February 1

Forget Her Name – Jane Holland

Rachel’s dead and she’s never coming back. Or is she?

As she prepares for her wedding to Dominic, Catherine has never been happier or more excited about her future. But when she receives an anonymous package—a familiar snow globe with a very grisly addition—that happiness is abruptly threatened by secrets from her past.

Her older sister, Rachel, died on a skiing holiday as a child. But Rachel was no angel: she was vicious and highly disturbed, and she made Catherine’s life a misery. Catherine has spent years trying to forget her dead sister’s cruel tricks. Now someone has sent her Rachel’s snow globe—the first in a series of ominous messages…

While Catherine struggles to focus on her new life with Dominic, someone out there seems intent on tormenting her. But who? And why now? She doesn’t have the answers – and in one final question lies her greatest fear.

Is Rachel still alive?

 

My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the chance to join the blog tour.

 

One of the tricky reviews this one…how to discuss Forget Her Name without letting slip any spoilers?  It should be easy (in theory) but I really wanted to talk about the bits of the story I particularly enjoyed. Or the “shock” bits which I didn’t see coming and which at times were a wee bit icky. You see it was those bits of the story which made it such fun to read – that reader dilemma of needing to stop but just wanting one more page. Or maybe two more pages.

Forget Her Name is about Catherine, she hails from a nice family seems to have had a comfortable upbringing and is now engaged to the hard-working, love of her life, Dominic. But in her past there is a memory which she is keeping secret from Dominic but which may now be threatening her idyllic life.

When she was a child Catherine had a sister, Rachel, who was a thoroughly unpleasant child and made Catherine’s life Hell.  However, Rachel died Catherine was suddenly free of her tormentor. Spin forward to present day and Catherine finds that unusual incidents are happening and someone has sent her one of Rachel’s most treasured possessions but with an additional nasty twist.

Nasty twists are very much in keeping with Forget Her Name. It is a tense read, well paced out and I enjoyed it a lot. If you like a thriller which will keep you turning those pages then look no further.

 

Forget her name is published by Thomas & Mercer and is available in paperback, Digital and audio format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forget-Her-Name-gripping-thriller/dp/1542046645/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1517522607&sr=8-1&keywords=forget+her+name

 

 

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July 4

Follow You Home – Mark Edwards

Follow You HomeIt was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. But after a perfect start, an encounter with a young couple on a night train forces Daniel and Laura to cut their dream trip short and flee home.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what happened that night. But as they try to fit into their old lives again, they realise they are in terrible danger—and that their nightmare is just beginning…

 

Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the review copy which I received through Netgalley

 

Daniel and Laura are young and in love, they have been travelling and enjoying the trip of a lifetime. Everything is rosy and life is good. Until Daniel decides to save a little money by skipping on a private train cabin for their journey through Romania; opting instead for seats in the standard accommodation.

After an uncomfortable (and extended) conversation with a young Romanian couple Daniel and Laura try to catch some sleep in an empty sleeper carriage. They awake to find themselves confronted by an officious train official demanding their tickets – tickets which seem to have been stolen while they sleep. Unable to explain their predicament the couple are thrown from the train in the middle of nowhere.

Their attempts to get back to civilization lead them to an old farmhouse standing all alone in the Romanian countryside. They venture inside and then we read of them fleeing like the hounds of Hell are on their tails.

What Happened?

This is the question which will draw you in and keep you reading. The story picks up with Daniel and Laura when they are back in London, whatever happened in the house has had a profound impact upon both of their lives and their idyllic romance lies shattered and broken. They both agreed never to speak of the events which led to their breakup, however, friends keep pushing for answers and Daniel is determined to try and win Laura back.

As the story unfolds we are treated to more snippets of information regarding what occurred in Romania as Daniel tries to share his remarkable story with someone. Yet it seems that someone is determined Laura and Daniel’s story will remain untold and is determined to ensure that the events witnessed in the Romanian farmhouse remain a secret forever.

What struck me most about Follow You Home was that much of what occurred was very, very plausible and very, very sinister. I had a distinct feeling of unease reading of Laura and Daniel’s paranoia about being followed/watched. Despite all the horror books I have read over the years, Mark Edwards managed to unsettle me more than most of the ghouls and ghosts have ever achieved. There were a couple of nights where I slept with the covers all the way over my head, just to keep me safe through the night (that’s how it works).

Follow You Home is ‘delightfully’ twisty and creepy – a proper thriller which you should definitely seek out.

 

Mark Edwards is on Twitter: @mredwards

He is also online at http://vossandedwards.com

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April 1

Serial Killers a discussion with Alexandra Sokoloff

In my recent conversations with David McCaffrey and Karen Long I posed a question asking why they felt readers loved a story about a Serial Killer.  I had planned to ask the same question of Alexandra Sokoloff but she suggested that she would have LOTS to say on that topic.

LACMA.best.DSC_6246-2This was too good an opportunity to pass up! I asked Alex if she would be interested in answering a few questions just on the subject of Serial Killers and I am delighted to share our resulting conversation.

I shall start with my established opening gambit: why do we love a serial killer story?

I think the serial killer has become an iconic monster, like a vampire or werewolf or zombie (maybe replacing the pretty much defunct mummy!). This icon is of course a very idealized version of what a serial killer actually is. And I think it was Thomas Harris who mythologized the serial killer to classic monster status, although Stevenson’s Jekyll/Hyde, Stoker’s Dracula (supposedly based on the real-life Vlad the Impaler), and various depictions of Jack the Ripper were strong precursors. We are fascinated by the idea of pure evil in a human being.

However, the other component of why we love a serial killer story is because most authors (and screenwriters and filmmakers) who write about serial killers are dishonestly romanticizing them and leaving out the unmitigated, repellent malevolence of these men. About which more in a minute.

And there is also an unfortunate percentage of the population that gets off on reading about rape, torture, and murder.

Was Jack the Ripper the first recorded serial killer or has he just become the most famous?

There were certainly recorded serial killers before Jack the Ripper. The Harpe brothers in the US in the 1700’s, Gilles Garnier in France in the 1500’s, Thug Behram in India in the late 1700’s, just to name a few. Military campaigns have always provided an outlet for serial killers, as have the institutions of slavery and the Inquisition.

Huntress_Moon_TM_CVR-FTWhen I hear the term Serial Killer I automatically assume that it is an American phenomenon – I put this entirely down to Hollywood. However, am I right and does America really have the lion’s share of the known Serial Killers?

Well, of course America is going to have a greater proportion of serial killers simply because the US has a larger population than most countries. The way I understand it, the seeming rise in the number of serial killers in the late twentieth century was due to the increasing number of people who owned automobiles and the increasingly transient nature of the American population. People started moving long distances to find work, for example, and started changing jobs frequently, and so it was easier to kill and move on, making it easier to avoid detection. A serial killer is by definition a successful one, at least for a while.

Is it likely that there are serial killers operating undetected right now? If so would you care to hazard a guess at the numbers that may be involved?

According to the FBI, absolutely. The Bureau estimates, some say conservatively, that between 35 and 50 serial killers are operating in the US in any given year. I figure they know what they’re talking about.

Taking the last question a step further, do you believe a ‘successful’ killer could cover their tracks multiple times for a long period of time?

Yes, there have been killers who have managed that. The Green River Killer, for example, who for years was able to hide an increasing number of bodies in the vast forested areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Keeping this question on a fictional level, do you have favourite serial killers from books or film where you liked the angle that the writer(s) adopted?

There’s really only one author for me in that department – Thomas Harris with Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs. Harris did a completely brilliant thing, there. In the 1970’s Special Agents Robert Ressler and John Douglas of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (now called the Behavioral Analysis Unit) began a series of interviews with incarcerated serial killers to see what made these men tick and hopefully develop strategies for catching them. The agents, along with Professor Ann W. Burgess, compiled their findings into a textbook and started to train agents as profilers. This new department got a lot of press and media attention and a large number of authors jumped all over that research. But judging by the books that resulted, very, very few of those authors seem to have actually read those interviews.

Thomas Harris, though, took the same research that was available to everyone, and used a combination of absolutely precise fact and police procedure and a haunting mythological symbolism to create those first two books, Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs (and then Hannibal sort of went off the rails, if you ask me…). The result was two of the best horror/police procedural blend novels ever written. The killers Jame Gumb (Buffalo Bill) and Francis Dolarhyde were both more and less than human. And Lecter, of course, is a mythic archetype of the evil genius.

And then everyone jumped on the bandwagon and there are now hundreds of Lecters-lite, if you will.

I love those two books of Harris’s for their mythic resonance. But I have a real BloodMoon_TM_CVRproblem with the way most authors portray serial killers because it’s so incredibly dishonest. They romanticize and poeticize serial killers – portraying them as evil geniuses that play elaborate cat and mouse games with detectives and law enforcement agencies. Yeah, right. These men are not geniuses. They don’t leave poems at crime scenes or arrange their victim’s bodies in tableaux corresponding to scenes of great art or literature. They are vicious rapists who brutalize their victims because the agony of those victims gets the killer off, and a large number of them continue to have sex with the corpses of their victims because they are that addicted to absolute control and possession.

That’s evil. But the serial killer subgenre as a whole has perpetrated a very unrealistic view of what these monsters really are. Most authors who write about serial killers don’t show the sexual correlation. They skirt around the issue of rape. The worst ones sexualize the violence – fetishizing women’s bodies, sexualizing the torture of women, conveniently ignoring the fact that many of these killers rape and torture and kill men and children as well, and basically avoid portraying the pure horror of what these men actually do.

I’ve always found it extremely troubling and that’s been a big motivator for me in writing the Huntress Moon series. I’ve set out to shatter a lot of myths, there, and to counter all this glorification of violence.

Without seeking to glorify their actions are there lesser known serial killers that you are surprised are not better known given the extent of their crimes – for example a European who is not known in America?

Yes, as I’m doing more research into UK crime and criminals, I’m learning about killers that I hadn’t heard of, or hadn’t heard much of. The US is very ethnocentric!

I enjoy the Hitman books by Lawrence Block and I suppose that by broad definition a Hitman is a serial killer, however the two are generally considered very differently (certainly in fiction). Is this perhaps simply down to money (Hitman) over personal agenda (serial killer) or is there a more subtle distinction?

I think there are very unsubtle distinctions. Serial killers are most often rapists who have graduated to murder as they crave more and more control over helpless victims. Hitmen are not serial killers, but mass killers, which is a very different psychology than sexual homicide. For hit men the motivation is usually financial, for contract killers; or organizational, as when members of the Mafia or a gang kill on order from a higher up in the organization. (Other mass killers also have financial motivation, like the Black Widow killer, who marries or mates and then kills for the spouse’s or lover’s insurance money or property). But there are similarities, of course – a lot of hitmen and contract killers are sadists, as are a large percentage of serial killers.

Do you think some killers are born with a disposition to kill (a Natural Born Killer, if you will)? Or is it likely they are a result of environmental circumstances and external forces?

ColdMoon-â„¢-CVRI think scientific studies have made it pretty clear that it’s a combination of both. According to Scientific American, there’s a certain enzyme, monoamine oxidase A, that is linked to increased aggression if it’s below normal level, and certain genes that predispose people to low levels of this enzyme. There are also genes that determine how serotonin is processed in the body, and a certain variant of that gene seems to be a predictor of hostile behavior. There are other studies that point out that people with these genes who are raised in stable environments are less inclined to act out violently.

Childhood abuse can contribute to violent behavior: many serial killers had abusive childhoods. But many children who were abused don’t grow up to be abusers. It’s also clear to me from the FBI reports on the role of fantasy in the development of rapists and killers that exposure to violent media can be a factor.

Overall, the more interesting question to me is, why are there so more men than women who either are born with the disposition to rape and kill, or who develop the urge to rape and kill?

The proportions of violent men to violent women are so overwhelming that it makes me wonder why we’re not studying that question.

 

My profound thanks to Alexandra Sokoloff who I hope will return to the blog in the near future to discuss her forthcoming book Cold Moon.

During April 2015 both Huntress Moon and Blood Moon are just £1 on e-book through Amazon.co.uk (links below).


AlexandraSokoloff.com

UK  Huntress Moon  http://amzn.to/1wEwxZo
UK Blood Moon  http://amzn.to/1CPG4Uw
UK Cold Moon  http://amzn.to/1xBtA2U  
US Huntress Moon  http://amzn.to/1z3pSh5
US Blood Moon  http://amzn.to/1EqoKax
US Cold Moon  http://amzn.to/1ymNA6b

Alexandra Sokoloff is the bestselling, Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of eleven supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers. The New York Times has called her “a daughter of Mary Shelley” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”
As a screenwriter she has sold original suspense and horror scripts and written novel adaptations for numerous Hollywood studiosShe is also the workshop leader of the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshops, based on her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and blog.
Her Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series, following a haunted FBI agent on the hunt for a female serial killer, is out now from Thomas & Mercer.
Twitter: @alexsokoloff

 

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