Normal by Graeme Cameron – Blog Tour. Author Interview.


Normal by Graeme Cameron is by far one of the best books I have read this year and I was lucky enough to ask the author a few questions for this blog tour – here is what he had to tell me.


Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this character?


A radio interview with a criminal profiler, back when I was young and thought I wanted to write pulp detective novels. It set me off reading everything I could find about serial killers, and I knew for years I wanted to write about one, but I was also aware I didn’t really want to write a whodunnit or a forensic procedural or a slasher story. In the end, Normal happened entirely by accident, as a result of an exercise in writing a gruesomely gleeful first-hand account of a terrible crime in an effort at eliminating ideas that couldn’t possibly work!


Do you   base your characters on people you have met in real life, and did you in this case (minus the killing aspect I assume!) ?


It’s hard not to pick up on people’s character traits and ways of presenting themselves and store them for future use, but there’s no one character that’s directly based on a real person. Although there might be one or two names in there that didn’t get changed to protect the innocent (no, I won’t tell you which ones)!


How much of the plot was planned as opposed to how it changed when the character came to life?


I hate to say it, but the book was a quarter done before there even was a plan! The only thing that really changed from that point on was the ending, which I originally conceived as a big overblown set-piece that didn’t fit the characters or the tone of the story as a whole and therefore fell by the wayside.


The relationship between Erica and our unnamed protagonist is one of the highlights. Was it fun to write?


Their relationship is the core of the story for me, and in a way yes, it was fun to write as the dynamic between the two of them changed and things became increasingly charged. But it also proved a valuable learning experience, because beneath the literal reading of that story are a number of truths about relationships in general that I’d never examined before, and that a good number of people who read Normal are living with every day. So in that respect, I’d say it was more illuminating than fun.


Do you have any writing habits /superstitions?


My biggest and worst writing habit is stopping to check my Twitter. 


One book you recommend to everyone.


Jar Baby by Hayley Webster.


3 People living or dead you would like to invite to a Dinner party?


Burt Reynolds, Bob Monkhouse, and my dad. Just to be absolutely sure.

Thank you Graeme!



Publication Date: 9th April 2015 from Mira (Harlequin UK)

Source: Netgalley

He is the man who lives on your street. The one you see in the supermarket and nod hello to. He’s also a serial killer. Killing is what he’s good at. And you’ll want him to get away with MURDER….

Right. So where to start. First of all for me, this was one of those books that grips you so utterly that you practically live in it. In fact I probably have lived in it for the last couple of days even whilst doing the usual life type things like picking up the kids from school…hang on, wait, where are my kids? I’ll be back….

Seriously though, this was a marvel of a twisted tale, so addictive that a warning sticker on the front of the book would not go amiss, most horrifically fascinating and with at least two characters I will never ever forget. And I don’t even know the name of one of them.

Told from the point of view of the killer, a man who has few if any boundaries and yet is strangely in tune with his own lack of normality, you never know his name, hardly find out anything about his background and have no clue what he looks like. Yet you will get to know him well and quite possibly hope that he gets away with murder.

When I started this story I was wondering how he had managed to evade capture for so long, wanting the police to nab him and giving due consideration to how they might do that. By halfway through I was totally committed to every evil act he was involved with and by the time I was heading towards the end I was sitting on the edge of the seat PRAYING that he would get away with all of it. Yes I’m aware that this is wrong on SO many levels but Graeme Cameron has created an anti-hero so beautifully drawn and cleverly constructed that I  simply could not help myself.

You can’t even really justify it by his choice of victims – I mean we all love Dexter because he may be a serial killer but the people he kills are hardly worth the effort it takes to feel sorry for them. Mr Cameron’s serial killer is almost the anti-Dexter, his victims are innocents for the most part, certainly not deserving of their fate. And yet…somehow through sheer force of  a personality that creeps up on you, you gloss over all that and become complicit in his life.

Then we have Erica. Who I’m not really going to talk about beyond saying that I adored her with a fiery passion that only comes once in a while, you’ll have to meet her for yourself. Added to that there are a plethora of other people crossing the path of our unnamed unknoweable everyman, all seen through his eyes they take on a life all of their own. I had a soft spot for one or two of them, would not have been sorry to see at least one served up to our killer’s appetites, but every one adds to the whole and makes it a simple yet brilliant twist on an often done genre.

I am aware that this  will probably divide opinion and not everyone will react the same way – certainly if this was on television you would more than likely see the odd “glorifying violence” attitude towards it that happened with “The Fall”. Whilst both The Fall and Dexter are useful tools to try and explain whether or not you may like this book, do not think for one moment that “Normal” is anything at all like them. It is entirely its own thing, unique and terribly intelligent whilst also being a stonking good read. For me this has immediately gone onto my list of favourite books ever, simply because of my ongoing reactions and emotions to the events within the pages. And that ending. Boy oh boy! Loved it. Start to finish.

Eminently readable, more delicious than chocolate, elegantly imagined and utterly utterly captivating –  I dare you to read this and hold the moral high ground.

Highly Recommended!

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Order information:




Criminal Minds with Neil White – Interview.


So kicking off the new “Criminal Minds” feature which will run occasionally on the blog and involve many great Crime and Thriller authors, is Neil White – one of my favourite crime writers and recently I threw a few questions at him. Seriously, the man practically interviews himself. Here is what he had to say..


First of all, new book coming out soon – tell us a little bit about it and the inspiration behind the Parker brothers and for this particular instalment.

My next paperback, The Death Collector, is out in July, and it tells the story of a young man who protests his innocence from behind bars and a man who preys on married women so that he can control them, but won’t ever let them leave.


The inspiration for the Parker Brothers really goes back to the first five books I had published, because in those I had two lead characters, a crime reporter called Jack Garrett and a detective called Laura McGanity, and what I felt worked about them was the conflict. They were romantically-involved, but Jack the reporter wanted to know about Laura’s cases, and Laura wanted to keep Jack out of them. I liked the push and the pull between them.


It was a pure fluke. My initial intention was to write a book about a reporter, but as I wrote it, Laura McGanity came into it more, and I realised that I liked the way they rubbed against each other, if you can excuse the potential double entendre.


When I decided to write a new series, as a criminal lawyer of twenty years, I wanted to give it more of a legal background. Not courtroom dramas but thrillers with a legal theme.


I had avoided legal thrillers when I started writing because I found myself becoming more obsessed with accurate detail rather than the story, trying to explain the reality of working in the legal system. I found that my desire to explain the detail, so that a lawyer would recognise the scene, got in the way of the story, so I wrote from a reporter’s perspective instead. All the fun of the crime but less of the procedural hang-ups. Now I’m more experienced as a writer, I feel more equipped for spotting where detail is obscuring the plot.


Having decided to write thrillers with more of a legal background, I wanted to keep the conflict between the two main characters, and I hit upon the idea of having two brothers, with one a defence lawyer and one a police officer. That creates natural conflict, and I wanted to use that in the books.


The inspiration for the Death Collector was actually a song by The Jam, the b-side to Strange Town called The Butterfly Collector, with some lines I loved, like:

“And I don’t care about morals

‘Cause the world’s insane

And we’re all to blame anyway”


The song is actually about a well-known punk figure, not a musician, who tried to tag onto The Jam entourage when the Sex Pistols packed in, and is about how some people try to live off others, but I liked the notion of collecting people, albeit not in a murderous way. After many meandering thoughts, the plot ended up as being a man who wants to collect women by making them emotionally dependent on him. When they wanted to leave him, however, well, you can guess how that goes from the title.


My initial thought for the title was No One Leaves, which is a bigger give away, but my editor and I decided that it had a dual meaning, sort of, because of the visual image of leaves. But the working title No One Leaves is a hint as to the plot.



In the real world you work as a lawyer- something I’ve always wanted to know, those dramatic type scenes you see on the television and in films (I won’t ask you about Broadchurch!) – is it ever like that or mostly calm and collected?

The honest answer is that it can occasionally be very dramatic, but often routine. It is not unrealistic to have a dramatic legal thriller, because of course those would be the stories worth telling. The argument for a character like Rumpole would be that his cases aren’t always dramatic but he only ever tells you about the dramatic ones.


Some cases can become dramatic because they take an unusual turn, or things happen behind the scenes that changes things. There can be problems getting some cases to court because of the nature of the defendants, with people scared to give evidence, or sometimes the stakes can be high.


I can remember doing once an overnight remand court in Blackburn, where a group of students were trouped into court to watch. They stayed there for around an hour or so. The hour preceding their arrival had been dull, mainly low level crimes and procedural issues. They arrived and suddenly the good cases came up. I can’t remember what they were now, but I do recall there was a long bail fight over something serious, and there might even have been a murder or something (which in the Magistrates Court is a very quick procedural hearing to send to the Crown Court with no bail hearing, but the court is usually packed with relatives and emotion). Once they left, we got back to the humdrum. It was a pure fluke, but they must have thought I had the most exciting job in the world!


Despite being involved in criminal law, I’ve never lost my enjoyment of it. I’m still as horrified and amazed by the things people do, as well as being occasionally amused by their sheer stupidity.


I do have a thing about accuracy though. I don’t have a problem if something “could” happen like how it’s portrayed, even if it probably wouldn’t. All too often, however, things are shown that are legal impossibilities, or just plain wrong. Why? Because it’s good drama? Legal proceedings have the capacity to be dramatic and there is no need to add elements to them to make them more so; just find a different way of telling the story.


You have two careers. Do you see yourself as a lawyer with a sideline, or a writer with a dayjob?

It does feel strange sometimes. My lawyer job is down to just three days a week now, and certainly writing provides the major part of my income and consumes the most part of my time. Despite this, if we met at a party and you asked me what I did, I would probably say I’m a lawyer.

The reason for that, I suppose, is that I went to college to be a lawyer and trained to be a lawyer. Writing was just some pipedream I had, some dream that I’d be able to pull it off, and to describe it as a job demeans it, because it is something that I love doing. I enjoy being a lawyer, but it is very much a job, about paying the bills, something that I walk away from at five o’clock and that I won’t think about when I retire. Writing, however, is something I do because I want to, and want to carry on doing.

So yes, I’m a lawyer by profession, but I have a side to my life that provides me with immense satisfaction that isn’t just about paying the bills.


When it comes to your own reading, do you stick mostly with Crime or do you prefer something different?


I do tend to stick to crime, although I enjoy true crime as well. I’ll sometimes read a travel book, or a biography, but my default is crime fiction.


I’m a bit of a lazy reader. I read in the same way I watch films.


If I watch a film, I like the lights off, headphones on, and for the film to draw me into the story. I’m the same with books. I don’t want to have to work at it, to plough through some heavy literary tome. No, just give me a book that just turns the pages on its own, where I look up and a few hours have gone by and I’m on page 200.


Favourite fictional character (from any novel)?

There are so many to choose from, but I’m going to go with Lisbeth Salander, because what I recall from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is that I wanted more of the girl with the dragon tattoo, which is a good sign that I’ve engaged with the character. Also, Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, because he’s the lawyer I wish I was.


On the whole, I don’t tend to follow characters. I’ll buy books by authors I like or because I like the sound of the book. I wouldn’t, for example, be counting the days to the next Rebus book, but I would buy one if I saw one because I like Ian Rankin, if that makes any sense. Similarly, I would buy a James Lee Burke regardless of whether or not it was a Dave Robicheux book. For me, it’s about enjoying the author’s ability to tell a story rather than following a particular character.


Best book you have read this year so far?

Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m going to say The Girl on the Train, because I thought it lived up to the hype.



Thanks Neil. The Domino Killer – the latest Parker Brothers instalment is out later this year:


When a series of shocking and seemingly random murders shocks Manchester, criminal lawyer Joe Parker and his police detective brother, Sam, must work together to solve the case. And before they know it, they’re in way over their heads…

The first book in the series is available now:


Find out more here:

Follow Neil on Twitter here:

Neil will be back on the blog alongside Nick Quantrill for another Criminal Minds feature soon – don’t miss that one!

Happy Reading Folks!







New Release Spotlight: Prison of Hope. Interview with Steve McHugh.


Very pleased to welcome Steve back to the blog today talking about the latest adventure for Nate Garrett.


Tell us a little bit about what inspired the character of Nate Garrett

Nathan Garrett was someone who lived in my head for years while I very, very slowly made my way through about a dozen drafts of the first book in the Hellequin Chronicles. I was 25 when I first decided I wanted to take my writing seriously. Nate was the first character I created. I wanted a man who would do whatever it took to get the job done, no matter how nasty and ruthless that was. Nate became that person.


Do you ever base your characters on people you have met in real life?

Sometimes. There have been a few people I’ve used for the smaller roles, but none for the bigger parts. I’ve friends ask if they can be killed off in future books, I promise to get round to each and every one of them.



How does a plot tend to start to evolve for you?

I tend to think of a scene or idea, and it builds from there. So for Crimes Against Magic it was the ending, and Born of Hatred it was the fight between Nate and the two ghouls outside of the police station. Things get filled in pretty quickly from there as the idea gets fleshed out. It doesn’t usually take me long to go from a brief outline to a fleshed out story. Unfortunately that story usually changes a few times while I’m writing it, which is always fun.


And what is up next for Nate?

After Prison of Hope, there’s Lies Ripped Open, which is out in Aug. That has a lot of answers about why Nate left Avalon, and what happened between him and Merlin. It asks some new questions too, but I wanted the 5th book to be an Avalon centric one.

After that, well we’ve got a ways to go to complete his story. And things are going to get a lot worse for Nate before they get better.


I know you have another project in the works – can you give us a hint?

I’m working on a Science Fiction book, which currently doesn’t have a finished title. I’m calling it Warbringer, but seeing how that’s changed a dozen times since I started, it’ll probably be named something else by the time I’m finished. I’m also working on a fantasy/sci fi book called Chimera. Chimera is a book I’ve had in my head for years and tend to go back to it when I get some time. There was a lot of world building and details involved for it, so it’s taken some time. It’s nice to be able to do different things though.



Best book you have read this year so far.

See, I’m dreadful at reading books when they come out. I tend to end up reading last years books and playing catch up. I really enjoyed In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt, and the Copper Promise by Jen Williams. I always have so much to read, sometimes I think I’d be better off not buying any new books until I’ve read them all… but that’s stupid and I could never stop buying new books.


Steve McHugh is the author of the popular Hellequin Chronicles. The fourth book, Prison of Hope, is out on April 14th. He lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

Prison of Hope:






Publication Date: 14th April 2015 from Amazon/47 North

Source: Netgalley

Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades. Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance. Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Prison of Hope is book 4 in the (wonderfully addictive) Nate Garrett series from Mr McHugh, once again I loved it – they are always the most tremendous fun, with magical mayhem, thrills and spills and a hugely intelligent mythology that borrows from our own.

In this instalment Nate goes on a school trip which turns out to be somewhat stressful – the witches are playing up, there is an escapee from Tartarus and once again he finds himself caught up in the political maelstrom that is Avalon..

I always enjoy the Hellequin Chronicles books SO much, so readable and beautifully done as far as flow and storytelling goes, with some marvellously drawn characters, all of which are enigmatically brilliant. I’m absolutely in love with Nate, although I would not want to get him mad..

The mythology is rich and full of depth, descriptively speaking the author has the knack of putting you right on the spot, making this whole world seem as real as our own, the action is always edge of the seat stuff and with each new instalment the relationships between the characters ebb and flow meaning you are always desperate for the next part.

Overall then a really great read, all of them, another strength being that you can read any one on its own, you don’t necessarily  have to read in order. A series that I hope will run and run.

Highly Recommended

Happy Reading Folks!



Hidden by Emma Kavanagh – Blog Tour.

HiddenHidden Blog TourEmma Kavanagh 2014 © Matthew Jones

I’m VERY happy to be part of the blog tour for Emma Kavanagh’s “Hidden” – review to follow – a brilliant psychological thriller that will keep you hooked until the end. Firstly, Emma tells us about characters in crime…


Crime From The Inside Out – Characters in crime


When I read, what interests me is the characters on the page. I want to see them come alive before me, watch them move through their world as whole, coherent individuals. When I write, I want the same thing. Whilst I write crime, it is rarely the crimes themselves that interest me, but rather the people involved in them.


Hidden tells the story of events leading towards a mass shooting, and one of the narrative threads comes from the shooter himself. Because what interests me is what pushes an individual to commit such an atrocious act, to inflict so much harm onto those that surround him.


Often what we concentrate on is the headlines – Maniac kills eight; psychotic killer slays ten. That’s not surprising because our ability to digest information is finite and, particularly in a story in which there is a great deal of trauma, our capacity to process can be diminished. So we take what we read at its face value. The man was a monster. He was insane.


But behind that insanity, underneath the nightmare of what they have done, is a real person, someone who talked with friends, was held by parents, someone whose existence extends beyond the atrocity. People make decisions. Often people make shockingly bad decisions. But uniformly they have made decisions for a reason. They chose the courses they chose because in some way it made sense to them. What fascinates me is in digging beneath the skin and understanding what it was about these people that made them choose to kill.



Publication Date: 23rd April from Century

Source: Netgalley

A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman—before it’s too late.

So anyway, some people may remember what a huge fan of “Falling” I was, so it was with some trepidation I started reading “Hidden”. It is the usual thing of course, will you love it as much, what if the first one was a fluke, oh what can I say if I hate it? So I count myself lucky for more than one reason that within about 5% of this novel I was hook, line and sinkered.

A lot of that had to do with the haunting and rather exciting starting point – we see an aftermath. Horrific and heart pounding, it will draw you straight into the story and that will be that.

Going back then to prior events, we start to meet some of the people involved, find out more about them and about what has led up to this awful outcome. In true Emma Kavanagh style (once more and I’ll call it trademark) the characters become the skeleton key. Beautifully drawn and intriguing, from various walks of life but all with that line between them, a story starts to unfold, connections are made and slowly but surely that day is approaching when it all comes to a head.

It is all so addictive, so elegantly constructed and once again I found myself deep deep into the emotion of it – especially with Charlie who I related to on a very basic level. She wants to do the right thing yet often ends up doing the exact opposite, I can definitely stand by that one, so for me she was my favourite. All of them are brilliant and it really gives a wonderful emotive edge especially as you know at least some of what is coming.

I was especially fascinated by the portions of the story relating to armed officers – it felt terribly authentic, unsurprising really – not only on points of procedure but also on the feelings and issues that can arise. Aden is a really excellent protagonist here, torn sometimes but with a good heart and a determination to protect.

Overall then what was I worried about? Turns out if anything this was better than Falling – certainly if you love a psychological crime thriller that is mostly character driven, you’ll love this. The ending was pitch perfect and may surprise you. Don’t miss it whatever you do. Oh and maybe put a pot of coffee on before you start….

You can follow Emma on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

You can read an extract from Chapter One here:

Happy Reading Folks!






This beautiful tome of a novel arrived on Saturday – I am currently re-reading the first in this Penn Cage trilogy – Natchez Burning – one of my top reads of 2014. I am enjoying it again ready to jump into The Bone Tree after which you may not see me for a while.


Here is what I thought of Natchez Burning…



Penn Cage is facing a son’s worst nightmare – having his father stand accused of murder. Worse, each effort to defend the legendary Dr Tom Cage unearths new, shocking secrets, leaving Penn to question whether he ever really knew his father at all.So for those of you who have not read the previous Penn Cage novels from Greg Iles (the first being “The Quiet Game” ) I would encourage you to do so, however you CAN start here – the first part of a planned trilogy featuring the character, as there is enough information for a new reader without actually spoiling the previous books.

There are reasons why this is one of the best “presents” I have received since reviewing seriously – a few years back I read the last Penn Cage novel, “The Devils Punchbowl” which was as brilliantly addictive as all the rest. When it ended there was a hint, a taster if you like, for what might happen next. In the notes Mr Iles told us that, unusually, there would be a further Penn Cage novel the following year (usually there is a bigger gap – he also writes TREMENDOUSLY gripping standalone books and never actually intended to write a series but Penn wouldnt go away) then of course disaster struck. Mr Iles was involved in a serious accident – all that mattered after that was recovery. I, for one, am extremely grateful that recover he did over a period of time, otherwise the world would have lost another great writer on top of the obvious horror of personal loss for his family.I prayed. I’m sure his other readers did as well. And now here we are..

And what a glorious, once again addictive, seriously mind blowing read we have here. Absolutely gripping. A deeply involving story about the effects and events surrounding racial tension in the Deep South Mr Iles blends fact and fiction with terrific effect. Past leaks into present with terrifying results and as well as being a most fascinating tale, for this reader it was also an education. These subjects are dealt with in previous books but for me this was a revelation.

On top of all that, there is the well drawn, compelling story of the relationship between father and son. Tom Cage is a local hero, known as a moral man, loved by many, the backbone of his community and a much admired Doctor. He grew up during the troubled times where the colour of your skin determined how you were treated, viewed, what you were allowed to do with your life, where you could eat, sleep, drink. Always assuming him to be on the side of truth and justice, Penn has always had the greatest love and affection for his Dad and an instinctive trust about who he is. All that is about to be thrown up into the air, who knows where the pieces will land or what will be left of this trust when it is all over.

Amazing. The only word that springs to mind. As dark secrets begin to emerge, you will be swept along with the sheer beauty of the writing, the absolute emotion of each moment and often sitting on the edge of your seat awaiting answers to, frankly, unanswerable questions about the way human beings treat each other. Will Tom Cage ultimately turn out to be exactly who Penn thought he was? Or is he as fallible as the rest…

I am in awe. And I cannot wait for the next part of the story, it has buried itself deep within my reading soul and I imagine that overall this is one that will stay with me for life.

Read it. Love it. Live it.

And next up:


Penn Cages father, Dr. Tom Cage, stands accused of murder, and each effort to defend him unearths new, shocking secrets, leaving Penn to question whether he ever really knew his father at all. At issue is the murder of Toms former nurse, Viola Turner. The district attorney is quick to point the finger at Tom, citing his decades-old relationship with Viola. When Tom is taken into custody, Penn must explore the dangerous territory of Tom and Violas shared history, set squarely in the most harrowing years of civil-rights-era Mississippi. What was the relationship between Tom, Viola, and the Double Eagle Club, an ultraviolent group of hardened men who considered themselves smarter, tougher, and more elite than their peers in the FBI-infiltrated Ku Klux Klan? In Natchez, Mississippi, where the past is never truly past, long-buried secrets tend to turn lethal when exposed to the light of day. For Penn Cage, the cost of solving this case is no exception.




Happy Reading Folks!



Meet Oliver….Extract: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent.


Unravelling Oliver is a terrific psychological thriller. I am pleased to show you an extract today – follow along the rest of the week and find out more.




Extract No. 1


“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her. She just lay on the floor holding her jaw. Staring at me. Silent. She didn’t even seem to be surprised.

I was surprised. I hadn’t planned to do it. Usually when you hear about this kind of thing, it is the 1950s, and the husband comes home drunk to his slovenly wife from the pub and finds that his dinner is cold. On the contrary, it was 12 November 2011, a wintry Saturday evening on a south Dublin avenue, and Alice had prepared a delicious meal: lamb tagine, served on a bed of couscous, with pitta bread and a side dish of mint yoghurt. Though the lamb was a tad lukewarm by the time she presented it, I really couldn’t fault it. I had washed the meal down with two glasses of Sancerre, while Alice prepared the raspberry roulade for serving. I certainly wasn’t drunk.

But now, here she lay; the lower half of her body nearly hidden behind the legs of our mahogany dining table, her arms, head and torso curled inwards like a question mark. How had she fallen into that shape? There must have been

considerable force behind my closed fist. If the glass had been in my hand, would I have stopped and put it down before I hit her? Or would I have smashed it into her face? Would it have shattered on contact and torn her pale skin? Could I have scarred her for life? It’s very hard to know. The words that come to mind are ‘circumstances beyond our control’. I emphasize the word ‘our’, because, although I should not have done it, she really should not have provoked me.

The phone rang. Maybe I should have ignored it, but it might have been important.


‘Oliver. It’s Moya. How are things?’

These rhetorical questions irritate me. ‘How are things?’, indeed.

Sorry, Moya, I’ve just punched Alice in the face and she’s lying on

the floor. And we’ve had a marvellous dinner.

Of course, I didn’t say that. I made some ham- fisted attempt at an excuse and bade her farewell. I waited for the reciprocal adieu.There was a moment’s silence and then:

‘Don’t you want to know how I am? Where I am?’

I was short and to the point. ‘No.’

Another silence. And then, whispered, ‘Oh right, OK, is Alice there?’

Go away, you stupid irritating woman.

I didn’t say that either. I told her that now was not a good time. She tried to inveigle me into a conversation, prattling about her new life in France. Even amid the turmoil, I could tell that she wanted me to be jealous. Bloody Moya. I ended the conversation politely but firmly.


I thought that the decent thing to do was for me to leave the house immediately. Not permanently, you understand. I thought there was more chance of Alice getting up off the floor if I wasn’t looming over her. I went to get my coat from its peg in the hall. It was a little difficult to do up the buttons. My hands suddenly seemed to be too large

for my gloves.”

Unravelling Oliver is available Now from Penguin


Liz Currently Loves….Under My Skin by Zoe Markham


Publication Date: Available Now from Carina UK

Source: Netgalley

Inside we are all monsters…
Chloe was once a normal girl. Until the night of the car crash that nearly claimed her life. Now Chloe’s mother is dead, her father is a shell of the man he used to be and the secrets that had so carefully kept their family together are falling apart.
A new start is all Chloe and her father can hope for, but when you think you’re no longer human how can you ever start pretending?

A brilliant story this – addictive,dark, compelling and very clever, I read it fast one of those books that hooks you in and won’t let go.

Chloe is a normal teenager when it comes to feelings,emotions and your usual coming of age growing pains but underneath she is anything but normal. The survivor of a horrific car accident, medical science, or more to the point her mad scientist Father, kept her alive. In Chloe’s case though the term “alive” is relative…

This is an intelligent re-imagining of a classic tale, written for young adults – on that score it is terribly terrific, a hook into the original literature but given a modern twist and a different focus which works really really well. Throw in a romance angle, a thriller angle and a low key mystery element and you have a perfect storm.

Chloe tells the tale – hiding out from the government and forced into isolation, a nightmare life which as she slowly recovers she determines to change. As she takes baby steps back into the world of school, friends and growing up she throws caution to the wind – a decision which may come back to haunt her.

Chloe is an astute, well drawn character who it is easy to get behind – as her story unfolds it is absolutely gripping and enthralling. Slowly but surely we get to understand what has happened to her, the author doing a great job of uncovering the truth a piece at a time whilst allowing Chloe to expand her own world and experience. It is quite scary in places, always utterly riveting, very sad sometimes and I was immersed throughout in the twilight world that this girl inhabits.

Elegantly constructed and so very readable, the ending had me on the edge of my seat – I was very impressed by how Zoe Markham managed to write a coming of age tale in which the tension ramps up slowly and inexorably, leading towards an exciting and adrenalin fuelled conclusion.

Very cool indeed. There are reasons why there has been an explosion in the popularity of Young Adult novels recently both for the target market and for the more mature reader. This novel is one of them – a little gem of a tale and it comes highly recommended from me.

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Liz Currently Loves….The Samaritan by Mason Cross.


Publication Date: May 21st (ebook) 16th July (Real book)  From Orion

Source: Netgalley

When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows this isn’t the work of a first-time killer. That’s when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He’s a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan’s next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they’re tracking.

So before I start talking about The Samaritan have you read The Killing Season? If not, well that is the first Carter Blake thriller so you could catch up before The Samaritan is released later this year – I don’t think you will be disappointed and unlike me you won’t then have to wait long for more…

The Killing Season introduced us to Carter Blake (not his real name) who basically finds people for a living. Very basically. Which is what he is doing when we catch up with him again at the beginning of The Samaritan – then he spots a news story on the television and the information being reported sends him head first into another manhunt, where he and the killer have a mutual past experience.

I love these because they are highly engaging, terribly addictive (I read this in one sitting, as I did The Killing Season) with intelligent characters, terrific plot construction that keeps you on your toes and a real sense of adventure. Carter Blake really is wonderfully drawn, a la Reacher if you want a comparison to see if you might like him, but for me far more interesting and with a much greater depth. Mason Cross does a great job of allowing us to know him a little at a time, this instalment giving a little more information about his background and past experiences which make him all the more compelling.

I was also rather fond of our “detective on the spot” Jessica Allen – she has a little of the rogue about her just like Carter, there were some nice interactions between the pair which enhanced the story and made it even more gripping, especially as we headed into the final showdown.

The thriller elements are really really well done, keeping you on the edge of your seat, there are some beautiful twists and turns, a gorgeous flow to the prose and generally speaking this is a damn good read. Definitively now one of the series I shall be following avidly and probably re-reading a lot, the Carter Blake series is one of those you can sink into, have a great time with, and re-emerge later wishing you had another 10 books featuring Carter on the shelf to read already.

Pure reading adrenalin joy. That is all.

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The first thing you should know about me is that my name is not Carter Blake.
That name no more belongs to me than the hotel room I was occupying when the call came in.

When Caleb Wardell, the infamous ‘Chicago Sniper’, escapes from death row two weeks before his execution, the FBI calls on the services of Carter Blake, a man with certain specialised talents whose skills lie in finding those who don’t want to be found. A man to whom Wardell is no stranger.

Along with Elaine Banner, an ambitious special agent juggling life as a single mother with her increasingly high-flying career, Blake must track Wardell down as he cuts a swathe across America, apparently killing at random.

But Blake and Banner soon find themselves sidelined from the case. And as they try desperately to second guess a man who kills purely for the thrill of it, they uncover a hornets’ nest of lies and corruption. Now Blake must break the rules and go head to head with the FBI if he is to stop Wardell and expose a deadly conspiracy that will rock the country.

Happy Reading Folks!

New Release Spotlight: Meet Me in Malmo by Torquil Macleod.


Today I am pleased to welcome Torquil Macleod to the blog telling us a bit more about “Meet me in Malmo”


Tell us a little bit about what inspired the series and the character of Anita Sundstrom?

I was inspired by my first trip to southern Sweden in 2000. We were visiting our elder son who had just moved there. At the time, I was trying to break into scriptwriting and I thought Sweden would be a good location for crime stories – this was well before the Scandi-crime invasion. On that first trip we stayed with a blonde female detective who has now become one of our greatest friends. I came up with a couple of ideas, one of which featured a blonde female detective. Needless to say the screenwriting career disappeared up a blind alley, so I decided to turn one of the scripts, Meet me in Malmö, into a book. One thing advertising taught me was never waste an idea! Though in this book I use a British character to introduce Sweden to an English-reading audience, it centres round a blonde female detective! When writing the book, I found I became increasingly interested in Anita Sundström’s character – someone who had to work within a team and was not the senior detective like Rebus, Morse, Harry Hole or Kurt Wallander. By being just an ordinary member of the squad it means that there is more scope for tension within the group. Needless to say we’ve been visiting Sweden regularly for 15 years and Anita Sundström has continued to develop.


There are some lovely little twists and turns in the story – do you plan the whole thing prior to writing or sometimes let the outcome surprise even you?

With Meet me in Malmö, because it originated from a screenplay treatment, I did have the story mapped out by the time I wrote the book version. But I’m not really a plotter by nature. I sometimes have the first scene or the last, and then work from there. I do like to be surprised. I go in with the attitude that if I have no idea what’s coming next, hopefully the reader won’t have either. It also makes the story more flexible, so it can go off in directions I wasn’t expecting.


 Do you have any writing habits?

If you mean routine, then I have a haphazard one. In theory, I try and work through until about six in the evening, but a huge amount of time wasting goes on during the day. Until last year, when I was still working as a freelance copywriter, I had to fit the books in round my work – the odd half hour here, the occasional hour there. So I do tend to write in bursts. But one of the advantages of having spent 36 years writing advertising copy every day is that you never have to wait for the muse to come – you just sit down and write.


And what is up next for Anita?

I’ve started on an Anita Sundström short story set around a typical Swedish Christmas. I hope to bring that out in time for the festive season. Then I’m planning to begin the fifth Malmö Mystery, which should come out later next year.



Favourite fictional character (from any novel)?

I love history, and my favourite character is the despicable Harry Flashman. George MacDonald Fraser’s books are not only wickedly funny but brimming with great history. Above all, I can’t help but admire Fraser’s nerve in nicking someone else’s famous literary character and running amok with it.


Best book you have read this year so far?

As part of the research for the latest book, Midnight in Malmö, we went to Berlin. As a result, I’ve just read Antony Beevor’s Berlin: The Downfall 1945. It’s a fascinating, if brutal, read.

Thank you so much!



Publication Date: Available Now from Mcnidder and Grace

Source: Publisher review copy

Ewan Strachan is a second-rate journalist working for a third-rate publication in Newcastle. His unfulfilled career is given a potential boost when he meets a one-time friend from university who is appearing at a film festival in Edinburgh. Mick Roslyn is now an acclaimed movie director based in Sweden, married to the glamorous leading lady of most of his films. Mick invites Ewan to ‘Meet me in Malmö’.
On arrival in Malmö, however, Ewan makes a shocking discovery – the lifeless corpse of Roslyn’s wife. She has been strangled.

Enjoyable crime romp featuring new detective on the block Anna Sundstrom, entertaining throughout with some great characters. Yes a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required, most especially with regards to the ending, but overall very good indeed.

The strength in this story comes from the two main characters – Ewan is slightly hapless, when he seizes the opportunity to use old ties to secure a decent interview he ends up embroiled in murder. Anna, the detective on the case is an extremely credible character with surprisingly few issues – she is what she is and she does what she does. Refreshing that the author didnt feel the need to resort to cliche. The interaction between these two formed a great backdrop for the events of the novel – their growing relationship giving a nice little sub plot to sink your teeth into.

The mystery element is well drawn – some great little twists and turns in there, cleverly done and keeps you turning the pages. Yes ok the end I think will divide opinion but for the most part it was solid and highly readable, a great new addition to the crime genre.

Overall then pretty terrific. I will look forward to meeting Anna again.

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New Release Spotlight: Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall. Author Interview and Review.


Today I’m very pleased to welcome Ruth to the blog telling us a little about her new novel, Humber Boy B.


  • Tell us a little bit about what inspired the story – it is taken straight from the headlines is there one particular case that got you thinking about it?

After the tragic murder of Jamie Bulger, there was a recognition that the UK had no real system for dealing with children who commit the most serious crimes: murder, manslaughter, rape. As a result four special prisons were opened, and I was based on one of them (as the unit probation officer). Humber Boy B is an amalgamation of the young men I worked with during that time. I wanted to especially look at some of the `triggers` that had been identified on these high-profile cases as reasons for the murder; watching a horror film, dabbling into the occult, bad parenting. So Ben is a composite character, and the crime he commits is fictional but inspired by real events.

  • It is an emotional subject – children who kill children. Was it quite difficult to write with authenticity considering how hard it is to understand?

Given that I worked with cases like this fifteen years ago, it’s taken a long time for me to actually finish Humber Boy B and I think that reflects how difficult it was to allow Ben, and his crime, to settle under my skin. Writing a novel is all-encompassing and I just wasn’t ready to write the book before, but when I finally did I found that I’d already been thinking about it so much that it came out quite feverishly. As I have a son the same age (10) as Ben and his victim, Noah, it did give me pause for thought and writing the sections about Noah’s mum was quite upsetting. There really is nothing worse than the loss of a child, especially in circumstances so cruel, and I didn’t want to lose sight of that.


  • Do you have any writing habits?


I’m a bit OCD, so I use timetables and targets. I’m obsessive about hitting word counts or page numbers, but that’s how I’ve always worked. I always have a notebook with me, and often write in cafes or when I’m out and about. I don’t have a particular place to write, though I tend to work best in the daytime.



  • And what is up next for Cate?


Ah, well, Cate moves to Luxembourg! Reputed to be one of the safest, wealthiest, countries in Europe she arrives thinking she’ll have a break from the world of crime but it’s not long before she starts to get her hands dirty. The novel is called Nowhere Girl and is about a teenager who goes missing at the annual summer fair, Schueberfouer. She is last seen waiting to ride on the gigantic ferris wheel but isn’t seen again …


  • Favourite fictional character (from any novel)?


I love Camille in Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. She’s a journalist, and also a self-harmer, but with a difference; she carves words on her skin. Despite this vulnerability she is intelligent and kind and desperately trying to solve a murder case in her home town.


                 Best book you have read this year so far?


The Dinner by Herman Koch. The narrative is revealed layer by layer as we, alongside the four protagonists, make our way through an exquisite dinner. Very stylish.

Thank you Ruth!



Publication Date: Available Now from Legend Press

Source: Publisher Review Copy

A child is killed after falling from the Humber Bridge. Despite fleeing the scene, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity. Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B’s reintegration into society. But the general public’s anger is steadily growing, and those around her are wondering if the secret of his identity is one he actually deserves to keep. Cate’s loyalty is challenged when she begins to discover the truth of the crime. She must ask herself if a child is capable of premeditated murder—or if there is a greater evil at play.

Humber Boy B is an emotional, often hard to read but ever compelling novel with a storyline ripped straight from the headlines.

We follow Cate Austin as she attempts to help “Ben” reintegrate into society. However an emotional outpouring via social media from the victim’s mother and interference from Ben’s own family ensure that this is no easy task – as she begins to unravel the truth behind what happened on the bridge all those years ago, some difficult facts begin to surface and she is caught up in an ever changing situation where her loyalties and beliefs will be tested to the limits.

The writing is superb here, I was immediately caught up in this very emotional tale of a boy who once made a mistake and the woman who is now trying to help him put the past in the past. As we see how Ben is doing and feeling it is often very sad but endlessly fascinating and I often sympathised with his situation despite what had led him there. Opposite Ben is Cate, a beautifully drawn character who has a deep moral code and a determination to do her job despite all the obstacles in her path.

There is a hard touch of reality as well – The authors background obviously giving her a greater insight which comes across very well, the whole thing has an authentic, real life edge, this could easily be based on an actual case. Echoes of Jamie Bulger here as the day in question is explored slowly but in detail over the course of the novel, with snapshots of external people caught up in it, the number of times at which tragedy could have been prevented. The role of social media is also given form, the realities of today’s society in the spotlight is truthful and lets face it, pretty scary.

Moving, highly disturbing, captivating and gripping from first page to last, this is a truly brilliant read that will leave you feeling emotionally wrung out, thoughtful and contemplative of those things we would rather not think about. Elegant and skillfully done, I have no issue at all in highly recommending it.

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