November 7

The Dead Whisper – Emma Clapperton

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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April 12

Dog Fight – Michael J Malone

dog fightKenny O Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs. When Kenny s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless.

With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?

 

My thanks to Sara at Contraband for my review copy

 

Dog Fight…even the title makes Michael J Malone’s new novel sound dark and dangerous. It’s not misleading. Dog Fight is a Kenny O’Neill story and it doesn’t matter how big-hearted Kenny can be – he is still one of Glasgow’s gangsters and dark and dangerous goes with the territory.

A homeless ex-soldier is given the opportunity to make a few quid if he will take part in an underground fight club. Though not as fit as he once was, the former soldier fancies his chances and sees the opportunity to get some much needed cash. It soon becomes clear that this offer may not have been made with his best intentions at heart. 

Although I said this was a Kenny story, his cousin Ian also features heavily. Ian is ex-military and has accumulated a few demons in the past – most notably a drug habit which he has managed to vanquish. Ian is still in touch with some of his former squad mates and it is while visiting one of his pals that the path of the story is set.  Ian’s mate is suffering, injured and disabled in action and with anger issues that he struggles to control. He has borrowed lots of money to fund a drug habit and to buy gifts for his son. But when the loan needs repaid and the enforcers are sent to collect Ian is going to get in the way. After a confrontation with the ‘wrong people’ Ian receives an offer which will give him the chance to earn a few quid.

Meanwhile Kenny has his own problems to contend with. He is dealing with the aftermath of events in Bad Samaritan (no spoilers from me) and an unexpected domestic drama will shake up his family. When his cousin Ian suddenly vanishes Kenny needs to call on his contacts to track him down, however, information comes at a price and Kenny will need to pay the price to find his cousin.

Dog Fight does give the reader much to contemplate. The underground fight club gives us some brutal scenes to read through and the morality of exploiting vulnerable former soldiers was unsettling. Malone is highlighting how poorly retuning soldiers are treated when they try to resume a “normal” life. PTSD and lack of a support network is a real problem and the vulnerabilities are brought to the fore by the author who is almost challenging the reader to help tackle this issue.

Kenny’s story is nicely developed too and it is easy to see why he is a firm favourite with returning readers. You don’t have to have read any of the previous novels to pick up and enjoy Dog Fight, the book stands well on its own, but knowing the backstory will enhance enjoyment.

Dog Fight can be dark, gritty and unflinching but there is humour energy and there are uplifting scenes too. Michael J Malone can’t half tell a good story – this is a beauty.

Dog Fight is published by Contraband and is available now in both paperback and digital format. Order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-Fight-Kenny-ONeill-2/dp/1910192775/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491427752&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+j+malone

 

Follow the blog tour here:

Dog Fight blogtour

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April 25

Open Wounds – Douglas Skelton

Open WoundsDavie McCall is tired. Tired of violence, tired of the Life. He’s always managed to stay detached from the brutal nature of his line of work, but recently he has caught himself enjoying it.

In the final instalment in the Davie McCall series old friends clash and long buried secrets are unearthed as McCall investigates a brutal five-year-old crime. Davie wants out, but the underbelly of Glasgow is all he has ever known. Will what he learns about his old ally Big Rab McClymont be enough to get him out of the Life? And could the mysterious woman who just moved in upstairs be just what he needs?

 

My thanks to Luath Press for my review copy

Davie McCall is not a nice guy, he does bad things to bad people but I loved reading about him. In Open Wounds Davie is tiring of the Life (working as right hand man to one of Glasgow’s gangsters) and is thinking of getting out. But the Life is all Davie knows and walking away will not be easy.

McCall has had a tough life, people close to him have been hurt and have tried to hurt him.  He is weary and events in Open Wounds seem to be driving him towards ‘retirement’ from the vicious life he has led.  But what McCall cannot shake off is history and it seems events from the past are beginning to catch up with him. His nemesis, a corrupt policeman, is concerned about Davie sniffing around an old case and will take any steps necessary to prevent the truth from being uncovered.

House keeping – Open Wounds is the 4th Davie McCall book, it can definitely be read as a stand alone novel as everything you need to know is nicely explained in the narrative by Douglas Skelton. Returning fans will be rewarded through knowing the back story but if you are new to the series this is a brilliant story to get your teeth into.

Douglas Skelton has written a dark and gripping story. There are disturbing scenes which will put the characters through the emotional wringer and define the fate of others. McCall himself is a complex character, he knows he embraced the darkness yet continues to work with the criminals. He has a moral code which seems contradictory for the work he undertakes but to McCall there seem to be degrees of right and wrong and some thresholds have been crossed. As you see McCall settling on a course of action you know that someone will suffer for transgressions – how could you not keep reading?

Glasgow makes a great backdrop for a gangster story. The language and mood is perfect for a city which is frequently associated with a ‘hard’ reputation. Douglas Skelton gives life to these characters, they are completely believable (and this not necessarily a good thing) and you want to read about them. Yet despite the grim nature of their lifestyle, there are great comedy moments in the conversations between these hard men – Glaswegians also rather well known for their humour! Reading Open Wounds was a joy on so many levels and the moments of levity gave a nice balance against some of the more gritty scenes.

When Open Wounds was finished I was left somewhat traumatised with certain events. I had been hooked while I read it and even before I had reached the end I was already recommending it to friends. I seldom offer up a review score within my reviews unless I want to make it clear that a book merits a 5/5 score – Open Wounds is one such book.  Highly recommended, get a copy ordered today.

 

 

Open Wounds is published by Luath Press and is available in paperback and digital formats here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wounds-Davie-McCall-Douglas-Skelton/dp/1910745332/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461531340&sr=1-1

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January 17

In Place Of Death – Craig Robertson

In Place of Death

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.

 

My thanks to Craig and Simon & Schuster for providing a review copy.

 

I have been having a slow return to updating my blog since the turn of the year.  I HAVE been reading and the reviews of the books I have read will appear in due course. However I wanted to have a wee run of reviews of books that I loved to start the year – step forward In Place of Death: a wonderful crime thriller, based in Glasgow and a book which introduced me to the concept of urbexing.

Urbexing is the name given to the exploration of abandoned urban buildings or places. Places closed off to the public while waiting demolition, potential refurbishment or just falling to ruin. But to some these forgotten buildings represent a challenge – a place to explore while knowing your presence is forbidden. Individuals that enjoy urbexing do not seek to damage or loot the buildings they visit – just enter, have a look around and get back out again. Some take pictures, others share their experiences through specialist chat forums. But in In Place of Death one adventurer found a little more than he expected on his explorations- a very dead body.

Craig Robertson’s brilliant duo, DI Rachel Narey and photographer Tony Winter, are back in In Place of Death and are called in as part of the investigation. They find themselves pitted against a stone cold killer, butting heads with Glasgow’s criminal underworld and questioning the lost souls that have fallen through the cracks in the system and are riding out their days in hovels to keep them from the streets. It frequently made for tense or harrowing reading and Robertson handles these scenes brilliantly. He puts his characters through an emotional wringer and you cannot help but keep reading to see how they cope with the traumas that are being piled upon them.

Through brilliant narrative we are guided on a tour of some of Glasgow’s famous landmarks and the darker corners. If you are in any way familiar with the city there is an extra level of enjoyment to be had when familiar buildings and structures are introduced. It made me look at some parts of the city in a whole new light and now when I travel into work each day I am looking around Glasgow to see other potential sites where the Urbexers may have tried to explore. It should be noted that you do not have to know Glasgow to enjoy this side of In Place of Death, as the locations (and their historical significance) are deftly woven into the narrative.

Narey and Winter will each have to face their personal demons during the course of the story. The scenes set away from the actual investigation further developed the back-story of the characters and this will be a real treat for returning readers. Winter and Narey are characters I want to read about, I love where Craig Robertson is taking this duo and I hope it is not too long before we meet them again.

I read too many books each year which entertain without ever really capturing my imagination.  Not so with In Place of Death which had me hooked from the outset and had just the right blend of intrigue, humour, darkness and sheer nail-biting tension. A 5 star thriller from an author I strongly urge you to read.

 

In Place of Death is published by Simon & Schuster and is available in Paperback and Digital format:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Place-Death-Craig-Robertson-ebook-x/dp/B00MK376TI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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December 23

Penance – Theresa Talbot

PenanceOonagh O’Neil has a challenge on her hands – and her head over a toilet bowl. TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O’Neil faces danger and chaos when an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. His death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution.

The Church has already tried to suppress the story. Is someone also covering their tracks?

DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest s death. He and Oonagh go way back. But their friendship counts for nothing when Davies suspicions falls on Oonagh s married lover.

Oonagh now faces the biggest decision of her life. But will it be hers to make?

What secrets lie behind the derelict Institution s doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed it? And what happened to the three Maggies who vowed to stay friends forever?

From Ireland to Scotland. From life to death.

 

My thanks to Douglas Skelton for giving me his copy of Penance (which he had won when we attended last month’s Noir in the Bar).  Douglas if you need it back I am afraid Theresa wrote in it…will be fine as long as you know someone called Gordon.

 

I am going to struggle to do Penance justice in this review. It is a fabulous book, it tells a story partly based around historical events which add a layer of heart-breaking tragedy, it is emotive, often funny and frequently shocking. You have to read it!

Central character Oonagh O’Neil is an investigative journalist and she has been looking into the closure of Glasgow’s Magdalene Institution many years prior to events in the main story. Oonagh believes that a local priest can help her uncover what went on behind the Institutions closed doors but before she can get the full story the priest dies during mass.

Oonagh refuses to give up on her investigation but pursuing the story is putting lives in danger (including Oonagh’s own). A rival journalist is digging the dirt on Oonagh and will stop at nothing to suppress her story if the payoff from other ‘interested parties’ makes it worth his while!

Events in Penance are mainly played out in Glasgow in the year 2000 but at times the story drops back to the late 1950’s and we see how girls may have ended up in the Magdalene Institutions and (more alarmingly) what they endured while they were resident. The small time-shifts are handled really well, do not break the flow of the story, and add depth and context to the main plot which makes the endgame so damn effective.

A tricky read at times, the brutal reality is handled with sensitivity by Theresa Talbot. But she does not shirk away from confronting the unsettling subject matter and Penance is a compelling story as a result.  Most definitely a story I am glad I have read – 5/5 review score was guaranteed when I realized that I was frequently thinking back to Penance when I was meant to be working!

 

Penance is published by Strident Publishing.

You can buy a copy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Penance-Theresa-Talbot/dp/1910829021/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450829725&sr=1-1

Theresa Talbot is on Twitter: @Theresa_Talbot

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 8

Blue Wicked – Alan Jones – Blog Tour

Blue wicked 2Earlier this year I read the fantastic Blue Wicked by Alan Jones. Set in Glasgow it took readers to some of the less glamourous parts of the city and introduced us to some of the more ‘earthy’ types.  Words like ‘gritty’ and ‘nasty’ cropped up frequently when I talked about Blue Wicked but I absolutely loved it – a story which does not shirk away from the darker side of society.

When I heard that there would be a blog tour for Blue Wicked I knew I had to be involved. As my review had already been written (read it here) I asked Alan if he could possibly prepare a small guest post that would allow me to join in. As I live on the ‘wrong side’ of the city from where the action in Blue Wicked takes place I suggested that a walk around the locations would be fun – I am always keen to know what may inspire an author to use a particular setting.  Fortunately Alan seemed quite keen….

 

When Gordon suggested that I should write about some of the locations featured in Blue Wicked, I thought it was a great idea.

I spent most of my formative years on the north side of Glasgow, and I went to Glasgow University in the city’s West end so The Cabinetmaker, my first book, was set in those parts of the city that I knew so well.

But Blue Wicked is set mostly on the South side of Glasgow, so I had to do a bit more research to find suitable locations where the narrative of the book would be placed.

When I’m writing, I mostly choose a general area, then write large screeds of the book first, before finding specific suitable locations that fit in with the plot, but there are key areas where it helps to have an idea of where the action is happening before too much detail goes on to the page.

Blue Wicked Image 1In Blue Wicked, the two parts of the book where location really mattered to the writing process were James Prentice’s murder scene and the final chapters of the book. Both of these were set in Renfrew, an industrial town just west of Glasgow itself, but on the south side of the river.

Blue Wicked Image 2I had help from Ronnie, a friend of mine, who had lived in Renfrew all his life, and who took me on a grand tour of the town. I had already spotted the Babcock Factory loading bay on Google Earth, and seeing the area, with the Inchinnan bridge and the River Cart, I knew I’d found the ideal spot for wee Jamsie Prentice’s murder.

I’ve done a fair bit of sailing in the Clyde estuary, but never further up the Clyde than Gourock, so I had to do a bit of research, studying nautical charts of the area, and tidal flows, to make the journey he made down the Clyde on the makeshift raft as realistic as possible.

Blue Wicked Image 3For the final two or three chapters, I toured the housing estates and shopping areas of Renfrew, and found just what I was looking for. It made the writing so much easier when I could place myself, in my imagination, on the streets I was writing about. The row of shops in the main street exists, but the deserted butcher’s shop is long since gone.

Google Earth, especially with street-view, is an amazing tool when researching locations for a book but there’s no substitute for walking around a place to get a feel of it, and talking to the people who live and work there.  That’s when you can sometimes pick up little stories or hidden histories that add a bit of local colour to the narrative.

Blue Wicked Image 4It’s sometimes necessary to make changes to a location to fit in with the plot. The petrol Garage where Stevie had his drinking den and the derelict industrial estate it sat in were an amalgamations of two separate locations, and the arrangement of the streets around Spencey’s house is slightly different in the book. And aside from knocking people’s doors to ask to see inside their houses, the internal layout usually involves a bit of guesswork.

I find that Glasgow and the surrounding area, while not maybe quite as iconic or eye-catching as Edinburgh, is a fantastic place for a book setting, especially if the book taps in to the grittiness and friendly humour of the city and its people.

 

 

Blue Wicked is published by Ailsa Press and is available in paperback and on Kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Wicked-Alan-Jones-ebook/dp/B00OM3UVCI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

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July 28

Blue Wicked – Alan Jones

Blue wicked 2Blue Wicked is Alan Jones’ second gritty Glasgow crime novel. The tortured corpses of young alcoholics and drug addicts are turning up in Glasgow and only unlikely investigator Eddie Henderson seems to know why. When he tries to tell the police, his information is ridiculed and he’s told to stop wasting their time. One officer, junior detective Catherine Douglas, believes him, and together they set out to discover why the dregs of Glasgow’s underbelly are being found, dead and mutilated.

 

My thanks to Alan for providing a review copy of Blue Wicked.

 

Blue Wicked is dark. It is graphic and it is a brilliant read.

The lead character, Eddie Henderson, is a vet – he is a bit awkward, very career focussed and on hand at the opening of the book as the corpse is discovered. The initial description of violence was graphic and it sets out the expectation for what is to follow.

Eddie is convinced he has found a link between a series of animal attacks and wants to raise his concerns with the police. Sadly for Eddie attacks on animals are not high on the list of priorities for his local police force. He is assigned to work alongside Catherine Douglas (a young detective) who notes his concerns and warms to Eddie’s passion to protect animals but with no solid leads to follow it does not appear that the police can be of much assistance. Frustrated with their lack of support Eddie’s frustration seems to be getting the better of him.

In Glasgow’s quieter areas someone is isolating drug users and feeding them Blue Wicked – a lethal concoction which will render them unconscious and vulnerable to attack. In their weakened state the debilitated users are tortured and put to a prolonged and painful death.

Eddie hears of the deaths and believes he sees a link between the animal attacks and the murders but can he make the police take him seriously.

Blue Wicked can be quite nasty reading in places – there are some not very nice people in this book and it made for compulsive reading. Alan Jones built up the mystery and kept me guessing as to how matters may resolve themselves. The dual narrative of the killer and the police investigation was well executed and the endgame played out brilliantly, an exhilarating race against time with a couple of unexpected twists.

At the back of the book was a glossary of Glaswegian slang – lovely touch as there is a lot of Glasgow’s colourful language in Blue Wicked.

I would urge all readers that enjoy gritty crime fiction to treat themselves to Blue Wicked – one of the best I have read for quite some time.

 

Blue Wicked is available in paperback from Ailsa Publishing and is also available in digital format.

 

 

 

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June 20

Devil’s Knock – Douglas Skelton Q&A

Today I am delighted to be able to welcome the Douglas Skelton to the blog. Douglas  has just released the third novel in the Davie McCall series, Devil’s Knock, and I was keen to discuss what we could expect from Davie this time around.

 

Devils Knock cover-1 case filesWhat I would like to discuss is the new book, Devil’s Knock. However, before we get there, would you like to set the scene and tell me about Davie McCall?

It’s the third in the series – the others being Blood City and Crow Bait – all set in Glasgow in the twenty years leading up to the new millennium. Davie’s a hard man with a heart but only a very few of his closest friends – and the readers – know that. To everyone else he’s a thug, a piece of muscle, working for his old pal Rab McClymont but underneath that there’s a haunted man who really doesn’t want to do what he’s doing but is trapped by the fact that he’s really quite good at it!

 

And how do events in Blood City and Crow Bait lead us to Devil’s Knock?

It’s now 1995 and Davie’s been scarred both physically and mentally by the events from the first two books. The Glasgow underworld has changed, become more vicious, thanks to drugs. Davie himself is colder, harder to reach. Big Rab is even more powerful but still open to being challenged by other factions, in this case the Jarvis Clan.

And to Devil’s Knock its-self – without asking for spoilers, what can we look out for in the new book?

The street war that the police have feared would come finally erupts. Davie’s caught in the middle. He’s colder but he still adheres to his code – don’t hurt women, children or animals, don’t involve civilians. He refuses to kill, still won’t use firearms. That makes him a target. He’s also helping an old pal whose grandson has been implicated in the bloody murder which kicks the whole thing off.

Does it become easier to write for characters by the third book in a series?

Davie’s always hard to write. I like writing dialogue but he’s so taciturn, everything with him is internal. As for the others, I don’t think it should ever become easy. In a series like this they have to change. They’re ageing in real-time, bad things are happening to them, so they must change. There are certain constants, of course, but I think you should always be looking to make your characters grow in some way. Not always for the better, though!

Davie seems to hold dear his personal moral code, despite moving in some nasty circles – is this fun to plot for him? I am almost envisaging you saying “right today he is going to encounter someone who has been beating his wife” then set Davie off on a course of retribution.

I’m dealing with a morally suspect world but I wanted to have my anti-hero as someone who has his own strict moral code, as I mentioned earlier. He may be a criminal and a violent man but I wanted the reader to root for him. These are not documentary accounts of Glasgow criminal life, they are thrillers, and you need characters the audience care about, if not wholly admire.

When looking through your previous publications I notice several volumes of true crime books. What prompted the switch to fiction?

I always wanted to write fiction – and some police officers say I’ve been doing it for some time. I’m also drawn to the dark side of life even though I’m of a naturally sunny disposition. That sound you hear are the people who know me guffawing. I’d done 11 true crime and Scottish criminal history books and by the time I reached Glasgow’s Black Heart, a history of the city’s crime, I felt I’d done everything I wanted to do. There are a couple of historical true crime cases I’d like to write about sometime, though. The true crime tag has never left me – I’ve been doing some short features for STV Glasgow on some older cases.

 

indian_peter-2When writing the true crime how did you choose your subject matter?

The first one I did was a casebook of fairly well-known Scottish murders but the next one landed in my lap. It was an investigation of a huge miscarriage of justice which eventually took up over ten years of my life. The others were either suggested by publishers or something I really wanted to tell, like Indian Peter, which I thought was a fascinating tale of true life adventure mixed with crime. As for the individual cases, there had to be a story to tell, something perhaps unusual or of legal or forensic interest.

 

While researching material for the true crime books did you uncover any incidents which have made the leap into the fiction titles?

Naturally what I’ve learned in my researches and the years I spent investigating cases for Glasgow solicitors have informed what I’m writing now but I don’t purposely use actual incidents in the fiction, although in Devil’s Knock there is one scene in a supermarket car park. However, that was born out of a character flourish rather than based on any real-life incident and apart from sharing a similar location it bears no similarity to actual events. None of the characters are based on real-life figures.

As a fiction reader I can tell myself that some of the ‘darker’ books I read are ‘just a story’ and that none of what I am reading actually happened. However, if you are researching true crime collections is it hard to accept that the horrors you are uncovering about DID occur and that the individuals concerned really did meet with a grim fate?

It can be fairly gruelling. While writing the first one, Blood on the Thistle, I did end up having nightmares. However, I was researching and writing much of that in a very tight timeframe. However, you have to retain a certain amount of journalistic detachment. Having said that, I stopped writing about more modern crimes because I didn’t want to upset relatives of the victims or the accused. That was when I turned to historical crimes.

I turn now to my recurring question which I ask most of my guests on the blog: why do the readers of crime fiction love a serial killer story?

I don’t do serial killers in fiction, although there was a hint in Crow Bait, but as to why they’re popular, I think it’s the bogey-man syndrome. We love to be scared and serial killers in fiction generally have that feeling of other wordliness that terrifies us so much. In classic crime fiction – the tea and scones school – the murderer is usually someone the victim knows. It’s safe in a way. But serial killer fiction taps into the stranger danger that we’re taught about from a young age. It’s the shadow in the dark, the face at the window, the footstep in the night.

On your Website you are promoting an upcoming event in Edinburgh: Assault n Battery vs Assault n Sauce – it is hailed as a rematch but what is it? For the record I will be Team Battery as I hail from the West!

It’s a panel of East Coast writers facing West Coasters in a fun game hosted by Craig Robertson. We did it last year in Glasgow and naturally the best coast won. Now the team from the East have the chance to restore their tattered honour! Seriously, it’s just a laugh. Craig makes the scoring up as he goes along and it’s mostly an excuse for us to slag each other off. Good to hear you’ll be supporting Team Battery, though. I think we’ll need it as we’re on foreign soil.

I had my first taste of a book festival last year when I got to visit Bloody Scotland. I see your name on the schedule this year, what are you showcasing and what other writers are you hoping to see (assuming you will have the opportunity)?

I’m on this year with Caro Ramsay and Michael J. Malone and it promises to be a lot of fun. Michael’s Beyond the Rage has a protagonist that is on the wrong side of the law, while most of my characters are crooks. Caro will be there to bring some semblance of law, if not order. I’ll see as many other authors as I can. I’ll catch Neil Broadfoot and Craig Robertson in whatever they’re doing. I may even watch the England v Scotland football match, although I’m not a fan of the game. The event on the Friday called Who’s Crime Is It Anyway? looks like an absolute belter.web

 What do you enjoy reading? If you were to take a picture of your bookcases which genre or authors would feature most frequently?

I’m afraid I’ve got to be predictable and say crime fiction. I’ve read it since I was a teenager. I’ve also got some true crime in there and some non-fiction. I’m a big fan of American authors – Lehane, Crais, Pelecanos – and I’m heavily influenced by Ed McBain. But there’s Agatha Christie in there, too, as well as Edmund Crispin, my favourite of the ‘traditional’ school. And John Mortimer – you can’t beat Rumpole.

 

Devil’s Knock is published by Luath Press and is available in paperback and digital format. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Knock-Mccall-Douglas-Skelton/dp/1910021814/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434756916&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=devilsknock

Douglas is on Twitter : @DouglasSkelton1

And is online at http://www.douglasskelton.com

 

 

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February 3

Beyond The Rage – Michael J Malone

Beyond The RageEven though he’s a successful criminal, Glasgow villain Kenny O’Neill is angry. Not only has his high-class escort girlfriend just been attacked, but his father is reaching out to him from the past despite abandoning Kenny as a child after his mother’s suicide. Kenny is now on a dual mission to hunt down his girl’s attacker and find out the truth about his father… but instead he unravels disturbing family secrets and finds that revenge is not always sweet.

An intelligent, violent thriller shot through with dark humour, Beyond the Rage enthralls and disturbs in equal measure. With an intricate plot, all-too-believable characters and perfectly pitched dialogue, this is a masterclass in psychological crime fiction writing.

 

Thanks to Michael for giving me the chance to read his book (and for signing it too).

Some books are hard work to grind through: they are too self-indulgent or have lots of random characters that bog down the plot. Then there are the books which I put down and cannot even recall the lead character’s name – bland and unremarkable. However, there are also the diamonds – the books that are a joy to read. These are slick, they are entertaining and have a captivating story. I am happy to report that Beyond The Rage falls very much into the latter category, I was swallowed up in a great story while a web of lies, deception and danger was spun around me.

Despite being a successful criminal and dangerous bad guy our protagonist, Kenny O’Neill, generally comes across as a nice guy. He is an engaging character and his dubious occupation is easily overlooked as we empathise with the situations he finds himself in. As the story begins we dip back into the past to learn about Kenny’s parents, we hear that his mother died when he was just 12 and (almost immediately afterwards) his father walked out to leave Kenny in the care of his aunt and uncle.

Jump forward to present day and Kenny is a successful player in the Glasgow criminal sub-culture. So when someone attacks his girlfriend Kenny takes it very personally and sets out to uncover who may be responsible and vows to make them pay. His investigations bring him into contact with gangsters, politicians, thugs, the police and a fair few prostitutes yet Kenny takes it all in his stride.

Meanwhile Kenny’s aunt has some news regarding his long-lost father. She has been holding onto a letter that arrived on Kenny’s 18th birthday, could it be possible that his father was still around? Kenny is not sure yet, despite all the time that has passed, he decides he wants to find out more about his absent parent. Ignoring warnings about raking up the past, Kenny enlists the help of his best friend Detective Inspector Ray McBain to learn more about his father. (McBain is the star of two of Malone’s previous books and it is great to see him making a couple of cameo appearances).

Beyond The Rage puts Kenny through emotional and physical turmoil. He finds himself pitted against the adversarial Mason Budge. Budge is responsible for attacking Kenny’s girlfriend and clearly he enjoyed the experience as he is stalking her keen to get the chance to repeat the experience. Budge is a constant threat to Kenny (even if Kenny is not always aware of it) yet we know that Budge is acting under orders and Malone deftly keeps the real reasons that Kenny is being targeted just out of our reach.

The finale provided a few unexpected shocks and, with hand on heart, I can confess I was totally wrong in most of my assumptions as to where the story was heading. Beyond The Rage is a brilliant read…the characters are well realised, expertly utilised and the story is gripping. I have no qualms over scoring it 5/5, it’s an absolute gem.

 

Beyond The Rage is available now from Saraband books. Follow Michael J Malone on Twitter @michaelJmalone1

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