Ash and Bones – Top 5 Dodgy Cops with Mike Thomas

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Today MORE than happy to welcome Mike to the blog talking about his top 5 dodgy cops ahead of the publication of his new novel “Ash and Bones” tomorrow which features its own dodgy cop – a book that is glaring at me from my tbr pile having loved Ugly Bus I shall no doubt be reviewing Ash and Bones very soon. Before that though – this…

Top Five Books about Dodgy Cops – Mike Thomas

Police officers. There are a lot of them in fiction, mainly heroic, dogged ‘tecs out on the streets kicking ass and taking names, albeit while battling a drink problem, or the effects of multiple divorces, or some other off-the-shelf trope that seems to afflict the vast majority of protagonists in contemporary crime. I’ve read many such novels and enjoyed them all, but the common complaint about ‘flawed cops’ being a cliché is not something I agree with – I spent more than two decades in the Job and every single person I worked with had, shall we say, issues of some kind, so the imperfect detective/uniform narrative rings true. My complaint is that these fictional damaged cops aren’t damaged enough. I’ve witnessed how the Job can grind you down. Wear you out. Tip you over the edge. I’ve experienced it myself; I was rather unwell for a period after the turn of the millennium and it forced me to ask the question: do you really want to be a police officer anymore? The answer: no. Which is why I now sit at a desk and make stuff up. My first two novels, Pocket Notebook and Ugly Bus, focus on the ugly side of police officers and policing. So what are the novels that do the same, that ring true to me? What are the ones that contain the dark humour, the crazy incidents, the mentally ill plods, or the occasional monsters in cheap CID suits that, unfortunately, I recognise from my time ‘in the cloth’? Let’s begin with one of those monsters…

Filth by Irvine Welsh

A book I came late to, but loved immediately, because the main character – venal, scheming, sexually-deviant, coke-snorting, talking-tapeworm-owning Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson – is frightening and hilarious and the literary equivalent of a car crash. You can’t help but stop, and gawp, with your mouth flopped open. And, as I learned during my twenty years in the Job, there’s a ‘Robbo’ in every nick: a slimeball wrapped in a shiny-arsed Next two piece, always on the make, always shifty, always playing ‘the games’, and always the one you’d do anything to avoid working alongside. Or leave alone with your wife. Or children. Or pets. Welsh’s classic begins with a murder, but what follows is not a by-the-numbers investigation. Instead it is a journey – graphic, excruciating, comical, extraordinary – into the darkest of dark hearts and an unflinching portrait of a man freefalling into the abyss.

Manners by Robert Newman

Little-known but deserving of a much wider audience. Written by Robert ‘Rob’ Newman – of Newman and Baddiel fame – it charts the downfall of the titular police constable, John Manners, who is not so much a bent cop as an irreversibly damaged one. Via first person narration we see Manners on patrol in North London, searching out suspected serial rapist Lee Andrew, whom he confronts – then beats to death, his colleagues finding a wild, blood-soaked Manners pummelling Andrew’s corpse. What follows is a brilliant, emotionally draining tale of Manners’ mental disintegration: suspended, he takes to patrolling the streets alone in his uniform, adrift from the Job, adrift from everyone, working through his past, present and lack of future, all the while listening in to emergency calls and determined to stop a planned murder… not realising who the intended victim actually is. A huge influence on my first novel.

The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

Wambaugh has written plenty of novels that open up the oft hermetically-sealed world of policing, but for me his best will always be The Choirboys. Focusing on ten cops working the Wilshire Division of LAPD in the Seventies, the work is as authentic a book as I have read in terms of the camaraderie, black humour and general ‘feel’ of being a copper. Where it differs, however, is that I have never known an entire relief to end each shift in the local park, getting very drunk and indulging in group sex (perhaps I was just never invited). Wambaugh’s hellions dub these events ‘choir practice’, a term still used today by cops to describe rowdy off duty get-togethers. The Choirboys themselves are not bad men, necessarily – save perhaps for the awful, bullying Roscoe Rules, who could have ‘handed out towels in the showers at Auschwitz’ – just mostly young men hardened beyond all recognition by the Job and doing what they have to do to survive the daily/nightly grind. His characters’ behaviour and complaints about the hierarchy and the ungrateful public they serve still ring true to most serving cops today.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Published to some controversy in 1952, Thompson’s dark tale is as hard-hitting now as it was back in the day. Lou Ford is sheriff of a small town in the US state of Texas, seemingly normal and dedicated to his job. In a loving relationship, dependable, just a little bit… average. What we learn, however, is that beneath this bland exterior there lies one of those monsters I have mentioned. Ford is a sociopathic, sexually deviant ball of repressed rage, a rage which spills out in terrible fashion when he becomes involved with a prostitute who brings out his sadomasochistic urges – ‘the sickness’, as Ford calls it. The novel is a downward spiral from this point: blackmail, murder, and Ford’s disgusting history come to the fore, with the nadir a stomach-churning beating handed out by the increasingly deranged sheriff to one of the women in his life. It’s safe to say he’d never get a Chief Constable’s commendation. Ever.

LA Confidential by James Ellroy

A sprawling, tightly-plotted slab of Fifties-set noir, this is the third of the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction’s LA Quartet and is packed with spartan prose, multiple plot lines, double- and triple-crosses and a riveting look at sleaze in high – and frequently gutter-level low – places. And it’s not just one dodgy cop here: the novel reeks of corruption, from the uniforms on the beat to the powers-that-be in the upper echelons of the police, the government and the entertainment industry. Three very different characters – careerist Edmund Exley, the brutal Wendell ‘Bud’ White, and Hollywood schmoozer Jack Vincennes – are drawn together following a multiple homicide at a coffee shop – and they uncover a conspiracy which is bigger than they ever imagined. A genuine masterpiece, with the film version as good as the novel that preceded it. Seek them both out.

Honourable Mentions

Red Riding Quartet by David Peace

Miami Blues by Charles Willeford

Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

The Business of Dying by Simon Kernick

I Was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond

Thanks Mike!

About the book:

Ash and Bones

In a remote corner of Lagos in Nigeria, a stranger delivers a homeless boy to an orphanage, where the welcoming staff hide a terrible secret.

At a squalid flat in the docks area of Cardiff, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range. The killer slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help – but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path..

Find out more HERE

Follow Mike on Twitter

To purchase Ash and Bones clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading!

Ash and Bones

The Constant Soldier – Rod Reynolds talks to William Ryan.

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So today I’m handing the reigns to the brilliant Rod Reynolds who is having a chat with the equally brilliant William Ryan all about The Constant Soldier – out 25th August from Mantle it is one not to be missed. Genuinely. Details on the book after the interview and you know, handy links and stuff. But first here they are. And I loved this. Enjoy!

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When Liz asked me if I’d like to talk to William Ryan about his new book, The Constant Soldier, I jumped at the chance. So it’s my pleasure today to pick his brains and get the lowdown on what is a stunning new novel – and one that will be a top contender for a whole slew of awards.

Thank you very much for taking the time to chat. Many congratulations on The Constant Soldier, a book that I found gripping, tense and immersive, and yet subtle and keenly observed. You mention in it how you were inspired by a series of photographs you found – can you elaborate on what they were, how you came across them, and what drew you to them?

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The photographs come from an album put together by an SS officer called Karl Hoecker during the last few months of World War 2. You can see some of them here:www.ushmm.org/information/exhibitions/online-features/collections-highlights/auschwitz-ssalbum/album. Hoecker, at this time in his life, was adjutant to Richard Baer, the Commandant of Auschwitz and many of the photographs were taken at a rest hut for the officers and men at Auschwitz about 20 kilometres away from the camp. What I find strange about the photographs is that the people in them, despite including some of the worst of the Nazi war criminals, seem very ordinary. In one series we see SS female auxilliaries collecting blueberries in the nearby woods and lounging in deckchairs on the rest hut’s terrace. In others, SS officers gather for a dinner wearing civilian clothes before going on a hunting expedition. The most unnerving are at a party given for Rudolf Hoess, the first Commandant of Auschwitz on June 29th, 1944. In one, Hoess is telling a joke to Baer, Josef Mengele and Josef Kramer, the “Beast of Belsen”. If you didn’t know who these men were, and if you ignored the uniforms, you might think it was a corporate day out. And, of course, when these particular photographs were taken – in July 1944 – the war was effectively over. It made me wonder how these apparently ordinary people ended up as mass murderers – and what must they have been thinking at this stage of the war. And asking myself that sort of question is probably where the idea for The Constant Soldier came from.

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Those are two fascinating lines of thought you raise. I want to come back to what they must have been thinking – which was one of the most gripping aspects of the novel – and start with the second point. One of the things that struck me about the book is how brave a choice it was to have a cast of characters who have been party to some of the greatest crimes against humanity, and to try to get under their skin. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I pitied them at any point, but you do an incredible job of examining the psychology of the situation, and the madness these men found themselves wrapped up. Were you nervous at all about tackling such a delicate subject, and what research (if any) led you to such a compelling portrait of these monsters?

The terrifying thing, for me at least, is it seems unlikely that these people set out to be mass murderers. Even Hitler, for example, wanted to be an artist and Himmler attempted, unsuccessfully, to run a chicken farm between 1925 and 1929. We can never know but, if they had been successful in their ambitions, perhaps we would never have heard of them. The same is true of most of the people in the photographs – they had other ambitions – but the circumstances and period of history they found themselves in provided them with a series of moral decisions and, in each case, they made the wrong decision. Those moral failures led them to where they were in 1944 when the photographs were taken. I worry that people label the Holocaust evil and think that explains it but I think you also have how that evil came about. And, most importantly, how individuals were carried away by a momentum which led to them completely losing any sense of right and wrong. It concerns me, when I hear some of the things that, for example, Donald Trump has said, that no society can ever feel complacent about its inherent goodness and that each of us, as individuals, need to be prepared in case we face a similar momentum – and be prepared to make the right moral choice. That sounds a bit dramatic – but the frightening thing is that almost nobody in 1923 Weimar Germany could have imagined a Nazi Germany in 1933 – and certainly not one in which the first concentration camp – Dachau – had already opened.

Was I nervous about the subject? Absolutely. This is sacred history for the many people who lost family members – not to mention, the still living survivors. It’s why everything in the novel is fictional – the “Camp” is based on Auschwitz but is never named. All of the characters in the novel are fictitious, as is the valley and the village where the novel takes place, although they have a basis in fact. It’s also the reason the novel never goes to the Camp – the Holocaust is there throughout the novel but it very seldom appears directly. That’s because I wanted to focus on this particular aspect – the small steps that lead an ordinary person, from an ordinary existence, to the point where they are committing incomprehensible evil. I’ve been concerned from the outset that some people might think I don’t confront the Holocaust in the way they might expect – and still am. But I think the book took me in a different direction and I don’t think, on reflection, I could have written it any other way.

I have to say, I never thought of how the book deals with the Holocaust in those terms – that you don’t confront it head on. It felt like it was always there, colouring everything and everyone, and I think that was part of the subtlety I mentioned at the start. But also, it fits the mood of the book, in that much of what I enjoyed on reading it was the sense of lingering evil and impending dread. In terms of the latter, I’ve said before that I think the book is a masterwork in suspense and delayed terror, with the Russian nightmare approaching from the east. Going back to what these men were thinking in the face of that coming reckoning, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I felt sympathy for them, there were certainly times when I felt a sense of overwhelming regret on their part – for their predicament if not their actions. Did you find yourself pitying them at all?

I think as an author you have to empathise with your characters – as in understand their emotions and motivations to an extent – but that doesn’t mean I felt any sympathy for the SS men I portray in the novel. They made moral decisions which ended up with them being involved in the killing of other human beings – I don’t think they deserve sympathy. I think, also, that the regret some of them display in the novel is more self-pity then it is pity for their victims. They feel regret for their actions because they face the consequences. But if Nazi Germany had been winning the war at the same point, would they feel the same regret? I’m not sure.

I do feel sympathy for Brandt, the main character, because he was forced into the army and sent to the Eastern front against his wishes. He feels real guilt for his involvement in the merciless fighting and the evil he was a participant in and, crucially, he’s prepared to take positive action to atone for his guilt. I think we’re able to look on him in a kindlier light because of this determination to redeem himself and if the book is quite optimistic in the end, which I think it is, it’s because Brandt is prepared to risk his own life to undo his past – and the risk, to a certain extent, pays off.

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Yes, that definitely comes through in the writing; Brandt’s bravery and willingness to do the right thing make him a very easy character to like, even though he has dark moments in his past. I was intrigued by your decision to make him an amputee – was that a way of giving the reader extra reason to sympathise with him? And did it make him harder to write in a practical sense (I’m thinking mostly of the action scenes here)?

To be honest, I’m not sure it was necessary in the end. I wanted him to be physically and mentally damaged – to the point where he almost has nowhere else to go, the worst has already happened to him. I also wanted him to be unrecognisable – to Agneta, at least. Now, however, I half wonder if it might not have been better if Agneta did recognise him. But, as you know yourself, it’s not a science this writing thing – and, given that version of his character gave the novel its shape and direction, it’s probably best to stick with it. Also, his vulnerability probably makes his bravery a bit more telling – I think anyway.

Funnily enough, a lot of the references to his disability slipped out in the rewriting – I only know this because he had a prosthetic in early drafts but we could find only one reference to it when we were checking a point. So that went as well, in the end.

Obviously the majority of the novel is told from the German perspective, but you introduce a Russian PoV character very effectively partway through. What made you decide to take that tack?

I’ve had a couple of Goodreads reviews wondering why Polya is in the story – but she and her tank represent the end of the war and, as long as they’re still coming, it’s a reminder that help is on the way – it may be too late for many but it is coming. That’s important for the novel, which would be much darker otherwise – and it also allows the novel to get away from the hut from time to time – which is also a good thing because Polya can be gentle and naïve in a way that no one around the hut can be, really. The novel needs her humanity and her optimism, I think.

Some quickfire questions before one more to wrap this up:

How long did the novel take you to write?

Write everyday or as and when?

What other novels of the period/genre would you direct readers who enjoyed The Constant Soldier to?

Who are your biggest writing influences?

What’s next for you?

It took three years – and at one stage I offered to give back the advance to the publisher because I just didn’t think it was going to work. And even when I thought it was finished it kept coming back from the dead, like a novel version of The Terminator. It’s not that I’m not proud of The Constant Soldier, I think it’s the best thing I’ve written by a distance, but I’m glad it’s being published on the 25th. There can’t be any more tweaking once it’s on the shelves.

I try and write everyday – I don’t always succeed. As you’ll know, there are lots of distractions in a writer’s life. I think you’re in the middle of blog tours at the moment, which can take up a lot of time. Speaking of which, I’m really looking forward to Black Night Falling (happy publication day!)

I don’t think I’d recommend them to read novels. Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning is the story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 and their involvement in the Holocaust. It’s been a book I’ve been thinking about for twenty years or so and a major influence on The Constant Soldier. I’d also recommend Gitta Sereny’s Into that Darkness and A Small Town near Auschwitz by Mary Fulbrook – not very cheery reading but, you know, if we don’t remember these things, we’ll end up repeating them.

As for influences – gosh – lots and lots of very different writers. Hilary Mantel, George MacDonald Fraser, James Ellroy, John Le Carre, Jane Austen, Walker Percy, Robert Graves, Georges Simenon, Dashell Hammett, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor – and I’d probably give you a different list if you asked me tomorrow.

As for what’s next? I’m back to writing historical crime. I’m currently half way through the fourth in the Captain Korolev series. It’s set on an ice-bound icebreaker with ghosts, shamen and a little bit of cannibalism.

That last answer – completely as expected. Er, not.

Thank you again for your time and for offering such insight into your work. I’d end by asking about genre: as you mention, your previous books have been historical crime, but The Constant Soldier transcends genre for me, straddling historical, crime, war, literary and more. Did you think about how it would be classified when you were writing it, or were you just interested in telling the story you wanted to write, wherever that led you?

I think my publishers were expecting a locked room mystery, which they didn’t quite get – although it certainly feels like a thriller a lot of the time, to me anyway. When my publishers saw the early drafts, they considered selling it as a romance novel which led to a slightly weird Mills and Boon cover that we almost fell out over. At the end of the day, I hope it’s a good book, with good characters and a good plot. I think it really moves forward, which is what you learn from good crime fiction and I hope it takes the reader with it. I’ve been delighted with all the early feedback but the one description which really makes me happy and a lot of people have used – is “gripping”. That’s what I want form a book – the kind of story that keeps you up to the small hours and beyond and, after that, I don’t really worry too much about genre.

And, if it’s any good, a lot of that is down to my publishers believing in the book, I think, and pushing me to make it a much better book than it might have been if I’d been allowed to be lazy about it – which I really was tempted to be, if I’m honest.

Many thanks to William, and of course to Liz for having us on the site!

Thanks so much you two!

About the book:

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1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .

Read my review of The Constant Soldier HERE

Find out more  here

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To Order “The Constant Soldier” clickety click right HERE

 

Rod Reynolds is the author of The Dark Inside and Black Night Falling – both available now from Faber and both coming HIGHLY recommended from me. Read my review of The Dark Inside HERE and Black Night Falling HERE.

Follow Rod on Twitter here:

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Happy Reading!

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Bloody Scotland Part Two – Whats Happening in Stirling…

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Just under 3 weeks now until the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing  Festival and excitement is building – today I have part two of my little foray into all things happening in Stirling – still time to grab tickets and come along and join the action. If last year is anything to go by it will be the best bookish fun you’ll have in ages with a plethora of top authors doing a lot of fun stuff.

The full programme can be found HERE and you can still win tickets to the opening salvo featuring Caro Ramsay and Stuart Macbride HERE – that should be a fantastic opening and the competition closes soon so go go! I’m hoping to be there train delays not withstanding and I’ll also be attending what promises to be the most hilarious event as Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre look to raise the roof once more.

Anyway I’ve stuck another pin in my list of authors and come up with Russel D Mclean and Douglas Skelton both of whom are taking part in the Scotland the Grave event where you can take a tartan noir tour of Scotland in the company of four of the country’s finest crime writers. They will each make their pitch as to why their own piece of the map is the perfect place for murder.

Gillian Galbraith enthuses about Edinburgh, Douglas Skelton sticks the heid in for Glasgow, Russel D McLean helps us discover Dundee and Catriona McPherson gets gallus about Galloway.

So I asked my little set of questions as a taster and this is what happened…

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The latest novel from Douglas Skelton is The Dead Don’t Boogie – which I’ve recently read and loved – and will be featuring on the blog soon with a slightly longer more focused interview with the man himself – so look out for that but seriously get hold of the book when you can. Time to meet Dominic Queste if you havent already!

Could you tell us a little bit about your latest novel and what readers can expect from it, maybe about what originally sparked the idea?

The Dead Don’t Boogie is (hopefully) the first in a new series. It’s designed as a fast-moving, action-packed tale, far lighter in tone to my Davie McCall series but still has it’s darker moments. I wanted to write something that had a hero who was fast with a quip (Davie McCall being, let’s face it, taciturn) while also telling a story that was not quite so grounded in reality. So if I wanted a gunfight in a city park, I’d damn well have it.

In the wonderful world of Crime writing which Crime authors inspire you? Who writes your “go to” books when you look to read for pleasure. Or indeed do you read outside of Crime?

I’m very drawn to US authors like Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, John Connolly (I know he’s Irish, but you know what I mean). My writing idols are Ed McBain and William Goldman. I seldom read anything but crime and thrillers these days.

Will this be your first time at Bloody Scotland? If so are you excited? If you’ve been before what would you say to encourage readers to attend?

I think this is my third time at Bloody Scotland. It’s a great festival, very friendly, very informal, and there is real creative thinking behind the various panels. It’s lots of fun and Stirling’s a fantastic setting.

Tell us one random fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the festival?

I once played the principal villain in a background. I wore red tights.

Tights? Love it!

You can purchase The Dead Don’t Boogie HERE

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Russel’s latest novel is “And When I Die” – a fast paced, brilliantly addictive crime thriller all about family. Well you’ll see – again I have a review for that one coming soon alongside a longer interview, this is another highly recommended from me!

Could you tell us a little bit about your latest novel and what readers can expect from it, maybe about what originally sparked the idea?

The new novel is AND WHEN I DIE, just an ordinary tale of a criminal who can’t feel pain, his cousin, who’s determined to be the only good member of a bad family, and an undercover cop who’s in way over his head. It’s also my first book to be set in Glasgow (I’ve written about Dundee for the last five books).

The original idea came about because I really wanted to write a book with a character who felt no pain. Sounds odd, but there we go. When I discovered a real condition that could help me create this kind of character, things really took off. But the idea was always that this character would be in the background; the threat that really drives how the other characters react to his single minded vendetta.

In the wonderful world of Crime writing which Crime authors inspire you? Who writes your “go to” books when you look to read for pleasure. Or indeed do you read outside of Crime?

Most of the books I read can be classified as crime. And admittedly, I read a lot.

Some go-to authors include Lawrence Block, Megan Abbott, Ross MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, John Connolly, George Pelecanos, Walter Mosely, Dominique Manotti, Laura Lipman, Don Winslow and Richard Stark. A great deal (almost all) of that list is US crime – it’s what I came up reading, and what really inspires the pacing of my work. I love many UK writers (Eva Dolan, Ray Banks spring to mind as two who I believe should be wider read) but the US stuff really seems to deal with dialogue in a way that makes my spine tingle. I also have a weakness for French authors. Horror is another my genre loves (The late Tom Piccirilli is one that more UK readers should be aware of) along with SF (I grew up devouring the work of Philip K Dick). Honestly, if I went on we’d be here all day.

Will this be your first time at Bloody Scotland? If so are you excited? If you’ve been before what would you say to encourage readers to attend?

I was at Bloody Scotland many many years ago on a PI panel with the wonderful Gordon Ferris and Craig Russell. Haven’t been able to get back since due to conflicting commitments. It sounds like the festival has gone from strength to strength since then, so I’m excited to see what’s going on. Any crime festival should have a slightly anarchic feel, and more than any other festival, Bloody Scotland seems to have these unusual little things such as the football match or Crime at the Coo that really stand out. Readers should go for the atmosphere and the chance to discover new authors – – again, one of the festival’s strengths is that it gives smaller presses a chance to shine; something that some of the others could do better with.

Tell us one random fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the festival?

I was once stopped on the streets of Dundee and asked for my autograph. Which was wonderful, until the person in question admitted that, until I spoke, they thought I was Ricky Gervais. I have since grown a full beard to prevent this ever happening again (with no offence to Mr Gervais, of course. But I’m sure he’d appreciate not being mistaken for me, too…)

I would also mention the cursed mask that I once had to share a flat with, but since that appears in every bio ever written about me…

Well the cursed mask is a first for me, I’ll have to find out more about that!

You can purchase And When I Die HERE

Thanks to both the guys for taking the time to have a quick chat. Tempted yet? Not sure? Well you know, STILL more to come in a few days including a few more authors tempting us in –  In the meantime do pop over to the Bloody Scotland website for more detail and follow them on the Bloody Scotland Twitter feed for updates and more information.

 

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2016 Spotlight: The Stepmother Claire Seeber.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Bookouture

Source: Netgalley

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…
Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Really enjoyed The Stepmother – one of those books you read fast so you can find out what the heck is going on, with lots of lovely little twists and turns and some pretty creepy moments too (birds *shiver*) – really hits the spot for an afternoons reading in the sun. Or as we are in the UK the rain. Either way…

So Claire Seeber takes on the cliche of the Evil Stepmother and turns it a little on its head with what is basically a modern day reimagining  of Snow White if Snow White was likely slightly tainted, not quite so innocent and her Stepmother might not be so bad after all…or also could possibly be the b**** from hell. Or something. Very clever and very readable and a lot of fun.

Also though there is some real insight to be had here into the difficulties of integrating families post divorce – these days the family you start with might not be the family you end up with and even with the best intentions, human nature and emotion being what it is means that there is often a rocky road ahead and I ain’t talking about the ice cream. Whilst entertaining us with a banging good tale of mothers, daughters, husbands, sons and the witch like neighbour from down the way (no dwarves though I’m afraid) Claire Seeber manages to also weave into the narrative some definitive real life issues that a lot of people will recognise.

Overall it was pretty darn good. I had a good reading time with The Stepmother, it gave pause for thought whilst also being really entertaining and intriguing. Good finish too no disappointment.

Recommended for fans of the psychological thriller and possibly for fans of adult fairtytales with bite.

 

Find out more HERE

Follow Claire on Twitter HERE

To Purchase The Stepmother clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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The Road to Publication – Interview with J A Marley

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So the lovely Mr Marley who I met at the last First Monday Crime has a book coming out fairly soon and I thought it would be nice to chat to him about his journey towards publication – I have Stand Still on my tbr pile and so am sure I’ll have more to tell you about it later. But hey before that there was this…

It was a pleasure to meet you at First Monday Crime – and to find out about your rather great sounding book, and its lovely to be able to ask questions prior to reading it. Firstly, tell us a little about what made you want to be a writer and a little about the inspiration behind the novel.

I have always been a reader since childhood, The Asterix and Obelix books were amongst my earliest loves swiftly followed by Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat! And from there an urge to write just naturally followed. My parents also both read, and my early teens were filled with the book my Dad would borrow from the library or pick up at a second hand store. These were mostly dime Westerns and writers like Elmore Leonard and Jack Higgins…I was soon hooked by the thrills and spills therein.

My debut novel “Standstill” was purely a product of many years daydreaming whilst commuting across London mostly on the Tube. It would often occur to me how much the great city relied upon its tubes, buses, taxis and overground services. And like most crime writers a delayed tube can be forgotten about if you are standing there imagining grand larceny or a murder etc etc…

I was also very fortunate to know some Flying Squad officers. The access they gave me to their experiences and those of their colleagues helped immeasurably in bringing both the plot and the all important dialogue together.

How long did it take you to complete? How many drafts and how much angst? Before you felt you had something to present to publishers and other bookish types?

Ha! Now herein lies a tale! I think this was the most painful part for me. It took me around 2 years to write the first draft and, I suppose, naivety helped in that there was no process, it was literally just research then write. I splurged the book out by writing in the very early mornings (sometimes I was woken up by characters in my dreams at 4.30am) and then went about my day job (running my TV production company) the rest of the time, usually whilst yawning!

I was then introduced by a friend to my editor and it just felt like the right time to share the pages with anybody who would care to look. But, Jaysus was I nervous about…ha! There then followed a further three drafts, mostly because it was pointed out to me that there were very few female characters in my original draft. The gauntlet was laid down…write a significant female please. And so another two years passed until the book you will read and hopefully enjoy now.

Then I guess came the submission process. I’ve heard that this can be the really painful part, having to deal with rejection and hope in differing measures. Was that long and drawn out or were you fairly lucky? And how did it feel when you got there and realised you were going to be published?

I was lucky, my editor introduced me to Avocado Books, a new imprint, and they liked it straight away. I am keenly aware that this is not a common occurrence so I count myself really blessed. Also Avocado share a lot of my fiction sensibilities so it was really great from the get go.

I don’t think the fact that I am about to publish has truly sunk in yet. When you get the first proof copy of your novel, that’s an electric moment right there, but seeing the actual book in strangers’ hands? I can’t even begin to guess what that will feel like…I think you can tell I’m really excited at the thought of it though.

And now? Not long until you are on publication day and all that comes with it. Excited?

Incredibly…so much so I have already had a stress dream about passing a charity shop and seeing my book in the window which of course made me freak out, both while asleep and awake… but I ma sure that will happen at some point. I really want my stories to find, surprise and delight an audience…that is what its about for me…entertainment. The thought that people might enjoy the book really inspires me.

What about your own reading habits? Who are your “go to” authors for when you want to lose yourself in a book…

I am a bit biased and I tend to veer almost always to Crime Fiction. I particularly like American authors as I am a bit of a closet Yank. But sometimes I will force myself to pick a book in the fiction section at random and read. I have been rewarded many times by doing this. Most notably Perfume by Patrick Susskind. That book just about blew me away, very dark, very challenging read from an emotional sense.

My go to authors? That is easy: James Lee Burke is a true master. Elmore Leonard for the dialogue and pace. Don Winslow for his exhaustive research and handling a plot and Carl Hiaasen if I want a book to make me laugh out loud.

Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbites:

* Tea, coffee or other?

The world runs on Tea as far I am concerned, my books should be sponsored by Tetley!

* Something you wish you were good at but are not

I have dreams where I believe I can sing…in the real world it frightens my dogs when I do

* Soap operas or crime dramas?

Crime every time…

* Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn?

I love the month of October…

* One book you recommend to everyone...

Burning Angel by James Lee Burke…just brilliant on every single level for my money.

Thank you!

Standstill by JA Marley is published 15th September by Avocado Books, price £8.99 in paperback

About the book:

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When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psyhcotic cop in an early morning raid, little does he know that he’s about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.

Corruption, coercion and chaos follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.

But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated flying squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.

Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?

And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London in order to pull off the theft of the 21st Century? Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed….

You can find out more HERE

And follow John on Twitter HERE

Happy Reading!

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Ones to Watch in 2017: Ragdoll – Daniel Cole.

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Publication Date: 23rd Feb 2017 from Trapeze

Source: Review Copy

Six victims: one body

Controversial detective, Nathan Wolfe, has just been reinstated to the force after months of psychological assessment following accusations of assault. A veteran to the job, Wolfe thinks he’s seen it all, until his friend and former partner, Detective Emily Baxter, calls him to a crime scene and gleefully leads him to a career-defining cadaver: the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet – a corpse that will become known in the press as the ‘ragdoll’. With six victims to identify, the stakes are raised when Wolfe’s ex-wife, reporter Andrea Hall, is anonymously sent photographs from the crime scene along with a list of six names… and the dates on which the ‘Ragdoll Killer’ intends to murder them.

The final name on the list is Wolfe’s.

Ha! Ragdoll is Fast, funny, brilliantly unpredictable and scarily horrific.

Loved it.

One of those books that a lot of people are talking about and you go hmm. Can it really be that good? Well if you like your crime novels to be indecently clever, terribly addictive, with a twist of horror and a huge dose of dark humour then yep it really can be that good.

It was.

ANYWAY characters? Yep got some of those in here, some utterly fantastic ones, none of whom seem to follow your usual tropes or if they do they do so in irregular and unlikely fashion. With style. Wolfe well, you never really know what he is going to do. It makes it beautifully engaging. Taking a cue from a note from the author , I thought Wolfe was a bit Jack Bauer on acid with better occasional wisecracks. I fell a little in love. Emily Baxter his one time sidekick is  well, she just is. Then the whole police team around those two have their own little weather patterns and externally you have news people(including wife Andrea – oops I mean EX of course) and possible victims and what have you, all entirely fascinating. Even if some of them did make me want to hide under the bed never to emerge again.

The dialogue crackles, the plot is beautifully woven to keep you guessing, although I gave up guessing around the middle of the book and just went along for the ride. It was a topsy turvy joy of a read that never once let up  in quality or stimulation  and it was a rocking rollercoaster from start to finish.  With body parts. And blood. And death. And giggles. And Wolfe.

And WHAT an ending.

Ragdoll? Yep yep and yep. Is what I have to say. This time the hype for me was justified. Its just good fun people! Even if the subject matter is the stuff of nightmares. Oh and by the way, great take on human nature here. If you are thinking this is all popcorn no depth think again. Works on many levels. Many many levels. Can’t wait for more from Daniel Cole.

Look here he is on Twitter HERE

Order Ragdoll by clickety clicking right HERE

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Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

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Publication Date: 3rd November from Headline

Source: Review Copy

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.
John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable.
Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction.
The momentum is in his favour for now.
But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

Targeted for death. Then fate intervenes. You have one chance. Run.

Pendulum was great and actually unexpected. I’m not sure what I was expecting but what I got was an adrenalin fuelled, killer rush of a novel where you are thrown into the heart of the action and even in its quieter moments it menaces you with the promise of more…

John Wallace comes around one morning to find a man in body armour and a mask attempting to hang him. All pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears  then fate intervenes and John manages to RUN, but this killer is dogged and intelligent and most of all hidden. What follows is a battle of wits and determination as John attempts to find out why he has been targeted and to stay alive long enough to do that.

Adam Hamdy has a gorgeously immersive writing style, as I said he puts you bang into the heart of the action, descriptively speaking this is an absolute joy to read. It has a kind of a horror movie vibe about it – our killer is scary and seemingly unstoppable, any help John might hope for just pulls more people into the vortex and puts them at risk – the bad guy here takes on almost mythical proportions as you race towards an unpredictable ending but at no point does it become too fantastical in fact it is all too real.

As well as the thriller element there is a well drawn, intriguing mystery side to proceedings as we start to see method and motive however obscure – the ultimate solution is deliciously satisfying and in no way a let down which can happen – in fact as this is the start of a trilogy it is cleverly placed to not only give you a decent amount of closure but leave you desperate for more.  The author ties things up with a neat little bow then takes a pair of scissors to the gift and shows you a hint of things to come – both annoying and pretty darned brilliant.

Not only action fuelled but character fuelled also, the people you meet within the pages of Pendulum are slowly but surely given heart and soul as layers are stripped off to show the true heart underneath. Still lots to discover about those that survive (yes thats a tease TRUST NOTHING)  but I was fascinated by the back stories which are beautifully woven into the rest without detracting from the events unfolding.

All in all a really really great read all round. Consider me hooked. Hurry along the next please.

Highly Recommended

Find out more HERE

 Follow Adam on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Pendulum clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Bloody Scotland Part One – Whats Happening in Stirling…

 

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So this year’s Bloody Scotland festival is fast approaching – running from 9-11th September, I shall be there and if you are a lover of all things Crime Fiction I can promise that its definitely worth a visit. Great authors, great events, the fastest friendliest festival you could hope to attend and a banging good time from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.

The entire programme can be found HERE but today Im starting a series of posts that will look at just a few of the great authors and the things going on, I’ve asked them the same set of questions to give you a taster, I’ll talk about a few of the events and lets see if we can’t tempt you to hop onto a train, plane or automobile and come along and join in the madness. In fact look you could win tickets to the opening reception HERE – go on give it a go.

The festival is relaxed so I am too and in that spirit I stuck a pin in the list of authors I’ve got for you and came up with Matt Bendoris and Neil Broadfoot – in a twist of fate they will both be answering the question How Tartan is your Noir on Sunday 11th at 10am (10am guys really? Best not stay TOO late at Crime in the Coo then) alongside Bill Daly and Aline Templeton – I’m definitely not missing THAT.

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Matt’s latest novel is Wicked Leaks  – which I havent gotten around to yet having only just, because I’m so inefficient, read DM For Murder (review spotlight coming soon on that one) but its fast coming up on my reading list and having read the answers I got back to my little lead in interview I’ll be getting onto it very soon..

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Could you tell us a little bit about your latest novel Wicked Leaks and what readers can expect from it, maybe about what originally sparked the idea?

It features a terminal patient with a terrible secret – he claims to have been involved in the ‘assassination’ of Princess Diana. He soon ropes his nurse into his web of conspiracies who ends up running for her life. The original idea came from my wife, a nurse, who used to sit with her dying patients overnight in their homes. It got me thinking ‘what if….’

In the wonderful world of Crime writing which Crime authors inspire you? Who writes your “go to” books when you look to read for pleasure. Or indeed do you read outside of Crime?

I have always been a big Ben Elton fan…from his stand-up comedy days to his crime writing (although I doubt he’d call himself a crime author). I thoroughly enjoyed his last book Time and Time Again.

Will this be your first time at Bloody Scotland? If so are you excited? If you’ve been before what would you say to encourage readers to attend?

It’s my second time…I have written two books since the last time I attended so have plenty to gab about. Also, I’m not an author who takes himself too seriously, so hopefully we can have a bit of a giggle too.

Tell us one random fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the festival?

David Cameron once threw me off a bus in East Kilbride. I kid you not!

HA! The mind boggles…

You can purchase Wicked Leaks HERE

So Neil’s latest novel is “All the Devils” – which incidentally I’m reading right now and it is pretty damn good it has to be said, so here is what he told me about it and about some other stuff….

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Could you tell us a little bit about your latest novel and what readers can expect from it, maybe about what originally sparked the idea?

All The Devils is the third novel featuring Doug McGregor and Susie Drummond. When the book opens, Doug is struggling to come to terms with the events of my previous book, The Storm, and he’s not doing well. In pain, struggling to cope with a relationship he’s not sure he wants and a job he’s not sure he needs any more, he’s escaping into the bottle. But he has to put aside his own demons when Susie needs his help to investigate the brutal murder of her ex-lover. As a gangland power struggle erupts into violence on the streets of Edinburgh – and much closer to home – Doug and Susie’s already tense relationship is sorely tested. Together they confront a conspiracy that reaches deeper than either of them can image. They’re about to face All The Devils, the question is, can they survive?

This is a story that’s always been at the back of my mind since my debut. Falling Fast. Susie’s mistake with her ex was the event that, inadvertently, brought her and Doug together. I always knew there was a bigger story there, so this was a chance to go back and explore that. And, without giving the plot away, there are issues surrounding the use of sex as a weapon, sexism and the power of the past that I wanted to explore.

In the wonderful world of Crime writing which Crime authors inspire you? Who writes your “go to” books when you look to read for pleasure. Or indeed do you read outside of Crime?

One book that had a profound effect on my work was The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell, which won the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year award last year. I read it as we were doing an event together and I was hooked. It’s so much more than a crime novel, and it’s so brilliantly written, that it made me up my game for All The Devils, and hopefully that shows.

One of the best things about crime writing, especially Scottish crime writing, at the moment is that there is so much talent out there – and so much to pick from. Just look at the McIlvanney longlist this year, you can’t go wrong with any of them (except Douglas Skelton, the man is a menace and the bane of my life!).

I’ve always been a voracious reader, so almost anything goes. If I’m looking to relax, I love a bit of Arthur Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson. Away from crime, I cut my teeth on Stephen King so he’s always on my to be read pile.

Will this be your first time at Bloody Scotland? If so are you excited? If you’ve been before what would you say to encourage readers to attend?

It’s hard to believe that this will be my third year at Bloody Scotland – and the excitement shows no sign of waning. One of the best things about crime writers is the strong sense of community – apart from all the murder and mayhem on the page, crime writers are the nicest, most supportive people you can meet. And it shows at Bloody Scotland. Everyone is milling around, talking with other writers and readers. This year’s programme is utterly brilliant, and Stirling is just such a beautiful venue. To anyone sitting on the fence I’d say dip your toe in and you’ll be hooked – there’s something for everyone and everyone involved goes out of their way to make you feel included and welcome.

Tell us one random fact about you that is unlikely to come up at the festival?

I ended up at the wedding of Gordon Brown (the former PM, not the writer) by accident.

Seriously, what is it with you guys and Politicians??

You can purchase All the Devils HERE

Thanks to both the guys for taking the time to have a quick chat. Tempted yet? Not sure? Well you know, more to come in a few days including Rachel Abbott, Tim Weaver, Doug Johnstone and many more. In the meantime do pop over to the Bloody Scotland website for more detail and follow them on the Bloody Scotland Twitter feed for updates and more information. Here are some pictures from last years event just to finish off nicely.

Happy Reading (and hopefully travelling)

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Football, books and Hull. Nick Quantrill and David Young talk….

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The seemingly endless weeks of football’s Euro 2016 tournament are finally over. English crime writers Nick Quantrill and David Young were following it avidly – despite the fact that England went out with a whimper. But they still had players to cheer on because both are Hull City fans: and former Hull favourites Robbie Brady and James Chester starred for the Republic of Ireland and Wales respectively.

So, football and crime writing. Do they go together? And what’s this we hear about a resurgence of the city of Hull’s fortunes, casting off its ‘crap town’ past to become the 2017 City of Culture – with a Premier League football club to boot. Nick and David take up the story.

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NQ – I love Hull, me. I love the fact we’re at the end of the line and it’s an out of the way place that people need a reason to visit. I love it because when people do visit, they always without fail are surprised by what we have to offer. To me, it’s a city that does its own thing, mainly because it has to. It also has all the ingredients you require when telling stories – it has a rich history, it’s loved and lost, it finds ways to forge new futures and adapt. Like you, I’m also a big football fan and Hull is a tough, working class city which has always expressed itself through sport. But David, you’re not even from Hull really, are you?

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DY – No, but I sort of am. I was born in Cottingham, which is really a suburb of Hull, in a nursing home at the end of the road where my parents lived for most of their lives. However, when I came into the world the family was living in Hull proper, and my father and grandfather owned a builders’ merchants in the centre of the city. So I do have a bit of pedigree. I was farmed out to a boarding school less than forty miles away in York aged just nine – a miserable time, and it pretty much cut my roots. But my link has always been supporting Hull City. From memory I started supporting them in 1967 as a nine-year-old, and one very early Christmas opened my Hull City kit early and slept in it all night, and always dreamed of them playing in an FA Cup Final, a dream which came true in 2014. Nick, are you Hull through and through? All your novels are set there, correct?

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NQ – They are, but let’s talk about Hull City! I was also a nine years old when I first taken to a match, but it was in 1984. It was a 0-0 draw with Reading, which until recent years has seemed symbolic of the dross regularly served up by the club. Did you cry at Wembley when we first won promotion to the Premier League? I might have shed a manly tear. I am Hull through and through, as you say. Writing wasn’t something I’d always wanted to do, but when I did make the decision to start, exploring my home city felt like a no-brainer. Although I don’t write police characters, the inspiration was Ian Rankin’s DI Rebus series set in Edinburgh. To coin a cliché, the city becomes a character and I wanted the same. I live in Hull, so I wanted to make sense of it, understand what makes it tick. I’m also lucky the city has undergone such huge change over the last ten or so years. It feels like a gift. David, you ignored Hull as a possible location for your series, and opted instead for somewhere further afield …

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DY  Yes. I guess I was interested in the communist bloc from my university days. Or rather polytechnic days as I flunked out of a Geology degree at Bristol Uni and ended up at the poly – but managed to specialise in history, which I didn’t even have an O-level in (I think the entrance requirements for polys in those days was 2 ‘E’s in anything at A-level). My dissertation was on British attitudes to Stalin’s 1930s purges, and then I became interested in East Germany when I was playing guitar and writing songs for a little indiepop band nearly thirty years later, and blagged a tour of German venues. In between gigs I read Anna Funder’s Stasiland which sparked the idea for a detective series set in the former GDR, starting with Stasi Child. At that time, I don’t think there was one – at least not in English as the original language. But in doing so, I set myself some problems – particularly in terms of research. Nick, do you enjoy the research part of your books? And your protagonist Joe Geraghty is a rugby league player, isn’t he? Isn’t that heresy for a Hull City fan?

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NQ – Research?! No, I’m not a huge fan. I can see that it’s very important to your work, though. I also keep away from writing police characters, so maybe there’s a theme developing there. More seriously, the police sub-genre is so overcrowded, you need a really strong hook to make your work stand out. Setting your work in East Germany certainly ticks that box and Karin Muller is a great character. I figured a Private Investigator was the answer for me, mainly because they have a lot more freedom than a regular cop. You’re right, though. Joe Geraghty is an ex-rugby league player, and the sport doesn’t always peacefully co-exist with football in the city. It was a pragmatic decision in truth. Rugby league is such a defining aspect of the city, one that literally divides it in two via the River Hull. I knew I could draw more of the city’s character out by using that mechanism. So what did you do for research, David? And are you going to try to shoehorn Hull City into one of your novels – couldn’t they go on a friendly tour in 1970s East Germany?

DY Ha ha! I did consider that actually for the third book in the series, which I’m writing at the moment. An Australian-based Manchester City-supporting journalist has insisted I get his team in, along with a character based on him. So I thought about having Man City, Hull City, and the team where the novel is set – BSG Stahl Eisenhüttenstadt (which loosely translates as Steel Ironworks City) – in a three-way ‘City’ tournament. Football does feature in the story, as Stahl were relegated several divisions because of illegal payments to players – which I’ve used in the plot. So a lot of my research is just visiting weird and wonderful places like Eisenhüttenstadt, which is expensive but huge fun. It used to be Stalinstadt, and was the first East German socialist new town. My second novel (as yet untitled but due Feb 2017) is in another new town, Halle-Neustadt. My research also involves meeting and interviewing former East German detectives, and the country’s most famous real-life murder case – the Crossword Puzzle Murder – happened in ‘Ha-Neu’ in the early 1980s. It was a real privilege to meet and talk to the detective who led the team that solved that one, thanks to a partially-completed crossword puzzle found with the body. It’s still the largest-ever handwriting sample collection exercise ever undertaken – more than half-a-million samples. I’m very lucky to have got that level of cooperation for my stories and long may it continue! I hope to continue the series for many books, but you’ve started a new series? Is it another Hull novel?

NQ – I have and it is. “The Dead Can’t Talk” features new characters, Luke Carver and Anna Stone. He’s ex-Army and recently out of prison, she’s a disillusioned cop on the brink of leaving her job (see, I’m totally dodging the research thing again!). Stone’s sister is missing and it transpires the only person she can turn to for help is Carver, the man she put in prison. It’s full of conspiracy, murder, blackmail and all the good crime stuff. The derelict and crumbling Lord Line building, one of the last remaining symbols of the city’s fishing industry, also features. Hull feels like a city with plenty of stories still to tell. When I started writing about a decade ago, I didn’t know of any contemporary writers in the city, but it feels like the place has exploded recently – Russ Litten, Louise Beech, Brian Lavery, Cassandra Parkin, Lee Harrison and of course yourself – the list goes, and I think that’s great, and goes a long way towards making Hull a proper and deserving City of Culture.

Thanks guys!

You can find Nick on Twitter HERE

You can find David on Twitter HERE

If you like you could purchase Stasi Child right HERE

And you could purchase The Dead Don’t Talk HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Poison City by Paul Crilley

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Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Netgalley

The name’s Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things – finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I’m going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone’s mother than a cop. Don’t let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he’s a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine – I solve crimes, I search for my daughter’s killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I’m called out to the murder of a ramanga – a low-key vampire – basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There’s even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except… the face on the CCTV footage? It’s the face of the man who killed my daughter. I’m about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can’t do both.

It’s not looking good for the world.

Poison City is adorable…

Oh who am I kidding? Poison City is fricking nuts, completely utterly beautifully crazy. With dog.

I loved every minute of it. Urban fantasy at its brilliant best with a banging addictive story, characters to die for and thought provoking, intensely insightful glances at human nature in all its terrible glory. With vampires.

This is like Urban Fantasy Noir – its kind of like one of those old school detective stories, where the bars are smoky, the conversation is peppered with underlying feeling, the investigator is enigmatic and focused and there is always some kind of huge blow up fight at the end. Only with added Angels. And other things. And the fight is really on from first page to last…

It rocks along, the dialogue is sharp and funny, the world building is incredibly imaginative with a truly authentic feel  considering theres a fae market down the road – the setting is pure joy, the whole thing comes alive around you while you read. Those are the best books right? Also whenever dog is around he steals the limelight and frankly he should have his own sidekick comic or something. Really. I do feel like I should send Paul Crilley ALL the sherry.

If this was just a tale of adventure that would have been pure class but the thing about Poison City is it is EMOTIONAL seriously seriously heart wrenchingly emotional at times. I won’t give anything away but there are moments in Poison City that I felt right down in my soul. My engagement with London and his search for his daughters killer was a complete one. Bonded now we are.

As for Armitage well. Amazing you know she’s…actually I’ll let you find out for yourself….

Brilliant characters, utterly clever plotting, a world you both want to live in and run screaming away from, Poison City is my new favourite thing. Bring on the next book…I’ll start queuing now if necessary get ye behind me people!

The war is coming…

Highly Recommended.

With Dog.

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Poison City clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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