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.

 

 

 

 

Category: Blog Tours, Guests | Comments Off on Christopher Farnsworth – Everything is Porn Now
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=

Follow the tour:

Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on Killing State – Judith O’Reilly
October 29

Descent to Hell – Nic Parker

A man forced to enter mankind’s most feared territory … a child dragged into the underworld!

When Charlie Ward’s beloved niece is kidnapped by an atrocious demon he has to find the secret gateway into the one place every human wants to stay away from: Hell!
Armed only with courage and determination Charlie has to survive in a forbidding place filled with despair and anguish. He must face challenges no mortal should ever have to undergo that threaten to destroy his very soul.

 

My thanks to Victoria Watson for the chance to join the blog tour to Descent to Hell and to Nic Parker for my review copy.

 

Halloween approaches and it was time that I got some tales of ghosts and evil entities onto the reading list. Descent to Hell sounded ideal and, very pleasingly, it was exactly what I needed – a clever and stylish adventure story (with demons, the devil and some nasty surprises).

Charlie is going to Hell. His choice. His niece is missing and Charlie has discovered that she was abducted by a demon.  As you may expect there are not many people who may believe that a demon can rise from Hell to steal away a child and Charlie has found himself under suspicion from the police into the girl’s disappearance.

Charlie finds a way to cross from the “real” world to the depths of Hell and decides that his sister’s happiness and the chance to save his niece is worth more than his own life. Charlie will risk everything to go to Hell and try to bring his niece home. .

The most pleasing aspect of Nic Parker’s Hell was that it was not a classic interpretation from Dante or the biblical depiction. No flaming pits of the damned, no obvious tortured souls – a modern cityscape awaited Charlie. Denizens of Hell who chat, have homes, comfortable beds (as Charlie finds out when “rescued” by a gorgeous bombshell who has her own “wicked” ideas).

Yes Descent to Hell is a horror tale (any book with Lucifer has to be such) but it is also funny in places, there is a crime undertone with an investigation ongoing into where his niece may be, there is an adventure thriller as Charlie faces numerous challenges to cross Hell to face the demon who took his niece.

Nic Parker writes in a very readable style. The story zips along and there was no feeling that she was trying to pad out the plot or to distract the reader with sub plots which don’t progress the main tale. The focus on the rescue remained constant and Charlie’s frustration over a lack of progress was always tangible.

Descent to Hell comes highly recommended. If you fancy a Halloween story but normally shun away from chillers or ghost stories then this clever thriller with its dark undertones is a great option.

 

Descent to Hell is published in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Descent-Hell-would-rescue-loved/dp/3946413501/ref=la_B075TD51VV_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509270636&sr=1-1&refinements=p_82%3AB075TD51VV%2Cp_n_binding_browse-bin%3A492564011

 

Category: Blog Tours | Comments Off on Descent to Hell – Nic Parker
October 25

When A Killer Strikes – RC Bridgestock

“Boss, we’ve got a body”.

Detective Sergeant Vicky Hardacre, greets him at the scene, but what awaits them behind the blood red door of Colonial House is undoubtedly a murder. The approach identifies several prime suspects. But who is telling the truth; and who is lying?

Before the killer can be caught, another body is discovered, this time in a putrefying mixture of mud and slime, lain among the remnants of decaying food within a waste-bin shelter. Now it’s the task of the man in charge to make the call.

Are the two murders connected?

There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by working long hours, within strict budgets, and the usual pressure from above to obtain quick results.

However, Dylan is distracted by personal matters, with Jen being keen to seal the deal on a renovation project. He suggests they delay finalising the purchase; until he discovers the significance of the house, and that it’s about to be demolished.

In his absence, Jen’s pleas for help from his estranged siblings are answered, resulting in hidden secrets coming to light, as Dylan continues, through a twisting and turning plot, to ensure justice is done in respect of the murder victims, whose bright hopes for the future were cruelly snatched away.

 

My thanks to Darren at Caffeine Nights for my review copy and the opportunity to join the tour.

The 8th DI Dylan novel from husband/wife writing team RC Bridgestock and it seems they are building a strong case to support the theory that two heads may indeed be better than one. This was my first RC Bridgestock novel and it will not be my last – huge enjoyment reading When a Killer Strikes.

My books of preference are crime thrillers, I particularly like when a book I have enjoyed becomes part of a series. I love to see characters developed over a number of books, relationships develop and the players come and go as the different stories dictate.  To learn that When A Killer Strikes was the 8th in a series was such a thrill as I have some serious catching up to do and I cannot wait to get started!

I found When A Killer Strikes to be a very powerful read and quite unsettling too. A young girl has been murdered in her own home. There seems no obvious suspect and the police will have their work cut out to identify a suspect pool and then narrow down their investigations.

That investigation is very much the key to the story (no lone detective wandering round chatting to suspects and making a grand reveal) this is a real police procedural where the reader gets to feel that they are part of the squad, uncovering clues and discovering who has been telling lies. It felt like a “proper” crime novel and I thought it had a very authentic voice. NB, I subsequently discovered that Bob Bridgestock had served in the police for many years…no hiding that realistic edge to the story!

Running alongside the murder story was the brilliant cast of characters. Arriving late to a series is never ideal but I loved the interplay between the members of the investigative team – a camaraderie and bond was clear to see and their personal lives crept into the book to give them depth and presence away from their day job.  When you can believe in characters and relate to their experiences it lets me become more involved in their stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed When A Killer Strikes – entertaining, cleverly worked and with characters I wanted to read about. More like these please…

 

When A Killer Strikes is published by Caffeine Nights and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Killer-Strikes-Dylan-novel-ebook/dp/B075FXLK6Q/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on When A Killer Strikes – RC Bridgestock
October 25

Snare – Lilja Sigurdardóttir

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda and to Anne Cater for the chance to join the blog tour.

Sonja is a single mum struggling to keep her head above water and hoping to secure full custody of her young son. When we first meet Sonja she is trying to smuggle a kilo of cocaine through the airport. Her strategy is cleverly played out but we share her tension at the prospect of discovery (and the obvious consequences). It made for a compelling introduction to Lilja Sigurardottir’s Snare and for the next few hours that I read this book I never felt that the tension was ebbing.

Sonja has fallen into a difficult position – she does not want to smuggle the narcotics but finds she has no option. She proves her adeptness at outfoxing the customs officials and this only means that the expectation she will continue to do so increases.  The suppliers want her to increase the size of her next delivery and a new strategy will be required – this increases the risk of discovery and also the consequence of failure.

When we see Sonja at home she is in a complicated relationship with Alga.  Sonja and Alga are lovers but Alga refuses to accept that she may be a lesbian and is clearly not comfortable with being in a relationship with another woman. Adding to Alga’s internal dilemma is the fact she was once a senior figure in Icelandic Banking Circles. Prosecutors are looking to find where they can lay the blame of the recent Financial Crash and Alga is in their sights – she has to face the investigators and provide her side of events but is determined that none of the blame shall be laid at her feet.

It is always a delight when I can start a new book with no idea where the story may take me. Snare was pure reading pleasure.

Translation duties fall to Quentin Bates and once again he has done a phenomenal job. The story flows so smoothly and I tore through Snare loving every twist and turn of the plot.

Snare had a real cat and mouse feel – Sonja trying to outsmart the customs officials and smuggle drugs through the airport at Reykjavik. Alga is under investigation and she too is trying to keep one step ahead of the prosecutors who want to find those to blame for the financial crisis which Iceland experienced.  Tension is tangible and it makes for a brilliantly engaging story.

Lots of love for this book – it looks like another winner from Orenda Books.

 

Snare is published by Orenda Books and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snare-Reykjavik-Noir-Lilja-Sigurdard%C3%B3ttir-ebook/dp/B06ZYLBJFN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508875450&sr=8-1&keywords=snare

Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Snare – Lilja Sigurdardóttir
October 20

The Fallen Agent – Oliver Tidy

Jess Albion has recently started a new life on the other side of the world with a new identity. She used to be MI5. Then a job went bad, someone died and she was made an example of in the British courts. But MI5 look after their own. Or they did until rumours of a planned Al Qaeda biological terror attack on London started circulating. Now someone in the British security services is giving agents up in return for information. No price, it seems, is too high to save London from the ultimate threat.

When Jess’s fresh start is compromised she has a choice to make: run and hide and spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder or go looking for the threat and snuff it out. On her own, she’d run, but she has Nick on her side.

The Fallen Agent is a story of love and hate, of loyalty and betrayal, of revenge and callous disregard for human life in the pursuit of satisfaction.

 

My thanks to Caroline Vincent (Bits About Books) for the chance to host today’s leg of the blog tour.

 

My earliest memories of reading books I considered to be “spy” thrillers came from my teen years when I was devouring as many books as I could get my paws on at the time. Most of the espionage thrillers were Cold War tales set in Berlin or Russia where there were it seemed everyone was frantically trying to outmanoeuvre the next person – I got a bit scunnered with those quite quickly and returned to crime and horror tales.  Had those “spy” books been as exciting and fast paced as Oliver Tidy’s The Fallen Agent then I would have read many more.

The Fallen Agent is described as a Jess Albion thriller as I had not read any of Oliver’s books prior to this one it was nice to have that wee steer as to which character I should be looking out for.  Chapter One and I am picking my jaw from the floor and wondering what the Hell is going to happen next as all my preconceptions of what may happen in The Fallen Agent had been shattered.

Well there will not be any spoilers over what did happen next but I can assure you that this was a great read. I tore through it in one single sitting and loved every twist and turn along the way.

British Security chiefs are worried about a potential terror attack on London and are willing to do whatever they can to protect the city. When a potential information source makes an offer to trade his knowledge of the upcoming attack for details of where he can find Jess it seems there is an easy choice to make. There will be no loyalty shown and Jess will be sacrificed to protect millions of others – her location will be revealed to the man who wants her dead.

But Jess still has at least one friend in the Service (Nick) and he embarks on a race against time to find Jessica and alert her to the potential threat against her life.  With so much at stake, the action in The Fallen Agent comes thick and fast. Oliver Tidy has a fabulous writing style which keeps the story zipping along and kept me hooked throughout.

An absolute treat: The Fallen Agent comes highly recommended.

 

The Fallen Agent is available in digital download and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Agent-Jess-Albion-Thriller-ebook/dp/B075QHKG8P/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Follow the tour:

Category: Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Fallen Agent – Oliver Tidy
October 14

The Angel -Katerina Diamond

THE TRUTH WON’T STAY LOCKED UP FOREVER

When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

 

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

Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles are back – they are called out to investigate a fire in an abandoned signal box but on arrival at the scene they find that their arson case has had a tragic outcome – the body of a homeless man (who must have been sheltering from the elements) is found under the main signal room where the fire started.

Grey and Miles manage to track down Gabriel Webb, he had been in the signal box with his girlfriend and a couple of other local kids.  Gabriel had started a small fire to keep them warm but had not wanted to be in the signal box and wanted nothing to do with the drugs which he was offered.

When confronted by Grey he confirms he started the fire (for warmth) but he had no idea that it had spread to ignite the whole signal box and he is devastated to learn that someone died.  His world shattered Gabriel finds himself in prison – pending trial.

The Angel keeps us updated on Gabriel’s story while in prison and I loved those scenes. We see how he moved from lonely and uncertain then started to accept his situation and adjust to his new life. What he had not anticipated was Asher – a fellow inmate who has his sights on Gabriel and more than a little power in their confined world.

Elsewhere a brutal murder of an elderly couple commands all the attention of the police. The seemingly unmotivated killings shock Grey and Miles but when they start their investigations they uncover some strange connections which suggest that this random incident may actually be part of something much more sinister.

Although they may not initially be aware – the double murder is going to have a huge impact upon both Miles and Grey. Katerina Diamond expertly spins a story and I was completely hooked on The Angel – Gabriel’s situation was compelling but the personal dramas which her cops encountered lifted this from a “great” book to a “fantastic” book.  I utterly loved it – reading late into the night as I did not want to stop.

The housekeeping bit – The Angel is the 3rd book and there are references to past events. But the good news for new readers or for those (like me) that have “goldfish” memories then The Angel can be enjoyed as a stand alone – really enjoyed, really, really enjoyed.

Katerina Diamond is now firmly established as a must read author, her books are all brilliantly written, paced to perfection and have that dark unpredictability which I always welcome.

The Angel is out in paperback and digital format now – treat yourself, I am going to be recommending this to everyone.

 

The Angel is published by Avon Books and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-shocking-thriller-Imogen-Adrian-ebook/dp/B06XB3R3PV/ref=la_B01C0H1GOE_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507970935&sr=1-1

Follow the Blog Tour

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Angel -Katerina Diamond
October 12

Guest Post: Mason Cross – Serial Heroes

The last day of this run of Serial Heroes and I have been looking forward to sharing this with you.

When I ask someone if they would like to take part in this feature they generally agree first and only then do I ask which author or series they would like to discuss – I love that!

When I asked Mason Cross which author he would consider writing about for Serial Heroes he immediately asked about Michael Connolly…I have been looking forward to reading this post ever since.

Serial Heroes – Harry Bosch

 

Everybody counts or nobody counts,” is a recurring theme in Michael Connelly’s long-running series starring Hieronymus Bosch (Harry for short). It sums up Harry’s philosophy – he’s an unfashionably moral cop in a literary LA crime scene often defined by bad men versus worse men, like James Ellroy’s protagonists.

Which is not to say he’s by-the-book, exactly. In fact it’s Bosch’s drive to never take the easy way out, to always get the job done right, that often puts him in conflict with his superiors, and sometimes even his partners. Maybe that’s the secret to his success as a series hero: he gives you all the rule breaking thrills of a standard-issue maverick cop, but underneath that he has a moral code as unshakeable as Atticus Finch’s.

The Bosch series started off in 1992 with The Black Echo, which introduced Harry and made use of his backstory as a Vietnam tunnel rat in a story that sees him on the trail of some of his fellow veterans, who are planning a bank vault heist using their tunneling expertise. Bosch has aged in real time, so by the most recent installment (The Wrong Side of Goodbye) he’s been retired a couple of times already and has still managed to find a way to unretire himself. Like other long-running characters such as Ian Rankin’s Rebus and Lee Child’s Reacher, this longevity is a big part of the enjoyment for a reader. You get to see how the hero evolves (or doesn’t) as he ages and the world changes around him.

Just as Rebus’s Edinburgh has changed a lot over his tenure, so has Bosch’s Los Angeles. When The Black Echo was published, the LA riots were a few months away, and OJ Simpson was famous only as an ex-football player with a minor film career. Bosch has seen a lot of changes in his hometown since then.

As a reader, I’ve always loved LA crime, from Raymond Chandler’s classics through more recent masters like Walter Mosely, Robert Crais and James Ellroy. I even had a go at writing one of my own, in The Samaritan, which is the only one of my novels so far to be almost entirely set within one city. While you can make a good case for New York and San Francisco, LA is simply the classic noir city for me, exemplified in films like Chinatown, The Long Goodbye, LA Confidential, Collateral, and even Blade Runner. Connelly’s books are very much rooted in the modern world, but each one channels the history and atmosphere of noir in the City of Angels.

That’s a quality that the Bosch TV show has sensibly taken and run with. Although they’ve changed a few elements (Titus Welliver’s version of the character has been de-aged and made a Gulf War vet instead of Vietnam), they’ve kept the core of the character exactly intact, and made use of some underused but cinematic parts of LA. Like the books, it glories in the incidental details of LA: getting a burger at In-And-Out, or the numerous ways the darker side of Hollywood crosses into the underworld.

It’s no mean feat that I’ve never read a bad Connelly book, given he’s written more than thirty of them. Most of those star Bosch, but Connelly has created an interrelated universe of characters who drop in and out of the various books, and some who star in their own series, like Harry’s half-brother Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer. Haller is almost the opposite of Bosch: cynical, charming and driven by money and success, but he keeps a similar innate sense of justice carefully concealed beneath the flash exterior. Reading the pair’s meeting in the latest book, I couldn’t help but wonder if Connelly will be tempted to put Haller and Bosch on opposite sides of a murder trial one day.

It’s tough to pick a favourite in the series when the books are of such consistent high quality, but if you held a gun to my head I might plump for the first one I read: Lost Light. Or maybe The Drop. The Black Box was pretty great too. Damn it, you might as well pick all of them. They all count.

 

Mason Cross is the author of the hugely popular Carter Blake series. You can find all his books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mason-Cross/e/B00FWO52KC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1507490732&sr=8-2-ent

Sign up to the Mason Cross Readers Club and he’ll tell you when the next Carter Blake book hits the shelves. You’ll also be the first to know about news, exclusives and competitions.

@masoncrossbooks

facebook.com/MrMasonCross

 

Category: Guests, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Guest Post: Mason Cross – Serial Heroes
October 12

Guest Post: Angela Clarke – Serial Heroes

I am still hunting down authors who will be willing to chat about their favourite authors – the series which they look forward to reading. When scouting for potential guests for this feature I scour through Social Media posts and look to see who may be championing the work of other authors. Today’s guest had me re-evaluating my methods!

Angela Clarke is the author of the fantastic Social Media Murders series. My concern: if I could track Angela down and make random blogger requests after reading her Twitter and Facebook updates then what sort of impression may that have made?

I was delighted that Angela agreed to join in with Serial Heroes but my worry returned when she immediately embarked on what seemed to a quest to do as many different activities as possible in a three month window.  I am beyond grateful to Angela for finding time to share her thoughts on the books of Jane Casey.

Serial Heroes: Jane Casey

By Angela Clarke

By a strange quirk of fate, and because publishing is quite a small industry really, I met Jane Casey before I read any of her books. At the time, I’d just published a humorous memoir of working in the fashion industry, and my reading material had a distinct romantic comedy skew. But pitching up to support a friend on a crime panel hosted by a law firm, (no less), I saw Jane for the first time.

That is beginning to sound like my own romantic storyline: I first saw her through a crowd of solicitors, the light from the preponderance of tie clips worn in the room sparkling in her eyes. But I think that speaks more of my later developed obsession with her characters, than Jane herself. Not that she isn’t aces. Jane’s quick wit, and talent for hooky thought-provoking storylines were deftly displayed during the panel. And she made me laugh in the pub after. (Yeah, still sounding a bit obsessive stalker-ish, Ange. Bear with me). Anyway, I believe that if you attend a book event (for which the author has almost certainly not been paid for their time or travel), then you should buy a book. So, I did. I bought the first in the Maeve Kerrigan Series: The Burning. And it changed my life.

But first, I carried the book home, popped it on my shelf, and forgot about it. This is no disrespect to Jane or her storytelling skills, it was indicative of my life and my to-be-read list at the time. I was prioritising books that I had to read for work. I was prioritising work. And then I got sick. Properly lie-in-bed-for-months-on-end sick. And my writing changed. Instead of the upbeat fun fashion pieces I’d previously been writing, my work grew darker, more twisted. Death started cropping up, and shortly behind it, the police. The only problem was, I knew nothing about the police. I was moaning about this stunning lack of procedural and legal knowledge to my friend, the one who’d also been on the law firm panel. And she reminded me of Jane. Explaining Jane’s partner is a criminal barrister, and her writing has an unsettlingly realistic feel. Well, I’d rather read fiction than a dry dusty legal tome any day, so I had someone fetch The Burning from my study and bring it to me in bed. (It was almost certainly Mr Ange, but it sounds cooler, like I have a charming secretary who perches on the end of my bed and reads to me, if I describe it this way).

The Burning is a fantastic serial killer thriller, with a twist. It’s about a murderer who likes to watch his victims burn. With four women dead already, the press talking hysterically about ‘The Burning Man’, and a fifth victim just found, The Met’s murder task force throws as much man power at solving the case as possible. Which gives ambitious young DC, Maeve Kerrigan, a chance to prove herself. As she spends more time with the fifth victim’s friends and family, Maeve becomes increasingly determined and desperate to stop the killer.

Jane’s writing is authentic, her comprehensive knowledge of procedure feels as natural as it does in those authors who used to be cops: it’s just there. It is. It’s real. It’s a masterclass in pace, and a faithful portrayal of the complex realities of modern policing, with seductive writing and a plot that reels you in and twists in a way I didn’t see coming. But it is not for any of these, (albeit excellent), reasons that I finished The Burning in a matter of hours, and immediately ordered every other book in the series. No, I did that because of Maeve.

Jane’s eager, hardworking, justice-hunting, sometimes spikey, feminist kickass DC Maeve Kerrigan is the kind of woman I’d like to be mates with. Except she’d probably find me a bit too girly. At least until I’d won her over with white wine. And god I would try. She’s the real deal. A rich, complex character with often conflicting passions and drives who believes she is every bit as good as the men on the team around her (the reader knows she’s often better). Maeve forms an unlikely and often humorous work partnership with her sexist, obnoxious, tart with a heart, superior DI Josh Derwent. With this reader wishing they would get closer. He’s a bro with outdated ideas of what women are capable of and how they should be treated, and its testament to Jane’s skill that she has turned a man I would on paper find abhorrent, into a heartthrob. And all without betraying either my or Maeve’s feminist principles. It’s also testament to Jane’s astute understanding of character. Humans are complicated, multifaceted creatures. Just as ‘baddies’ are not two dimensional stereotypes, neither are the ‘goodies’, or everyone in between. Life and life experience is messy, and it moulds every one of us into shapes, emotions and people we thought we could never be capable of. Good and bad. Jane’s nuanced characters, and their relationships continue to grow across the books, eliciting laughter, gasps, and tears at times. They are like friends. And I am in love with them. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Add Maeve Kerrigan to your must-read list.

 

 

 

Angela is The Sunday Times bestselling author of the Social Media Murder Series, including Follow Me, Watch Me, and Trust Me – which can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Angela-Clarke-ebook/dp/B01MRGTMK6/

Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, long listed for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and short listed for the Dead Good Page Turner Award 2016. Follow Me has been optioned by a TV production company. Angela’s humorous memoir Confessions of a Fashionista is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller.

Angela featured on CBS Reality’s real life crime series Written in Blood, appeared on the BBC Ouch’s Edinburgh Festival Stage in Tales of The Misunderstood, and hosted the book show Tales From Your Life on BBC 3 Counties in 2017. During 2015, she hosted and produced the current affairs radio show Outspoken on Radio Verulam. Angela also features regularly as a panel guest on BBC 3 Counties, BBC Radio 4, and the BBC World Service, among others. Angela has given talks and masterclasses for many, including City University’s Crime Writing MA, Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Camp Bestival, Panic! (in partnership with Create, the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and The Guardian), Meet a Mentor (in partnership with the Royal Society of Arts), Northwich Lit FestSt Albans Lit FestBeaconLit, and the London College of Fashion.

 

Category: Guests, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Guest Post: Angela Clarke – Serial Heroes
October 10

Guest Post: Ian Skewis – Serial Heroes

Serial Heroes – I am 43 years old and there are two heroes that I have loved for as long as I can remember. Their adventures are known to millions but perhaps you may not immediately associate either of them with books?  The first is the Web-Slinger…The Amazing Spider-man, the hero who should not even be a hero. “Just a Kid”, “How Can a SPIDER be a good guy”?  But of all the costumed crime fighters I love to read about, Spidey is the undisputed champ.

But I mentioned two heroes and now I am passing the baton over to my guest, Ian Skewis, to explain why my other choice is a true Serial Hero….

 

Doctor Who.  

Just those two words conjure up images of wide-eyed geniuses, battered police boxes and terrifying villains; unconvincing special effects, dodgy performances and endless corridors that all looked the same. And Daleks. Always Daleks.

I first saw the legendary Time Lord on television in black and white (we couldn’t afford a colour telly at that time) in 1974 when Jon Pertwee regenerated into the wonderful Tom Baker. The giant spiders in that story gave me the creeps and the materialisation of one of them in the centre of a circle of followers is still one of my earliest memories. I hid behind a cushion (not the sofa) when the following year Davros, creator of the Daleks, made his debut. From then on I was (and still am) hooked.

But other than the TV show itself and all the related merchandise there wasn’t much scope for reliving the excitement of what was on the screen. We played at being Daleks in the school playground. We talked avidly about the latest episode. We even saw the occasional repeat. But that was it. Those were hungry days.

Then my dad bought me ‘Doctor Who and the Daleks’ by David Whitaker – and I was hooked all over again. It was published in paperback by Target, who would go on to publish loads more in their successful series. It was amazing to be able to read this story, which was legendary, as it hadn’t been on television since 1963, and this was the only way to get a sense of how exciting it must have been to see something so close to the programme’s genesis. And it marked the debut of the Daleks themselves. I loved it. The story had me in awe from the first page; the atmosphere of the dead planet, soaked in radiation and filled with all sorts of hazards; the claustrophobia of the metallic city and the description of the squat and machine-like Daleks with their battle cry of ‘Exterminate!’

This extract is from when one of the Doctor’s companions, Ian, (I wish it had been me!) wakes up from his first trip in the Tardis to discover that he has arrived on a desolate planet, which we later learn is Skaro – planet of the Daleks!

‘White, dead-looking trees, a kind of ashy soil, a cloudless sky. The heat fanned my face as I stopped at the doorway of the ship. I heard Barbara make a small sound in her throat beside me. Somebody touched me on the arm and handed me my shoes which I put on, only half aware that other hands were tying the laces. I heard Susan’s voice telling me I ought not to walk about in stockinged feet, because there was no telling what the ground would be like. I didn’t do any of the conventional things that one reads about, like pinching myself or rubbing my eyes. I just stood there and stared about me, a dead horror of total realisation creeping through my body.’

One other thing that made these books so attractive was the beautiful front covers, which were designed by the artist Chris Achilleos. They truly are works of art and I still have some prints of those covers on my wall, (see photo) some of which are signed by him. The books were also illustrated with black and white drawings inside, though the drawings were dropped some time later. I read that first book many times over. In the age before video it was the nearest we could get to repeat viewings, something alongside DVDs and satellite TV that we now all take for granted.

I wanted more. Of course I did! In the ensuing years I managed to get hold of many Target titles. Terrance Dicks was the most prolific writer of the series, and I think I have pretty much all his books from the Target range.

Then they released An Unearthly Child in book form in 1981 and that was truly amazing. If memory serves it came soon after the BBC repeated some episodes from the early years, including the very first episode ever made. It was fascinating to watch it in creaky black and white. I still believe that it is the most monumental debut in television history. The book version was equally good – with its description of the junkyard containing the old battered police box that also happened to be a transcendentally dimensional spaceship that travelled through time.

But the TV series and the books were changing – for the worse. Doctor Who began to go off the rails a bit. I still watched it avidly though and I still read many of the book titles that were released too. In 1989 the series was finally taken off the air and so, with the exception of the maligned movie in 1996 the books once again became an important source of food for us hungry Who fans. We had video and DVD by now but the books, now published by BBC Worldwide, were becoming more mature and exploring adult themes which the series could not.

A perhaps rare and early example of this can be seen with Ian Marter’s gory version of The Ark In Space. It should be noted that he was also famous for playing one of the Doctor’s companions, Harry Sullivan, and he wrote several more Target titles. This sequence from The Ark In Space is particularly memorable:

‘Slowly Noah turned his head fully towards them. The whole of the left side of his face was transformed into a shapeless, suppurating mass of glistening green tissue, in the midst of which his eye rolled like an enormous shelled egg. As they stared at him horrified they could almost detect the spreading movement of the alien skin.

‘It… it feels near… very near… now,’ he croaked.

As he tried to speak, a ball of crackling mucus welled out of the dark slit that was his mouth and trickled down the front of his suit. He stumbled forward. ‘Vira… vira… ‘ He threw the paralysator at Vira’s feet. ‘For pity’s sake… kill me… kill me now,’ he pleaded, his voice barely intelligible. Then he reeled back with an appalling shriek into the airlock as, with a crack like a gigantic seed pod bursting, his whole head split open and a fountain of green froth erupted and ran sizzling down the radiation suit, burning deep trenches in the thick material. The shutter closed.’

A far cry from the transmitted TV version where all of the above was achieved with some bubble wrap and green goo!

Of course, since then Doctor Who has returned and is as successful as ever. Books are still being published in relation to the series – but I’ll always have a fondness for those old Target paperbacks.

And for that hero of mine, The Doctor – A hero for all times…

 

 

Ian Skewis is the author of the No 1 Best Seller: A Murder of Crows. Ian worked as a professional actor before moving his focus to writing.

 

You can find Ian at: ianskewis.com  or on Twitter as @ianskewis

You can order Ian’s No 1 Bestseller A Murder of Crows here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ian-Skewis/e/B06XX5C8BK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1507407754&sr=8-1

Category: Guests, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Guest Post: Ian Skewis – Serial Heroes