Paul Cornell on Nostalgia Properties – Who Killed Sherlock Holmes blog tour.

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Very happy to welcome Paul Cornell to the blog today as part of the “Who Killed Sherlock Holmes” blog tour. He’s talking about nostalgia properties and information on the entirely brilliant novel follows soon after. Thanks so much Paul!

Nostalgia Properties – Paul Cornell.

There’s one enormous reason why nostalgia properties are so big right now, and that’s name recognition. A certain number of audience members are guaranteed for a recognisable brand. With piracy cutting into the bottom line, and audiences having their focus split between so many entertainment choices, any factor that gives a new movie or TV show an edge is pounced on. Of course, often creators are merely representing their own love of an established character. You don’t get Sherlock Holmes fans bigger than Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Rob Doherty. And their versions are the opposite of nostalgic.

My own take on nostalgia is that, as a trait in myself, I’m afraid of it. I can feel that I’m susceptible to it, with my collection of ancient telefantasy, classic Doctor Who and Hammer movies. If I give in to that tendency, I feel, I’ll lose my connection to the now, and might as well check into the waiting room for death. It’s a feeling one of the characters in my Shadow Police novels, Lisa Ross, shares. Lisa is an intelligence analyst for the Metropolitan Police, and, like the rest of my heroes in those books, she’s been cursed with ‘the Sight’, the ability to see the magic and monsters of London. So her skills at picking out patterns and networks gain a whole new dimension. Wandering around a New Age fair, encountering the culture of those orbiting the Sight, she recognises that they’re comfortable, affable, settled, and she yearns for that. But she also feels it would be terrible to let herself be so lulled.

The use of the lead character in the third of these books, Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? was because the title suddenly came into my head, and the rest of the pieces fell into place immediately. In the London of the Shadow Police, ghosts are what every Londoner, living or dead, remembers, so deceased individuals and fictional characters reside where they’re best remembered, visible only to those with the Sight. So of course there’d be a Sherlock Holmes in this world, and he’d be in the Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street, but he’d be ghostlike, not quite sentient, a flickering mass of all his different versions. So what if our team found that guy lying face down with a ceremonial dagger in his back? The first question they have to ask themselves is almost existential: what does the murder of a ghost even mean? And then we get onto how it might be connected to the crimes of the Conan Doyle stories being re-enacted in their original locations, and, on the matter of nostalgia, whether or not it has anything to do with three different Holmes productions all being filmed in London at the same time.

That last matter lets me indulge in some fond satire of all the current modes of Holmes in the media, but it also lets my heroes ask some desperate questions about how nostalgia shapes a character, because, for them, as for me, it turns out that nostalgia is a matter of life and death.

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? is published by TOR UK on 19/07/2016 TOR.

Paul Cornell has been Hugo-nominated for his work in TV, comics and prose, and is a BSFA award-winner for short fiction. He has also written some of Doctor Who’s best-loved episodes for the BBC, and has more recently written for the Sherlock-inspired TV show Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. He lives in Gloucestershire. Find out more www.paulcornell.com and @paul_cornell.

About the book:

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Someone has murdered the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. As a fictional character remembered by the people of London, Holmes’ ghost walked the city, and now someone has put a ceremonial dagger through his chest. What could be the motive? The small team of Metropolitan Police detectives who have The Sight find themselves pursuing a criminal genius who soon lures them into a Sherlockian maze of too many clues and too much evidence. Ross finds herself drawn to an actor who may or may not be a deity, and goes on a quest to win back her happiness. Lofhouse seeks the answers, finally, about why she brought the team together. Quill battles for his sanity. Costain battles for his soul. And Sefton just wants to bring his team back together, even if that takes him to the edge of death.

My Review:

I love the Shadow Police series – top notch urban fantasy with some banging characters and beautifully plotted storylines and really engaging world building.

There is a London that not everyone can see – a London that remembers. Quill and his team have the sight and can follow this shadowy underworld, their cases therefore go nowhere near anything resembling normal – yet Paul Cornell makes it all horribly believable with his pacy and often witty descriptive prose and a character group dynamic that works on every level.

I think this is probably my favourite yet as the author envelops Sherlock Holmes into the story to create a dream read (big fan of Sherlock in all his various forms, me) although unfortunately someone has just killed his ghost. Cue lots of shenanigans as our guys try to track down the culprit and find out just what is going on.

These are great fun to read but they have a dark and emotive heart – this is Fantasy for adults, Paul Cornell does explore some dark themes within the narrative. Especially when it comes to the ongoing storyline, as the main characters grapple with their sight and with their own personal circumstances. In this instalment Quill is facing a real battle in the aftermath of previous events, to some degree they all are and the ever shifting landscape in which they reside is endlessly fascinating.

Never one to let you off easy, Mr Cornell also put a finish on things with a flourish here leaving me desperate for the next book. Who Killed Sherlock Holmes was brilliant and clever and a proper page turner, terrific writing as ever and continuing to build this world into one you want to keep visiting. But you wouldnt want to live there….

Highy Recommended (and best read in order)

You can purchase Who Killed Sherlock Holmes HERE

Follow the tour!

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Little Bones Blog Tour: Murder most Foul – Sam Blake on Landmark Cases

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Today I am very pleased to welcome Sam Blake onto the blog talking about some Landmark cases in a great lead in to her novel “Little Bones” which I will be reviewing very soon.

Murder Most Foul: Landmark Cases by Sam Blake

The perfect murder is an elusive thing and it has rarely been committed. Graham Dwyer, a married company director and architect was recently convicted as Ireland’s notorious BDSM killer in a case that had strong overtones of Fifty Shades of Grey. He thought he’d got away with the perfect murder, but when a drought caused the water level to drop in the reservoir where he had dumped his victim’s belongings, inspired detective work led the investigating team to his door.

It is through the determination and often sheer brilliance of the teams who champion the victims – the police and forensic scientists who spend their days (and nights) looking for the tiniest clues – that killers like Dwyer are brought to justice. By its nature, forensic science is low profile – it involves scientists laboriously analysing often minute samples – but its importance in criminal investigations is beyond debate.

Little Bones is set in Ireland, where Dr James O’Donovan was, until his retirement in 2002, the founder and senior forensic scientist of the Garda Technical Bureau of the Garda Síochána (the Irish police). He is most notable as a key witness in the IRA murder of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, and was the target himself of Irish criminal Martin Cahill, known as The General. As the Jim Cusack in the Irish Independent explains, “In May 1982, believing that improvements in forensic science would link him to robberies and other crimes, he [Martin Cahill] arranged for the State’s chief forensic scientist, Dr James O’Donovan, to be murdered. Explosives were attached to the exhaust manifold in Dr O’Donovan’s car. As he drove to work, the heat from the manifold detonated the plastic explosive, causing permanent crippling injury to the doctor.”

The injuries he received were devastating, but they didn’t stop him.

Jim Donovan’s work resulted in landmark rulings that changed the future of criminal investigation. In Little Bones a baby’s bones are found in the hem of a wedding dress, and for the investigating detective, Cat Connolly, the case becomes very personal. Along the way, Jim Donovan’s research into the Mountbatten case and sand particles becomes crucial.

Lord Louis Mountbatten, 79, and his family traditionally spent every summer at their castle, Classiebawn, in Sligo, and boat trips were regular holiday outings. But on August 27th 1979 their boat that was blown up by the IRA. A cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II, Mountbatten died from his injuries, together with his grandson, Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, and Paul Maxwell,15, a local boy who was their boatman. Seven people were thrown into the sea, and the Dowager Lady Brabourne died the day after the attack.

Granules of sand found in one suspect’s car, and on his clothes and shoes were discovered by Jim Donovan who explained to the court that “granules of sand are highly distinctive when magnified 300 times under the electron microscope.” Donovan conducted a study of the sand in the area and linked the sand found, to sand where the victims’ boat had been moored. It was crucial evidence that led to the conviction of Thomas McMahon.

Indeed, Jim realised that sand differed hugely depending on its location…in Little Bones, the sand identified in the traces of soil found on the bones proves crucial in locating the crime scene.

Jim Donovan worked on many thousands of cases during his career, but his evidence in the conviction of two British nationals, Geoffrey Evans and John Shaw was crucial. Evans and Shaw planned to go on a murder and rape spree in Ireland in 1976, planning to abduct, rape and kill one woman a week. Evans and Shaw were Ireland’s longest serving prisoners and laid claim to the notorious title of Ireland’s first serial killers. Still in their 30s when they arrived in Ireland in 1974, both men were already on the run from British police who wanted to question them in relation to three savage sexual assaults on women that had happened in and around Manchester. Shaw also had 26 previous convictions, including two sex attacks in Britain.

Their first victim was 23 year-old Elizabeth Plunkett whom they savagely beat, raped and strangled on August 28, 1976. Leaving her body in woodland they returned and dumped it in the sea, weighed down with a lawnmower. A month later her body washed up about 60km away.

Their second victim was Mary Duffy, whom they murdered on September 22, 1976, as she was on her way home from work. Shaw savagely attacked her and they bundled her into the car where she endured a horrifying assault. She was raped repeatedly, beaten and badly injured by the time they car reached Ballynahinch, not far from Clifden. They brought her to an isolated wood, where she was again raped repeatedly and was tied to a tree for hours. Eventually, they strangled her, and once again stole a boat, weighing her body down with a sledgehammer, an anchor and a concrete block and throwing her overboard into Lough Inagh.

Jim Donovan played a significant role in identifying Shaw and Evans after finding teeth marks in a gag that had been stuffed into Mary’s mouth – her teeth had left a perfect impression in the ball of toilet paper the killers used to stop her screaming.

While Little Bones is entirely fictional, it is essential to me that the procedures and forensics featured in the story are accurate and real. It’s also vital to me, as a crime writer that those affected by real crime are respected and while their stories might inspire fictional events, they are not exploited. I’m lucky to have a source close to hand – my husband was a member of An Garda Síochána for 30 years, and I hope, as a result, Little Bones and characters who inhabit its pages, are as real as they can be.

© Sam Blake

Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to

publication. Vanessa has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book.

Little Bones is the first in the Cat Connolly Dublin based detective thriller trilogy. When a baby’s bones are discovered in the hem of a wedding dress, Detective Garda Cathy Connolly is face with a challenge that is personal as well as professional – a challenge that has explosive consequences.

Follow Sam Blake on Twitter @writersamblake or Vanessa @inkwellhq – be warned, they get tetchy with each other!

About the book:

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Twenty-four-year-old Garda Cathy Connolly might be a fearless kick-boxing champion but when she discovers a baby’s bones concealed in the hem of a wedding dress, the case becomes personal.

For artist Zoe Grant, the bones are another mysterious twist in her mother’s disappearance. Then her grandmother, head of the Grant Valentine department store empire is found dead, and a trail of secrets is uncovered that threatens to shake a dynasty.

In a story that moves from London’s East End to the Las Vegas mafia, one thing is certain – for Cat, life will never be the same again.

You can purchase Little Bones HERE

Happy Reading!

The Plea – Interview with Steve Cavanagh.

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The Plea is out this week and I’m VERY happy to welcome Steve Cavanagh to the blog to tell us a few things. You can see a link to my review and some bookish book info after that. Thanks Steve!

In The Plea Eddie Flynn is once again thrown to the wolves, poor guy – do you enjoy messing with him and forcing him to think on his feet?

Absolutely. Throwing your characters into a meat grinder on page one accomplishes two things. First, the action gets underway immediately; you are thrown into the situation with the character and both of you are scrabbling around wondering if you’re ever going to make it out. Second, it allows me to start the story/plot and develop the characters right away. For me, it’s hard to separate character and plot. You learn more about characters by seeing what they do, how they react, and how they think in extreme situations and it is their reactions which drive the plot. And yes, Eddie can think on his feet. So I try to make it as difficult for him as possible.

The Defence was extremely well received and brilliantly addictive – how easy did book 2 come – were you worried about keeping a level or if anything was this one easier?

This one was both easier and more difficult. It was easier in that I knew the character of Eddie Flynn and he was the one I wanted to write about. So I had a solid base. But I also had to bring something new to Eddie. New case, new challenges, and show a different aspect of his life. So in The Plea, we get to know more about his relationship with Christine, his estranged wife. It was difficult to write because having only written one book previously, I honestly didn’t know if I could do it again. Second books are difficult anyway, but I’m ambitious in what I want to explore. So this book touches on social media, white collar crime and other issues and trying to weave all of that around my take on a locked room mystery was tough. I only hope I pulled it off.

The Plea has a killer opening – definitely one to get the readers turning those pages – how does it work for you in the writing stakes? Do you have one particular scene in mind and it builds from there or are you someone who has the whole story in your head before beginning the actual writing?

I don’t outline. When I begin a book I know the opening scenes, and I have a vague notion of the set-up, and maybe a few ideas about what could potentially happen later on. But that’s it. I don’t have the ending, I don’t have the middle, I haven’t worked anything out yet. I do that as I write. Openings are hugely important to me. I want to grab the reader, not at the end of chapter one, not at the end of page one, but right at the end of the first sentence. If I haven’t hooked the reader by the end of the first line I’m not doing my job. And once I’ve got you I’m not letting go. I write the book, line by line, never seeing much further than the end of the chapter, until I get around three-quarters of the way through. Once I hit that point I stop. I go back and I rewrite the entire book, probably half a dozen times. The beginning, and the ending are so important. You don’t read a book to get to the middle. Even if you are loving a book all the way through – the ending has to give you a big pay-off or you feel cheated. For me, endings have to be two things at once. They have to be both surprising and inevitable. If I get that, I know I’m in pretty good shape.

Which parts are your favourite? The legal shenanigans or the all out action scenes?

My favourite parts are a mix of the court room scenes and the suspense scenes. For example, with The Plea, I set myself a challenge early on. I wanted to write a suspense scene, where the reader is incredibly tense, and we get to know a lot about Eddie, and all of this happens while Eddie is doing something perfectly ordinary. So chapter one begins with Eddie putting a key into a lock. We do it everyday. I wanted that scene to be really tense, compelling and revealing. It took a while to get there, but that’s one of my favourite scenes in the book. The action scenes are a lot of fun to write. They help the pages turn quickly, and they are fun to write. The courtroom scenes take a lot more work, but each cross examination is an entire story in itself, with a beginning, a middle, a twist that nobody saw coming, and a big pay-off at the end. They are labour intensive to write, but well worth it. Also, I like to have Eddie take the reader by the hand in the courtroom scenes, and let them in on the con with him, so the reader learns exactly how Eddie thinks and why he’s asking questions.

As a lawyer, although not a US lawyer, how do you keep it real yet still exciting?

Keeping it real is tricky. If it was totally real it would be boring. But in crime and thriller fiction, nobody writes reality. Most cops spend their days at their desk. Lawyers too. These jobs are interesting and exciting for small periods of time. The key is to set your book in that period of time and hope for the best.

And go on – give us a small hint about what might be coming next…

I’m still working on my third book, which should be ready to hand in to my publishers shortly. It’s called The Oath. Eddie is hired by a man called Leonard Howell, whose daughter has been kidnapped and held to ransom. At the same time, an old case of Harry Ford’s is coming back to haunt him and Eddie. Howell wants Eddie to help him deal with the FBI and the ransom drop. But that’s where things start to go wrong, in a BIG way.

Thank you!

Thanks so much Liz.

About the book:

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Fraud. Blackmail. Murder. It’s all in a day’s work for Eddie Flynn.

For years, major New York law firm Harland & Sinton has operated a massive global fraud. The FBI are on to them, but they need witnesses to secure their case. When a major client of the firm, David Child, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm.

Eddie’s not a man to be forced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, Christine, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price.

When Eddie meets David Child he knows Child is innocent, despite the overwhelming evidence against him. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.

Read my review HERE

Find out more here:

Follow Steve on Twitter here:

You can order The Plea by clickety clicking HERE

 

Also Available:

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The truth has no place in a courtroom. The truth doesn’t matter in a trial.

The only thing that matters is what the prosecution can prove.

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter Amy.

Eddie only has 48 hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial – and win – if wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

Lose this case and he loses everything.

My Original Review for The Defence is right HERE

You can Purchase The Defence by clickety clicking HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

The Holy Thief by William Ryan. Review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Pan.

Source: Purchased copy

Moscow, 1936, and Stalin’s Great Terror is beginning. In a deconsecrated church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see. Captain Alexei Korolev, finally beginning to enjoy the benefits of his success with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD—the most feared organization in Russia—becomes involved. Soon, Korolev’s every step is under close scrutiny and one false move will mean exile to The Zone, where enemies of the Soviet State, both real and imagined, meet their fate in the frozen camps of the far north.

Having recently been introduced to the writing of this author by the lovely Sophie when she sent me a review copy of his new novel coming later this year – The Constant Soldier – which I liked a little bit, maybe (Yes I know I’ll shut up soon about it. Soon as in never) I immediately went and got his previous 3 novels. Because in book love as in real love sometimes you just know.

The Holy Thief is a very different type of story, but turns out that The Constant Soldier was not a fluke so I refer you back to the “sometimes you just know” comment.

Anyway that aside, admittedly I know little to nothing about Stalin’s Russia or that time period in general so the world that William Ryan threw me into here was entirely intriguing, brand new and utterly compelling. Also very very scary, violently intense and the writing here once again is so beautifully immersive that reading it felt like it was right now in the moment. I LOVE books that can do that. Bookish deliciousness of the highest order.

Korolev as a character I just adored, was immediately engaged by and he just had such a layered and often conflicted personality that following along with him was a joy (although often very nail biting with an edge of worry and a touch of oh God) The Holy Thief is very much driven by the main protagonist, through whose eyes you get a real feel for the political landscape, the challenges people living there and then faced, the very real danger they were all in all of the time. Crime fiction with a heavy dose of brutal reality thrown in for good measure, taking you back in time in style – no need for that Delorean, just a pen and a touch of creative genius.

That would be enough but the story unfolding is incredibly addictive (and descriptive, blimey Mr Ryan thanks for THAT particularly vivid nightmare) and has enough twists and turns to keep the most avid crime fan happy. I’m not one for taking plots apart the next reader just needs the sense of it so I’ll say –  the scene setting is perfect, many thought provoking themes running through the narrative and overall just, you know, yes. All the Yes.

I’ll be onto the next book in this series quick smart.

Highly Recommended.

You can Purchase “The Holy Thief” HERE

Visit William Ryan at his website  here

Or on Twitter  here

Happy Reading!

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Murder Ring – Leigh Russell talks Geraldine Steel.

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Today I’m very pleased to welcome Leigh Russell to the blog, talking about her latest novel Murder Ring and all things Geraldine Steel.

 

First things first: why did you decide to tackle gun crime in the latest GS title?

In the beginning of her series, Geraldine Steel works in Kent. In the fourth book, Death Bed, she relocates to London. Murder Ring is the eighth in the series, and her fifth investigation set in London. With four books set in London, there was a limit to how long I could continue writing about a detective in North London, without ever mentioning guns. Reluctantly, I decided to tackle the issue. It turned out to be more complex than I had realised. And of course the problem lies not with the weapons themselves, but with the kind of people who get their hands on them. Far from evil master criminals, they are all too often dysfunctional adults, or very young, either way incapable of making responsible decisions. This is a growing problem today. I’m not sure what can be done to control the problem, but it’s important to raise it as an issue, which crime novels like Murder Ring do.

There are quite a few despicable characters in Murder Ring, which one did you enjoy writing the most (if any)?

All of my characters are enjoyable to write, but the ‘baddies’ often tend to be the most interesting characters to work on. I think this is because bad characters give a writer licence to do anything. Where my detectives’ actions are constrained by law and morality, my villains are free to do or say anything at all, with no restraints at all. And there are no limits to the number of ways in which a character can be bad, which gives scope for endless creativity!

Geraldine Steel makes a big discovery in this case thanks to modern technology. How do you keep up to date with the techniques the police uses?

Forensic technology is advancing all the time. Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass was outstripped a long time ago although, as with the magnifying glass, modern technology relies on someone to view and interpret the findings. Many crime writers complain that this makes their job more difficult, but I find it can be really helpful. As a crime writer, I do my best to keep abreast of progress in forensics, not only because I’m keen for my books to remain as authentic as possible, but also because such developments can be inspiring. As I was puzzling over how to resolve the investigation in Murder Ring, I was conducting some research and came across a new technique in forensic science which solved my problem perfectly. I can’t say any more without risking spoiling the story for anyone who reads it, but I can tell you that I was very pleased to have discovered a way for Geraldine to work out the identity of an elusive killer.

Geraldine Steel also makes a big discovery in her personal life. What is the most challenging part of having two narratives (one that extends through the series, and another that starts and ends with each book) and what advice would you give to other writers who would like to take this approach in their stories?

The challenge of writing a long running series is to write each novel so that it works as a standalone, while also continuing the series. I’m always aware that while many readers are following Geraldine’s story through the series, many others may pick up one of the books without having read the earlier ones. I want all my readers want to enjoy my books, so in a sense I’m writing for two audiences. It isn’t very difficult, but does need thought. My advice to other writers would be to plan the whole series right from the start. I had no idea my debut Cut Short would be published at all, let alone be the start of a long running series, so Geraldine’s story is developing as the books are written. It’s probably more fun to make it up as I go along, but it does make the series more challenging to write.

You’ve written 12 books (and counting!) and still manage to surprise your readers with twists and turns. Do you have any tricks up the sleeve?

With 12 books published, that means I’ve actually written nearly 15 now, as the editing process takes a while. And you may have realised by now that I’m avoiding answering the question, because I’m not about to give away any secrets about what I have up my sleeve.

What’s next for Geraldine Steel?

I’m currently writing the ninth Geraldine Steel, to follow Murder Ring. It’s difficult to talk about what happens in the next story, without giving away too much about that story, and also about Murder Ring. But I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that Geraldine will be pursuing killers in both!

Thank you to Leigh and her close questioner, Alex Creixell of Oldcastle Books.

About the book:

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Hearing footsteps pounding along the street behind him he glanced back, fleetingly worried, then laughed because the street was deserted. All the same, he felt uneasy. Everything looked different in the dark. Then he heard more footsteps approaching, and a hoarse voice called out. Turning his head, he made out a figure hovering in the shadows and as it raised one arm, the barrel of a gun glinted in the moonlight… The dead body of unassuming David Lester is discovered in a dark side-street, and DI Geraldine Steel is plunged into another murder investigation. The clues mount up along with the suspects, but with the death of another man in inexplicable circumstances, the case becomes increasingly complex. As Geraldine investigates the seemingly unrelated crimes, she makes a shocking discovery about her birth mother.

Find out more about the series here:

Follow Leigh on Twitter here:

To Purchase Murder Ring clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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The Evolution of Fear Paul Hardisty – Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill to save Rania and end unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit.

The Abrupt Physics of Dying was a brilliantly banging thriller, one of my favourites of its year, so really then you worry about second book syndrome. Well ok, I worry about second book syndrome. You know. You fall in love with an author then the next book is meh. BUT NO. What WAS I thinking. The Evolution of Fear is beyond banging, its the mental equivalent of running for your life through a dark forest with a bear after you (I don’t run unless there is a bear. Mild amble perhaps but no running)

Paul Hardisty writes intelligent, considered thrillers that actually get the reading adrenalin  going whilst teaching you an awful lot about the world we live in. A keen and knowledgable eye towards environmental issues which comes from real life experiences (If anyone is going to save the planet it would not surprise me in the slightest if it turns out to be this guy) and an absolutely gorgeous prose style that informs as much as it entertains – you absorb the reality whilst being entirely caught up in the fictional adventure, it is really quite a stunning use of language. Seriously. A little in awe here.

If you are following the tour you’ll find a lot of reviewers far more intelligent than I who can speak to the many levels of authenticity in this book, the underlying message, the genuinely current and important issues of our time, so I’m going to TOTALLY ignore all that now because really, Clay. Lets talk about Clay.

I love Clay. HUGE book crush and with The Evolution of Fear the author has added real layers to the character I adored in the first novel. He is intricately drawn, beautifully real, redefined in every moment throughout the course of the story as he fights both external and internal battles. His relationship with Rania, the things that drive him, all of that given sharp focus, an often darkly ironic and humerous eye to detail, I was just fully absorbed into his world from the opening salvo to the closing pages. The character is the story, the story is the hook, there is a perceptive, impassioned core to the entirety of this novel that for me just worked on every single level. Plus it is action packed, set in multiple places all beautifully described and you just won’t want to put it down once you have picked it up.

Oh I could bang on for ages but the bottom line is this.

Paul Hardisty writes bloody brilliant thrillers. Its all you need to know

 

Follow Paul on Twitter Here

To Purchase “The Evolution of Fear” clickety click right HERE

Follow the tour!

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Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: All the Missing Girls Megan Miranda.

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Publication Date: 28th June from Simon and Schuster

Source: Netgalley

It s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic s younger neighbor and the group s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic s return, Annaleise goes missing.
Told backwards Day 15 to Day 1 from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what “really “happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

 

“Tic Toc Nic”

That is the phrase that will stay with me from “All The Missing Girls” – a really intense and extraordinarily clever novel, taking that entirely popular premise of a missing person and turning it on its head. Nic hears this in her head all the time, and time is everything in this book…

Before I get to that though, I should point out that this novel isn’t just a twist on an old favourite or a blatant attention grabber (although it certainly grabbed mine) but is beautifully written throughout. Haunting, evocative, capturing that small town vibe and teenage friendship dynamic perfectly, using personal history and present events to paint a picture, a twisted and addictive picture one small step at a time. You will be hooked all the way through, my advice would be to read this in a few sittings, one if at all possible because as things unfold it is brilliantly done.

Nic returns home and we see day one of her journey back to her childhood home, her memories unfolding, her very real emotional pull towards this place and the events that defined her. Then another girl goes missing and POP forward we jump to day 15. Day by day we move backwards towards that very first day, realising why decisions have been made, understanding slowly the consequences of each action, the hidden secrets inside each conversation, by the time you get back to day one it looks VERY different. The subtle clues, the ingenious layers of plot, the character development, all of it intelligently done, personally I loved every minute.

Megan Miranda unravels her characters as much as she does her mystery, adding definition, fleshing them out with every day that has passed but you see all that in reverse, I really did think it was very inventive. With a touch of class in the writing, a hint of magic in the setting and a realistic outcome that did not require an end run around – meticulously plotted from first page to last, or should that be from last page to first. Whatever. It was great!

If you love your psychological thrillers but would like to see a new take then I would highly recommend All the Missing Girls. In fact if you are a fan of great writing, great storytelling and can appreciate subtleties of plot and character then I would highly recommend All The Missing Girls no matter your preferred reading genre.

Give it a go. Its a real barn stormer.

Find out more here:

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Happy Reading!

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Resurgence by Kerry Wilkinson. Blog Tour. Interview and Review

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Resurgence is the final book in the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – you can see what I thought of how things all panned out below – but first I asked the lovely Mr Wilkinson one or two little questions about it. Thanks so much for taking the time!

Ok, so first of all I’ve had a few disappointing endings to trilogies in my time so I was ECSTATIC to read such a great send off for the cast and crew of the Silver Blackthorn story so THANK YOU. I noted from your afterword that you always intended that ending- be honest though, was there any point at all you were tempted to go in a different direction?

The only thing that really changed was that the side characters, especially Jela, became way more important than I thought. The actual ending is what was sketched in my notes back when I first started writing the Silver books. The final chapter was always going to be what it ended up being.

 

How did you feel in the immediate aftermath of typing “The End” – you’ve lived with these characters for a while now (as have we, the readers) – did you cry? Its ok you can tell us. Fairs fair you know, we’ve had our fair share of emotional trauma reading these.

I was on a train on the way to London when I finished the first draft, surrounded by Japanese tourists on their way down from Edinburgh. It was hard to be too emotional in those circumstances! With my crime series, they’re ongoing. One feeds into the next and there’s never a point where I think, ‘that’s it’. With the end of Resurgence, it felt final. I know I’ll never write about Silver again and there was this odd sense of finality.

 

And whilst I love your crime novels, Silver Blackthorn is going to have a special place in my heart. As far as writing brilliant YA Dystopia goes you’ve got the magic touch – any plans for more in that genre? Or perhaps a completely different direction?

I write whatever interests me at a particular time. Sometimes that’s the crime books but my brain often needs time away from them. I have written other YA things but I’m not sure if or when they’ll ever come out. I’ve got a couple of different things in the works for 2017.

 

Looking back could you pick one particular scene or character or even theme throughout the narrative that you loved writing? Something that worked on every level?

I don’t want to spoil it but in chapter 12 and 13 of Resurgence, there’s a scene where Silver walks herself into some serious trouble. Then, with only words, she walks herself back out again. I like the sheer gall of that. It felt like that’s the core of who Silver is as a character.

 

If I said describe Silver in three words which three words would you use?

Brave, reckless, loyal.

 

Finally, this story is complete for you but there are still a lot of people who have yet to see how you got there – what do you hope that people take from the finale and indeed the trilogy as a whole?

Whew…I’m not sure really. Endings are tough in any medium. As a creator, you want to keep it in the spirit of the rest of the story. You shouldn’t cheat – give a happy ending for the sake of it – and yet it has to feel organic. It’s awful when you’re let down by the end of something. As a reader or viewer, you’ve invested hours and then you get to the end and feel, ‘Oh. Is that it?’. I just hope readers are satisfied.

Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbite questions:

Tea, coffee or other?

I’ve come to see that Diet Dr Pepper is the greatest gift bestowed upon us as humans.

Real book or e-book?

Ebook.

An author that gives you writers envy

Alex Marwood. I read The Darkest Secret a while back and I still think of the sisters in it now and again. The dynamic between them, the way they talk to each other. I live away from my brothers and sisters and she gets it so well.

Healthy eating or chocolate?

It depends. If I’m training for something, I’m disciplined and don’t crave ‘bad’ food. Afterwards, I’ll eat anything.

One thing you would desperately want to have if stuck on a desert island.

WiFi.

Thank you!

About the book:

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Publication Date: Available Now from Pan Macmillan

Source: Review Copy

An entire country has been lied to.

Silver Blackthorn was supposed to be one of the privileged few, chosen to serve and help rebuild a shattered nation.

Instead she is a rebel.

Tales of her defiance have spread across the land. King Victor and the Minister Prime want her dead, the resistance groups are desperate for her help.

But Silver’s friends and family are in dire jeopardy, hiding no longer an option.

As her travels take her into the far reaches of an unknown land, she is forced to make new friends and hunt for new allegiances.

Final battle lines are being drawn. The time has come.

Then there’s the hardest choice of all: Opie or Imrin.

I’ve loved this entire series mainly because Silver Blackthorn as a character has been intensely awesome, in some ways a typcial protagonist of YA Dystopia but in a lot of ways absolutely not. I’ve been engaged and emotionally connected to her story from the start to the finish. And its not like she’s the only one, the trilogy is peppered with well drawn, beautifully written characters all set within a weird and wonderful world.

Resurgence was a perfect finale for me. Not least because it WAS a finale. A proper one. Loose ends tied up, plenty of action and adventure, some twists and turns and a resolution of the love story too. Hmm. Proper storytelling. No man (or woman) left behind! Plenty of trauma though. This author does like laying on the trauma. But then this is what I read for.

When I turned the final page I was bereft. WHAT WLL I DO NOW? The trilogy has been full of awesomeness and Silver Blackthorn is a character I will never forget. It has been a whole load of reading fun. Don’t miss it.

Find out more here:

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To Purchase Resurgence clickety click right HERE

Also Available: Read First

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kerry-Wilkinson/e/B005DD1EJA/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

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Soho Honey – A W Rock – Blog tour Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from Clink Street Publishing.

Source: Review Copy

Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho’s underworld.

I like it when I am asked to go on a blog tour for a novel that would otherwise have passed me by – Soho Honey is such a novel, not one that I would have picked up in the normal course of things but I’m glad I did. This is something a little bit different, different is always fun.

Admittedly it did not immediately grab me, the background at the beginning was a little slow, but not for long – once the story kicked in this was immersive, gritty and entirely twisty, with some great characters all of whom are given flesh and focus – meanwhile the setting, Soho, comes to life around them. The story is a dark one (I do love the dark) and the author eeks out the story in such a way that I found myself enjoying it more and more as it went on. One of those novels that rewards you sticking with it.

Overall Soho Honey is a nicely written gritty crime thriller with a dark heart, if you like that sort of thing you will enjoy it. For me it was slightly hit and miss, I think the pace could be better, I lost some of the nuances on occasion but it has made me interested to see what this author comes up with next. Theres something there I think…

Recommended on a “Give it a Go” basis.

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To Purchase Soho Honey clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading!

 

Sockpuppet Matthew Blakstad – Author Interview.

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Sockpuppet (Hodder and Staughton 19th May) is a brilliant thriller, you can see a link to my review below, so I was delighted to get to dig a little deeper and find out more about it from the author himself. HUGE thanks to him for his terrific answers – fascinating stuff.

 

Lots of very topical issues in Sockpuppet – but lets start with the important stuff, giggly pigs. They pop up everywhere I’m interested in why pigs. And giggly ones at that. There must be a story within a story there?

Ha! Yes, indeed. An important theme in Sockpuppet is that these days the media are so noisy that only the shiniest, flashiest events grab our attention. We shout about something for thirty seconds, then drop it move on to the next fleeting hoo-hah. In the book, the well-meaning politician Bethany Lehrer is hauled over the coals for some bad choices she’s made in power; but this only becomes a public sensation because she’s being blamed for infecting thousands of people’s PCs with a family of unbelievably annoying children’s’ TV characters called the Giggly Pigglies. People find this hilarious, and it immediately becomes a wildly popular meme called ‘piggate’.

So I had the fun challenge of inventing some cartoon characters that could come across as suitably cute, while also providing a suitable emblem for TakeBack, the anti-corporate protest movement that picks up the meme and turns it into something more threatening. The Giggly Pigglies perfectly fitted this bill. Piglets are certainly cute, but they also carry associations of greedy officials with their ‘noses in the trough’. The pig masks worn by my protesters are brilliantly brought to life in Ben Summers’ arresting cover design. They’re my equivalent of the Guy Fawkes masks worn by the real-life hactivist movement, Anonymous.

Still, I never expected all this Giggly Piggery to find a counterpart in the real world. Then last autumn, just before we revealed the cover for the book, allegations came to light about David Cameron and what he – ahem! – may or may not have done to a pig’s head while he was a student. About which the less said the better. But, as we saw, Twitter quickly started calling the affair ‘Piggate’ – just like the scandal in the book – and anti-austerity protestors even started donning pig masks. This is one of a number of elements of Sockpuppet that have unexpectedly leaked out into the real world! I wrote about this weirdness at the time, on my blog.

Onto more serious matters, Sockpuppet speaks to a very topical social issue at the moment – that of privacy in the digital age. It is something that people think about without really THINKING about it. Talk a little about your motivation in writing a (very excellent and entertaining) story about this subject.

Thank you!

I think you’ve put it really well in your question: we’re increasingly aware they we’re giving up our privacy, but we’re not thinking about the consequences. And the big problem is, we’re never getting it back. Maybe someone once posted a picture of me being inappropriate at a party. Once it’s out there, it’s never going away, and it can be copied and shared an indefinite number of times. (Thinking about it, isn’t David Cameron lucky that Facebook wasn’t around when he allegedly attended that student party back in the 80’s?)

Anyway, it’s just the same with all our other data. Maybe we provide it to an organisation we trust – but of course they can simply sell it on to people who sell it on to yet other people; until it ends up in the hands of people we’d really rather didn’t know our income, address, medical conditions, and mother’s maiden name… Again, though, we’re never getting it back.

I didn’t want to lecture people about this. I don’t think that’s helpful. What I wanted to do in writing the book was bring these issues to life in the context of a story that would grip the reader, where bad things happen to characters they’ve grown to care about. And so, perhaps, encourage people to think about this stuff.

In some ways it is very insidious. Take cookies for example. I have a new appreciation about that. Cookies sound so tasty but in computer terms they follow you around and get a picture about your lifestyle and choices right? Which is used to advertise but surely could be used for more nefarious purposes. See? You’ve made this reader think about these things…

Great – one down, 64 million to go!

But you’re right. We’ve got it in our heads that the services we use on our smartphones are free; whereas in fact we’re paying through the nose for them, if you consider the valuable data we hand over when we use them. The problem is, we’ve never had to put a price tag on our data, because in the pre-smartphone age, there wasn’t any way for businesses – or criminals – to capture and use them in such incredible volumes as they do today. So we blithely go on sharing – and the more we share, the more we get these tiny rewards. Retweets, upvotes, user ratings… All these things give us little hits of pleasure and make us want to share still more. The psychology of these services is very subtle and advanced.

If we sat back and thought – hey, I’m giving up my time, to populate Facebook and Twitter and TripAdviser with the very content that attracts new users to their services; PLUS they’re getting incredibly valuable personal information about me; PLUS they’re tracking my behaviour and learning how better to sell to me in future – if we added all this up, we might think the deal looks a bit one-sided. But it’s easy to forget this when the stuff we surrender is invisible, and when it’s stored in some abstract space out there in the ‘cloud’.

And even if the company we’re giving data to has no intention of misusing it, rest assured they’ll almost certainly be hacked at some point, by people with less noble motives. Again, this is something I bring out in the book. The biggest, most secure companies on the planet are also the biggest targets for criminal hackers. We just can’t win!

Tell me about Dani and Bethany. Two very different women who come together with a single purpose but very differing motivations. Were they fun to write? Especially Dani who I loved for her witty incisiveness.

Dani was alarmingly fun to write – though I think I’d be terrified if I met her in real life! She’s the wicked imp inside us all. The one who says and does things without any internal censor holding her back. She’s a kind of personification of online culture. She’s completely out there – sharing for her is as natural as breathing. She’s rude, quick, witty and sexually wide open. She’s also way more vulnerable than she’d like the world to think. And, like most good techies, she’s incredibly impatient with ordinary people’s lack of understanding of her world; and very judgemental about their intelligence. But she’s passionate, and good, and quick to fight for the things she believes in.

Bethany, the government minister, is quite a contrast. She’s older than Dani, more measured, more compromised by the realities she’s experienced, climbing the greasy pole of politics. She’s messed up more than once along the way; as have we all, I guess. Still, she too has a powerful moral core. She wants to make things better for everyone, and she believes that government is the only force that can make that happen. But she hasn’t yet worked out how far she’s prepared to compromise to further her goals.

I’m often asked if it was a deliberate tactic, making both my main protagonists women. And it really wasn’t. These are characters who, as I was developing the book, just insisted on being written. I’m delighted the book has ended up with such a strongly female point of view, though. I think it would have been very different if it was fronted up by yet another Male Hero Hacker. After all, it’s women who get the brunt of the Internet’s dark side. I found there was more conflict and drama in pitting two women against these forces. My (female) editor recently told me it’s a feminist book and that was extremely gratifying to hear; but I didn’t set out to make it one. When a man tries to do that it can end up horribly mansplainy. But in this case the feminist themes come from the characters and their stories: two strong but all-too human women, fighting their corners in an overwhelmingly male environment.

Sticking with characters for a moment, how about the wider cast. Any favourites in there? Any that gave you a headache?

It’s quite a big supporting cast, and I enjoyed writing them all. But a personal favourite is J-R Pemberton, the brilliant but hapless political advisor who during the book is working through some major questions about both his sexuality and his career. He’s based on some of the young political wonks I’ve met while working for government departments: utterly brilliant, super-knowledgeable, but totally out of touch with the real world. He’s very different from me in many ways but he shares my tendency to overthink things, and my infuriating clumsiness. Some of his mishaps, including a pivotal scene where he drops his Party BlackBerry in the loo, have a grounding in my own minor catastrophes!

Probably the character it took me longest to learn to understand was the ruthless tech entrepreneur, Sean Perce. I came to love writing him but at first I found it hard to inhabit the mind of this single-minded, passionate businessman who’s absolutely certain that he’s destined to change the world. This is a trait I think is shared by all the top people in tech – Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and so on. I haven’t got an ounce of those guys’ self-confidence; but I find them fascinating and compelling. And likewise, many of my characters find themselves drawn into Sean’s orbit, by the sheer force of his personality.

It is a geek’s dream novel when it comes to technological wizardry – are you a computer genius or did you get a lot of help on the detail? In fact tell us a little about your background…

I’m no computer genius, but I do have an affinity with the things. I think I’m a bit of a hybrid – half human being, half nerd. A kind of geek Mr Tumnus, you might say! I’m old enough that my first computer was the kind you could only talk to by typing in commands. Way before Windows and the Mac built their friendly layers of user interface over the technology. This left me with an intuitive sense of how these humming beasts tick. So although Dani would think I’m a dilettante know-nothing, I have some insight into my technically gifted characters.

At the same time, though, I hope I’ve also maintained an outsider’s perspective. I don’t want to write books that can only be read by geeks. One of the really gratifying thing about the early response to Sockpuppet is that people who are put off by tech – if not actively afraid of it – have found it an illuminating and engaging way into this world.

This is the start of a series – are you allowed to/can you tell us anything about what will come next, in very general terms?

I can drop a few tantalising hints! Sockpuppet kicks off a series called The Martingale Cycle, which explores the life – and afterlife – of a political radical and computing pioneer called Elyse Martingale. I’ve called it a ‘cycle’ because it’s not a continuous serial. Each title in the series will be a self-contained novel. You can read them in any order but the more of the stories you read, the more you’ll piece together an alternative history of our love-and-hate affair with computers, and of the use of technology for power and protest. Eventually I’m hoping the stories will span 80 years, reaching back to the aftermath of the Second World War, and forward into our near future.

The cycle is a product of my fascination with with the way computers – these magical technologies that have changed our daily lives so radically – emerged from the devastating crises of the 20th century: via codebreaking and ballistics labs in the Second World War, and then from the culture wars of the sixties. This is something I’ll explore in future books.

To give a flavour of how the series will work, we’ve just put out a short ebook appetiser for the series, called FALLEN ANGEL . Set in the dot-com crash of 2000, it’s a kind of origin story for Sean Perce, the tech mogul from Sockpuppet. Alongside Sean, you’ll meet other characters who’ll appear in future titles. So Fallen Angel is book zero in the cycle, Sockpuppet is book one, and I’m currently writing book two. Its working title is Lucky Ghost and it take place a few years after the events of Sockpuppet.

Finally, this being a stand out read for me this year – Do you manage to read much at the moment and if so has there been a stand out novel for you so far this year?

I’m going to name two novels I’ve read this year, though both of them came out in previous years. I have such a mountain of reading, I’m always months or years behind – unlike you and your amazing throughput of reading!

The first is The Loney by Andrew Hurley. This is a beautiful, affecting book that I’d recommend to anyone, especially people fascinated with the dark forgotten places in the British landscape; but it’s an especial treat to fans of classic Gothic horror. Hurley does a brilliant job – the best I’ve seen in recent years – of adapting the gothic story into a modern context.

The second couldn’t be more different. Dept. of Speculation is a short, spare book about the fracturing of a family in contemporary New York. It’s full of facts and fascination about astronomy, children and urban life, but it has an incredibly pared down way of telling its story. It’s one of those brilliant books that never speaks directly about the feelings of its protagonist, yet they shine through the gaps in the narration with a profound clarity. A quick but brilliant read!

Thank you so much!

About the Book:

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Twitter. Facebook. Whatsapp. Google Maps. Every day you share everything about yourself – where you go, what you eat, what you buy, what you think – online. Sometimes you do it on purpose. Usually you do it without even realizing it. At the end of the day, everything from your shoe-size to your credit limit is out there. Your greatest joys, your darkest moments. Your deepest secrets.

If someone wants to know everything about you, all they have to do is look.

But what happens when someone starts spilling state secrets? For politician Bethany Leherer and programmer Danielle Farr, that’s not just an interesting thought-experiment. An online celebrity called sic_girl has started telling the world too much about Bethany and Dani, from their jobs and lives to their most intimate secrets. There’s just one problem: sic_girl doesn’t exist. She’s an construct, a program used to test code. Now Dani and Bethany must race against the clock to find out who’s controlling sic_girl and why… before she destroys the privacy of everyone in the UK.

Read my review HERE

If you dare you can find out more here:

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Happy Reading Folks!

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