February 6

Don’t Look For Me – Mason Cross

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six long years Carter Blake kept his word and didn’t search for the woman he once loved. But now someone else is looking for her.

He’ll come for you.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people – dead or alive. His next job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, who is harbouring a secret many will kill for.

Both men are hunting the same person. The question is, who will find her first?

 

Last year I broke one of my self-imposed reading rules when I read a book called Winterlong. The “rule” I broke was that I should not begin reading a new series unless I start at Book One of that new series.  Winterlong subsequently renamed to The Time To Kill and it was the third novel in the Carter Blake series.

I regret nothing as it was brilliant.

This week Carter Blake book 4: Don’t Look For Me, is released in paperback and is currently hitting bookshelves up and down the land. If you like an action packed adventure thriller then Don’t Look For Me should be an essential purchase.

Following events outlined in the previous books (all handily explained by the author without need to have read the earlier books) we know that 6 years ago Carter Blake had to quickly slip away from the life he had built for himself. He told the woman he loved that she too also had to vanish – her parting shot “Don’t Look For Me”.

Blake has honoured that request but it seems he may not be permitted to continue to do so.  In a quiet residential suburb of Nevada a young couple have mysteriously disappeared from their home.  A concerned neighbour has found Blake’s email address which was hidden in the home owned by the missing couple and, as a last resort, emailed Blake.

When his past comes calling out of the blue Blake will need to break the promise he made and find the woman he loved. However, he is not the only person searching for the missing couple and soon he will become caught up in a dangerous race against time.

As I mentioned, Don’t Look For Me is a cracking adventure thriller. The action zips along and I found it incredibly easy to slip into the story and lose myself for an hour or so – only surfacing by necessity as I’d rather have kept reading.

Five star thrills – grab this when you see it.

 

Don’t Look For Me is published by Orion and is available in paperback, audio and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Look-Me-Carter-Blake-ebook/dp/B01M3NSD91/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Category: 5* Reviews, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Don’t Look For Me – Mason Cross
October 12

Guest Post: Mason Cross – Serial Heroes

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

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

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

Serial Heroes – Harry Bosch

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

@masoncrossbooks

facebook.com/MrMasonCross

 

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August 30

Book Chains – Steph Broadribb (Third Link)

Book Chains – my author Q&A with a twist.

DSC_2888 mediumAs I love a good mystery I have brought an element of unknown into my blogging – by putting my Book Chains feature into the hands of my guests. The last question in my Book Chains Q&A is to invite my guest to nominate the next author that I should approach to interview. Oh and they also have to provide one question that I should ask on their behalf.

Last time out Rod Reynolds nominated Steph Broadribb and he set her a question which I think was intended to make her squirm a little. Before we see how Steph tackles Rod’s question I had a few of my own first:

 

First Question is never actually a question. This is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give you the opportunity to plug your book (and your blog) 

Okay, so here goes … I’m Steph Broadribb aka Crime Thriller Girl, and my debut novel – an action thriller titled Deep Down Dead – is coming out in October (eBook) and January 2017 in (paperback).

Deep Down Dead tells the story of Lori Anderson, a tough-as-they-come Florida bounty hunter, who is trying to keep her career separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But with medical bills racking up, Lori has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. That’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to face justice is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows, and who knows the secrets of her murky past.

Lori quickly discovers her ‘fast buck’ job is a lot more complicated that she’d thought. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal …

 

We are in the countdown to your first publication day, some people (lucky, lucky people) have had the chance to read Deep Down Dead – how does it feel at this point? 

Gosh, you know it feels quite strange, surreal in a way. I’ve spent so long with these characters – Lori, JT and Dakota – in my mind, and just sharing the story with a few trusted friends, that to think of it ‘out there’ in the world is kind of crazy! I’m really lucky though, because Karen Sullivan and West Camel at Orenda Books are such fabulous people to have guide me – they make everything seem like fun! I’ve also been blown away by the kindness and generosity of the crime fiction world – the writers, bloggers and readers – who’ve picked up one of the samplers and had a read. People have been so lovely in their comments it’s made me blush!

 

DEEP DOWN DEAD VIS 3I have heard tell that you trained as a bounty hunter?  What does that involve and where on the spectrum from Boba Fett to Stephanie Plum do you think you sit?

I did train as a bounty hunter! I flew out to Sacramento, in California, and trained with a super experienced bounty hunter. It was an amazing experience. I learnt about everything from how to track a fugitive, how to safely catch the fugitive – it’s a dangerous business and bounty hunters get injured and killed in their line of work on an all too frequent basis – so knowing about restraint techniques and tools (guns, tasers and handcuff tricks) is important, to the tough legal stuff – what makes a bounty hunter pick-up lawful, and what makes it unlawful, and all the various legal aspects that it takes to get licensed for bailbond work. I also got to ride around in a massive truck and get the low down on what life is like being a bounty hunter with some very brave and skilled men and women. In terms of where I sit on the spectrum from Boba Fett to Stephanie Plum, I reckon I’m somewhere in the middle – not as hardcore as Boba for sure, but maybe a little more so than Ms Plum!

 

My chain thus far has been David Young, Rod Reynolds and now you. My Twitter feed goes crazy when the three of you start chatting so how do you all come to know each other?

Well, there was this one time, in this bourbon bar … no, seriously, we all did the City University MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) together. We did it the first year that City ran the (now very popular) programme. It’s a great MA, very practical – lots of writing and critique – so we got to know each other, and our work-in-progress, really well. In fact, even though we finished the MA two years ago, we still meet up as a group every month or so to share our WIPs and chat about books (and drink wine). The rest of the time we lark about on Twitter!

 

So – legendary crime blogger…how much of a help has the blog been while you wrote Deep Down Dead? Or did it possibly become a distraction for a while? 

Legendary crime blogger? *blushes* 

That’s a tricky one, because doing the CTG blog has been both a help and a hindrance! On the one side it’s been a great way to read more widely than I would otherwise have done (I’m a total action thriller addict!) and has helped me get to know a whole host of fabulous people within the crime fiction world – writers, bloggers, publishers, agents and readers. Some of the people I’ve met along the way are now my closest friends, and I feel really lucky to be part of the crime writing world. On the other side, blogging and tweeting can be a massive distraction when I’m writing, especially during the first draft stage. I have to switch the wireless off on my macbook for chunks of time so I can concentrate, and also leave my phone in another room – otherwise I’d never write a word!

 

As I am entrenched up here in Scotland I never get to meet many of my guests, however, last year we did meet – you were about to become a Slice Girl.  Do you want to explain what that was (and will you be back for the encore tour)?  

Haha! Indeed we did meet, and I was about to pop my Slice Girls cherry! The Slice Girls are a group of female crime writers who perform crime-related songs at open-mike style events. Our first appearance was at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival 2015 at the ‘Crime in the Coo’ event – where we sang the Cellblock Tango from the musical Chicago while sitting on the bar. It was both terrifying and super fun! The Slice Girls group is led by the fabulous Alexandra Sokoloff, and includes Susi Holliday, Alexandra Benedict, Kati Hiekkapelto, Louise Voss, Lucy Ribchester and me. In September we’ll be back (with a slightly revised line-up) singing at Crime in the Coo’ at Bloody Scotland (with some new songs) and also at the House of Jazz on Saturday night in Bouchercon, New Orleans!

 

Writing a novel. Maintaining a blog. Attending all the fun launch events. Do you have time to do anything non book related? 

Erm, not so much! That said, I love watching movies and going out to dinner with my mates for a good natter. I’ve also got two horses, and spending time with them out in the fields is a perfect way to relax.

 

Now Some Quick Fire Questions: 

  • What was the first book that contained one of your review quotes? I’m not sure it was used in the actual book – but it was very cool that Orion Books made a poster for The Killing Season by Mason Cross with my quote on it. 
  • You hit the pub after a book launch, who is most likely to beat you to the bar? Easy – Susi Holliday (closely followed by Mark Hill) every time
  • What is your Favourite film? It’s not crime, I hope that’s okay! It’s The Black Stallion (based on the book by Walter Farley) about a young boy and a wild horse shipwrecked on a remote island. It’s beautifully filmed and one hell of a story.
  • Pineapple should never be found on a pizza. True or False? False! I love Pineapple on pizza! 
  • Tell us one thing from your bucket list. You know what, I don’t actually have a bucket list! I tend to be a bit more let’s go with the flow and see where this takes me …
  • The last VHS video recorder will be manufactured this week but which one piece of tech that you have owned has been your favourite? Anything from Apple! My smartphone is the piece of tech I couldn’t live without (followed by my Macbook!)
  • Do you have a favourite book that you re-read over and over again? Just one?? Gosh. Okay, then it would have to be A State of Fear by the uber talented, late Michael Crichton – it gets a little crazy in places, but it’s awesome. If I can have a second one (please!!) I’d go with The House on The Strand by Daphne du Maurier – she could write tension and angst better than anyone! 

 

Finally, the Book Chain question – Mr Reynolds set me a question to ask you on his behalf: 

Who would you most like to use a taser on? 

Oh, that’s really tricky! I want to say Rod, but he probably doesn’t deserve the taser really. In fact, someone would have to be pretty badly behaved for me to resort to the taser. But, if it was for charity though … it’d be kinda fun to taser Rod!

 

And we are done!  Thank you.  But before you go can you suggest an author I should ask to join me next to keep my Q&A Chain going?  Once you have nominated someone I also need a question to ask them on your behalf.

I’m nominating Daniel Pembrey – my question for him is ***REDACTED***

Thanks Steph! Daniel can expect an email sometime very soon…

 

Steph’s blog should be an essential visit for any crime/thriller reader, you can find her here: www.crimethrillergirl.com

Also there’s a pre-order link for Deep Down Dead via https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Down-Dead-Lori-Anderson-ebook/dp/B01F3F4480

Steph and the all new Slice Girls line-up will be just one of the fabulous events you can see at Bloody Scotland 2016 https://www.bloodyscotland.com/

 

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August 20

Holiday Reading: Volume 2

I am still in post holiday mode and doing some catch-up reviewing. My long break from my laptop means I have a good number of books to discuss and the only way that I will be able to cover them all is to do a number of shorter reviews…

The Time To Kill – Mason Cross

The Time To KillThe 3rd Carter Blake novel from Mason Cross (but the first I have read – sorry Mason). But I can safely say that I will be catching up with The Samaritan and The Killing Season as The Time To Kill was brilliant!

I was actually at the launch of The Time To Kill and had a spoiler free sneak preview of the story – what I heard made me rush the book to the top of the reading pile. An action adventure (and a chase story) across the USA which kept me gripped as I read.

There are links to the previous stories so reading the first two books would probably have helped – but this in no way reduced my enjoyment. Everything that you need to know is explained but it was clear to a new reader that Carter Blake has a fascinating back-story and that he is not keen to have his past catch-up with him. Unfortunately he may not have much say in this matter.

A five star thrill-fest.

 

Devil Take The Hindmost – Martin Cathcart Froden

Devil Take The HindmostCycling in the 1920’s was an unexpected backdrop to Martin Cathcart Froden’s Devil Take The Hindmost but this is an engaging and extremely entertaining story.

Devil Take The Hindmost follows the story of Paul MacAllister. Farmer’s son, cyclist and newly arrived in London having left the Scottish farm to come to the big city. He falls in with Silas Halkias, a Greek “businessman” who can see potential in Paul’s cycling to earn some money in the city velodromes.

Silas gives Paul a room, finds him a job and kits him out with a top of the range bike.  There are conditions to be met as Silas is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart but Paul is a well meaning and trusting chap so he goes along with all the tasks he is presented.

I am reluctant to share too much of the detail of this book as I found the joy was in not knowing what was coming. The author has captured the feeling of 20’s London wonderfully well. The cycling element is detailed (not excessively) but I got a real feel Paul’s enthusiasm for racing and it was fun to see innovative ideas from 100 years ago being explained and explored.

Beautifully written and with excellent characters this was an absolute gem to read.

 

Killer Instincts – Linden Chase

Killer InstinctsZane King is being shipped to an island to conduct an undercover investigation into what is happening on this remote isle and its very unique population. It is extremely hush-hush, he has been selected as he has no family ties and he can drop out of society for a few weeks with no-one to notice he is missing.

On arriving on the island the first thing King finds is the body of a woman. She has been brutally murdered and left abandoned in the woods. To avoid blame King tries to leave the scene of the murder but he is spotted.

The residents of the island are all prisoners/convicts.  The worst of society shipped to an isolated location where they will be expected to form a community, work the land and utilise the natural resources available to them.  Escaping from the island is not an option – death awaits at sea – and supplies will drop on a regular basis to ensure the residents have staple provisions.

Except things are not going smoothly. In fact things are going horribly wrong. King has to adapt quickly to survive, he cannot let his true mission for arriving on the island be known but who can he trust and how will he leave the island when his work is done?

Linden Chase has delivered a gritty, powerful thriller which left me demanding more. So many deaths, double crossing allies, attempts to seize power and all under the watchful eyes of the mysterious authority figures that are monitoring their experimental prison.  Think Lord of the Flies for slasher movie fans and you are not too far from Killer Instincts.

Bloody and Brilliant.  Or just Bloody Brilliant. Both work.

 

You can order all three books through these links.

The Time To Kill: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Kill-Mason-Cross/dp/1409159647/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471727715&sr=1-1&keywords=mason+cross

Devil Take The Hindmost: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devil-Hindmost-Martin-Cathcart-Froden/dp/1910449911/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471727678&sr=1-1&keywords=devil+take+the+hindmost

Killer Instincts: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killer-Instincts-Linden-Chase-ebook/dp/B01K0CYZT4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471727626&sr=8-1&keywords=linden+chase

 

Category: From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Holiday Reading: Volume 2