

 

My day job is in financial services. I read crime thrillers for fun and escapism. These two parts of my life seldom cross over…a thriller set against a backdrop of Financial Services? A book which can make a page-turner out of investment banking?  Until I read Trading Down I would have seriously doubted that these worlds could collide so well – yet Stephen Norman has accomplished what I thought would be impossible and this is a stylish and sophisticated thriller.

The story flits around a few different windows of time and the international world of finance and trading is brought to the fore as we visit the worldwide banking hubs. But there is an underlying danger to be challenged and the very realistic threat of financial terrorism takes the story to Yemen and a backstory which begins a few years before we meet our key character – Chris Peters.

Everything in Trading Down felt fast, breathless and energetic. Peters is facing a crisis at every turn, both his home life and work are demanding and he is under enormous pressure.  At work he finds the computer systems which process a huge number of financial transactions are not functioning properly – after a late night crisis (when the bank activates the disaster recovery plan) Chris finds his workplace under severe scrutiny from the regulators. His attempts to maintain systems functionality unveil suspicious activities and Chris begins to explore further…his investigations reveal links to terrorist operations and Chris will be in extreme peril as he seeks to protect himself and those around him against a foe who seems always to be ahead of him.

Trading Down really appealed to me, the overlap with many of the environments I encounter through my work gave it particular fascination. It is a well plotted thriller which kept me hooked and thoroughly entertained.  It d0es stray into financial jargon at times but the authenticity benefits in that regard.  I don’t quibble if a military thriller does a discussion on ballistics or if a medical examiner in a crime thriller outlines an autopsy anomaly to a green faced police detective. So my full attention was given to discussions on investment trades and recording purchases and the story progressed at a nice fast pace entirely befitting a race against time thriller.

A very distinctive backdrop and a damn fine thriller.  Lots of fun was had with Trading Down, if you fancy trying a thriller which is a little different from police procedurals you can start here.

 

Trading Down is published by Endeavour Press and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trading-Down-gripping-cyber-thriller-ebook/dp/B075QF8LJ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510186440&sr=1-1&dpID=51FdMfy2YQL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

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November 7

The Dead Whisper – Emma Clapperton

D.S Preston and D.C Lang are sent to investigate the death of a young girl in an old manor house in Glasgow. But who would want to kill an innocent girl in her own home and why? When they believe their questions have been answered the case is closed.

Meanwhile, Sam Leonard could not be happier – he has a great acting career and a fantastic girlfriend. After being in a previously turbulent relationship, what could go wrong?

For Patrick McLaughlin life is going well. His marriage is stable and with a baby on the way, things can only get better.

But the house that Patrick moves into is not what it seems. With a family burial plot in the gardens, visions and messages from the deceased, and a recent death in the house, will Patrick and Jodie regret their purchase?

In order to lay the ghosts to rest questions will be asked but can the house ever let go of its past?

 

My thanks to Sarah Hardy for my review copy and the chance to join the Blog Blitz

A nicely creepy tale which is perfect for these dark November evenings. The Dead Whisper sees the return of Patrick McLaughlin (first encountered in The Suicide Plan). Patrick can see ghosts and spirits and when he moves into the former home of the Henderson family,  complete with the family burial plot in the grounds, it will throw up a challenge for Patrick to solve.

It should be noted that Patrick does not actually appear in The Dead Whisper until mid-way through the book and this is a story which can very much be read as a stand-alone thriller. The main focus is on Sam Leonard – a successful actor who seems to attract some very protective (possibly obsessive) girlfriends.  Sam is in the early days of a new relationship – his last partner had become infatuated with him and was sending hostile messages to Sam’s flatmate and childhood friend Jenny.

Jenny is extremely protective of Sam and given how his last relationship ended it is not surprising she does not wish her friend to be hurt again.  However, the reader gets to see that Jenny’s protective edge can ramp up to outright hostility if she feels that Sam is getting too much attention from a member of the opposite sex.  Sam appears totally unaware of Jenny’s over-protective side but it does unsettle people who fall foul of Jenny’s glare.

What was particularly unsettling was that women who show Sam too much attention seem to become a target and this can have fatal consequences. I was shocked when one character I had really liked suddenly faced extreme peril, nasty surprises and unexpected twists are the BEST way to draw me into a story and Emma Clapperton did exactly that.

Supernatural thrills mean a few dead bodies are likely and I really enjoyed The Dead Whispers as the balance between crime novel and creepy thriller was spot on.

 

The Dead Whisper is published by Bloodhound Books and is available in paperback and digital format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Whisper-haunting-thriller-wont-ebook/dp/B076M2LR5Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1510096222&sr=8-3&keywords=emma+clapperton&dpID=517eMVekTiL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

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November 6

Make Me / Wolves in the Dark (Audiobook)

Make Me

Lee Child is now one of the few authors that I read and re-read and then read all over again.  I think I have read Killing Floor well over a dozen times down the years.  Somehow I missed reading Make Me when it first released so my Audible credits were flexed to give me some listening pleasure. And what pleasure it was. 

The mystery at the heart of Make Me runs right to the final scenes and even if you had given me 100 guesses I would never have puzzled this one out – totally gripping and more than a little disturbing.  But definitely one of the better novels in the series – I really enjoyed this one.

Child is happy to let Reacher age and in Make Me there were signs that his is slowing down and becoming a bit more vulnerable…extra drama!

The audiobook was very well presented.  Narration by Jeff Harding who nailed Reacher but some of the other character voices were a bit too similar over the course of the whole book. A minor niggle and it took nothing away from my overall enjoyment.

 

Wolves in the Dark

Varg Veum returns in this dark, dark tale from Gunnar Staalesen.  Veum is in a dangerous position – charged with an horrific offence and the evidence against him is damning.  The biggest problem with Varg will face is…himself.  He had gone through a period of self oblivion, drinking heavily and hardly functioning from day to day. 

Now facing the very real prospect of a lengthy prison sentence Veum must do whatever it takes to shake off his clouded memories and discover who he may have upset that may have tried to plant evidence against him.  But what it Veum DID do the crimes which he was accused of?

His personal trauma, self doubt and the trust he needs others to have in him are brilliantly conveyed by Gunnar Staalesen – a magnificent storyteller and in top, top form here.  Wolves in the Dark is hard to “enjoy” as the topics covered are distressing at times – but this is a powerful book and I loved listening to it.

Narrated by Colin Mace, the gruff tones of Varg Veum were pitched perfectly and captured how I had imagined he would sound.

 

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November 4

Shadows – Paul Finch

As a female cop walking the mean streets of Manchester, life can be tough for PC Lucy Clayburn. But when one of the North West’s toughest gangsters is your father, things can be particularly difficult.

When Lucy’s patch is gripped by a spate of murder-robberies, the police are quick to action. Yet when it transpires that the targets are Manchester’s criminal underworld, attitudes change.

Lucy is soon faced with one of the toughest cases of her life – and one which will prove once and for all whether blood really is thicker than water…

 

My thanks to Sabah at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the tour

 

A new Paul Finch book is always met with much excitement at Grab This Book so when Shadows hit my Kindle I could not wait to start reading.

Lucy Clayburn returns for a second outing following her debut in Strangers. Having read Strangers will help you better understand  a couple of the conversations in Shadows, however, Shadows can definitely be read as a stand alone novel. Both are great reads so you are not going to be unhappy whichever reading option you opt for!

Lucy had a terrible start to her police career and has been working hard to restore her credibility and prove her value to the department.  Events in Strangers has significantly helped and her stock is rising but now an old acquaintance is looking for help as one of his friends has been caught in possession of narcotics – if Lucy can have a lesser charge pursued he can provide information on a violent armed robber.

The possibility of catching a serial offender gives Lucy the opportunity to join the high profile team that work on capturing armed robbers.  She embraces the opportunity and tries to ensure she shines through careful planning and preparation. It is great to see Lucy getting the chance to step-up and her enthusiasm and determination make her an engaging a likeable character.

Away from Lucy’s case the reader gets to see what the “bad guys” are up to.  Established (and high profile) criminals are being attacked in places they believe to be safe.  It looks like there are new players in town and they are intent on disrupting the old guard and taking out the competition.  Their mission is deadly and the story takes a dark turn when they met out their unpleasant lessons and establish their authority. It makes for gripping story telling and I got completely caught up in events.

I have yet to read a Paul Finch book that I have not enjoyed – Shadows is another great read and I highly recommend it.

Shadows is published by Avon and can be ordered in paperback or digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-gripping-thriller-bestseller-Clayburn/dp/0007551339/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509788309&sr=1-1&keywords=paul+finch

 

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November 3

CWA Short Story Anthology

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood.

Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join this blog tour.

A collection of short stories poses problems which I don’t normally encounter, the primary concern being: How do you read them?

A short story anthology may look like a book and act like a book but a volume of short stories is an unusual beast. It changes, it evolves, characters come and go – never to be seen again, there are often chapters of excellence but sometimes you experience a head-scratching moment and ponder what you have just read.  You may laugh for a few pages then be terrified for the next few only to be moved to tears 10 minutes later.  A veritable roller coaster of emotion and experiences. But how do you read them?

When I read a book of short stories I will never begin at the start of the book and work my way through the tales in sequence. I will dip in and out and pick the story titles which sound the most appealing. But that is only the case when the collection is the work of a single author. If there are multiple contributing authors then I will look for names I know and read those first. But how do YOU read them?

I have never read a full volume of short stories without stopping before all the tales are told. I do return and I keep reading, but I need to dip in and out. I find the changes in narrative and style to be more rewarding when I pick up the book afresh rather than when I read multiple stories back to back. Is that how YOU read them?

The problem I had with the CWA Anthology was that there were too many good stories and contributions came from authors I really wanted to read. A problem?   Well yes – all my normal behaviours were scuppered as I wanted to keep reading (not take a break). There were multiple authors I wanted to read first (how to choose?) and the theme through the book gave it much more structure than many collections I have read in the past which had no commonality.

I had lots of fun reading my way through the CWA Short Story Anthology. I was able to maintain my habit of reading out of sequence – I flicked straight to Susi Holliday’s story and started there. But after Susi, Michael Stanley, Ragnar Jónasson and Gordon Brown I realised that this collection was a bit special. Everyone has brought their “A-Game”.

For the CWA Anthology you do feel that we are being treated to the some of the finest story telling.  A single author collection of short stories can sometimes suffer a little…”chuck in the story about the wombat we need another 8,000 words”.  But this collection is suffering an embarrassment of talent. There was page after page of brilliant narrative and I loved ending one tale and jumping back to the index to find the next journey.

Look at the contributor list – stellar. If you read crime fiction then you should own this book, simple as that.

 

The CWA Short Story Anthology is published by Orenda Books on 15 November 2017. A copy can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/CWA-Short-Story-Anthology-Mystery-ebook/dp/B075YQ9PGS/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509658571&sr=1-1

 

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November 3

Christopher Farnsworth – Everything is Porn Now

Today I am delighted to welcome Christopher Farnsworth to Grab This Book as I host the latest leg of the Hunt You Down blog tour.

The information you need about Hunt You Down can be found by scrolling down to the foot of this post. However, before you zip down (as it were) I have a brilliant guest post from Mr Farnsworth to share and it has the most eye-catching title.  Bring on the bots when this hits Twitter…

 

Everything is Porn Now

I write about the Internet a lot. I covered it as a reporter, and as a novelist, it’s become the weapon of choice for the bad guys in my books. In my latest, HUNT YOU DOWN, there’s a criminal genius who’s learned how to weaponize social media.

But the most insidious thing I’ve seen on the Net is actually happening in real life. And I’m not sure how we stop it, or even if we can.

The Internet has turned everything into porn.

I don’t mean that literally. The Internet is, of course, the greatest advance in human communication yet. And you can still find many sites — at least a couple dozen — that do not have actual naked people on them. Also, I am not taking a moral stand against pornography here. (I’m not quite that hypocritical yet.)

But what I have noticed is that the Internet is making everything — everything — quick and dirty and cheap, if not free.

Which is pretty much the definition of porn these days.

Porn was first spread on the Internet before there were even web browsers — people would break down naked pictures into binary code and then send those files over the old Usenet sites. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) But eventually, the process sped up, and soon, people were sharing porn videos for free over the Net.

And the porn industry — which had been making billions of dollars annually — saw its paying customers vanish.

That was just the beginning. Today, every form of media faces the same commoditization that wreaked havoc in the porn business.

Music was first. Way back when I was a tech reporter, I covered a new software application called Napster. In those pre-iTunes days, I used Napster on my computer at work to download every single I could remember from junior high, music that would have cost me hundreds of dollars in CDs if I’d even been able to find them. At the time, I thought this was pretty great.

I interviewed a lawyer who worked for the recording industry as part of my story, and he didn’t see it the same way. Before we’d finished talking, he’d told me that everything I’d done was illegal, and the industry would soon be suing people like me. He told me I was contributing to the destruction of the music business. I was skeptical, to say the least.

But he was right. The recording industry did sue people who illegally downloaded music, for all the good it did them. People used Napster and services like it to grab millions of songs for free. By the time iTunes and other legitimate services got up and running, the industry had been hollowed out. Billions of dollars in revenue simply vanished. Revenues have made something of a comeback as people subscribe to streaming services, but overall, it’s still less than half what it once was.

Pick any other media industry, and you’ll find a variation on the same story. Newspapers were gutted by Craigslist as people discovered they could use the Internet for free classified ads and free news. Book publishers have to reckon with a flood of cheap ebooks and Amazon’s rise as the number one bookseller in the world. TV and movies have to compete with YouTube and random cat videos for eyeballs. Musicians, authors and artists are expected to give away their work in an effort to build an audience and a brand.

All of these businesses were once highly profitable and stable, employing millions of people. I remember sitting in an auditorium during my last newspaper job as our publisher complained about a 12 percent profit margin that year, and promised he’d get it back up to 20 percent where it belonged. That paper has filed for bankruptcy twice since then.

The porn effect isn’t limited to media, either. Uber is basically the free-porn model applied to taxicabs: investors subsidize a low-cost alternative to an established industry to extract revenue from its paying customers, and eventually crash the old business.

And the Internet isn’t done with us yet.

Since the collapse of the DVD and pay-per-view model, porn has also become harder and more explicit to capture the attention people in a fraction of a second — when everything is available, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.

In order to chase an increasingly fragmented audience, the spectacle has to get bigger, more outrageous, louder, more extreme. Which may be why the news media spent so much time turning a sideshow like Donald Trump into the main event.

I’m not sure where it ends. We’re hardwired to pay attention to the brightest lights and the loudest noises. (Adding naked people into the mix doesn’t hurt, either.)

But eventually, the bill is going to come due for all this free stuff. And then we’ll get to see the real cost of doing business in the new world.

 

Christopher Farnsworth is the author of six novels, including HUNT YOU DOWN, available from Bonnier Zaffre.

Hunt You Down:

John Smith is no ordinary gun for hire.
Smith is a man or rare gifts, and he knows your every thought . . .

Hired to track down a shooter targeting the rich and famous, Smith must complete his mission before another attack takes place. But when a website on the dark net is found to have connections to the murders, Smith realises that taking down a shadowy figure who has weaponised the internet will prove more difficult than he first thought.

And no matter how hard he tries, this criminal mastermind continues to remain one step ahead.

 

 

 

 

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November 1

Killing State – Judith O’Reilly

The bullet in his brain isn’t the problem.

She is.

Michael North is a hero, with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition. A bullet which is driving him mad. Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure. He is very good at killing very bad guys. But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political star, Honor Jones, MP, can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people. He should follow orders. Shouldn’t he?

 

My thanks to Anne Cater for the chance to join the blog tour

 

 

Michael North is a hero but he is also used as a killer by a mysterious agency known as The Board. The Board seem to be working in shadows but appear to be associated with the UK Government. Michael has been instructed to kill a Member of Parliament who has been asking all the wrong questions.

Michael North has a personal code – he will kill bad guys but he does not kill women. So when Michael comes face to face with his next target, an M.P. called Honor Jones, he will have to ignore his own code of honour or go against his employers – and face the consequences.

Killing State had me hooked from the outset. I love a political thriller and with a shadowy agency targeting an MP I immediately thought that National Security must be at stake and that the Government would stop at nothing to keep their secrets. I am not going to tell you if I was right but I will tell you that Killing State is a cracking action/chase thriller which sees North using all his training and guile to keep one step ahead of his employers.  He has done something they are not happy about and his life is in danger.

Not that North’s life was not already endangered…as you can see in the opening descriptions – he has a bullet in his brain and he lives under the constant threat that one day the bullet will shift inside his head and cause irrevocable harm.  Knowing that the key player in the tale is at risk every second of the day makes for an entertaining drama. Every fight, every tumble, every chase scene I found that I was expecting the bullet to jar and North to immediately become vulnerable. It keeps you turning the pages I can assure you!

What also kept me turning the pages was that I wanted to know why Honor Jones had been marked for death.  Why had this young woman been singled out, could it be down to the friends she kept?  One of her friends recently died – before his death he made cryptic references that should anything happen to him then Honor must get to some where safe.  Honor’s closest friend is missing – possibly out of contact and working in South America but if that cannot be verified then how would Honor know her friend was still alive?

Judith O’Reilly nailed the pacing, the tension and the entertainment in Killing State.  I zipped through this book in a few short days and enjoyed it immensely. Killing State releases later this week and I highly recommend you seek out a copy.

 

Killing State is released on 6 November 2017 in digital format and will be available in paperback in 2018. You can order the Kindle copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-State-Michael-North-Thriller-ebook/dp/B075GW4GPZ/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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