May 3

Time To Win – Harry Brett

Time To WinWhen local crime boss Richard Goodwin is pulled from the river by his office it looks like suicide. But as his widow Tatiana feared, Rich collected enemies like poker chips, and half of Great Yarmouth’s criminal fraternity would have had reason to kill him.

Realising how little she knows about the man she married, Tatty seeks to uncover the truth about Rich’s death and take over the reins of the family business, overseeing a waterfront casino deal Rich hoped would put Yarmouth on the map.

Out of the shadows at last, it is Tatty’s time now, and she isn’t going to let Rich’s brother, or anyone else, stand in her way. But an American has been in town asking the right people the wrong questions, more bodies turn up, along with a brutal new gang. The stakes have never been higher.

With her family to protect, and a business to run, Tatty soon learns that power comes with a price . . .


My thanks to Hayley at LittleBrown for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.


Time To Win is set in Great Yarmouth and the town is key to the underlying story. Harry Brett clearly knows the town well as it is vividly brought to life for the reader, even down to the salty sea air and the somewhat run-down feel that seems to prevail.

I will ‘fess up from the start…the geography of England is not my strong point and I had no idea where to find Great Yarmouth on a map (though I do now). However in Time To Win I got a real feel for the place and I put this entirely down to Brett’s narrative. It felt perfect for this dark, grim story of a family grinding a living out of their hometown.

Not that these are grafters, perhaps ‘grifters’ may be more apt as we are following a family that are possibly best described as mobsters. We join the story as the head of the family breathes his last. An apparent suicide it now looks like the family ‘businesses’ will be run by his brother. However, step forward the grieving widow Titania (Tatty). She and her kids are taking control of the family interests and it will take all their guile, and a huge amount of ruthlessness, to make a successful attempt to gain power.

A slight slow burn to get us started soon gives way to an engrossing story. The early chapters are defining the characters and this allows the reader to see just how far Tatty has to rise if she is to grab the power she seeks.

Time To Win is the opening book in a series and I believe that there are at least two more to follow. This is welcome news as Harry Brett is crafting a fascinating criminal underworld for Great Yarmouth and if there are more stories to be told I shall gladly listen.
Fans of gangsters, dark deeds and lovers of noir this is a book you should be seeking out.


Time to Win is published by Corsair and is available in Hardback and Digital formats.  You can order a copy here:

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May 2

The Quiet Man – James Carol

The Quiet ManIn Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?


My thanks to Lauren at Faber for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.


There is nothing better for a reader to pick up a book and immediately become lost in the story. The Quiet Man did that for me – I absolutely loved it.

Jefferson Winter is a former FBI profiler who is called to Vancouver to assist a former cop to solve a series of murders which have taken place over a number of years.  On August 5th someone will be killed. They will be tied to a chair in their kitchen and a bomb placed in the room with them and each year the bomb is triggered in the same way (but no spoiler on that dark detail).  It is approaching August 5th again and Winter has been engaged by the spouse of one of the victims to help find the killer.

The Vancouver police have made no progress, the lead investigator has been replaced but Winter will need to prove his credentials and show he can make a valued contribution to the investigation if he is to receive any formal co-operation from the police. The political aspect of the story in that regard made for fun reading – Winter doesn’t have too much respect for the police and they are wary of his involvement. The verbal sparring was entertaining and it was fun to see Winter puzzling out the past crimes and looking for threads whilst keeping one step ahead of everyone else.

The Quiet Man is absorbing, cleverly plotted thriller. Although this is not the first outing for Jefferson Winter you don’t need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy the new adventure. The prolonged gap between each of the killer’s victims made for an interesting twist and the bombing element was nasty – great combo for readers.

I said at the start that I loved The Quiet Man – I really, really did and it gets a 5* review score. Plus I have now bought all the other books in the series – that’s almost like an extra star.


The Quiet Man is published by Faber on 4th May and is available in paperback and digital format. A copy can be ordered here:

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April 29

Watching You – J.A. Schneider

Watching YouA serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Detective Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in exactly the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.


My thanks to Joyce for sending me a review copy of Watching You and for the chance to join the blog tour.


Last year I read Her Last Breath and was introduced to Detective Kerri Blasco. You can read my review here but to save you a click…I absolutely loved it.

Now Blasco returns in JA Schneider’s new thriller Watching You and this is another cracking read.

A young woman, working at a local homeless shelter has received a text message which she found very unsettling.  The message simply read WATCHING YOU.  As Leda walks through the city in the evening the readers get to see that she is being followed, as she walks through the narrow streets she is jumped and her assailant shoots her in the back of the head – a note is pinned to her body (driven into her flesh) which read WATCHING YOU.

The police are shocked by the clinical dispassionate manner in which Leda was killed and there does not appear to be any obvious motive for someone wanting to kill Leda, were it not for the messages it would likely have been considered a random incident.

Kerri Blasco is on the investigative team and we follow her progress as interviews of Leda’s family and friends begin. Watching You is a police procedural and the author does a great job of balancing Kerri’s investigations whilst also switching to the viewpoint of the killer. Yup we get a murderer’s POV as to how they plan to select the next victim – the text message warning: WATCHING YOU is an important part of the game that they are playing. The fear the prospective victim will experience is very important to the killer and sticking the same message to a victim’s body will taunt the police.

What Kerri does not realise but the killer has set their sights on her as a potential victim. Although a plan is in place it is now being adapted and Kerri is being brought into a game that she does not even know is being played. With Kerri’s life at risk it becomes imperative that she makes progress with her investigation, she just doesn’t know the implications of failure.

I loved the balance of police procedural and serial killer thriller.  Joyce Schneider knows how to grab a reader’s attention and Watching You is another slick, gripping read. The Kerri Blasco series is highly recommended – she is an engaging and likeable lead character and if you are a fan of fast pace crime thrillers then these books are highly recommended.


You can order a copy of Watching You via this link: 







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April 28

Tag – You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Tag You're DeadMaverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher Sam Price. But he soon uncovers links to a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts.

Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.


My thanks to Sara at Saraband for my review copy.

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the wonderfully titled The Dead Don’t Boogie. At the end of 2016, when I was looking back over the books that I had enjoyed over the previous 12 months, I included Boogie in my top 5 Scottish Books of the Year. Queste had to return (and he did) but Mr Skelton made us wait.

Spin forward to April 2017 and Dominic Queste is here for a second outing in Tag – You’re Dead and it was well worth the wait as this is another corker.

Queste is called into action to trace a missing butcher. But it appears that the missing man may have had his fingers in more than one steak pie – it seems that he also liked to aid in the relocation of stolen goods (and this kind of behaviour attracts the wrong type of person opening up a huge list of possible suspects that may know why he has vanished).

Dominic will have his work cut-out so the last thing that he needs is to have attracted the unwanted attentions of a killer that likes to stalk and torment his victims before ending their lives. Unfortunately for Queste he appears to be lined up as the killer’s next victim and if Dominic doesn’t play the game then the killer is more than happy to target Dominic’s friends.  Keeping his predicament a secret is paramount in the rules of the killer’s game, however, this will create a problem for Queste as the lady in his life (the fabulous Ginty) has trust issues having fallen for the wrong type of character in the past.

Tag – You’re Dead is a dark suspenseful thriller, there are some nasty types running around and not all of them are Dominic’s friends. But Queste is an absolute joy to read about. He is quick witted and fails at keeping his mouth shut when discretion would be advisable. It is a tricky balance to have a wisecracking lead character taking you through such a tense adventure but Douglas Skelton pitches it perfectly and Tag – You’re Dead is not going to disappoint.

Tag – You’re Dead gets a five star score from me. Dominic Queste is one of the best new characters I have encountered in recent years and in the hands of top wordsmith, Douglas Skelton, he gets the chance to shine. Top, top reading – add Tag – You’re Dead to your shopping basket.


Tag You’re Dead is published by Contraband and is available now in paperback and digital formats. You can order a copy here:


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April 27

Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman WalkingJust before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .


My thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.


As a rule I prefer to read books which form part of an ongoing series rather than a stand-alone book, the familiarity of recurring characters I find appealing.  However, there is one distinct advantage that a stand-alone book holds over books in a series – the author can do absolutely whatever they like to the characters with no concern over long term consequences. Just imagine if Colin Dexter had bumped off Lewis in the second Inspector Morse novel!

In Dead Woman Walking Sharon Bolton kills off around a dozen characters in the opening chapters, amongst the victims is the sister of her lead character. For the rest of the novel Jessica mourns the loss of her sister whilst also running for her life to escape from a killer. And because this is a stand alone thriller you don’t know if Jessica will actually survive and make it to the end of the book – the killer is a resourceful and ruthless type.

What makes Jessica’s loss more shocking and impactful for the reader is that Sharon Bolton makes very effective use of flashbacks throughout Dead Woman Walking to re-enforce the strong bond that Jessica shared with her sister Bella. The flashbacks serve a secondary purpose but there are elements of spoilers therein…so moving on….

The Killer. Introduced very early in the story and we get to know all about him and we follow his attempts to track down Jessica. She has seen his face. He has seen hers. She cannot be allowed to live so it is a Hunter Vs Prey scenario and it makes for compelling reading. I became totally caught up in Dead Woman Walking and found myself reading well into the night – the classic case of “just one more chapter”.

I can’t give away too much of the story as this is one which you have to discover for yourself. Suffice to say that this is a book you simply have to read. It is Hunter Vs Prey chase thriller with twists and shocks and some very, very clever bits which had me reeling. Bookish magnificence.


Dead Woman Walking is published by Bantam Press and is available in Hardback and Digital format.

You can order a copy here:

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April 27

Watching The Bodies – Graham Smith

Watching The BodiesWhen Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.


My thanks to Sarah and the team at Bloodhound Books for the chance to join the blog tour.


Having enjoyed Graham Smith’s previous books, Cumbrian crime thrillers featuring DI Harry Evans of the Major Crime Teams, I was already keenly awaiting his next venture. I was not expecting Smith to make a jump to the US for Watching the Bodies. Nor was I expecting his new protagonist (Jake Boulder) to rocket into my list of favourite characters. But he did. And he did.

First up – Jake Boulder, living and working in Utah but a Scottish Brawler. Fast with his fists, peacemaker (in that he ends the fights other people start) and living a simple single life (much to the frustration of his mother!)

Watching the Bodies, dumps you straight into the action.  I say “dumps” as this is exactly where we begin…at a spot where a killer has dumped his victim. We (and the killer) witness the discovery of the body. Great intro and I had to know more but there was to be no let up as we switch straight to Jake Boulder. We meet him for the first time as he is about to get into a fight and we soon realise that our lead character is not one to be messed with.

Boulder’s friend is a PI. He wants Jake to help him track down the killer, the victim’s father is an influential figure in the town and has no faith in the local police to find out who killed his daughter. This will not be an easy assignment for Boulder as he and the victim, Kira, had been friends and as they begin the investigation into her death Jake will realise that he actually knew very little about the lifestyle Kira had chosen for herself.

Before Boulder’s investigations yield much progress another body is found and it becomes increasingly clear to him that there is a serial killer at work. But there appear to be too many inconsistencies between the crimes for it to be the work of a single killer and, even if it were to be a single killer, how were the victims selected? As Jake digs deeper he will uncover more than he could have ever anticipated.

I have always been a sucker for a serial killer story and in Watching the Bodies I have found one of the best serial killer tales that I have read for a long, long time. I loved this. The killer’s motivation and clues to their identity are gently teased out through the story so that by the time you are approaching the endgame you know exactly what is at stake and how much peril certain characters will be in. It works fabulously well and I was utterly hooked.

A thumpingly good first outing for Jake Boulder and I really, really hope that there will be more to come. If you like a dark and twisty serial killer story then Watching the Bodies is a book you simply must read.


Watching the Bodies is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now. The links you need are below:


Graham on Facebook:

Graham’s Website:

Here on Twitter:

And the all important link to order the book:



Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. 

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website since 2009.

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, WATCHING THE BODIES in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.



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April 22

Good News Bad News – WHS McIntyre

Good News bad NewsLife’s full of good news and bad news for defence lawyer Robbie Munro. The good news is he’s in work, representing Antionia Brechin on a drugs charge. The bad news is that she’s the granddaughter of notorious Sheriff Brechin.

Meanwhile, another of Robbie’s clients, Ellen Fletcher, has won the lottery and asked Robbie to find her husband Freddy, who disappeared having swindled the evil Jake Turpie. Unfortunately, Jake’s not willing to bury the hatchet – not unless it’s in Freddy’s head.

Robbie juggles cases and private life with his usual dexterity, but the more he tries to fix things the more trouble everyone’s in.


My thanks to Keara at Sandstone Press for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour


Robbie Munro is a defence lawyer and he sounds like the kind of guy you would want to have fighting your corner for you. He understands the law but does not feel that applying the law necessarily means that justice will be served or that the consequences will always be appropriate for the crime committed.  This is entertainingly demonstrated at the start of the book when a young teacher is due to be sentenced by Robbie’s nemesis Sheriff Brechin.

The verbal battling in the courtroom between Robbie and Sheriff Brechin is laced with much of the wry humour which is evident throughout the book and it firmly establishes that there is no love lost between the two men. This sets up a future dilemma very nicely as Brechin’s grand-daughter (herself a promising young lawyer) finds herself on the wrong end of the law.  As Robbie is the only criminal defence lawyer she knows she appoints him to represent her. A new client is Good News, the prospect of failing and letting down the Brechin family – very Bad News.

Away from the court Robbie is approached by a client who has her own Good News Bad News.  She has won the lottery and wants to enlist Robbie’s help in tracking down her husband (a conman that everyone believes to be dead). However the client only has a few months to live so time is tight and Robbie will have his work cut out to ensure he can keep himself on the right side of the law and not let down his client.

This was my introduction to Robbie Munro but the Best Defence series has been running for a while.  The good news is that Good News Bad News can be read as a stand alone novel (and it is a book I highly recommend).  The bad news is that (if you are like me) then reading Good News Bad News will make you want to read all the other books in the series – brace your TBR pile for some legal drama courtesy of WHS McIntyre.


Good News Bad News is published by Sandstone Press and is available in paperback and digital format.  Order a copy here:

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April 20

Hulk: Gray – Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Hulk GrayThis tale examines in new detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk. As Dr. Bruce Banner makes his first transformations into his brutish alter ego, relationships that will influence his life and the life of the Hulk are forged… and destroyed! Collects Hulk: Gray #1-6


Reviewing the comic via my comiXology app

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember and comic books have been a regular feature on my bookshelves (and in very long, white boxes) for around 30 years. When I was very young I was introduced to Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk through a weekly comic published by Marvel Comics UK.  They are nothing like the monthly publications that you find in stores like Forbidden Planet – think the Beano or Dandy but with more Thwip and Smash.

Hulk SpideyThese days I cannot afford to feed my comic book addiction to the extent that I would like so I rely upon my local library for many of the Graphic Novels that I read and I make very good use of an app on my phone and tablet called comiXology.  A phone app to let me read comic books…mind blown!

Hulk: Gray is a six part adventure featuring Dr Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego. The blurb describes it as a story which “examines in detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk”.  It is that – the story plays out in the immediate aftermath of the gamma explosion which changed Dr Banner’s life forever.  Technically it is a flashback recounting of the events as Banner is chatting to his friend Doc Sampson and trying to explain his side of events.

What initially drew me to Hulk: Gray (other than a love of the character) was the creative due of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I had read, and loved, their Batman series The Long Halloween. Loeb writes a great story and Sale’s artwork really appeals. I do find that some comics can be a bit of a let down for me if I don’t like the art style (Secret Invasion I am looking at you).  But Loeb and Sale are a great duo.

Hulk is in a “Hulk Smash” persona. Poor vocab and limited comprehension he just wants to be left alone. But General Ross and the US Army are hot on his tail – particularly when Hulk finds someone to take with him as he escapes the troops…Ross’s daughter Betty. Loeb does a fabulous job of showing how Hulk cannot express Banner’s love for Betty but that Hulk somehow knows that this girl is important to Hulk.

The immediate suspicion of General Ross is quickly put in place and the friendship of Hulk and Rick Jones is established too.  For fans there is also an unexpected cameo from another Avenger founding member to enjoy (a meeting which had never been documented prior to this story).

A highly entertaining story from one of the best writing teams of recent times.  Hulk: Gray has a lot going for it.

Until next time True Believers, Make Mine Marvel.


Hulk: Gray is a Marvel Comics publication which is available as a single volume Graphic Novel and on Kindle or a Comixology App.  Order it here:

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April 19

A Room Full of Killers – Michael Wood

A Room Full of KillersEight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers…


My thanks to the Killer Reads team for a review copy which I received through Netgalley


The third in the DCI Matilda Darke series and A Room Full of Killers is another cracking read from Michael Wood.

A story set primarily within a secure facility where teenage boys, too young for prison, are incarcerated. They are moved from around the country to Starling House on the outskirts of Sheffield. Their crimes the shame of their family (where their family were not victims) and their notoriety splashed across newspaper headlines. Away from the spotlight they are held together in Starling House, a poorly resourced institution where the facility manager is doing everything in her power to keep things ticking over.

A new entrant to Starling House is about to upset the balance and the pressure which has been building is about to blow. A murder – the victim laid out in a public room and stabbed multiple times. The suspects: all the residents or a staff member pushed too far? A problem for the police as there is no obvious motive – all the young criminals were locked into their rooms for the night so how did someone have freedom to roam around and kill a fellow resident.

Crime readers will love the “locked room” puzzle which Michael Wood has devised. When the police attend a crime scene where they know there are already known killers in their midst it throws a highly entertaining curveball and watching Matilda Darke and her colleagues contend with this unwelcome problem is great fun.

As for Matilda, she has had a tough time of it in the first two novels and the memory of a very high profile failure is not going away in A Room Full of Killers.  I have been enjoying the ongoing story arc which has been hanging over Matilda in the first three books and it is nicely brought on this time around. NB each book can stand alone, the arc is well explained as is key to Matilda’s character.

Matilda Darke should become a familiar character to anyone that enjoys crime fiction.  Michael Wood is building a great series here and you want to ensure you are here for the journey.


A Room Full of Killers is available in digital format, and paperback from 18 May 2017. You can order a copy here:

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April 18

Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill

Today I am delighted to welcome Mark Hill to Grab This Book as I have the honour of hosting a leg of the blog tour for Two O’Clock Boy.

Mark had previously agreed to join me to take part in my Book Chains Q&A (he was nominated by Susi Holliday who also left me a question to put to Mark). As the blog tour for Two O’Clock Boy was approaching we made Mark hold out a bit longer than anticipated to see what burning question Susi had lined up for him. For those keeping count, Mark is the sixth link in my chain…

Before we cut to the questions here is the book you should be looking out for:


Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.


First Question is never actually a question. This is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give you the opportunity to get a couple of plugs in early.

Hi, I’m Mark Hill, I’m a crime author. My debut novel Two O’Clock Boy has just been published in paperback, to great acclaim – at least in this house. It’s in the shops right now! It’s the first in a series about DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley, two North London coppers.

 Now can you introduce us to Ray Drake?

Ray’s a Detective Inspector. A good man, I think, but someone with a lot of baggage. I mean, we all have a bit of baggage, don’t we? But Ray’s baggage is heavier than most. He’s got some secrets, dare I say… some dark secrets. So when a guy goes round killing people – people Ray may or may not have known a long way back – well, it opens up a whole can of worms. Flick’s just doing her job, trying to find the murderer, but Ray keeps sticking his nose in…

 It is a London based story and I am Glasgow based, so I need to ask…is Longacre Children’s home a real place? Have you written about places you know or have you adopted an artistic interpretation of the city?

It’s a combination of real places and not so real places. Sometimes I couldn’t write a scene without having a very specific sense of a particular place, but the scenes set in the 1980s Hackney have elements of a fever dream. They were a composite of some of the things I remember seeing when I came to London as a kid – fenced-up gaps in streets where bombed houses still hadn’t been rebuilt after the Second World War, wastelands and long grass even in the heart of the city – a real sense of urban decay, of an era coming to an end. It’s long redeveloped now, of course.

What I can promise you is that the Longacre is totally made up, although I’m sure places like it have existed.

Did all those reviews, the author interviews, the guest posts help you decide what you wanted to write?

I was already writing the book that became Two O’Clock Boy when I was helping Crime Thriller Fella on his blog, but you can never read too many books – and to find out what all those amazing authors thought was hugely useful and inspiring. Reviewing also helped me think about what made a book motor, and analyse more carefully the kind of things I liked about it. Reading is essential if you want to write.  But what you realise, ultimately, is that you have to find your own way. I’ve never understood when some people say they can’t read novels while they write in case they’re unduly influenced. If that was the case, I’d never be able to read or I’d never be able to write, both of which consequences are unacceptable.

As a supplemental to that, can you single out any books which may have influenced how you approached writing Two O’Clock Boy?

That’s a hard one. I don’t think there’s one particular book, but there are a lot of influences in Two O’Clock Boy. It’s both a psychological thriller and a police procedural with historical elements. A lot of fantastic books influenced it, I’m sure –  but also a lot of terrific movies and film scripts, which is probably why many people have said it has a very filmic quality to it.

Why do you think crime readers particularly enjoy serial killer stories?

I can’t imagine murdering someone. Living with the knowledge of that kind of transgression, the burden of it, must rot the soul. The idea that there are people out there who are impelled to take the lives of others, who positively thrive on it – and that these predators could be walking among us – is fascinating and terrifying. Crime novels, horror novels, allow us to look safely through that looking glass. Oddly enough, I’ve never regarded the Two O’Clock Boy as a serial killer, although clearly he’s an enthusiastic murderer. Serial killing suggests some kind of random urge, but the Boy has a very specific deadly agenda…

Mark HillSo who was Crime Thriller Fella and why did he have to slide off into the shadows?

It’s a very sad story. Crime Thriller Fella was a blogger, a very odd character, who briefly fancied himself as a bit of a playa in the blogging firmament. But between you and me, he was a bit of an oddball who got a little bit too big for his boots and started confusing crime fiction with reality. He sadly fell in with a bad crowd. I can’t go into specifics, but a criminal enterprise went wrong, he double-crossed some people of dubious morals, and was forced into Witness Protection. I don’t know where he is now but he sometimes leaves drunken rambling messages on my voicemail in the dead of night about WordPress settings, or delivers the odd threatening message in the mail disguised as book post. Sometimes, very occasionally, I get the sense I’m being watched. He’ll turn up sooner or later, I’m sure. At the bottom of a canal, probably.


Now the quickfire ones:

Last film you saw at the cinema?

Life, the Alien knock-off with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gylen… Gyllin… Jake Gallenhi… That guy from Brokeback. It was okay.

The coffee Revels are the best ones in the bag – True or False?

Don’t be daft. It’s the orange ones.

Which has been the Best Bond film?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is easily my favourite. Poor old Lazenby had just the one shot at the role but, oh, what a Bond movie to star in.

You have been invited to appear on a reality tv show – which one would let your skills shine?

Gogglebox. I’m really, really good at watching television.

Which one concert/show from history do you wish you had been able to see?

I’ve got Orson Welles’s notorious radio production of War Of The Worlds on vinyl somewhere. Presented as a mock news report, a lot of the hysteria it allegedly caused – riots and suicides and suchlike – has been proved to be false, but the conceit is astonishing for its time, Welles was such a genius. I often wonder what it must have been like to be a kid in 1938 listening to it in an isolated cabin beneath a sky full of stars, watching in terror a comet trail across the heavens. 

Bookmark, corner folder or “any old scrap of paper” – how do you keep your place?

I do like a nice postcard, but the whole book usually ends up covered in tiny post-its stuck everywhere, like it has some kind of flaky yellow disease. I like making notes.

As you may know this feature is called Book Chains and it was Susi Holliday that nominated you to keep my Q&A chain going.  Susi wanted me to ask you the following question:

What’s your karaoke song?

High And Dry by Radiohead. I can clear a room super fast.


My final question to Mark was to ask him to nominate my next guest and to set a question. While the question will remain under wraps for the time being, I CAN confirm that in the near future Mr Derek Farrell shall return to Grab This Book as he has agreed to continue my Book Chain.

My thanks to Mark for being so patient and for being such a good sport. But we do need to be clear…the coffee Revels are (and always will be) the best in the packet.

Two O’Clock Boy is published by Sphere and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here:

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