December 17

Jacqueline Chadwick

When drawing up my list of favourite books of 2017 I knew that Jacqueline Chadwick was going to feature.  I knew that from half-way through her debut novel In The Still.

There was actually only one point where I contemplated not including In The Still in the list and that was when I finished her second book: Briefly Maiden (how to choose between two cracking reads?)

It has been far too long since I had the opportunity to chat with any of the authors who have featured on my blog so I was thrilled that Jackie agreed to join me for a natter about her writing and all things Ali Dalglish…

 

First Question is never a question — this is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give your books a plug.

Well, first and foremost, I’m a mother of two, wife of a firefighter and a dog lover. I’m originally from Stirling in Scotland and I grew up in Birmingham England. I was a child actor and during my career I played a couple of well known bitch roles on TV. I left acting when I was 25, homeschooled my kids and found some time for writing here and there. When I turned 40, I bought a secondhand desk and decided to write novels. I haven’t looked back since.

Published by Fahrenheit Press in July 2017, my debut novel is In The Still where we meet Ali Dalglish living a life she resents. Having stepped away from her career and having immigrated to Canada, Ali’s marriage is crumbling, she is lonely and depressed. When the body of a young woman is discovered on a trail near her home, Ali finds herself embroiled in the case and, given her expertise and experience, is left with no option but to embark upon the hunt for the killer alongside her accidental sidekick, the loveable Marlene McKean. It is a dark and twisted tale and I hope it entertains the reader from the first page to the last.

Briefly Maiden, the sequel to In The Still, is also published by Fahrenheit Press and finds Ali back in the role she loves. This time she is working alongside the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Incident Squad investigating a series of murders in the otherwise charming town of Cedar River. Ali and her partner, Inspector Rey Cuzzocrea, discover the victims are all linked to a paedophile ring and, as a result, the line dividing good and bad becomes blurred as they are tasked with apprehending a perpetrator they suspect to be a victim intent upon vigilante justice. There is a blossoming romance for recently divorced Ali, the introduction of a couple of key characters in the series and an ending that should leave the reader eager for book 3.

 

Tell us about Ali Dalglish – how would you describe her to someone yet to read In The Still and Briefly Maiden?

Ali Dalglish is bloody fantastic. She’s intelligent, funny, caring and driven by a need to protect the vulnerable. She’s Scottish, mouthy and not afraid to pepper her superior vocabulary with inventive swear words. Her marriage is a disaster, she frequently struggles to maintain a healthy work/life balance. She has fought — and continues to fight — a long, arduous battle with severe mental illness. Ali is the kind of woman we all either want to be or want by our side. She’s forthright and takes no shit, she refuses to be bracketed, objectified or intimidated and she is blessed with a mind that makes her a formidable foe to anyone daring enough to wander into her arena.

 

How much of Jacqueline Chadwick is mirrored in Ali?

Too much. I swear as much and fit into polite society just as well as she does. I suppose Ali is my way of ranting about everything that pisses me off. She’s a gazillion times more learned than I (I know that because of everything I have to research just to fit her wealth of knowledge as seamlessly as possible into her dialogue and also because I use words like gazillion).

 

We know that Ali had a very successful career in the UK prior to her decision to relocate to Canada – is there any chance we may one day see a story featuring a younger Ali – one based in the UK?

Ha! I’m writing book 4 in the series right now. It is set in Britain, but it’s not a prequel. Over the course of the series, I’m excited to drop in morsels of information about Ali’s past since it was less than functional and, perhaps, not dissimilar to the kind of childhood that could just as easily have set her on a darker path, the kind of path chosen by the predators she hunts. The great thing about having a character that had established herself professionally in Britain and then later in Canada, is that I am able to cross the pond to write and that is a satisfying and more affordable alternative to actually jumping on a flight myself whenever I’m homesick.

 

I need to ask about the old day jobs…how does appearing in two of the UK’s most watched TV shows prepare you for writing dark and gritty crime thrillers? 

I’m having a giggle as I answer that one because being in British soap was no preparation whatsoever for anything at all in life. Wow, that was a weird trip. I can’t imagine what it would take to stay sane in that industry longterm. I stuck it out for a decade and a half but I just wasn’t the kind of puppet an actor is expected to be. I’m not very good at shutting my mouth and being what someone else tells me to be. It’s simply not in my nature and I never did feel very comfortable with it all. Honestly, I barely remember that time now, it’s just something I did as a child and as a young woman. I would have nightmares — actual wake-up-sweating-and-shaking nightmares — for the first few years after I left because I’d dream of being back in front of the camera. Give me a quiet room, some paper and a pen and I’m me.

 

Can I ask about your “Path to Publication”? (it gets capitals). Does Chez Chadwick have a drawer crammed full of rejection letters or did you ace it and get picked up in record time?

I’ve had a few false starts in writing. It has always been my goal to write for a living and so I do have a healthy amount of rejection slips although I’d never keep the buggers so, no, there isn’t a drawer stuffed with them. Rejections get deleted or binned as soon as they are received so that I can go on deluding myself into thinking I have something to offer. I was lucky with Ali Dalglish, I wrote the first three novels in the series before I let anyone read them and I sent them off to the publisher who terrified me most and felt out of reach: Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press. I knew that if my work was shit, he’d tell me. Thankfully, he liked the books (all except the original ending to In The Still which he told me, in his own inimitable way, to scrap) and I’ve been lucky enough to join the Fahrenheit Press family and get on that particular thrill ride.

 

Rumour has it that there may be a third Ali Dalglish book on the horizon — can you share any sneaky hints?

I Loooove book 3 in the series. It’s called Silent Sisters and it addresses a problem I care about very much. It takes place in and around an Aboriginal reserve on Vancouver Island and, I hope, will bring attention to the very real issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls and the indifference the subject seems to inspire in political leaders. But there are two major elements to the story and so it satisfies the insatiable itch that Briefly Maiden left me with. It is gruesome and dark, twisted and grim because, in my humble opinion, murder and abuse should be nothing but those things, we should feel sickened and touched by the telling of stories that, no matter how bleak, are nothing close to the horrors of the real world.

 

And to wrap up, some quickfire questions:

What was the last book you read?

I reread ‘It’ by Stephen King after I went to see the movie (I forgot how long that sucker is).

 

City Break or Beach Holiday?  (and where is the dream destination)

Definitely city, I would love to take my family on a European tour before they’re so grown that it would be sad to go away for a month with Mum and Dad.

 

Did you ever get “star-struck” when meeting someone famous?

I’ve been to two Billy Connelly concerts and finding myself in the same room as ‘the big yin’ takes some beating.

 

Favourite pizza topping (and be warned that answering ‘pineapple’ will probably spark some twitter carnage)

I’m like Kevin in Home Alone; I want a plain cheese just for me.

 

What do you miss most about the UK?

Irn Bru, tattie scones, square sausage, not having to explain my humour and Sunday lunch over a pint in a proper pub.

 

Huge thanks to Jackie for taking time to answer my questions. I don’t have the words to tell you how much I have enjoyed her books and it is a real thrill to be able to share our chat.

In The Still and Briefly Maiden are published by Fahrenheit Press and you can order both books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacqueline-Chadwick/e/B074JCXLRD/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1513554879&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

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November 30

Briefly Maiden – Jacqueline Chadwick

Ali Dalglish is back in the role she loves: working alongside Vancouver Island’s Integrated Major Incident Squad and is once again partnered with Inspector Rey Cuzzocrea.

As the chemistry between Ali and Cuzzocrea intensifies so does the hunt for a twisted killer as they are tasked with solving a series of violent murders with links to a sinister paedophile ring in the idyllic island city of Cedar River.

In the midst of the chaos, Ali is pulled by her desire to find and save the children at the heart of the case but she is thwarted by an evil so cunning and powerful that it threatens to become the nemesis she never imagined possible: one that could bring her to her knees.

 

Thank you to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for the opportunity to review Briefly Maiden

 

In Scotland there was a generation (my generation) who grew up in awe of a Scottish chap called Dalglish – he had the nickname “King”.

There are many generations of crime fiction readers who hold a policeman called Dalglish in the highest regard.

Time for a new generation of readers to embrace a “Dalglish” – Ali Dalglish.

Jacqueline Chadwick’s feisty (and very Scottish) protagonist has been the most welcome new addition to my reading in 2017.  Following a brilliant debut, in In The Still, Ali Dalglish returns in the equally brilliant Briefly Maiden.

We catch up with Ali several months after the events of In The Still. She is working alongside Inspector Rey Cuzzocre for the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Incident Squad. A brutal murder is the focus of their current investigation. The victim appears to have been linked to a paedophile ring, his body shows multiple stab wounds and the killer has removed part of his victim’s body (leaving the police in no doubt there is a sexual motive behind his death).

Readers get to follow the killer. We see more victims being identified and targeted and we learn how other members of the paedophile ring will start to take steps to protect themselves.

Ali and her colleagues will have their work cut out. Adopting unorthodox investigative procedures may be their only hope.

The Major Incident Squad play a key role in Briefly Maiden.  While Ali was an outsider when we first encountered her in In The Still, she is now part of a well established team (although Ali is still not fully integrated into the mix).  She is many miles away from her native Scotland and Ali stands out among her colleagues – not just because of her accent and background, but her no nonsense approach to life causes ructions between her and her colleagues. There is also the small matter of the building sexual tension between Ali and Cuzzocrea. The scenes where Ali and colleagues are butting heads with each other or are pushing ahead with the investigation were particularly enjoyable.

Not for the faint of heart. The investigation will consider the worst aspects of humanity – Jacqueline Chadwick does not shield the reader from the crimes committed or the retribution the killer seeks to dole out.  What we do get to enjoy is a slick crime thriller which twists and turns throughout and a story which keeps the reader hooked,

But nothing will prepare you for the finale.

Those last few chapters are exactly why I keep reading and blogging. When I picked my jaw off the floor I immediately wanted to tell my friends they had to read Briefly Maiden. I want others to experience that rush from reading a brilliantly told story. I want to talk to them about how great Ali is and how she can steal every scene she is in. I want to see them engrossed (as I was) in a book which was both powerful and compelling.

Briefly Maiden – outstanding. I’ve not enjoyed any book as much as this for a long, long time.

 

Briefly Maiden is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Briefly-Maiden-Ali-Dalglish-Book-ebook/dp/B0771PVW8K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1511987257&sr=1-1&keywords=briefly+maiden

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July 22

In The Still – Jacqueline Chadwick

When Ali Dalglish immigrated to Canada she left behind her career as Britain’s most in-demand forensic pathologist & criminal psychologist. Now, eight years later, Ali feels alone, and bored, and full of resentment. Suffocated and frustrated by her circumstances and in an increasingly love-starved marriage, Ali finds herself embroiled in a murder case that forces her to call upon her dormant investigative skills.

As she’s pulled deeper into the case of ‘The Alder Beach Girl’ and into the mind of a true psychopath, Ali is forced to confront her fears and to finally embrace her own history of mental illness. In an increasingly febrile atmosphere Ali must fight hard to protect those she loves from the wrath of a determined and vicious predator and to ultimately allow the woman she once was to breathe again.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my review copy

 

Lets start with an important word for this review:

benchmark
noun
noun: benchmark; plural noun: benchmarks
  1. a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.

 

In The Still is the book that all my forthcoming reads will be compared to for the considerable future. I absolutely-bloody-loved it. Ali Dalglish is the smart, in-your-face protagonist who made me want to keep turning the pages.

Having left Britain 8 years prior to events in In The Still, Ali has left a successful career and emigrated to Canada with her family.  Her husband works for the local fire service but Ali is home schooling her son and seems to be living a reasonably unfulfilling life. Home tensions will come to the fore during the telling of the story and it helps make Ali and her family appear much more authentic and gives some break from her pursuit of a killer.

Oh yes there is a killer at loose and Ali (along with her irritating neighbour) have found the body. Ali’s initial exposure to the corpse gives her the opportunity to consider the victim – her previous training as a forensic pathologist kicks in and Ali begins to formulate some ideas as to what may have happened to the unfortunate young woman who would become known as The Alder Beach Girl. Ali is not convinced that the local police have the skill (or competence) to investigate the murder and pushes for a reliable investigator to become involved.

It needs to be noted that In The Still is quite graphic in places and as far from “cozy crime” as you could hope to be. Exactly how I like them.

Jacqueline Chadwick provides great detail on Ali’s profiling rationale. The technical and background information which is considered during Ali’s investigations gives a depth to the story and established Ali’s status and her ability to push the investigation forward. But Ali doesn’t suffer fools gladly so there are some fabulous conversations to enjoy as an angry Scottish woman vents at the world around her.

In The Still totally grabbed me, I couldn’t put it down and it was one of those brilliant reading experiences where everything just worked for me. The killer is sadistic and deploys horrible methodology, the investigation to track down the killer is well paced, fun to read and extremely gripping. The lead character won me over from virtually the first page and the suspicion as to the identity of the killer swings between different contenders as the story unfolds – it kept me guessing and I am not ashamed to admit I called it wrong.

Every time I pick up a new book to read I hope it will be a story which enthrals, entertains and excites. I want it to be the book I will recommend to all my friends and I want it to be a story I will return to (and know I will enjoy reading it more than once). In The Still is that book.

 

In The Still is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-1-Ali-Dalglish/dp/1548611956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500741390&sr=1-1

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May 8

Blackwater – GJ Moffat

BlackwaterDeputy Sheriff Early Simms of the Blackwater County Sheriff’s Department knows about the violence that incubates within the souls of men – and that sometimes it needs a release.  As a high school football player he relished inflicting pain, until he made a tackle that left a promising young athlete dead from a broken neck.  Early did not play another game and his dreams of leaving the small town that he grew up in never materialised.  Instead, he followed his father into the town’s police force.

Now older, Early is outwardly content with the life he has made for himself in Blackwater.  But that life is about to be turned upside down.  Kate Foley, his high school girlfriend, arrives in town on the run from an abusive husband and it stirs feelings that Early thought he had forgotten.

Jimmy and Marshall Cain are brothers – men with the capacity for the kind of violence that Early Simms knows all too well.  A botched home invasion by the brothers goes horribly wrong, leaving a man and woman dead and their teenage daughter kidnapped.
Events spiral further out of control, with the brothers embarking on a killing spree that leads them to a confrontation with Early Simms and an FBI task force.  At the same time, Kate Foley’s husband is armed and on the hunt for his wife.

Early is about to find himself in a fight not just for the life he has known, but for the future he has glimpsed in stolen moments with Kate. And to defeat the maelstrom hurtling towards him, he must once again confront the violence in his own soul.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for letting me have a very early chance to read Blackwater

If a story is going to grip me then one of the best ways to do it is to have a lead character that I want to read about. Blackwater has Early Simms – he is a Deputy in the Blackwater Sheriff’s Department and he is exactly the kind of character that I want to read about. Early can outsmart the bad guys, take down the brawlers and he is comfortable and respected in his hometown of Blackwater. He is the character you hope will appear in many more books.

As I got to read Blackwater very early I didn’t know what to expect before I started reading.  I had reached the half way point (and just come up for air for the first time) when I noticed GJ Moffat had tweeted a response to a blogger question “What is the book about?”  His reply:  A good man. Some very bad men. A love story. A crime story. Basically, it rocks.

He nailed it.  Especially “it rocks”.

The good man is Early. A tragic incident which occurred while he was at school changed his life forever and he now seems to be trying to ensure that the overwhelming perception that others will have of him is that he is a good man.

The “very bad men” are truly bad people. Two brothers will lose control of a situation that will spiral into a manhunt which draws in the police and FBI. They are without compassion and their crimes were shocking (but they made for compelling reading).  It should be noted that the brothers may not be the only bad men. If there *were* to be others then I couldn’t possibly discuss them in a review as that would be creeping into SPOILERS territory. I don’t do that. But I would suggest that reading Blackwater would let you find out for yourself about the other bad people that I cannot discuss!

Next up “the love story”. Yes indeed and here is where I can laud the author for brilliant characters and great story pacing. This is an action packed thriller but GJ Moffat still manages to give his cast a proper backstory and lets them develop and grow while the action is unfolding around them.

The “crime story”…well I refer to the brothers again and also to those unmentionable spoilers.  There is a lot going on in Blackwater but the different story threads are woven together will real skill by the author. I read with increasing anticipation as events started to build towards their climax and I was wholly unprepared for the unexpected twists.

Blackwater is a book which will suck you in and is a richly rewarding read. I absolutely loved it and has left me with that dreaded book hangover feeling…where you know the next book you pick up will not be as good as the one you have just finished. Highly, highly recommended – Mr Moffat can tell a great story. 5 stars all the way.

 

Blackwater is published by Fahrenheit Press and is due to release week commencing 8th May.

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December 11

Top Ten Reads of 2016

Time to wrap up another year. Before I get to my selections I need to thank the authors and publishers who have entrusted me with their books, invited me to join blog tours and shared my reviews. Their ongoing support keeps this blog running and I am eternally grateful. I would also like to thank my fellow bloggers who help my reviews reach a wider audience, provide guidance and helpful encouragement (seemingly at any time of the day or night) and who understand my overwhelming need to talk about amazing books.

20161211_202549The books I have selected are the titles which had the most memorable impact. They had a punch or a twist which stood out. They are the stories I still think about months after returning the book to the shelf or they are the books I put into the hands of friends who ask me to recommend something to read. My first “short list” had over 30 titles and I had to narrow that down, I feel bad for leaving some out and I hope that my reviews through the year have reflected how many brilliant books I have had the opportunity to read this year.

 

Sleeping Giants10 – Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel

“This book is just WOW. Sleeping Giants was an absolute gem, it made me laugh, it kept me hooked, I had no idea where it was heading and some scenes actually made me stop reading and double back thinking ‘Wait! What just happened’?”

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1552   and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

Killer Instincts9 – Killer Instincts – Linden Chase

 

Drop a journalist onto a prison island inhabited only by murderers and task him with finding out who runs the facility and how it operates.

He is more concerned about surviving.

 

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1951  and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

My Best Friend's Exorcism8 – My Best Friends Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

It’s an 80’s horror tale. I was not prepared for how dark this tale of two high-school friends would become but it totally captivated me and had some really nasty twists.

My original review:  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1944  and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

a-suitable-lie

 

 

7 -A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

A Suitable Lie is an intense read which is highlighting a topic which is a far bigger issue than most realise. It is a story that will stick with you for a long time to come and it is important that it does. Not to be missed.”

 

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=2130 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Stasi Child6 – Stasi Child – David Young

Delightfully different. David Young takes us into 1970’s East Berlin, a time I normally associated with spy novels.  But this is a gripping police thriller and shows how life may have been “behind the Wall.”  Karen Muller is tasked with investigating a murder but may have her work cut-out as there is political pressure on her to find the “right” outcome.

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1336 and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

Exposure5 – Exposure – Ava Marsh

I loved Exposure. It’s not going to be for everyone as there are frank and graphic descriptions of porn shoots. But if you go into the story knowing it tackles real life issues and avoids sensationalising porn or making it seem that Kitty is living a 24/7 glamourous existence then you will get the best of Exposure.

This is a “must read” book

 

My original review  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1772 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Hex4 – Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Another horror tale and this one is a belter. The town of Black Spring are hiding a secret – a Witch lives in their midst.  A 17th century woman, her eyes and mouth are sewn shut and she can appear in the middle of the night by your bedside. Disaster will befall the town should someone open her eyes – you can guess what happens next!

Terrifying reading.

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1668 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Jonathan Dark

 

 

3 – Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts – A K Benedict

A crime thriller and a clever ghost story too.  I loved AK Benedict’s approach to this story and I long to read more Jonathan Dark stories. When I first reviewed it I said: I wish that every book I read was as enjoyable as Jonathan Dark and the Evidence of Ghosts

My original review http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1415 and you can order the book here.

 

Streets of Darkness

2  – Streets of Darkness – A A Dhand

Back in June I got the chance to read Streets of Darkness and it blew me away. I couldn’t put it down and I am desperate to read more from AA Dhand.

In my original review I said: it is a debut of some note.  An absolute cert for a 5/5 review score, I tore through it and felt drained at the end.

My original review: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1762 and you can order the book here.

 

 

Epiphany Jones A/W.indd1 – Epiphany Jones – Michael Grothaus

 

Disturbing, hilarious, tragic and utterly compelling. I never quite knew where Michael Grothaus was taking us next when I read Epiphany Jones but I loved every step of the journey.

My original review:  http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1748 and you can order the book here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 2

2016: My Top 5 Scottish Books

As a Scottish blogger I am always keen to read crime/thriller books set in my native land or tales written by fellow Scots. I love to read stories which are set in the towns and cities I know so well. I like when the characters talk like me and I enjoy knowing that I am being entertained by someone who knows what is meant by “getting the messages.”

Before I share my choices for my Top Ten Reads of 2016 I am taking this chance to highlight my Top 5 Scottish Books for 2016.

 

The Dead Don't Boogie5. The Dead Don’t Boogie – Douglas Skelton

A missing teenage girl should be an easy job for Dominic Queste – after all, finding lost souls is what he does best. But sometimes it’s better if those souls stay lost. Jenny Deavers is trouble, especially for an ex-cokehead like Queste. Some truly nasty characters are very keen indeed to get to Jenny, and will stop at nothing…including murder. As the bodies pile up, Queste has to use all his street smarts both to protect Jenny and to find out just who wants her dead. The trail leads him to a vicious world of brutal gangsters, merciless hitmen, dark family secrets and an insatiable lust for power in the highest echelons of politics.

There are not many authors that can inject massive doses of humour into a thriller and get the balance of laughs and thrills right. Douglas Skelton manages to hit that combination perfectly as he introduces us to Dominic Queste in The Dead Don’t Boogie.

Order a copy here.

 

 

Willow Walk4.  Willow Walk – SJI Holliday

When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?

When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away?

 

SJI Holliday returns to Banktoun in the follow-up novel to 2015’s Black Wood.  I loved this story as it was deliciously dark and creepy with some nasty twists thrown in for good measure.  As an added bonus we get Susi Holliday’s fantastic characterisation – she creates the most believable people in her books, I swear that I have actually met half the people she writes about.

Order a copy here.

 

 

In Place of Death3. In Place of Death – Craig Robertson

A young man enters the culverted remains of an ancient Glasgow stream, looking for thrills. Deep below the city, it is decaying and claustrophobic and gets more so with every step. As the ceiling lowers to no more than a couple of feet above the ground, the man finds his path blocked by another person. Someone with his throat cut.

As DS Rachel Narey leads the official investigation, photographer Tony Winter follows a lead of his own, through the shadowy world of urbexers, people who pursue a dangerous and illegal hobby, a world that Winter knows more about than he lets on. And it soon becomes clear that the murderer has killed before, and has no qualms about doing so again.

 

A brilliant murder mystery which makes the most incredible use of Glasgow and its landscape.  Craig Robertson brings back Narey and Winter and introduces us to urbexing. In Place of Death was a fabulous read but it also got me looking at Glasgow in a whole new light too. When a book educates as well as entertains then I am never going to be unhappy.

Order a copy here.

 

 

Killer Instincts2. Killer Instincts – Linden Chase

There’s darkness in the heart of Tranquility. Society has developed reliable tests to detect psychopathy in individuals. Those with the disorder are re-classified as victims rather than monsters. The question remains though, how does a liberal society deal with the inherently violent impulses of human predators who live among us. In response a government think tank is launching an experiment, Tranquility; an island where psychopaths will be isolated and left to form their own community.

Zane King, an investigative journalist, has been given a tip-off by a high-level government source that something big is happening on a remote island. After a heart-stopping journey Zane manages to infiltrate Tranquility by persuading the citizens that he’s a psychopath just like them. It doesn’t take Zane long to realise that something has gone very wrong with the experiment but by the time he fully understands what the island is really all about the community is already imploding in a wave of monstrous violence. “Not for the faint hearted…

 

If Lord of the Flies were a slasher movie then you have Killer Instincts.  Loved the idea of a sinister, shadowy agency that controlled Tranquility. Loved the idea of the Hunt. Loved the unpredictable characters.  It is dark read. Very, very dark. But it’s really, really good.

Order a copy here.

 

 

a-suitable-lie1 A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

 

A “wow” book. Michael J Malone tells a harrowing story of domestic violence in a book which is chilling, memorable and incredibly important. I don’t think I could claim to have “enjoyed” reading A Suitable Lie but I couldn’t put it down, I HAD to find out what was going to happen next.

This is a book which will stick with me for a long time to come. It was frequently too realistic for this reader and it tackled a significantly under-reported subject in a sensitive yet compelling voice.

One of the stand-out books of 2016.

Order a copy here.

 

 

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October 22

Killer Intent – Linden Chase

killer-intentThe last time undercover journalist Zane King was sent to Tranquility he barely escaped with his life.

Now 5 years later he finds himself back again, this time as a fully diagnosed psychopath just like every other resident on the island prison.

Zane is only just beginning to come to terms with the fact that he has ended up trapped in Tranquility 2.0 when a seemingly random plane crash introduces a squad of mysterious strangers into the already explosive mix of rival factions and rising tensions among the most dangerous community of town-folk on earth.

As always on the island, nothing is as it seems and Zane must battle relentlessly to finally uncover the truth about Tranquility.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my review copy.

 

The second in the Tranquility Trilogy. In the first book, Killer Instincts, we met Zane King. He was an undercover journalist sent to Tranquility island to investigate a new experimental island prison where residents were left to fend for themselves with minimal supervision but were expected to form living colonies, work the land and only rely upon infrequent supply drops to get by. The experiment did not work and a bloodbath ensued.  I loved Killer Instincts and likened it to Lord of the Files but for fans of slasher movies.   You can read my review here: http://grabthisbook.net/?p=1951

As you can see from the intro above, King survived the ordeals in Killer Instincts. However, despite his escape and a subsequent return to civilization where he rebuilt his life, he never managed to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding who controlled Tranquility. Five years after the events in Killer Instincts, Killer Intent opens with Zane waking from a drugged stupor to find himself back on Tranquility. The prison is back, new inmates, new factions and a new sheriff in town calling the shots. Zane has been diagnosed as a psychopath and sent back to the island for rehabilitation where he will be surrounded by like-minded killers

King is adjusting back into life on the island when the balance is rocked by the arrival of new residents. A plane comes down in the jungle and suddenly in the midst of all the psychopaths are innocent crash survivors. Can King, the sheriff and the island padre (King’s new ally on Tranquility 2.0) keep the incomers safe and find a way to get them off the island?

I am loving the Tranquility Trilogy. Throwing King back into the Hell that he thought he had escaped was an unexpected (and nasty) twist. There was a very political feel about Killer Intent, King is more wary about who he can trust and characters are much more devious in playing-off against each other. The shocks and twists that were in Instincts are very much present in Killer Intent and the story shines as a result. There is a genuine feel that nobody can be trusted, anyone could die at any point and that everyone is hiding something – what more could you ask for in a thriller?

Tranquility really is an incredibly misleading name as there is NOTHING tranquil about these stories but that’s exactly how we like them.  I cannot wait to see how the trilogy wraps up. I know that Linden Chase is not going to make things easy for Zane King and I look forward to the conclusion with a huge amount of anticipation.

 

Killer Intent is published by Fahrenheit Press and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killer-Intent-Tranquility-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01MDNKQLB/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1477173220&sr=8-2&keywords=Linden+Chase

 

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September 18

Fahrenheit Press 1st Birthday Competition

fahrenheit-pressIn just one year Fahrenheit Press have been challenging the conventional norms of publishing and shaking things up in their own unique way. Oh and they have brought some phenomenal books to the attention of crime fiction lovers. To celebrate their 1st birthday Fahrenheit Press are giving me the chance to find one lucky competition winner who will receive a 2016 subscription to their Book Club – this means you will get a copy of all the books they release this year (a prize of more than 50 books).

So who are Fahrenheit Press and how do you win the books?

Well if I look to Twitter then their bio should give you a good starting point:  “Crime Fiction Publishers. Bad seeds. Debasers. Renegades. Your mother probably warned you about us“.

A quick look to the Fahrenheit website and we get a bit more detail:

Fahrenheit Press are a brand new publishing house founded by international publishing veteran Chris McVeigh.

“We’re intent on doing things differently and we’re building a publishing company that’s heavy on curation and deadly serious about marketing.”

After many years helping the world’s biggest publishers build authors and create best-selling titles we’ve decided the time is right to step out from behind the curtain, set up our own publishing house and do things the way we think they should be done. We definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but that’s just the way we like it. If we’re not ruffling some feathers, we reckon we’re doing something wrong.

 

How are they changing things?  Well they managed to persuade Amazon to list a book with no title, no author and no description – the book was initially marketed on trust. They also managed to persuade Amazon to include a NSFW word in a book blurb (another first).  Their Twitter feed is lined with some very frank exchanges, they share sales figures and for God’s sake never ask Chris about Millport as you risk him sharing too much info.

Right – you want to win some amazing books?

I needed a competition which would sit with the Fahrenheit ethos so decided it should be fun but also reflect their “bad seeds” approach.  So I just need you to answer this – TELL ME HOW YOU BROKE THE RULES…

It can be funny/painful/awkward or inappropriate.  If it is criminal I don’t want to know (remember the fun part of this question).

Comments are enabled on this post – gimme your best shot.  Winner will be notified after the competition closes.

 

 

 

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July 18

Dead Is Better – Jo Perry

Dead Is Better 2Charles Stone has just woken up dead. Well he’s pretty sure he’s dead, what with the bullet holes in his chest and all. He also appears to be totally alone in the after-life except for the ghostly dog who seems to be his new companion.

Unable to interact with the world of the living other than watching and listening, he and the dead dog (whom he names Rose) have nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it.

When Charles and Rose try to unravel the circumstances of Charles’s death, they uncover a criminal who is raking in millions of dollars by cruelly exploiting, and sometimes killing, his victims.

But what difference can a ghost make?

And what does the damn dog have to do with any of this?

 

I love dogs, there are too many cats on the internet…dogs are 100 times better (at least). Look at the cover of Dead Is Better – see that paw print? That’s a love heart with toes – gimme dogs every time.

But in Dead is Better the dog (Rose) is dead. Not the best way to win me over Jo Perry! However, all is not lost as even in death Rose the dog has become one of my favourite characters this year.

Rose is keeping recently deceased Charles Stone company in the afterlife. Well I say afterlife, they are still hanging around Charles’s old haunts (terrible pun) and it seems Charles has some unfinished business to attend to. But how can he put things to right when he is dead?  Well not very easily is the simple answer and frequently during Dead is Better we will see Charles getting massively frustrated that he has no way to interact with those that are left behind.

Charles leaves an odious brother, several ex-wives and with hindsight he starts to question how he chose to live his life.  Rose, meanwhile, seems hell bent on getting Charles to visit a hospital. Something or someone in the hospital means a lot to Rose, enough that she will guide/lead/bully Charles back to the same places over and over again – unfortunately for Rose, Charles is not the quickest at understanding what she is hoping to achieve.

Dead is Better is a buddy story, two strangers thrust together in death seeking justice. Yes it sounds a bit odd but I loved this story and as soon as I finished it I had bought Dead is Best (Charlie and Rose book 2). Jo Perry has crafted a very clever story here and I cannot wait to see where it may lead.  Chapters are short enough to make it a nice one for the commute – the story trips along with several laugh out loud scenes. Equally there are some upsetting moments (the book is about a dead guy and a dead dog – some sadness must happen) those scenes were less fun to read but wonderfully evocative. One of the trips that Rose takes Charles on was particularly upsetting…nuff said there.

In short – this is memorable, fun and one that you absolutely should consider if you are looking for something new to try.

 

Dead is Better is published by Fahrenheit Press and you can get a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Better-Charlie-Rose-Investigate-ebook/dp/B01BNG5KH2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468880239&sr=8-1&keywords=dead+is+better

 

 

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Dead Is Better – Jo Perry
November 10

The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter – Charles Kriel

Lobster BoyRogue military cop Melanie Barry is a detective like no other and when her step-father is arrested and framed for murder, Mel is his only hope.

Mel pursues a heartless killer through the darkest heart of the gothic South, only to discover the mysteries of her own shadowy past revealed in blood.

Set on the carnival lot of a South Georgia tobacco town, The Lobster Boy And The Fat Lady’s Daughter is a wild Lynch-ian ride through a world that few people have ever experienced.

 

Before I cover the book I need to comment on how Fahrenheit Press brought it to my attention – by telling me absolutely nothing about it! I was lured in by the promise of mystery and the chance to support something new and different. Fahrenheit managed to persuade Amazon to put their book up for sale with no title announce, no author named and no description of what the book was about – other than it was a crime novel.  The pitch was ‘trust us and we will give you a great book’.  The ultimate mystery story!  Gotta love someone trying something different so I signed up as an early adopter (as a result I got a nice name check in the book too – along with a fair few of my fellow bloggers).

So what the Hell did I buy?

Well it turned out to be a ripper of a read. A murder story with more than a few exciting action scenes, plot twists and intrigue plus some of the most memorable characters I have read in any book for a long time.

Melanie (Mel) Barry grew up amongst the carnival people – raised by the Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady and surrounded by performers, acrobats, ‘freaks’ and mermaids. The Carnival folk wanted a life away from authorities and the anonymity that the carnival could provide them – Mel bucked that trend by becoming a military cop. She is smart, skilled and tough as nails but she is also on the run, AWOL from the army and keeping a very low profile.

A murder of a prominent townsperson at the Carnival leads to the arrest of Mel’s father – Lobster Boy (Charlie). Mel returns to the carnival to investigate and quickly establishes that it would have been physically impossible for Charlie to have committed the murder. But in this town there is a very close network of prominent businessmen running the show and although Charlie’s carnival has provided them with some very pleasant distractions in the past – this time around Charlie is not receiving any preferential treatment.

Mel’s investigation soon leads her into direct confrontation with the cabal running the town but also throws up some figures from her past, not every familiar face brings a happy memory. As the investigation progresses Mel finds herself in increasing danger – siding with a local lawyer and one of the acrobats from the carnival the trio face down threats and attacks in a series of exhilarating action sequences.

The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter was a refreshing and highly entertaining read and Kreil captures the essence of carnival life better than any story I have read in the past. Mel is a kickass action hero and I hope this is a character I can read about in future. May be too quirky for the more conventional reader but this is a book you would be foolish to overlook.

 

The Lobster Boy and the Fat Lady’s Daughter  is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available now in digital format

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