Top Ten of 2015. Yes Yes I know there are 11 of them….


Well it is that time of year again. A joint no 1 that won’t surprise MANY people although maybe a few but before those,  9 others that have rocked my reading world this year. This top ten includes my favourites for many reasons – and does at least a little justice to the seriously amazing year I have had in reading. And hey, 2016 is shaping up to be even better. I know I say that every year. But every year it does turn out to be true! I have done a whole ton of reading this year and for that reason I will be running a series of articles in January speaking a little bit more about the OTHER great reads that have not quite made it into this list, often not because they are not as good or as worthy but because, hey, at some point I had to stop juggling the many and get it down to the few. So keep an eye out for those posts because trust me these beautiful 10 (11!) may be my top picks but are just the tip of the iceberg.

Before I get into it, the list consists of Fiction titles. I don’t read nearly enough Non-Fiction and I should read more – something I plan to do next year and will have a top ten in non fiction then. For now though I’d like to give a huge shout out to Matt Haig’s “Reasons to Stay Alive” – a really most important book when it comes to mental health issues and one in which Matt tells us his story in an open, honest and utterly engaging fashion. It helped me. I know it helped a lot of people and will continue to do so. I imagine it was hugely difficult to write and even harder to let go of, so it has to have a mention here just because.


So onwards we go then. Counting down. So we’ll begin with Number 10.


All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven was actually the very first book I read after last years cut off – at the time I thought perhaps it would be here but of course that was VERY early to be thinking it, then again look here we are. The sheer emotional trauma and cathartic crying I did at the end of this beautifully written and utterly emotional novel, speaking to mental health issues in young people, means it deserves its place here without question. And it had Finch. Who I will never forget.

My original review here:

Number 9


John Connolly’s “A Song of Shadows” the latest Charlie Parker novel was just incredible. They always are for me but this one brought the mythology of the series to a whole new level, left me desperate for more and just reminded me of the reasons why this is my favourite crime series of them all. Ever. Literary crime with a hint of other, if you haven’t read these yet then please do. And in order if possible. Charlie’s story is a true journey.

My original review can be found, along with others, here:

Number 8


Sarah Bannan’s “Weightless” could easily have been my No 1 this year – with its themes of small town life, peer pressure and bullying, told in an atmospheric and noir style that really digs deep – the narrator is never known, she is “we” – observing and commenting as new girl Carolyn moves into a tight knit community and finds popularity then is outcast. I cried buckets at the end of this one too and I still can’t tell you exactly why. It is a tour de force of a novel with an ending that hits hard.

My original review here:

Number 7

How To Be Brave A-W-page-001 2

Well. What else to say about the seriously amazing “How To Be Brave” – Louise Beech has written a gorgeously rich, emotional literary story, with a basis in truth and history – which speaks to the beauty and impact of storytelling when it comes to life. One I championed from the start, before it was even a glint in it’s publishers eye (Yes Karen I’m taking all the glory!) how could it NOT be in my top ten. It is on my books of all time list.

My original review here:

Number 6


So my favourite author (ok already SECOND favourite author but hey my favourite didn’t even make my top ten this year so that speaks to the quality of reading in 2015) Neil White concluded his Parker Brothers trilogy with “The Domino Killer” – once again proving that when it comes to crime fiction he’s got the touch. It was a perfect ending to a great trilogy and also has the dubious pleasure of being the novel that set off the longest ever blog tour I have ever been responsible for, when I and a whole gang of my fellow bloggers decided that hey, Neil is quite a nice chap, we’ll spend the whole of July talking about that. Deserved though. Great books. Every time.

My original review here:

Number 5


Oh Eddie Flynn. How I love you. And by extension, Steve Cavanagh who with “The Defence” absolutely made one of my reading days this year with it’s witty, exciting writing and a main protagonist to die for in the randomly brilliant Eddie Flynn  – This is one that will make you laugh, have you on the edge of your seat and often nodding along at the ironically insightful humour. One of the most addictive books you will EVER read, the follow up to this is one of my most anticipated for 2016. I simply cannot wait.

My original review here:

Number 4


“Tenacity” by James Law was another one sitting read for me. A tense, claustrophic thriller, with a strong female lead and packing a real punch from first page to last, stories within this genre don’t come much better than this and honestly stories in ANY genre don’t come much better than this if you are looking for a book that will absorb you into it’s atmosphere and spit you out the other side requiring a few days to recover. A marvel and another novel whose follow up I am anticipating most highly.

My original Review here:

Number 3


Well we all know my love for Derwent knows no bounds but honestly he is one of the lesser reasons why Jane Casey’s “After the Fire” has made it into my top ten this year – as soon as I turned the final page I knew it would be here. The Kerrigan series just grows in stature with every novel, with our cast of characters always firmly anchoring each individual mystery within. Maeve Kerrigan is the book character I’d most like to know in real life, her relationships and friendships are almost iconic to me now. The subtle intricacies that the author weaves into the ongoing plots are second to none and After the Fire was possibly the best yet for that, including as it does one scene that made me literally cry with laughter and others that simply made me cry. Seriously incredible. Just you know, more Derwent, all the time too please Jane!

My original review here:

Number 2


Do I really need to explain? Do I? Red Rising, the first novel in this trilogy, was my No 1 book a couple of years back. Golden Son just missed the cut off to be in my last years top reads I read it in December 2014 just prior to its release in January this year – and boy oh boy oh boy. I can’t even speak. Ok I can. Its BRILLIANT. Unbelievable this series for sheer unadulterated passion and hitting you hard in all the right emotional places.  Incredible characters, an incredible mythology and yeah ok I’m going to stop now. MORNING STAR will be upon us soon. And I don’t trust this author. No I don’t trust him at all.

*sobs into pillow*

My original review here:

Before I tell you my joint No 1 which most of you know about anyway if you have been paying any attention this year (what you don’t? Ok well maybe it will surprise you then!) I want to mention these. Rob Boffard and Tracer. Patrick Gale and A Place called Winter. Emily Benet and Please Retweet. Finally, Lynn Weingarten and “Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls.” All of these were very close to this list, close enough to bear mentioning and all for very different reasons. Tracer for its old school scifi action, A Place Called Winter for the purely beautiful prose, Please Retweet for being the book that made me laugh out loud the most times this year and Suicide Notes because I’m STILL not over that ending. So there you go.


Number One (times two)

I found these two impossible to separate when deciding which was going to be my top read for 2015. They are both SO different and gave me such different reading experiences, but I can’t decide then remembered that it was my blog so I didn’t have to. I’ll have a joint number 1 making it 11 books in one top ten so there!  Remember the glare. Here they are.




Asking For It is possibly the most important book written for the new generation of teenagers and for the next generation of teenagers and probably the one after that as well. Speaking to society and it’s attitude towards sexual assault and rape victims, “Asking For It” asks the hard questions and forces you to search within yourself for the answers. It is incredibly hard hitting and often a difficult read but Louise O Neill is NOT letting you off. Was she “Asking for It” this girl in this book, in this time of so called enlightenment? You will discover who you are from reading this story and every parent and every young adult should read it and find that out. For that reason it should and had to be in my No 1 spot this year. This writer – she already writes books that will endure, classics in the making.



The Dark Inside is a completely different kettle of fish. A southern noir tale with a basis in truth, Rod Reynolds takes us back to 1946 America and sets his main protagonist, reporter Charlie Yates against a small town that hides it’s secrets well,  amongst an atmosphere of fear and distrust – meanwhile people are dying and someone knows more than they are telling. Whilst it is a mystery, the heart of it is the journey that Charlie goes on to find himself and regain his self worth. As such it is a marvel of a story, the writing in this is unbelievably magical, real old school storytelling, a touch of genius. Something that has been missing in the book world has now been found again. For THAT reason it should and had to be in my No 1 spot this year. This writer – he’s going to write the books that will endure, classics in the making.

And so that’s it for another year. Christmas is approaching, my reading list for next year looks so enticing I’m salivating – next year will see the release of City of Mirrors – the final part of The Passage trilogy, oh good lord. And Morning Star is here in January, there will be more no doubt from all my favourite authors and I’ll find a plethora of new ones. Bring. It. On.

Happy HAPPY reading folks!





Top Ten Tomorrow. Today Honourable Mentions.


So tomorrow I’ll be posting my Top Ten (actually top 11 as I have a joint No 1 which will come as no surprise to anyone who follows me) but for today I just want to mention a few books that didn’t QUITE make it – I have read over 300 books this year and whittling it down is never easy – if a book does not appear here or tomorrow it won’t mean I didn’t love it. All my thoughts on all the books I’ve read this year have popped up at the time of reading and are as true today as they were back then. But here are some notable ones that really, in any other year, may well have made it into tomorrows post. And a note should be made that any novel I have read in the last few weeks is now in the mix for next year…

So here  by category are those books which when I think back have popped up in my mind immediately.

Young Adult:


All The Rage was an amazingly insightful and hard hitting look at the aftermath of rape – told through the eyes of one girl this one will have you in tears and knocked out by the incredibly sad/happy ending. Delicate Monsters spoke to mental health issues in young people with an intelligent and atmospheric plot. When We Were Animals is a gloriously different read which I will let you discover for yourself. And Darkness Brutal stood out for me as a brilliant fantasy/urban fantasy YA novel, a self published delight. Hoping for book two in that series very soon.



Landfalls by Naomi Williams was a beautiful read with a story based on a factual sea journey – wonderful language and a compelling story. Olivay was a dark, atmospheric and claustrophobic read which will mess with your head. Devastation Road devastated ME when I read it and The Last Pilot hit me with its gorgeous historical flavour and unique writing style. Great books all.



The hardest category to think about due to my extensive reading in this area – a couple more will pop up tomorrow and of course these four here are just the tip of the iceberg in a MOST intense year for crime when some really superb novels were released. I’d be here all day mentioning them all but these are the ones my head immediately went to. Also it should be noted that for the most part I’ve ignored the plethora of brilliant psychological thrillers this year for the purposes of this post as I’m intending to write up a “Best of the thriller year ” article in the New Year. So for now – Hidden by Emma Kavanagh is one of my favourites of the year. Absolutely. Any other year at ALL  it would have seen my top ten. What Remains was an addictively brilliant crime novel that Christine and I read one fast paced weekend and Tim Weaver is an evil genius when it comes to setting off an emotional aaargh moment. Sarah Hilary’s “No Other Darkness” is notable due to the incredible writing and one of the most emotionally resonant openings in any crime novel ever. Luca Veste is coming into his own as a writer and Blood Stream just proved to me that the best is yet to come.



Another hard category, again you’ll see a couple pop up tomorrow. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet was a HUGE read for me, I adored every minute of it. Incredible – do not miss it. Again any other year would most definitively be in my top ten. The Death House from Sarah Pinborough is the book that made me cry huge buckets of tears. Strictly speaking this should probably come under YA but it is a read for all ages, emotional and utterly fantastic. Steve McHugh’s Nate Garrett series is fast becoming one of my favourite Urban Fantasy sets so demands a mention here. And The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy reignited by love of Post Apocalyptic fiction.

And the rest…..I can’t leave without mentioning these…


Snowblind. Stunning just stunning. Eva Dolan’s After You Die – amazing. Burnt Paper Sky, one of the best of the psychological thrillers and will be getting another mention in the New Year post. And Solomon Creed – with Solomon Creed you just have to meet him for yourself! Honestly.


SO there you go. I’ve done my best to give some top picks. Top Ten (ok ok Top Ten plus one) tomorrow – then we are into 2016 reading for the most part. I’ve already read a few. And THIS one is going to be HUGE.


You heard it here first… (Well maybe. Definitely kind of first)

Happy Reading Folks!!






The Darkest Day by Tom Wood. Darkly Delicious.


Publication Date: Available Now from Sphere.

Source: Purchased Copy

He is darkness. She wants him dead.
In a city starved of light, she might just succeed.

She moves like a shadow; she kills silently: Raven. This elegant assassin has been on the run for years. This time though, she has picked the wrong target.

The hitman known only as ‘Victor’ is as paranoid as he is merciless, and is no stranger to being hunted. He tracks his would-be killer across the globe to, aiming not only to neutralise the threat, but to discover who wants him dead. The trail leads to New York…

And then the lights go out.

I’m a big fan of Tom Wood’s “Victor” books and a big fan of the character – they are incredibly well written to just suck you into the reading vortex and kick the adrenalin into high gear, then before you know it BAM you feel like you’ve just been through the wringer. Its exhausting but hugely satisfying.

In this instalment someone is after Victor – not *usually* the best plan if you like staying alive, but in this case that someone is Raven, who is not without skill herself. It’s possible that Victor has met his match, its certainly possible he has a real rival for my affections – I loved Raven so much I almost wanted her to win. Almost….

This particular cat and mouse game takes place over hours in a city deprived of light and descending into chaos, where chaos reigns Victor is almost always at his best….one of the main reasons I’m a fan of these stories is that Victor is not one for being a cliche – he is unrelentingly tough and doesn’t really do feelings, pragmatic and with his eye always firmly on the goal, the sense of the character that Tom Wood creates is enduringly fascinating.

If you are looking for thrillers that actually thrill and don’t get too caught up in their own importance then this series is definitely for you. Always intelligently plotted to deliver a rollercoaster ride of a reading experience, with endlessly intriguing characters and a tendency to make me bite my nails, I have no hesitation in giving The Darkest Day and the previous tales a “Highly Recommended” tag.

You can find out more here:

Follow Tom on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Also Available:


Happy Reading Folks!

Why We Write – Alex Blackmore. Killing Eva Blog Tour.

Killing Eva coverAlex Blackmore author photograph

Today I am very happy to welcome Alex Blackmore to the blog, taking part in my “Why We Write” ongoing feature as part of the official blog tour for “Killing Eva” – a novel I will be reading very soon and then hopefully asking her some questions about – so look out for another visit from Alex very soon.

‘Why We Write’ by Alex Blackmore

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” —Doris Lessing

Trite as it may be these days to start anything with a quote, this one by Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing) is a great way to explain why I’ve ended up with my name on a book cover. From a very young age I was not a fan of being told what to do. Few children are, let’s be honest. As I got a little older this turned into a stubborn sense that the world could be as I interpreted it and that just because people were older didn’t mean they knew better (which sometimes made me seem incredibly insightful, sometimes rather arrogant). In short, up until about the age of 21 I’d take my perspective over yours any day. Of course, as you get older, you have to allow that others might (sometimes) be right and that your intuition might occasionally let you down. But if you’re that kind of person who loves being the author of your own world – free from the restrictions of others’ ideas and laws – there’s no better career than writing.

I also write to explore ideas, some that are a little obscure and others that I just think need more air time. I’ve been fascinated by the concept of perception in Killing Eva, what it is that makes a brain ‘see’ and what seeing means in terms of engendering trust. Trust is something that opens so many doors and there’s a lot you could do with that if you were criminally minded with access to some science.

Questioning the world is another motivation – what are the consequences of a totally free market? As our world becomes more technology driven how vulnerable are we to highly skilled cyber criminals who manipulate for gain or terror? Or even to those who are meant to be protecting us from them? So I also write because my stories can ask questions I might not otherwise not.

Wider than my own motivations I think words are probably the most powerful tools that we have. There’s a common conception that what you need to be powerful in this world is money or beauty or status. But words can do almost anything. We write to get a message across and the most powerful of those messages really can change the world. Whether you’re adding your voice to a petition to stop the horrific and inhumane Yunan dog meat festival or you’re penning a piece about transgender experiences your words could set another being free, save lives, inspire, comfort and motivate. And if you’re looking for reasons why we do things, there are few better than those.

Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore is published by No Exit Press, Paperback £7.99 and ebook

About the book:

Killing Eva cover

Witnessing a dramatic death at London’s Waterloo Station triggers a series of events that shatter Eva Scott’s world. Dying words awaken a history she had thought long buried, and soon, Eva’s life is out of her hands. A genetic key is keeping her alive, but foreshadowing her death. People she’s lost materialize and then disappear, testing her sanity. Linked to her survival is the potential takedown of an economic power, on which hang the lives of many others. Eva’s life is no longer her own.

Purchase Link:

Find out more here:

Follow Alex on Twitter here:

Follow the Tour:

Alex Blackmore blog tour banner

Happy Reading Folks!


2016 Spotlight: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman: Teaser review


Publication Date May 5th 2016 From Little Brown.

Source: Netgalley

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

Whilst it is way to early to do an in depth review of Girls on Fire, having finished it yesterday it is impossible for me to do anything other than tell you just a little about the reading experience. When 2016 is upon us and May approaches, which will be sooner than you think, I shall be talking a lot about this one and writing a much longer article about this whole wonderful, heartbreaking, intensely authentic piece of storytelling genius. Liz is about to get fanatical.

It is powerful, hard hitting, so full of beautiful and yes often unrelentingly emotional language, the very definition of words having power. It sucked me in and stole my soul. On the list of reads I’ll never forget this just went somewhere near the top of the pile.

I will read it again. And my “Quotes” book in which I keep a note of all the quotes from books that speak to me hard in the moment has over 3 pages added to it from this novel alone. So, you know. There it is.

Incredibly insightful, a novel that fills all the senses, I have never read a book quite like it and possibly never will again.

Highly Recommended in every way possible. If you are the type of reader that  feels every moment of the good ones you’d better hold onto your hats and be prepared.

Pre -order here:

Find out more about Robin Wasserman here:

Follow her on Twitter here :

Read it. Live it. Love it. (Then sob into your pillow)

Happy Reading Folks!

Book Week Scotland. Interview with Cathy Retzenbrink.


I am so happy to be a part of Book Week Scotland, even if only virtually living so far away, and I was incredibly pleased to be able to ask amazing lady Cathy Retzenbrink some questions about her emotionally resonant memoir “The Last Act of Love” – HUGE thanks to The Scottish Book Trust and Helen Croney for the opportunity. And of course the biggest  thanks to Cathy for taking the time, it is much appreciated. Before you read it….

For those of you able to go, Cathy is taking part in an event as part of Book Week Scotland at Waterstones Dundee this coming Wednesday 25th November – Clickety click the link for details – one not to be missed.


The Last Act of Love must have been an incredibly emotional writing experience – Can you tell us a little about what made you decide to tell the story publicly?

Well, I didn’t really want to write the book at all and I kept trying to write novels but sooner or later – the furthest I ever got was chapter 7 – this story would start insinuating itself into the pages. It was a writer friend who suggested I spent a few months writing it out of myself. I thought it would end up in a drawer and then gradually realised it could be a book.

It is really moving and genuinely inspiring even through the sadness, what kind of response have you had from those who have read it, especially if they have also suffered loss?

One of the most brilliant things for me about writing the book is hearing from people who have read it. I’m moved and honoured by every bit of communication and I love people telling their stories. I’ve continued to learn things about my story by listening to other people tell theirs. I hear from a lot of bereaved siblings and a lot of people who have witnessed a long and complicated death. I like that in them telling me I’ve made them feel less alone, that they make me feel less alone. It’s a virtuous exchange.

I know a lot of memories surfaced – do you have one defining memory of your brother? If you don’t mind saying, what do you hold onto most?

It does feel like I have Matty back again. He was buried under the eight years of brain damage and I’d lost the essence of him. Now he’s very present. I think about him – his true self – a lot and he pops up in my head offering unsolicited advice, he’s always swearing and joking and taking the piss out of me. I realised how much I missed that. There’s a joy and security in a sibling relationship: you know they love you but they never let you get away with anything. We used to do this chin stroking – I’ve no idea where we’d got it from – as a response to insincerity or bullshit. You’d raise your eyebrows and stroke your chin as a way of saying, ‘Oh, come off it.’ I think about that a lot at the moment.

It is a hugely powerful use of words, something that will more than likely help a lot of other people, many you will never know about – does the fact that this is so help you as well?

Yes, hugely. I think the fact that I’ve managed to turn my pain into something that is useful to other people is a beautiful miracle. It makes me feel much better.

How has life changed for you since the book was released – and what is next up?

I’m still learning and thinking and working things out. The summer was hard, I drank too much and went a bit mad. I’m off the booze now, seeing a new therapist and feeling like I have a chance to create my life how I want it. I went to see Diana Athill speak recently who is 97. Realising that she is more than twice my age made me see there’s a lot of life out there for the living if I’m brave enough to try.

Thank you SO much. An absolute inspiration.

Purchase Information: Available now from Picador 


There are lots of things going on this week – here is a handy link

Book Week Scotland:

More later this week on the blog when I interview Scarlett Thomas about her novel The Seed Collectors. She will be appearing Kibble Palace tomorrow, Tuesday 24th November.

Happy Reading Folks!


New Release Spotlight…The Silent Room by Mari Hannah


Publication Date: Available now from Pan Macmillan

Source: Publisher review copy

A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. On route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the investigation.

With a manhunt underway, Ryan is warned to stay away. Keen to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, he goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth. When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.

Well that was a read and then some – absolutely riveting, a rollercoaster bomb of a novel that totally gripped me from page one and really did not let up from there. This is one of those that I loved with a fiery vengeance and will be throwing at everyone I know. Not literally, I wouldn’t want to injure them before they can read it, but you know what I mean.

It is a tense, often claustrophobic thriller with an undeniable literary edge – a genuine page turner with some really terrific characters (if Ryan does not return Ms Hannah and I may fall out) and an absolutely excellent plot full of authenticity and high drama.

The Silent Room is the very definition of an unputdownable novel, the tension builds with every passing page and yet there is plenty of room within the narrative to get to know the characters and their world –  the author has a fantastic eye for weaving a web of interpersonal relationships that fascinate the reader and allows for the emotional bonding required for you to really feel every moment.

There are some surprises along the way, no promise of an equitable outcome, I genuinely had no idea how it was all going to pan out until I actually got there – I pretty much devoured this book, inhaling caffeine along the way, I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it. And really you can’t ask for more than that when you pick up a book.

I’m currently hatching a plot with Christine (Northern Crime) to do a further feature on The Silent Room so keep an eye out for news on that coming soon. As soon as I’ve recovered from this adrenalin rush of a read.

Really excellent. From first page to last. Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:

Follow Mari on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Happy Reading Folks!


New Release Spotlight: The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan


Publication Date: November 19th 2015 from Headline

Source: Author Review Copy

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.

Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.

ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.

Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.

The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.

With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

The Paula Maguire series from Claire McGowan is brilliantly addictive, great storytelling, intriguing and intelligent plotting with some truly memorable characters, not least of which is Paula herself. Having followed her story from the start I was really looking forward to this one and honestly, it was incredible.

Claire McGowan has given her novels a rich historical aspect when it comes to the troubles in Northern Ireland, put her main protagonist up against the grey moral area’s and given her a depth of character and emotional resonance that I’ve not seen done better in many other ongoing crime series. Each individual story told within that framework is beautifully done, has all the things you look for within the crime fiction genre when it comes to mystery and edge of the seat moments and taken as a whole this makes for a completely immersive reading experience each time.

In The Silent Dead those moral area’s are even harder to navigate as the victims in this case once created victims of their own – as Paula investigates, at the same time dealing with some emotive issues in her own life, those lines blur even further and this novel gives you a lot to ponder on whilst being utterly entertaining throughout – a proper page turner.

Hard to know what to say without spoilers – Paula’s back story is intense and riveting – the wider cast of characters just as much so, these are books that definitely benefit from being read in order (although the author allows for this to be read on its own merits you won’t be lost if that is what you choose to do). To review this story in depth I would have to glance back – so perhaps I’ll just say this. If you havent tried these yet then you are definitely missing out and if you are on track with Paula and co  The Silent Dead will not disappoint. If anything this series grows in stature with every passing tale told, this one for me was the best so far and the others were not exactly lacking in excellence.

Most definitively Highly Recommended by me.

Find out more here:

Follow Claire on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Also Available: Read First:


Happy Reading Folks!


A bit of a chat with Jane Casey….


So recently fellow blogger and good friend Christine and I tracked down Jane Casey in order to have a bit of a chat with her about the Maeve Kerrigan series (and our love for Maeve’s partner in crime Derwent) and honestly it was a huge amount of fun. You can see part one below and then join Christine tomorrow to see the rest.

The latest Maeve Kerrigan novel, After the Fire comes out in Paperback on Thursday from Ebury and is available NOW in Hardback or E-book.


So, Christine, what is it do you think about the Kerrigan series APART from Derwent that makes them so addictive?


It is beautifully written, with a distinctive Britishness about it and the main leads are well drawn.

Maeve is an amazing character. She has guts, is down to earth and is the sort of woman you would love to go for a drink with. I’m re-reading the series at the moment and loving how instantly as a reader you empathize with Maeve and are drawn into the drama.


Yes even before Derwent (we’ll get to him. Faints.) Maeve was easy to get along with and she’s so beautifully useless on occasion which does make her realistic. I’d LOVE to have her as a friend. Despite her job meaning she has a tendency to head into really dark territories (we’ll get to that too I’m sure. Shiver.) So seeing as how we’ve kidnapped Jane for a bit maybe she could tell us where the inspiration for Maeve came from (If it’s from someone you know Jane we ALL want to meet them!!)

Jane Casey

Thank you for being so nice about Maeve, ladies! I sometimes feel she gets a little bit overshadowed by the more look-at-me characters – naming no names – so I’m happy for her to get a little love.

When I started thinking about Maeve, I wanted to create a strong character but I thought more about her circumstances than about her personality. Her character developed as I wrote her, and now she feels like a friend to me. I wanted her to be younger and less experienced because I felt it was a different angle on a fictional investigation. There are lots of brilliant inspectors leading investigations in crime fiction, and I love them too, but in real life it’s the detective constables who are out doing the investigation. She can go anywhere and talk to anyone, and she happens to solve quite a few cases along the way. She’s not jaded. She loves her job with a passion – but she’s not yet sure if it loves her back, so she has a lot to lose if things go wrong for her. She’s in a male-dominated environment, trying to stay true to herself, trying to find a way to have a life outside the job. Sometimes people assume that I’m exaggerating the boys’ club atmosphere in the books, but if anything it’s underplayed. I have heard from readers who are female police officers and they find Maeve completely believable, which makes me happy!

She’s one of those people who can read others exceptionally well, and she’s full of empathy, but she hasn’t a clue what she’s doing in her personal life. In fact, if there is a way for her to sabotage things, she’ll find it. In After the Fire, she does some things that don’t work out at all well, but if she always got everything right I think she’d be a less appealing character.

People sometimes ask if Maeve is based on me, I think because I write from her perspective. We have two things in common: a loathing for weak tea and a tendency to be chaotically untidy. She’s far braver than I could ever be. I don’t make things easy for her, nice author that I am, but she never gives up and she never gives in.


That’s brilliant, Jane and you touched on one of my favourite aspects of the series. Often in crime reads, we see women in positions of power and in senior roles. It implies that the sexism and the male dominated aspect of policing is something of the past. I have only ever really thought of it in terms of ‘Prime Suspect’, or ‘Life on Mars’. Maeve is very definitely at the bottom of the pecking order and she seems to come up against these dinosaur attitudes all the time.

I wanted to know more about that and why is was important for Maeve to be in this kind of environment?


I’ve always found the best protagonists to be the ones who stand a little bit apart from everyone else – it means they don’t necessarily follow the herd. Maeve has to work quite hard to be taken seriously and I really enjoy exploiting the tension between her sensitive nature and how she feels she has to present herself. Women are always judged for more than their work – she always has to think about how she looks and how she acts. She also has to be wary about her relationships with her colleagues. Her reputation matters to her enormously which I think makes her quite different from more traditional crime protagonists. There’s a lot to be said for the devil-may-care school of hero, but her constant balancing act between her public and private persona strikes a chord with lots of readers.

I made Maeve the daughter of Irish parents because to me and to her that makes her quite different to her English colleagues. That sense of being ‘other’ is very common to the children of immigrants. Even the job she’s chosen has a touch of betrayal in it – her parents worry about how its perceived in Ireland that she’s joined the police.

In real life the police are not very politically correct in how they go about their work – there’s a huge amount of black humour which I think helps them to deal with the miserable aspects of their jobs. And it’s a world where the banter is more or less constant. Nothing is off-limits and no one is safe. The male officers actually get just as hard a time in the books, often from Maeve herself. She would never complain, even when Derwent steps over the line, because it would make her even more of an outsider than she is already. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with him herself! I think she generally has the upper hand now.


I think Maeve absolutely has the upper hand, and we’ve seen her journey to get there which is another really brilliant edge the series has. I love how the characters grow and grow. With THAT I think it’s time to bring in the love of my fictional life Derwent – I am DYING to know what inspired that character. I really do adore him with a passion. Is it the bad boy thing? What do you think Christine I know you are the same! I swear if Jane has based him on a real life person I’m camping out on her doorstep.


I cannot express how much I love Derwent! What do you mean ‘based him on a real character’, Derwent is real! It has to be the bad boy thing and his uniqueness. There is no one else out there like him.


There are some authors who establish their characters on page 1 of book 1 and stick with it until the bitter end, but I really enjoy seeing how they develop. Both Maeve and Derwent have come a long way over the last few books, even though the thing that drives their relationship – total incompatibility – hasn’t changed. What has changed is their respect for one another.

When I started writing about Derwent in The Reckoning, the second book in the series, I thought of him as a useful contrast to Maeve. I’d concentrated on her relationship with Rob in The Burning, but I didn’t want to focus on Maeve’s love life throughout the series. Derwent was supposed to be a difficult character, someone who challenged and wrong-footed Maeve constantly, and I didn’t imagine he would become so important to her or me!

Derwent has a few elements of people I know in real life – his focus, his refusal to back down, ever, his sentimentality and his pride in being a good policeman. But he’s become much, much more than the sum of those characteristics. He has a good heart but approaches the world with anger as a defence mechanism, because he thinks others would see kindness as a weakness. I don’t think he thinks he deserves to be happy but you can tell he’s yearning for someone to care for him. He’s a true alpha male, which doesn’t make him perfect – in fact, it means he needs Maeve to remind him he’s human. And he’s definitely a bad boy. He’s impulsive, emotional, passionate and funny (at least, he thinks so) – and many readers love those aspects of his personality.

It always amuses me when new readers comment on how awful he is, because the people who’ve followed him through the whole series think he’s much improved! Readers either adore him or hate him. Very few people are neutral when it comes to Derwent. Maeve is becoming really fond of him even though she’s well aware of his faults and I think their friendship is key to the whole series….


To be continued…

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2016 Spotlight: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood


Publication Date: January 7th 2016 from Sphere

Source: Netgalley

When three-year-old identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco during her father’s 50th birthday weekend?

Set across two weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second, at the funeral of Coco’s father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed…

Blimey talk about a book that rips your heart out then stomps all over it, The Darkest Secret is an intense and engaging character drama focusing on a, to be honest, quite horrible set of people – a fractured family and their fractured friends, a more selfish and self absorbed bunch you’d be hard pressed to find, they are intricately fascinating from the offset. It’s hard to look away, like watching a car crash, as you turn the pages waiting waiting to find out the truth behind the disappearance of identical twin Coco.

Incredibly dynamic, incredibly moving and at times incredibly frustrating The Darkest Secret will take you on a  dark journey indeed – Alex Marwood has written a powerhouse of a novel, unrelenting in its demands on your emotions and creating a truly unforgettable bunch of characters, all individually drawn with complexity of ego, insightful prose that gives you a true sense of who they are. Throughout the narrative there is a pervading sense of complete horror. But also I was enthralled. Completely and utterly..

Sophisticated plotting done in the simplest of ways – two weekends, years apart, tell the tale of our bunch of misreants and creates a totally addictive and involving read as you see what went before and the ever outward rippling affect this has on the people they have become today. The tangled web of a family divided and constantly reborn, bang at the heart of it Ms Marwood puts the ones who have no choice in any of it – the children.

Through Mila and Ruby,  the author shows us just what damage can be done with often the simplest of dismissals or declarations then takes it several steps further by adding a truly terrible event – one that throws their life into disarray, a life lived in the spotlight of public and press recognition and speculation. One of the best things about The Darkest Day for me was watching these two come together after years of being apart, their developing relationship and spark of understanding, in a lot of ways I wish I could go further down that path with them.

I really don’t want to say anymore – with a novel that is as definitely authentic and character driven as this one, it is perhaps better that you come to each strand of the story in your own way, meeting each personality on their own terms and drawing your own conclusions and taking from it your own perspectives. This is not a book that tries to be smugly clever, to deliver the unexpected twist, to fool you into thinking in a particular way. It is surprising in its own way, beautifully written, deliciously readable, with an ending that just…well it just.

Highly Recommended. With bells on. And some fireworks going off in the background.

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