March 9

Born Bad – Marnie Riches

Born BadThe battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the Born Bad blog tour.

 

One of the reviews where I will cut to the chase…reading Born Bad was a joyous experience, I bloody loved it.

Manchester’s criminal underworld are a volatile crowd and Marnie Riches is going to light the blue touch-paper under these powerful gangs and pit them against each other in a battle for supremacy. It is going to be bloody, the players will be treacherous and, in a world where reputation is everything, nobody can afford to show any weakness.

The story will track multiple characters and their lives will intertwine. At the heart of Born Bad is Paddy O’Brien – he is head of the family and controls one of the gangs.  Paddy gets what he wants and expects obedience, particularly from his wife Sheila. Although a powerful woman in her own right, Sheila cannot stand up to the volatile and aggressive behaviour of her husband and their relationship is somewhat strained. But when the opportunity comes for Paddy to get out and leave his enterprise behind both he and Sheila are eyeing up a new start, a clean break.

Needless to say walking away from the lifestyle which has defined him will not be easy and events will appear to conspire against him. A matter of family honour will lead to bloodshed – a hired killer engaged to avenge a perceived wrongdoing. But a death will demand a retaliation and a peaceful exit for Paddy and Sheila looks a bleak prospect.

The multiple focal points in Born Bad keeps the story flowing at a cracking pace. These are not nice people that we are reading about so you can be sure that something unpleasant will soon befall someone (I had such fun trying to predict who may not make it to the end of the chapter).

In a book of bad guys there are clear distinctions between those we are to root for and the really “evil” people we want to see fail. The character interaction is brilliantly handled, humour and empathy meets anger and irrationality and the reactions and responses are exactly how you would expect. The characters drive the story and they are wonderfully realised, without the depth and development that Marnie Riches bestows upon them the emotional engagement would not have been there for me. I believed in the characters and that gave Born Bad the life and vibrancy that a good book needs.

Yeah – I loved it.

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

 

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March 9

Guest Post: Marnie Riches – Born Bad

Manchester’s musical inspiration by Marnie Riches

Born BadManchester has a world-class music scene, and I’m lucky to have been a teen before and during the Madchester heyday, when the cool kids went to the Haçienda. I used to go there almost every Wednesday and Saturday to dance my little cotton socks off, praying that I might clap eyes on New Order, who co-owned the place. I was also an aspiring rockstar in my early twenties, when I returned home for a year after university and an abortive first stab at London life, trying to get a band together. In 1996, you could say I was a contemporary of the upcoming (as they were then), Elbow, and if you’re an Elbow fan, you’d be interested to know that I tried and failed to bag off with the legendary Seldom Seen Kid at a party, shortly before he sadly passed away. I remember him painting the railings of The Temple bar just outside where I worked at Manchester’s Training & Enterprise Council. We’d chat about being in bands and the struggle to get signed and “make it”. I migrated back down to London a couple of months later to immerse myself in proper trainee rockstardom. Three years of close-but-no-cigar followed, playing the Britpop wannabe circuit in Camden and Islington, but alas, my excellent band had missed that groovy gravy train… We were always in the right place at the wrong time.

But sod that! I’m now a best-selling crime writer, so all’s well that ends well.

It will come as no surprise to you, then, given my musical past, that I have a soundtrack to all the novels I write. For Born Bad, it comprises quintessentially Mancunian classics. Here are my top four tunes with thoughts on why I’ve chosen them to describe musically a story about Manchester’s gangland and gritty underbelly:

 

Isolation by Joy Division

IsolationI was always more of a New Order fan than a Joy Division fan, but Isolation’s industrial sound and effortless lo-fi cool makes me think of Manchester. When it plays in my car – the only opportunity I really have to deafen myself with my favourite music, nowadays, since I work in silence – I envisage bleak, grey streets on council estates. I feel the urban anti-chic of the city pulsate through me with every beat, putting me in mind of Born Bad’s Leviticus Bell, living in his crappy high-rise council flat on the Sweeney Hall estate. He is isolated by his poverty, lack of opportunity and desperate situation at home. But he’s street-smart and authentically urban-cool. He’ll do for me!

 

Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Bizarre Love TriangFrank O’Brien in Born Bad owns the world-class super-club, M1 House. Though I’m not stretchy enough to go clubbing more than once or twice per year now, M1 House is an amalgam of all the great clubs in Manchester, past and present. The DJs play the best music. The kids have the best time, obviously blighted by lethal gang violence – not that Manchester clubs are immune to being occasionally caught in the crossfire. Bizarre Love Triangle played in the Haçienda during its finest hour. I can remember standing in the lofty foyer, by the full-height, industrial plastic flaps, ringing wet with sweat from dancing on the packed dancefloor, listening to the track booming from the sound system. I revelled in how marvellous it was to be a Mancunian, listening to one of Manchester’s biggest bands in one of the coolest clubs in the world at that best of times. The clean electronic sound, with Hooky’s distinctive bassline over the top, embodies Mancunian artistic endeavour and the need to dance the blues away. Listen to it and understand Manchester.

 

Fools’ Gold by Stone Roses

Fools GoldThough I was never a mega-fan of the Stone Roses, I always loved Fools’ Gold as a song that epitomised Mancunian cool. Its shuffling backbeat and Mani’s iconic, super-funky bassline represent everything that’s effortlessly, timelessly stylish about Manchester’s music scene. Since it was used in the soundtrack to Guy Ritchie’s gangster flick, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – a film I must have watched at least twenty times for its slick dialogue, complex story-telling and sharp humour – Fools’ Gold has also acquired gangland connotations for me. In fact, the Manchester series with Born Bad as its first installation, is all about the pursuit of a villain’s fools’ gold – dirty cash you can barely get away with or enjoy spending because those ill-gotten gains might bring the law and the tax man down on you. The track brings to mind Manchester’s mean streets, its glittering new buildings and the clean crispness of freshly laundered money. Scratch the surface and you can see how really filthy it still is beneath!

 

How Soon is Now? by The Smiths

the-smiths-how-soon-is-now-rhinoThe Smiths are a long-standing love of mine, musically – the early Smiths, that is. Morrissey and Marr are undoubtedly one of the best songwriting duos ever and the pair encapsulated a working class desperation and loneliness like no other band has managed to do. Their sonically brilliant songs represent true Mancunian misery, black humour and poetry at its best. When I wrote about the hopeless life of Leviticus Bell in Born Bad, How Soon is Now? might have been his personal soundtrack. There’s nobody who truly loves him – even his own mother, Gloria. The chugging Bo Diddly-style guitar of Johnny Marr creates an impression of the grind of urban life with a searing, whining guitar-sound layered above it that puts me in mind of emergency service sirens, whizzing by in the night. But in among the canon of work by the Smiths, there are tracks that bristle with humour and hope, just as this book boasts the darkest and the lightest of moments, introduced by Gloria and the eccentric henchman, Conky McFadden. So, The Smiths had to be on my list!

 

If Marnie’s choices have made you want to revisit these classics then she has very kindly pulled together a Spotify playlist which you can access here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1142057371/playlist/0DgbSgJtWpOF14WgYiJC0e

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

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March 8

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister jacket‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

 

My thanks to Josie at Penguin Randomhouse for my review copy

 

Matthew Hopkins – the Witchfinder. One of the most notorious figures from a dark period in the history of the UK. He was responsible for many deaths, all in the name of purging witchcraft from England. In The Witchfinder’s Sister Beth Underdown is taking a very different approach to telling his story and it is wonderfully done.

As the title suggests the story is about Hopkins’ sister (Alice). We first meet Alice as she is travelling to her family home, she is pregnant but has recently lost her husband. On returning home she will reside with her brother, Matthew. Their mother has also passed away since Alice was last home so she is returning to an unfamiliar domesticity.

Alice gets settled into her new quarters before we are first introduced to Matthew. He has been travelling so the author can firmly establish the household before she introduces the reader to The Witchfinder.  I adored how Beth Underdown allowed us to learn about Matthew, the man, before we start to learn about Matthew, The Witchfinder.  We learn of his disfigurement, how he and his sister looked out for each other as children and we see how he runs his house.

Yet as the story evolves – and it is a wonderfully written work of historical fiction – the tension between Alice and Matthew will grow. We see Matthew fade and The Witchfinder come to the fore.  He has plans and he has a mission and it will keep everyone enthralled.

Beth Underdown has delivered a magnificent tale, creepy, accessible and enthralling. Highly recommended.

 

The Witchfinder’s Sister is published by Penguin and is available here

Follow the tour:

Witchfinder-blog-tour-banner-v2

 

 

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March 7

Aye Write – Know the Authors: Vaseem Khan

For one last time before Aye Write 2017 gets underway I am delighted to welcome Liz Barnsley (from Liz Loves Books) back to Grab This Book.   Liz has been chatting with some of the authors who are appearing at this year’s Aye Write festival and today she is joined by Vaseem Khan.

Vaseem is the author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series, a crime series based in Mumbai, India and featuring a baby elephant. The first book in the series, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra was a Times bestseller, a Waterstones’ paperback of the year and an Amazon Best Debut.

With my heartfelt thanks to Liz for allowing me to share these chats, I give you Liz and Vaseem:

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it …

The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the CrownIn the second Baby Ganesh Agency novel “THE PERPLEXING THEFT OF THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN” (out in paperback in March) Inspector Chopra is on the trail of the world’s most famous diamond, the Kohinoor, first mined in India during the Raj, “appropriated” by the British, and then installed in the Crown Jewels. This blurb says it all really: “For centuries the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the Crown Jewels, the priceless gem is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone’s principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose. The heist was daring and seemingly impossible. The hunt is on for the culprits. But it soon becomes clear that only one man – and his elephant – can possibly crack this case …”

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

East London. We were five brothers and sisters – yep, your typical Asian 70s/80s family – I was the oldest. Hence, plenty of fist fights (sisters), stabbing in the back (sisters), snitching (again…) – and that was only at the age of five. In truth, I had a happy, hectic childhood – if you’ve seen any Bollywood movies you’ll know the drill: weddings, curry, more weddings, over-the-top parental angst, and more weddings. My favourite memory? Playing cricket in the backyard with my brother. By playing with my brother I mean I batted for hours, smashing the ball everywhere, while he went and fetched it. He can take a lot of credit for the fact that now at 43 I still play cricket all summer. (I don’t know who takes the blame for the fact that after almost 40 years I’m still shite at it.)

Academic or creative at school?

In art class I was asked to paint a portrait of the art teacher. After finishing I sat back, waiting for the plaudits. He took a long look, then gave me detention. He thought I’d been taking the p*ss. I hadn’t. I just had no talent. On the other hand I did get perfect grades at all the ‘regular’ subjects, got great A-levels, and then studied Finance at the London School of Economics. But I still can’t paint a picture of a human being without it looking like a zombie mangled by a bulldozer.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

In 1997, as a bright-eyed 23 year-old I joined a small management consultancy (to avoid becoming an accountant). A few months in the boss asked me if I’d like to go to India for a new project. (Actually what he said was ‘you’re brown, you speak Indian, you’ll work for next to nothing; you’re going.’ ) I still remember my first day vividly. Lepers, beggars, eunuchs, heatstroke … and that was just getting out of the airport. My taxi stopped at a set of lights, a river of chaos on the road, honking rickshaws, hooting trucks, cows, goats, dogs and then, lumbering through this chaos, the utterly surreal sight of an enormous grey Indian elephant. Needless to say this was the greatest job anyone could wish for.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I was in a cave and an unearthly voice spoke to me, commanding me to write … OK, that’s not exactly true. I’ve wanted to write since I was nine-ish. I wrote long stories, in long hand, and I’d give them to my English teacher who’d make polite noises, then heave me out the door. For all I knew he threw them all in the bin, poured his afternoon whisky over them, and burned them to ash. But I persisted. And lo and behold a mere 32 years later I was given a four book deal by Hodder. Shows what he knew.

Who are your real life heroes?

Are you saying Scooby Doo isn’t real? … OK, If it’s real life, then one of my heroes has been an Indian cricketer named Sachin Tendulkar. I am a cricket nut and lived in India when Sachin was at his peak. What inspired me about him was that he came from humble beginnings, became the most feted Indian on the planet, yet remained humble – and that throughout a 24 year career. These days you see some D-list celebrity toerag get one half-positive comment on Twitter and suddenly they act as if they’re God’s gift to humankind.

Inspector ChopraFunniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

A coconut fell on my head while giving a speech. Yes, laugh, why don’t you? It wasn’t funny at the time, I can tell you. I was giving an impromptu staff motivational talk under a coconut palm in India (as one does) when the coconut decided it had heard enough. Cue hilarious laughter from crowd – it has always amazed me how funny people find it to see someone being smacked on the head. I have had a vendetta against coconuts ever since.  

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I am a legendary figure in the world of DIY; at least in my head. I hate paying professionals for work that I can perfectly well botch-up myself. I mean who needs a qualified gas engineer when you can Google-fix the boiler yourself? (NOTE: that was a joke. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. At least not your own home.)

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I am a lifelong insomniac. Sleep is for wimps. If I could eradicate sleep from the human condition I would do so. On the plus side, I do my best work in the dead of night. (I mean the writing, not the string of burglaries, of course.) There’s something about creeping around in the dark thinking about murder and mayhem . . .

A book that had you in tears.

There are books that have me in tears for the wrong reasons. But a book that really tugged on my usually cold, dead heartstrings was Schindler’s Ark. Thomas Keneally writes the book with humour, and beautiful prose, but the sheer fact that real people committed such evil is something that took my breath away.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

A book about cancer. No, this is true. My mother passed from cancer so this is a subject close to my heart and I wouldn’t joke about it. Unlike John Green who wrote The Fault in our Stars about two cancer stricken teenagers falling in love. The book is so fill of wit, and laugh-out-loud jokes on every page, that I couldn’t help but fall in love with this ultimately tragic but always funny story.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

“You are insignificant. You are nothing. You are less than a speck of dirt on the bottom of my shoe” … I mean all this in a nice way, of course. As soon as you accept that you are insignificant you will understand how absurd life is, and you will be a much nicer person, less stressed, and better able to see what it is you really want from your miniscule life span. A recipe for happiness. Don’t all rush to thank me at once.

  

Vaseem will be at Aye Write on Friday 10th March where he will be joined by Abir Mukerjee for The Jewel in the Crime.

You can purchase tickets here

For more information about the world of the series (plus pictures of baby elephants!) please visit vaseemkhan.com where you can also keep abreast of Vaseem’s latest goings-on, competitions, events, and extracts from upcoming books via The Reading Elephant Book Club.

https://twitter.com/VaseemKhanUK

https://www.facebook.com/VaseemKhanOfficial/

 

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March 5

Aye Write – Know The Authors: Antti Tuomainen

Aye Write is upon us.  Events are already underway as the last couple of weekends have hosted the Wee Write festival – that’s the family events aimed at younger readers. This week sees the main festival kicking into gear and the guests start appearing thick and fast.

Tuomainen
Picture copyright Toni Härkönen

Once again I am delighted to team up with the lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce another of the authors who will be appearing at Aye Write in 2017.

Liz sets the questions to Antti Tuomainen, author of The Mine. Antti joins us fresh from a series of appearances across the UK as part of the Orenda Books Roadshow. On Saturday 11th March he will make the long journey back up North for an appearance in Glasgow’s Mitchell Library.

Over to Liz and Antti:

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

AT: THE MINE is a crime story and a story of a father and a son. I hope it is a suspenseful and an entertaining read that also gives you something to think about.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

AT: I grew up in Helsinki. I’ve lived here all my life. Wonderful family. My Mom and Dad were very important in my becoming a writer. They read a lot and there were always books in the house.

the-mineAcademic or creative at school?

AT: I think extracurricular is the word. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about school.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

AT: I was 18 or 19 when I just knew – instinctively and deep down – I would be a writer. I never wanted to be anything else since then.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

AT: See above. Also: I liked Finnish at school. We got to write essays and stories. I made up everything. I realized there is magic to this.

Who are your real life heroes?

AT: My mother, my father and my incredibly wonderful wife Anu.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

AT: First DIY, then phone a friend.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

AT: I like mornings. I like to go to bed early, get up early. When I was young, it was the other way around.

A book that had you in tears.

AT: Not tears, exactly, but I immensely liked John Williams’ Stoner. A beautiful novel.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

AT: Any book by Elmore Leonard.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

AT: I try my best to not give anyone any advice. But, if anyone asks, I am always willing to share my experience on a given topic if I have any.

 

Antti will be appearing at Aye Write on Saturday 11th March at 6:30pm.  He will be accompanied by Orenda stablemate Kati Hiekkapelto and Swedish crime-writing due Roslund & Hellstrom.  Tickets can be purchased here

 

Antti is all over social media – you can find him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnttiTuomainenOfficial

On Twitter: www.twitter.com/antti_tuomainen

And Instagram: www.instagram.com/antti_tuomainen

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March 4

Anglesey Blue – Dylan H Jones

Anglesey BlueA Gripping New Serial Killer Thriller

MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE.

It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.

Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life.

But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community.

Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.

Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?

Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved.

Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises?

How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?

 

My thanks to the team at Bloodhound Books for my review copy and the opportunity to join my very first Bloodhound tour.

 

Picking up a book by an author I have never read before is always a bit of a thrill for me. You can read the book blurb or you can have a story recommended by a friend, but it is not until you start to read a book for yourself that you can know if you are going to enjoy the next few hundred pages. I knew from pretty early on in Anglesey Blue that I was going to enjoy it.

First there is DI Tudor Manx, adjusting to life in Anglesey after a transfer from London (and under a bit of a cloud within the force), he gives the reader an outsiders-eye view on life in the town. His team are a relatively inexperienced bunch of coppers – life in small town Wales doesn’t seem to compare to that of London’s Met police so Manx will have to drive, encourage and motivate his colleagues if they are to make any progress with a murder enquiry.

Yup Murder. There is a decidedly dark tone to Anglesey Blue which I delighted in. Bodies cropped up, a particularly nasty drug dealer (with his hired muscle) is looking to establish new distribution channels on the island for their new drug of choice. Manx and his team will have their work cut out but for a reader it is a highly entertaining challenge.

One of the best ways to hook me in a story is to have great dialogue between the characters, not just the conversations which will drive a police investigation but the chat amongst colleagues and friends. Dylan H Jones absolutely nails this for me – the station chatter, the flirtatious barmaid, the meeting of parents concerned about drugs on the island…it was so well written that I wanted to keep reading as I was enjoying not just the crimes and investigations but the camaraderie amongst the characters.

There are many crime novels out there to choose from but miss Anglesey Blue at your peril, it’s a gem.

 

Anglesey Blue is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now in paperback and digital format.

You can order a copy here.

Anglesey Blue Tour

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March 3

False Prophet/Never Forget (Saul Marshall) – Richard Davis

So what do you do when you read the *wrong* title for a blog tour?  Well you spend half an hour coming up with imaginative names to call yourself. Then 5 minutes checking you definitely have mixed up which book was the focus of the tour (I had). And then you stay up reading until 3am to post a blog tour “double-header” of the Saul Marshall books by Richard Davis.

There was quite a lot of coffee involved in bringing you these reviews, but good books and lots of coffee is how I like it!

FALSE PROPHET

FalseProphet_CropA psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him

When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

 

First up in this double-header is False Prophet. We are introduced to Saul Marshall – he is a guy with a fascinating past, an FBI agent who was once one of the best conmen in the game. He is resourceful, connected and a bit of a loose cannon (basically he is a hugely entertaining lead character).

Marshall is on a visit to England. A prisoner with a history of mental health issues has a warning for Saul – he knows of a former prisoner by name of Ivan Drexler who has crossed paths with Saul in the past and he blames Saul for his incarceration. The warning is that Drexler (who is without conscience or compassion) may be planning to unleash a string of attacks on American citizens.

Saul cannot ignore the warning but there seems to be no real substance to the suspicions. However, events are soon flipped on their head.  Draxler is heading up a cult and has kidnapped Saul’s son to ensure Saul places himself into the path of Draxler and his minions. Can Saul keep up with Draxler and stop him unleashing his terror attacks?

False Prophet is a fast paced action thriller. Draxler as the “big bad” is a particularly evil character who inflicts some quite gruesome (and imaginative) harm onto several characters throughout the story. It makes for quite compelling reading and the speed at which the story unfolds is the perfect way to reflect the urgency/race against time which faces Marshall.

As a fan of action thrillers I have to say that False Prophet ticked all the right boxes for this reader.  The chapters are short and punchy which kept the feeling of a high tempo going. Draxler’s cult were suitably disturbing and the author did a good job of positioning their foundation and their threat risk. Marshall, as I have indicated, is a fun character to follow and I loved having Never Forget to dive straight into on finishing False Prophet – I was happy to keep Marshall’s story going a bit longer.

 

False Prophet is published by Canelo and you can order a copy here.

 

NEVER FORGET

Canelo_NeverForget_Ebook4Saul Marshall is on the run.

As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.

He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…

And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

 

Never Forget – Saul Marshall returns (though thanks to my scheduling faux pas he has been my constant companion for a few days).  Happy days though as I have been enjoying the frenetic adventures.

The Saul Marshall books are most definitely recommended for fans of the action thriller. If you have read your way through the Scott Mariani (Ben Hope) books or enjoyed Matthew Reilly then I urge you to seek out Never Forget and False Prophet, these are guaranteed thrill-fests.

In Never Forget I felt there was much greater emphasis placed upon Saul’s “unconventional” background. Before becoming an FBI agent he had been a successful conman and these skills are exploited here to great effect. The break from a more traditional FBI approach and mixing up the investigative element with the alternative skills that Saul brings to the party make him an unpredictable and engaging lead.

As was the case with False Prophet the central themes are extremely well positioned. Never Forget is tech focussed – reading about cybercrime/hacking and technology manipulation gave me a distinctly uneasy feeling as I start to question how much of the fiction in the novel could actually be possible (or even happening in some form). There is political intrigue too and it all meshes well to keep the reader hooked.

Never Forget will stand well without the need to have read the first book. Everything you need to know is nicely explained but once the story gets started you just get drawn in and go along with what’s unfolding on the pages in front of you.

A very welcome change in pace for this reader, there is always a place in my book collection for an exhilarating thriller and Never Forget fits the bill very nicely.

 

Never Forget is published by Canelo and can be ordered here.

 

My thanks to Faye Rogers for my review copies and the opportunity to join the tour.

Never Forget blog tour 4

 

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February 28

Aye Write: Know the Authors – ES Thomson

We are now into March and Aye Write is drawing ever closer.  I am teaming up with my good friend (well, if pressed she will admit to knowing who I am) Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce some of the authors you can see at this year’s Aye Write festival.

Today I am delighted to introduce ES Thomson, author of Beloved Poison, a finalist for the 2016 McIlvanney Prize at Bloody Scotland. The questions were set by Liz so there are no mentions of pineapple pizza or serial killers – themes which have dominated my recent Q&A’s.  However, I *was* delighted to learn that ES Thomson is a former employee of James Thin Bookshops (as was yours truly). I am in denial over how long ago that must have been.

Over to Liz :

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

My current novel, Dark Asylum, is the second novel I’ve written starring cross-dressing apothecary Jem Flockhart.  Its set in 1850s London in a place called Angel Meadow Asylum.  One of the doctors is brutally murdered with his own phrenological head-measuring callipers, and his eyes and mouth stitched closed.  Jem and her pal Will Quartermain have to discover who did this, and why – especially important as the wrong person has been accused.  The story moves from the asylum, to the slums, to the gallows and the convict transport ships.  There are some new faces – Dr Golspie who smokes enough hash to turn himself mad; Dr Mothersole, who favours singing and dancing as a method of treating madness; Dr Rutherford who has a collection of 200 human skulls.  There are also some familiar faces, such as Mrs Roseplucker and Mr Jobber, the brothel keepers, and Mrs Speedicut, the drunken matron.  Readers can expect to enter the dark world of the nineteenth century asylum, the prison, and the convict ship, and find a mystery that keeps them turning the pages (I hope!)

ESThomson17 - eoincarey_0081Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up in Ormskirk, a small market town outside Liverpool, in the 1870s and 1980s.  I read a lot of novels while waiting for something to happen.  I remember cycling around the block a lot too.  I have two sisters (I am the middle one).  We all left home as soon as possible.

 Academic or creative at school?

Probably not much of either.  Creativity was nowhere to be found in Ormskirk Grammar School, and I was pretty average at all my school work due to laziness and being a big day-dreamer.  Nothing much interested me – apart from English and History.  I really liked those! 

First job you *really* wanted to do?

When I was 6 years old I wanted to be a bus conductor. I had a ticket stamper, a whistle and a cap and I was ready to go…  Apart from wanting to be a writer, it’s only really the bus conductor idea that’s grabbed me.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I used to write a lot at primary school, including the classic poem “I am an Orange” and the short story “The Mystery of the False Teeth”.  Then I went to secondary school and gave it up due to lack of opportunity and encouragement.  I worked in Waterstones and James Thin’s Bookshop (which shows how old I am!) when I was a student and I read loads… I always secretly still wanted to write.  Then I got a job teaching business and marketing ethics at university.  It became a matter of “write … or die…”

Who are your real life heroes?

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915), who wrote Lady Audrey’s Secret.  She had 6 children, and looked after 5 step-children while their mother was in an asylum.  She wrote more than 80 novels, and was not afraid to do awful things to her characters – including having a bigamous female character kill her husband by pushing him down a well!  Go Mary!

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I once almost gassed some dogs and blew up a guest house. Not sure whether that’s funny or embarrassing. It’s probably neither, but is just awful.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I try anything!  My repairs have been described by admirers of my handiwork as “crude, but effective”.   Duct tape is my favourite medium.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Both – if possible. I’m generally very tired.

A book that had you in tears.

The last book that had that sort of effect on me was the beginning of Doug Johnston’s The Jump, which I read last year.  It was about a woman who lost her son through suicide – the chapters of the book that addressed how she felt were cleverly done. I have two sons. I could imagine nothing worse than losing either of them.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman always made me laugh.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

I don’t give anyone advice unless they specifically ask.  Generally speaking though, I think “shut up and get on with it” might work well for many (including myself).

 

ES Thomson alongside Diana Bretherick will be discussing Ripping Victorian Yarns at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library on 18th March at 3pm. Tickets HERE

 

BELOVED POISON

Beloved PoisonThe object I drew out was dusty and mildewed, and blotched with dark rust-coloured stains. It smelt of time and decay, sour, like old books and parchments. The light from the chapel’s stained glass window blushed red upon it, and upon my hands, as if the thing itself radiated a bloody glow.

Ramshackle and crumbling, trapped in the past and resisting the future, St Saviour’s Infirmary awaits demolition. Within its stinking wards and cramped corridors the doctors bicker and fight. Ambition, jealousy and hatred seethe beneath the veneer of professional courtesy. Always an outsider, and with a secret of her own to hide, apothecary Jem Flockhart observes everything, but says nothing.

And then six tiny coffins are uncovered, inside each a handful of dried flowers and a bundle of mouldering rags. When Jem comes across these strange relics hidden inside the infirmary’s old chapel, her quest to understand their meaning prises open a long-forgotten past – with fatal consequences.

In a trail that leads from the bloody world of the operating theatre and the dissecting table to the notorious squalor of Newgate and the gallows, Jem’s adversary proves to be both powerful and ruthless. As St Saviour’s destruction draws near, the dead are unearthed from their graves whilst the living are forced to make impossible choices. And murder is the price to be paid for the secrets to be kept.

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February 27

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

Say NothingOn a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .
The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.

 

My Thanks to Lauren at Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

When I get asked what book I would recommend, Say Nothing is now my first answer. I have just spent the last two days pouring over this thriller, devouring every word and I cannot say too many good things about it. Let me save you a skip to the foot of the page…Say Nothing gets an epic 5 stars from me.

<And breathe>

We meet Scott Sampson. He is a judge with a good reputation. He has a happy home life, a loving family and life is grand. But things are about to change.  Scott receives a text message from his wife telling him she is taking their young twins to an appointment with the doctor and that he need not collect them from school. No cause for concern, just a change to their normal routine – until Scott’s wife returns home without the kids and they realise something has gone wrong. As the couple try to make sense of their conflicting understanding of the afternoon’s events the phone rings and their world is turned upside down.

Their twins have been kidnapped. Further instruction will follow in due course but in the meantime neither Scott or Alison can let anyone know what has happened – SAY NOTHING.

Scott has to continue going to work and hearing cases so in addition to a tense kidnap story we are treated to an engaging courtroom drama too. I have not read very many legal thrillers of late and I realise that I miss them – Say Nothing handles the switches between courthouse and domestic drama brilliantly and both elements to the story play out fabulously well.

The story zips along at a fast pace and, with the constant worry over what may happen to two helpless kids at the hands of their abductors, you find that you just have to keep reading.

The book asks how far you would go to protect your children and Scott and Alison will be pushed to the limit. Doubts and suspicion of family, friends and colleagues will threaten to overwhelm them and events outwith their control will seem to conspire against them and try to thwart the safe return of the twins.

Gradually it becomes clear exactly why the kidnap was arranged and Scott will become increasingly pressured into following orders to keep his children safe. But if a high profile judge starts behaving erratically then people will start to notice. How long can Scott maintain the façade of normality when someone else is calling the shots and seems to know his every move?

Brilliant, brilliant storytelling which I cannot recommend enough. I mention it was a 5 star read?

 

Say Nothing is published on 2 March 2017 by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here.

Follow the Say Nothing tour

SAY NOTHING_blog tour graphic

 

 

Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours | Comments Off on Say Nothing – Brad Parks
February 24

Aye Write Getting to Know the Authors: Abir Mukherjee

The countdown to Aye Write 2017 is well and truly underway so I am teaming up with the lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to introduce a few of the authors who will be entertaining us this year.

First up with me is Abir Mukherjee.

Abir grew up in Hamilton and Bothwell, while I am from Motherwell. Local geographers will know that we were separated by a big park, Abir on the posh “South” side while I was on the less glam “North” side. When he appears at Aye Write in March, Abir and I will be separated by a big road. He will be in Glasgow’s gorgeous Mitchell Library, I will be in the building across the street (at my desk for the day job) frantically getting my work finished so I can come along to hear him speak.

Here is Abir chatting with Liz…

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it.

Well there’s a dead Scotsman on page one and it sort of carries on from there.

Seriously though, it’s called A RISING MAN and it’s set in Calcutta in 1919 and tells the story of Captain Sam Wyndham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective, who’s come to India after surviving the Great War. Within a fortnight of arriving in the city, he’s faced with his first case – a high ranking British official found with his throat slit and note stuffed in his mouth warning the British to quit India. In addition to solving this apparent assassination, Wyndham and his officers have to investigate the death of a railway guard, murdered during an attack on a train where nothing was stolen.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I grew up just down the road from here in Hamilton and Bothwell. Deepest, darkest, Lanarkshire, they call it. Family life was…odd but fun. At the time, I think we were the only Asian family in the village and so we were always considered somewhat exotic – at least by Uddingston standards. Still, I can’t think of a better place to grow up than the West of Scotland.

I must have done something pretty bad in a previous life though, as nowadays I live in London.

Academic or creative at school?

I’m Asian. What do you think?

First job you *really* wanted to do?

Mum tried to brainwash me into becoming a doctor, but that never really appealed to me (and I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me).  The sad truth is that at the age of twelve or thirteen, I watched a film called The Secret of My Success. It starred Michael J Fox as a 23 year-old financial whizz kid. Of course he gets the girl, the fancy job and all the trimmings. From that day on I wanted a career in finance. It was only when I was in my twenties and working in mergers and acquisitions that I realized that like ain’t like the movies.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

I can’t recall the exact moment. I’ve always had a hankering to write for as long as I can remember. What I can tell you is the moment when I decided not to write (at least not for a long while). It was in my sixth form English class (I was the only student in our school who did sixth year studies English that year) and I got on really well with my English teacher. I still remember him telling me not to do a degree in English at university, as I’d only end up teaching snotty kids in a school somewhere. So I did economics instead and wasted twenty years of my life.

Who are your real life heroes?

Difficult one. I’ve not really thought about it. Probably, Gandhi, Roger Federer and Pat and Greg Kane from the band, Hue & Cry.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

Recently? Having to explain the difference between ‘haggis’ and ‘Huggies’ to a shop assistant in Waitrose, Canary Wharf, making it clear that I didn’t want to eat nappies.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

Definitely DIY expert. I have two power drills and so much other DIY equipment gathering dust. What normally happens is that I’ll attempt to fix something, like a leaking sink, and then be forced to call a plumber when the kitchen explodes.

Sun worshipper or night owl?

Nights out in a hot climate.

A book that had you in tears.

I can’t actually think of one. Alas I come from a generation of emotionally stunted Glaswegian men who can’t cry about anything other than the football.

In terms of a book that had the greatest emotional impact on me, I’d say The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. It tells the story of a Bengali family who emigrate to the United States. There were so many parallels between that family’s experiences and my own that it just floored me. It was the first book I read that encapsulated the experiences of my life.

How To Be Really InterestingA book that made you laugh out loud.

I’m tempted to say, ‘How to be Really Interesting’ by Steve Davis. I was given it as a present when I was fourteen, but it’s still funny.

In terms of proper books, it would have to be Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Don’t listen to me. If I knew what I was doing, I’d be sitting on a beach right now, sipping Margaritas.

 

You can catch Abir at Aye Write on and tickets are available through this link:

http://www.ayewrite.com/Pages/whats-on.aspx#/event/ec9493e8-812d-4d9d-a5fa-a70100f60989#top

 

A RISING MAN

A Rising Ma

Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.

A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.

You can order A Rising Man here

 

 

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