Two Authors of some calibre. Long Time Lost meets Black Night Falling….

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Today I’m in full on fangirl mode as two of my favouritist(yes its a word if it isnt it should be)  people who happen to both currently write for a publisher I hold in high esteem (Faber) have a little bit of a Q/A and gossip (yeah sorry guys it DOES turn into a bit of a gossip) about writing and their newest releases Long Time Lost (Chris Ewan OUT TODAY) and Black Night Falling (Rod Reynolds Out in August at which point this will continue) I’d like to thank them very much for giving up a Friday night to do this for me AND for being so nice about me at the end even after I told them not to. No cake for them. Ok maybe a biscuit. So over to them then – enjoy! Info about the novels and links to my reviews at the end.

 

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RR: Hi Chris, thanks for taking the time to talk about your new thriller, LONG TIME LOST. It’s a truly spectacular read, with one of those hooks that immediately makes you think, ‘Why the hell didn’t I think of that?’ Can you tell us a bit about where the idea came from?

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CE: Well, first of all, thank you. And second of all, I guess, as a crime writer, it’s a little odd that the story ideas that most often appeal to me rarely involve murders. I started out writing a series of capers about a burglar. More recently, my books have often featured disappearances of one kind or another. I’m especially drawn to missing person stories, as a reader and a writer. On an instinctive level, they feel to me like story beginnings which offer more possibilities – the story is opened up by a disappearance in a way, whereas a story could be said to start with a kind of closure when it begins with a death. And I particularly love stories about people who go missing in strange circumstances or return against all odds.

 

Of course, often when people go missing it’s because they have someone else to hide from. I explored that concept in SAFE HOUSE, which grew out of rumours I had heard of the Isle of Man being used to relocate people involved in UK witness protection schemes. When I was researching SAFE HOUSE, I read a bunch of non-fiction titles about people involved in government-operated protection schemes and one day, it just occurred to me to wonder what I would do if I didn’t feel confident in a government run scheme. Where would I turn to? From there, I began to think about whether it would be possible to run and operate a private scheme. And I figured it would be – provided the scheme was secret, discreet and very, very illegal.

 

CE: Talking of beginnings, BLACK NIGHT FALLING starts with an ending, in a sense, because it unspools from events that take place at the end of THE DARK INSIDE. It also cleverly weaves in and out of plot points from your debut novel while working very well as a standalone mystery. Were you conscious of wanting to return to the events of THE DARK INSIDE in your second novel? (And, by the by, you do know that your second novel is supposed to be tough to get right? You have broken all the rules by delivering a second novel that’s truly outstanding).

 

RR: That’s very kind of you to say, thank you. If I’m being honest, although the second book I had planned was to be set in the same universe as THE DARK INSIDE, it wasn’t planned as a direct sequel. It was only after conversations with my publisher, talking about the possibility of making Charlie Yates a series character, that I decided to write it as one. However, I had planned for the events of THE DARK INSIDE to impact the plot of book two (it’s a device I’ve always enjoyed as a reader), so it wasn’t too hard to then adapt what I had planned to involve Charlie.

 

The setting, however, and the actual plot only came out of research I was doing for THE DARK INSIDE. When I visited Texarkana, I learnt of a small town not far away, called Hot Springs, with this incredible history of mobsters, political corruption, violence, etc., and thought it was the perfect place to take the story to. So in some ways, as with your experience with SAFE HOUSE, it was research for a different book that was the starting point for what became BLACK NIGHT FALLING.

 

RR: On the subject of settings, one of the features of your writing is the variety of locations you’ve set your novels in over the years. LONG TIME LOST takes in Germany, France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. What influenced your choice of these locales?

 

CE: You forgot Weston-super-Mare, which obviously, I chose for the glamour! But you’re right, so many story ideas do grow out of research, whether intentional or otherwise. When I sat down to write LONG TIME LOST, I knew I wanted to write a book on a bigger canvas than I had done previously and in my head, I kept coming back to an image of dominoes toppling. My lead character, Nick Miller, is hiding a number of people throughout Europe, but when he steps in to prevent an assassination attempt on Kate Sutherland in the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events that jeopardise the security of his entire network. As each link in the network is weakened, it has a ripple effect – hence, dominoes.

 

As for where Nick’s clients should be located, I spread a map of Europe on the floor and played around with a bunch of ideas. I wanted to balance the locations geographically but also in terms of size and feel, partly to alter the challenges my characters face, partly to change things up for my readers. Some of the locations I’d visited before. Some I went back to. I spent five weeks in Switzerland while I was writing the sections set there, which I can’t pretend was any kind of hardship …

 

CE: So we’ve both set novels in destinations that are foreign to us, but you make things doubly hard on yourself by going back in time. What was it that drew you to writing about the 1940s?

 

RR: Five weeks in Switzerland doesn’t sound too bad at all! I managed three days in a rain-soaked Texarkana for my research trip there (and probably could have done what I needed in half a day, as it turned out…)

 

In the case of both THE DARK INSIDE and BLACK NIGHT FALLING, the story kind of found me – hence the choice of the 1940s. THE DARK INSIDE was based on a real-life serial murder case from 1946. Once I’d decided BLACK NIGHT FALLING was going to be a sequel, it made sense to have it follow on quite soon after, so that the reader can see how the events of the first book continue to haunt Charlie. However, it also turned out that 1946/7 was a pivotal time for the town of Hot Springs, where BLACK NIGHT FALLING is set, as it was then that a group of WW2 veterans formed a political movement to take on the corrupt (and mob-backed) politicians that had controlled the town for years. As you can imagine, it made for a tumultuous time, and seemed a fascinating situation to throw my protagonist into, while everything else in his life is going bad again.

 

RR: You’ve talked about some of the research you did, and how that influenced LONG TIME LOST, but how did you come up with the character of Nick Miller and, in particular, what research did you have to do in order to bring him to life so credibly?

 

CE: I love when serendipity plays a role in writing like that. On a small scale, the real magic moments for me are when I find that a crucial turning point in the book I’m working on rests on something that seemed totally innocuous when I first wrote it.

 

But I digress. Nick Miller. In terms of research, that really goes back to a book I had read called WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program by Pete Earley and Gerald Shur. One thing that struck me about the book was not only the enormous emotional strains placed on anyone inducted into a witness protection scheme but the corresponding demands placed on those federal officers tasked with keeping witnesses safe. Safeguarding someone else is an enormous undertaking, a 24-7 job, and Miller reflects that. He’s determined and steadfast but the reason he excels at his chosen profession is that he is driven by his own internal demons, having failed to keep his wife and daughter safe in a police-backed protection scheme. As for how Nick makes people disappear, a lot of that was guesswork and sleight of hand. Unless I vanish suddenly – in which case it was obviously just good prep.

 

CE: Let’s talk about process. Reading BLACK NIGHT FALLING is a completely immersive experience. The plot is drum tight and the world of Hot Springs is utterly convincing. I am guessing you achieved that, in part, by immersing yourself in the writing process completely. Did you take a day off from start to end? How do you work?

 

RR: Re. crucial turning points – YES! Totally agree; it’s only happened to me a handful of times, but I love it when it does. It’s when the writing comes easiest, I find – when it all flows naturally and the plot comes together organically.

 

In terms of process, I had to work around the demands of my young daughter as I am also a full-time dad – so I’ve had to become quite disciplined about working efficiently whenever I get the chance (nap-times, evenings, etc.) The other major deadline I had was that we were expecting our second child, so I was determined to get the book finished before she arrived (which I managed with about 36 hours to spare). But I find it hard to work seven days a week until I’m right up against a deadline; I tend to work five days a week, with a variable word limit for each day (determined by whether, eg. Toddler is at nursery) and don’t go to bed until that limit is hit. Some days it’s a trivial amount – 200 words maybe – but, as I’m sure you’ve experienced, that’s really just to get me to the computer; once there, I’ll invariably do more. In an ideal world, I’d like to aim for 1500-2000 words a day – but that’s not always possible.

 

RR: How about you – how do you go about it? The settings you use in LONG TIME LOST are brilliantly evoked and certainly give the feeling of being on an epic, globe-spanning adventure. Did all the travel you undertook impact on your process? 

 

CE: Ah, snap on delivering a book before a baby. With DEAD LINE (ironically enough) I delivered the book to my agent half an hour before my wife went into labour. Recently, I’ve been trying to finish my new book for early July, when we’re expecting our second child, but this time round, I have a feeling the baby might beat me to it.

 

I tend to work most days. Recently, my wife has tried to get me to take a day off in the week, which sometimes interrupts whatever momentum I’ve managed to build up but (though I have been reluctant to admit it) usually boosts my productivity in the days afterwards. I work to page count, rather than word count, and always try to write 5 pages a day. It encourages me to write more dialogue to get my pages down faster! But once the first draft is together, I tend to work longer hours until the book is finally done.

 

To be honest, the travel helped with the Swiss sections, but the rest of the time I was writing in my study. I used a lot of guide books, a lot of photographs, and I ransacked my memories.

 

CE: So what’s next? Are you writing a third Charlie Yates novel? (I am hoping the answer is yes).

 

RR; The answer is…yes and no. I have planned a third Charlie Yates book, which will pick up directly from the end of BLACK NIGHT FALLING – once again, Charlie is trying to outrun everything he’s been through, but finding it won’t let go of him that easily.

 

However, I’ve also pitched a standalone to my publishers, something totally different (in setting and time period), which is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while and am keen to develop. So watch this space.

 

RR: I’m curious what’s next for you, both specifically and in more general terms. You wrote the successful ‘GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO…’ series, then with SAFE HOUSE, switched to standalone novels. Do you find it hard to build a new world and new set of characters with every book? Do you have a preference for series writing vs. standalones?

 

CE: Ah, well that is great news on both counts – and I am seriously intrigued to learn more about your standalone.

 

In terms of series vs. standalone, I think it’s a case of the grass is always greener. When I’m writing a standalone, I pine after a series, and vice versa. I loved writing the GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE books. It’s my sincerest wish to get back to them again if I can because I have plenty more stories to tell about Charlie Howard and plenty more cities I want him to visit. In terms of building a new world and characters for each standalone, it’s not easy, but as you know yourself (or at least I hope you do, help me out here …), each book in a series feels like starting afresh because there is always so much more to explore.

 

What’s next for me is the standalone I’m currently writing, which is set in Bristol and again features a disappearance — with a twist. I think it has the strongest hook I’ve ever come up with, but then I would say that, because it means I can’t possibly share it yet …

 

CE: Now, we could finish up by talking about how remarkable Liz is — and she absolutely is, and I know a whole bunch of us can’t thank her enough for all she does and the support she has given our writing — but in the spirit of Liz Loves Books, how about we each recommend one book we’ve enjoyed recently as well as an all-time favourite? You first.

 

RR: ‘The strongest hook I’ve ever come up with’ – I was going to ask you about hooks and how you come up with such brilliant ones time and again, but I’ll save it for another time. I will say, though, that given your canon of work, that’s a pretty bold claim! But then, if you’d told me you could top your previous books for sheer thriller-brilliance, I’m not sure I’d have believed you – and yet you’ve somehow pulled it off with LONG TIME LOST.

 

What else can I add about Liz? She’s been my biggest supporter, and I’m not sure anyone would have even noticed THE DARK INSIDE if she hadn’t championed it from so early on. She also happens to be pretty much the best-read person on the planet, and clearly one of the hardest working – so all I can say is keep doing your thing, Liz, because all of us authors would be lost without you.

 

Okay, books, books, books…this is tricky because there I so many I could name. For a recent one I’ve enjoyed, I’ll go with RED RISING. This is one Liz herself implored me to read, and I’m very glad she did. It’s YA/SciFi/Fantasy, which is not usually my kind of thing (which is why I was quite keen to try it) but is just brilliant. The author, Pierce Brown, excels at setting up the interplay between his characters, so that there are real shades of grey in their relationships, and that fuels the narrative. It’s the first in a trilogy, and I’ll be reading the next two when I get a chance.

 

For an all-time favourite…I usually go James Ellroy here, but I’ve done him to death, so I’ll go with Joseph Kanon’s THE GOOD GERMAN. If you’ve seen the film, forget it – it doesn’t do the book any justice at all. Set in Berlin immediately after WW2, it sees a German-American journalist searching for his pre-war love – and getting tangled up in a web of murder and intrigue. Kanon is among the best I’ve read when it comes to really using his setting and making it a factor in the story, and, as if that wasn’t enough, he’s an absolute master at dialogue. Definitely in my top 5 all-time.

 

RR: Your turn…

 

CE: Well hey, the hook thing could all be a bluff, or I’ve unwittingly cursed myself. Time will tell.

 

Also, this is great because I am yet to read either RED RISING or THE GOOD GERMAN and now I can add both to my list.

 

For a recent read, I’ll go with Davis Grubb’s THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. I’ve been writing an article recently on chase novels and while I read and loved a bunch of titles that were new to me, this one stood out. It’s melodramatic, atmospheric and a little rough around the edges, but it completely drew me in and even wormed its way into my dreams. It also features one of the most memorable villains I’ve come across in a long time in the form of Harry “Preacher” Powell who is determined to get his hands on the loot stolen by his former prison cellmate, Ben Harper, in a botched robbery. All that stands in Preacher’s way is Ben’s widow, Willa, and her two children, Pearl and John. It’s an absolute gem of southern noir.

 

And for an all-time favourite, I’ll go with Dennis Lehane’s GONE BABY GONE (there’s that missing person angle again …). I love Lehane’s writing and the novel is a heartbreaker. It treats the subject of a missing child case so thoughtfully and well, and the plotting and twists are just sublime.

 

RR: I’m all about southern noir, and I’ve not come across Davis Grubb before – so I’ll definitely be checking that out.

 

And as for Gone Baby Gone – couldn’t agree more, on all counts. Another one of my all-timers.

 

Thanks very much for chatting – it’s been great fun! Best of luck with LONG TIME LOST, and look forward to seeing what comes next.

About the books:

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Nick Miller and his team provide a unique and highly illegal service, relocating at-risk individuals across Europe with new identities and new lives. Nick excels at what he does for a reason: he’s spent years living in the shadows under an assumed name.

But when Nick steps in to prevent the attempted murder of witness-in-hiding Kate Sutherland on the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events with devastating consequences for everyone he protects – because Nick and Kate share a common enemy in Connor Lane, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means tearing Nick’s entire network apart.

Chris can be found lurking on Twitter HERE

Read my review of Long Time Lost HERE

To purchase clickety click right HERE

And HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY Chris!

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And now I stood here, on a desolate airfield in the Arkansas wilderness, a stone’s throw from Texarkana. Darkness drawing in on me. Cross country to see a man I never imagined seeing again. On the strength of one desperate telephone call…’

Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

You can find Rod lurking on Twitter HERE

Read my review of Black Night Falling HERE

To Purchase Clickety Click right HERE

Happy Reading!

 

 

New Release Spotlight: Long Time Lost – Chris Ewan

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Publication Date: 5th May 2016 from Faber

Source: Review Copy

Nick Miller and his team provide a unique and highly illegal service, relocating at-risk individuals across Europe with new identities and new lives. Nick excels at what he does for a reason: he’s spent years living in the shadows under an assumed name.

But when Nick steps in to prevent the attempted murder of witness-in-hiding Kate Sutherland on the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events with devastating consequences for everyone he protects – because Nick and Kate share a common enemy in Connor Lane, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means tearing Nick’s entire network apart.

Oh dear. I finished this one which means I can NEVER read it for the first time again. This displeases me at the same time as I’m doing a little book dance of joy because Long Time Lost is not only a banging thriller but a thrilling thriller to boot AND beautifully written. Plus addictive. Like having your cake and eating it and having enough left to be able to make cookies out of it later. With wine.

Anyway that aside,  Long Time Lost starts off with a bang (literally and figuratively) and then is relentless in its pursuit of your fingernails, as in bitten, then off. Or you could use them to cling onto that cliff  that Chris Ewan decides to shove you off  at regular intervals just when you think things can’t get any worse for this bunch of characters – whom you will adore, even the bad guys. And I’m never EVER going near any kind of crane or approaching a building site with anything less than extreme caution again. And that was just the start.

I’ve been a long time fan of this author,  but with Long Time Lost its like the stars aligned because this is thriller writing right at the top of the game. Enticing plotting, well built and authentic characters, believable emotive events, no messing. Plenty of action but plenty of growth alongside that – I quite simply adored Nick (and whilst I know this is a standalone I may have to GLARE a little at Mr Ewan and demand a recount) and was completely sympathetic to the situation Kate finds herself in. Wanting desperately to do the right thing, slowly but surely realising that to do so her entire life would have to change.

Intelligent, thought provoking story telling with a sharp authentic edge, most of all brilliant writing that digs deep. And seriously its not THAT easy to find these days. Worth their weight in gold books like this. And if I could put in a request for more “Good Thief” books while I’m about it…Oh look you’ve got to try..

Thats me finished banging on – I loved it. Tomorrow Chris’s fellow Faber author and writer of some calibre whose books I might have mentioned a time or two – Rod Reynolds – will be interviewing Chris here on the blog and they will be talking all things writing, Long Time Lost AND Black Night Falling. Its one not to be missed and later this year when Black Night Falling is released they’ll be back to do it all over again. Never say I don’t spoil you (although to be fair its these two spoiling you with their gorgeous writing I just work here) and pop back tomorrow to have a look if you can.

Until then you could…

Find out more here:

Follow Chris on Twitter here:

To purchase Long Time Lost you can clickety click right HERE

Happy HAPPY reading!

 

 

 

 

The Long Count – J M Gulvin. Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Review Copy

In The Long Count, the first book of JM Gulvin’s masterful new crime series, we meet Ranger John Quarrie as he is called to the scene of an apparent suicide by a fellow war veteran. Although the local police want the case shut down, John Q is convinced that events aren’t quite so straightforward.

When his hunch is backed up by the man’s son, Isaac – just back from Vietnam, and convinced his father was murdered – they start to look into a series of other violent incidents in the area, including a recent fire at the local Trinity Asylum and the disappearance of Isaac’s twin brother, Ishmael. In a desperate race against time, John Q has to try and unravel the dark secrets at the heart of this family and get to the truth before the count is up…

First of all I LOVED this. Probably should get that out there right at the start. As a big fan of atmospheric scene setting and engaging unforgettable characters The Long Count was definitely one for me.

Heading back to 1960’s Texas, JM Gulvin weaves a brilliantly addictive and dark tale around his main protagonist John Quarrie, Texas Ranger and single father who gets all caught up in some violent goings on – the author has a brilliantly evocative turn of phrase and slowly but surely sucks you into the vortex  – I read this in one sitting so immersed was I in the beautifully written multi layered storytelling.

The mystery elements are wonderful, slow burning intricate plotting that keeps things flowing yet allows you to take stock and really feel the events as they unfold- going back to my love of scene setting, JM Gulvin is masterful at creating imagery through language – every moment of The Long Count was a joy to read. John Quarrie as a character is brilliantly drawn – if this keeps up he could easily become one of my favourite literary characters, principled and sincere,  intelligent and appealing. As a reader you are more than happy to follow him down the rabbit hole into the darker layers of human nature.

What a way to open a series – and thank heavens it is exactly that – because I want more. Preferably now. What I have to wait? Well ok then but hurry things along please….

Highly Recommended

 

You can follow the author on Twitter here:

To Purchase The Long Count clickety Click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

While my Eyes were Closed – Linda Green. Blog Tour Review

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Publication Date: 5th May from Quercus

Source: Netgalley

One, two, three . . .

Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa’s family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn’t a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa’s little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

While My Eyes Were Closed is an interesting and slightly different take on the plethora of missing child books there are around – in that it is very focused on cause and effect, on the fallout to the family, on the wider aspects rather than on “whodunnit” – I found this refreshing especially as Linda Green managed to make it thought provoking and interesting throughout.

It is a fast read in that you really want to keep going to find out what ultimately happens – this is more character study and social intricacy than it is thriller, although there is the edge of the seat aspect in waiting to discover how things will pan out. As such its a bit of a page turner, most of my fascination was with the abductor in this case and the fact that we get to see things from their point of view, even have the chance to sympathise with them despite their actions, made it an excellent read for me.

The vagaries of Social Media play a part, the anguish of the family, the way they are viewed and taken apart by people who know nothing about them beyond the media portrayal, this was cleverly done with an authentic turn. The author still manages to weave a twisty tale throwing in unexpected developments along the way, characters are well drawn and the writing is engaging and pacy.

Good read. Recommended for those who like their psychological thrillers to have more than a “by the numbers” feel, a fairly decent attempt to take it above and beyond. Will look forward to more from Linda Green.

 

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

To Purchase “While my Eyes were Closed” Clickety click HERE

Follow the Tour!

 

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Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

 

Sunset City – Melissa Ginsburg. Blog tour review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber.

Source: Review Copy

Twenty-two-year-old Charlotte Ford reconnects with Danielle, her best friend from high school, a few days before Danielle is found bludgeoned to death in a motel room. In the wake of the murder, Charlotte’s life unravels and she descends into the city’s underbelly, where she meets the strippers, pornographers and drug dealers who surrounded Danielle in the years they were estranged.

Melissa Ginsberg’s “Sunset City” is a short but intense noir crime novel – where the crime takes a back seat to the character study as we watch Charlotte retrace the steps of her lost friend Danielle, through a murky underworld of drugs and sex.

The author has a visceral poetic way of writing that just draws you into this world – Houston the backdrop, a character in its own right, setting the scene for a tale of friendship and murder, a sharp edged affair where actions have consequences – leading you further and further into darker and darker places.

It is an accomplished debut for sure, I was gripped utterly by the events and the people, descriptively speaking this is pure magic, intense and evocative with a modern twist – often very sad and always edgy and involving. A short sharp effective portrait of life on the edge of reason, where addiction is rife and violence is just a stones throw away.

Sunset City is definitely one that will stay with you – one of those novels where words have true power – distinctive enough to make it stand out, authentic and hard hitting – I would definitely recommend Sunset City for crime fans who want to delve into something a little different.

 

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

To Purchase Sunset City clickety click HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading Folks!

New Release Spotlight (May) The Swimming Pool – Louise Candlish

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Publication Date: 5th May 2016 from Penguin (Michael Joseph)

Source: Netgalley

It’s summer, and for teachers Ed and Natalie Steele this means six weeks off work with their young daughter Molly. Their lives are predictable and uncomplicated — or at least they were until they meet the Channings.

Suddenly, glamorous Lara Channing, a former actress leading an eccentrically lavish lifestyle, is taking Natalie under her wing and the stability of summer takes an exciting turn.

But are there hidden motives behind this new friendship? And when the end-of-summer party at the lido is cut short by a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along.

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers was one of my favourite twisty tales of last year, one of those impulse purchases that turns into a favourite, so I was REALLY looking forward to “The Swimming Pool” and boy was that one addictive. And twisty. And distracting because when the end came I was “really?” – so caught up had I been in the lives of these characters.

Therein lies the rub really – Louise Candlish does characters with such a sharp eye and authentic wit that they bounce off the page and you really do get so involved in the intricacies of their interactions that any eye you might usually have towards guessing a solution stays firmly on whats happening now right in front of you. Its clever for sure and add to that a twisty plot full of nefarious intention and you have a real corker of a summer read.

The Swimming Pool – where the neigbourhood gathers – is a shiny glistening character in its own right here, whilst the ebb and flow of human nature dances around it, there it sits. You know from the start that something disastrous is coming and that the pool will play its part which gives it a gorgeous sinister aspect whilst sounding like the most fun place in the world to be.

I loved the “underneath” parts of the story -a long term, steady marriage shaken at its foundation by some seemingly glamourous and exciting new friendships, the ironies of parenting teenagers, the way our history can define us and how we can all become entirely selfish at the drop of a hat – also just the sheer depth and feeling in all the relationships. The very definition of a page turner with some beautiful writing and intuitive insight.

Using a bit of the past and a bit of the future and whole load of here and now, Louise Candlish spins an evocative and often haunting web around a group dynamic that is entirely fascinating. From Ed to Nat to Lara to Miles to the daughters and the sons and the friends (and the dogs) you will come to know them all. Or at least think you do. Then you may find that not everything is as it appears….

LOVED it.  An entirely enjoyable and intriguing read. No complaints here. More please.

Find out more here:

Follow Louise on Twitter here:

To Purchase The Swimming Pool clickety click right HERE

Also Available:

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Welcome to Lime Park Road. A picture-perfect street with a secret at its heart.

When Joe and Christy Davenport step behind the Oxford Blue painted door of their ‘for ever’ home, they believe their dreams have come true.

Yet the boxes aren’t even unpacked before a series of events leads Christy to become obsessed with the previous occupant, the glamorous, enigmatic Amber Fraser, whose departure from Lime Park Road is shrouded in mystery.

What happened to her? And why are Joe and Christy’s attempts at friendship with neighbours met with an unnerving silence?

As Christy unravels the shocking truth about the Frasers and the place she now calls home, she discovers that behind the closed doors of even the most desirable postcodes, terrible secrets lurk

Reviewed HERE

Purchase HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

 

New Release Spotlight (May) The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

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Publication Date: 3rd May 2016 from Gallery Threshold

Source: Netgalley

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

I do love a good post apocalyptic trilogy (or indeed standalone novel) and Francesca Haig’s “The Fire Sermon” was absolutely top notch, not only because of the beautiful writing but because of the wide imaginative scope, the endearing characters and perhaps most of all the ability the author has to dump unexpected trauma onto you. A writer that is fearless is one that I admire, The Fire Sermon often surprised, always delighted and the final pages had me reeling. So to say that I was excited to read Map of Bones would be putting it mildly.

The second book then, often the one in the middle that fails slightly to deliver – not in the case of The Map of Bones which if anything just took off at a gallop. Following on immediately in the aftermath of part one, the ripples of those events heading ever outwards, once more we join up with Cass for the next part of her intense and often emotional journey. Determined to stop her brother fulfilling his twisted plans for what is left of humanity, Cass faces down a future that would scare the most stoic of us. Worse for her, she can see what is coming, what has gone before and is often powerless to make sense of it all.

This then is the world that Francesca Haig throws you into, one of conflict and betrayal, hope and despair, once again she keeps the reader on their toes as the plot thickens – every time I think I know what is coming she throws me a curveball. This is not only terrifically emotive storytelling but descriptively gorgeous, the landscape  which the surviving generations of “before” inhabit is bleak yet often beautiful and creating visual imagery with language is one of the strengths here.

Cass is surrounded by a supporting cast of cleverly drawn characters, the author creating a group dynamic of unexpected allies, strange companions and ever changing loyalties – the interweaving of relationships another strength, you just live these peoples lives right alongside them. Hugely fascinating and complex is the twin relationship, specifically that between Cass and Zack, after all one cannot live without the other no matter how at odds they are. This creates some wonderful and heart stopping moments when they are in confrontation. The twin dynamic as a whole gives the author a really good chance to explore very real social issues in a totally imagined environment –  she does that with bells on. The Fire Sermon and Map of Bones will make you think and consider. I wasn’t always necessarily on the side of the angels here…

Overall a really really great read. Once again I’ve reached the end and gone “OH NO WHAT NOW? How will I wait?” But wait I will because one thing is for sure I’m in this to the finish. I do like a novel that creates fear in me. Fear of the unknown because I am attached like a limpet to Cass, to Piper, to all of them, yes even Zach. I’ve bonded. Because I never learn. But then thats what great writing does.

Passionate and intense, evocative and involving, Map of Bones (and The Fire Sermon) come highly recommended from me.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here.

To purchase Map of Bones clickety click right HERE

Also Available: Read First

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For The Fire Sermon, clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

 

 

2016 Spotlight: Black Night Falling – Rod Reynolds.

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Publication Date: August 2016 from Faber

Source: Review Copy

And now I stood here, on a desolate airfield in the Arkansas wilderness, a stone’s throw from Texarkana. Darkness drawing in on me. Cross country to see a man I never imagined seeing again. On the strength of one desperate telephone call…’

Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

So. I’m reviewing this one incredibly early. There is method in my madness, I shall have other things to say by the time release date rolls around, a two part review if you like and although I was intending to do these closer together I’m fickle. So you get Part One now, the more emotionally charged of the two to be fair. Plus of course I’m sure there are about 5 people somewhere who have not yet read this authors debut “The Dark Inside” – my no 1 read of 2015 – so to those 5 people and the rest (I’ll find you!) this is your chance. Then you won’t have to wait as long as I did for more…

I’d like to call “Black Night Falling” something really really nice that tells you how blinking good it is in a terribly clever way. But when I read the genuinely amazing stuff I often struggle to find the right words. Maybe they don’t yet exist. Yep that must be it. If it helps when I was close to the end of this book I was due to head over to a friends house, with another friend for a bit of a get together. I arrived (because the designated driver was EXTRAORDINARILY punctual seriously, could you not have been just a FEW minutes late?) and then I sat on the sofa and finished this book. They were fine, they had wine. You know who you are you two – lets work AROUND the great books next time shall we? But that is how good it is. Even the wine had to wait.

Rod Reynolds writes classic crime noir with a modern twist using beautiful language, tells a rollicking good story, immerses you into another place and time and then spits you out the other side – clutching your head and leaving you to nurse a major book hangover for about 3 days. Minimum. Charlie is really the most amazing character, Black Night Falling continues his personal journey as the fallout from The Dark Inside echoes on – once more the dialogue crackles, the scene setting is gorgeous, a visual treat  via the readers imagination which leads me back round to beautiful language. Good books rock. They seriously do. And Black Night Falling rocks big time.  Filling the stadium good, it’s a hot ticket.

Whether this will be my no 1 again this year remains to be seen (2016 is absolutely insane for great novels, great writing and books that I feel will endure) but it most definitely has a damned good chance at it. Looking back I had a certain amount of trepidation going in – really not seeing how the first book could be beaten and my adoration for The Dark Inside has been banging around on the internet ever since and shows no signs of going away any time soon. But Mr Reynolds obviously decided that it just wasn’t good enough so threw the rule book out of the window and went bigger and better.

Hey I’m not complaining. I never really liked rule books anyway. Life is too short both for them and to miss reads like this one. And the one before it. And it seems likely, a few down the road somewhere too.

Read it. Live it. That is all.

Highly Recommended as if that was enough.

 

Follow Rod on Twitter here:

You can purchase Black Night Falling by clickety clicking right HERE

Also Available: Read first

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Read my original review HERE

To Purchase The Dark Inside clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

2016 Spotlight: Death do us Part by Steven Dunne

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Publication Date: 5th May 2016 from Headline

Source: Netgalley

DI Damen Brook is on a rare period of leave and determined to make the most of it by re-connecting with his daughter Terri. But with her heavy drinking proving a challenge, Brook takes the opportunity to visit a local murder scene when his help is requested.
An elderly couple have each been executed with a single shot to the heart and the method echoes that of a middle-aged gay couple killed the previous month.
With the same killer suspected and the officer currently in charge nearing retirement, Brook knows that he has little choice but to cut short his leave when forced by his superiors to take the lead on the case.
Brook believes that he can catch this ruthless killer, but already distracted by Terri’s problems, is he about to make a fatal mistake and lead the killer right to his own door?

Always been a fan of the Brook series me, this one was a corker. I’m liking them more and more with each passing book. Bang on crime fiction is what this is.

Anyway, theres probably not an awful lot I can say that I havent said before on these, Death Do Us Part was pretty much what I’ve come to expect from this author – good solid beautiful writing, plots with cohesive and addictive quality and a bunch of realistically flawed characters both heroes and villains.

The two elements that go into the making of a brilliant crime series – individual cases with twisty turny plots and ongoing life development for our returning favourites – are both here in spades. I have a massive book crush on Brook – in this novel his challenging and ever changing relationship with his daughter comes into much sharper focus and made up some of my favourite parts of this particular instalment.

On the mystery front there are several levels here, as ever Steven Dunne takes us all round the houses, back again, then through some woods for good measure – prepare for muddy boots as you attempt to unravel all the threads that lead to a resolution. It is fast, pacy yet intuitive puzzle making and Brook sits at the heart of it with his unique perception and values that have grown over time.  Things creep up on you and the emotional core that I have to have in a book for it to engage me is here as it always is so really I have nothing to complain about at all.

Well except now I have to wait for more. Really. Its just not on.

Highly Recommended

Find out more here.

Follow Steven on Twitter here

You can purchase “Death do us Part” by clickety clicking right about HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

2016 Spotlight: Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad

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Publication Date: 19th May from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Review copy

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 Lehrer 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.

Geeky gorgeous shenanigans with a dark heart and a topical subject matter.

That is what I said on Goodreads at the moment I finished Sockpuppet and that is basically what you get. Sockpuppet is both fun and intuitive and bang on the money when it comes to playing on very real fears about privacy in the digital age. Nothing is sarosanct these days. If you have a mobile phone someone probably knows where you are. **puts tin foil hat on**

So that is the concept, then the author stomps all it and constructs an addictive, darkly humerous, very truthful and realistic story – designs his characters perfectly to allow them to shoot little darts of underlying worry into your thought processes – and spits you out the other side determined to never post anything on social media again ever. Then you go on Twitter obviously, to have a chat to all your virtual friends about it. Ah well. Needs must.

I loved Dani, she was incredible and brought most of the geeky gorgeous I referred to above. She is our way into the technical what not and explains it all throughout the narrative with a witty disgregard for the intelligence of others – just what you need when computer wizardry creates the heart of a story and you are a little technophobic (the fact that anyone ever actually gets to read this review is somewhat of a miracle when you take into account my genuine bafflement when it comes to these things)

Then you have Bethany, in a lot of ways your typical politician, determined to save her citizens programme (please don’t let David Cameron read this book for all our sakes) but how far she would be willing to go is an intriguing layer to this already intriguing tale. Add to these two a supporting cast, not all them them actual and a twisty turny story that includes giggly pigs (hey what book wouldn’t be improved by giggly pigs?) a lot of misdirection, classic storytelling and even a bit of a love story – you’ll be hooked, line and sinkered.

I adored it. Different and clever, fun and informative, genuinely surprising at times and with a terrifically insightful eye into current social issues. Thrilling, perfectly paced, character driven and thought provoking (and often very hilarious) this comes highly recommended from me.

If you dare you can find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

To purchase “Sockpuppet” clickety click HERE

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Happy Reading Folks!