Natchez Burning – Greg Iles. Review/Giveaway.

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Today I have a retro review for you – for a novel I read when it first arrived on the scene and in the lead up to the completion of the trilogy featuring Penn Cage when Mississipi Blood comes out next year. In October I’ll be doing the same for book two – The Bone Tree- but here is what I had to say about 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…

You could purchase Natchez Burning HERE – I also have one copy to giveaway plus a brilliant tote bag – if you fancy a chance at that just comment on this post or send me a little tweet @Lizzy11268 using the #NatchezBurning hashtag.

Follow Greg on Twitter

Or find out more HERE

Happy Reading!

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Ones to Watch in 2017 – Defender G.X. Todd.

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Publication Date: January 2017 from Headline

Source: Proof copy

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

2017 is shaping up nicely for reading fanatics and if you are a post apocalyptic Stephen King loving reader with a rebellious streak and a penchant for a DARN good story then Defender is the book for you.  Even if you are just the last of those things this will hit the spot.

I blew through this one and by about 30 pages in I was loving it with the fervour of a true fanatic, my conversion to the world of Pilgrim and the girl he meets by the side of the road (aka Lacey) was complete. I didn’t then put it down until I was done. And done for. Seriously. Book trauma alert.

Anyway what Ms Todd has done in Defender is pay homage to old school King and given it her own twist, with a touch of almost drug like addictive prose, a set of characters to die for and a sprawling, clever often heartstopping tale where humanity for the most part has turned on itself and all that are left are the fated few all struggling to make sense of it all. And to quite simply survive. Underneath it all though something is brewing…

Enter Pilgrim – he has a voice in his head. “Voice” is dry, often funny, always present. Lacey wants desperately to find her sister and her niece, determined that against all odds they will have survived. So off the pair of them set (Pilgrim somewhat reluctantly) on a bit of a post apocalyptic road trip. And thats all I’ll say.

The world building is brilliant because you see all of it, sense it as you read and there is a terrific haunting feel to the entire novel, that little sense of something building, something you can’t quite see but somehow dread anyway. This author isnt pulling punches, some of this is hard hitting, the vagaries of human nature at its very worst but also at its very best,  in a highly imaginative setting that allows for the exploration of it.

There were some points in Defender where I was quite literally on the edge of whatever seat I was sitting on. I’m not even exaggerating.

I was not at all sure what to expect going in – Defender surprised me with its sheer presence, stamping its authority all over my reading brain and this is yet another novel I came out of slightly dazed and with a strong emotional charge that did not dissipate for a while. I LOVE those books! Right?

Defender is insane, intelligent, beautifully plotted, intensely absorbing and will enfold you in a vice like grip from the first page until that very last sentence. Banging!

Highly Recommended

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

Want a  beautiful signed copy slightly earlier ? Well  Goldsboro have your back…

Or Pre-Order Defender HERE in the usual type way of things…

Either way do it!

#HearTheVoices

Happy Reading!

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A Day with Clarice Starling – And with Valentina Giambanco

 

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Today am very happy to have a guest post from V M Giambanco as part of the Blood and Bone blog tour and here she talks about hanging out with the F.B.I. Details on the book follow. Enjoy!

 

A day with Clarice Starling

(Hanging out with the F.B.I.)

I was there when Mulder met Scully, and I was there when Special Agent in Charge Jack Crawford asked trainee Clarice Starling to talk to the ultimate thriller villain, Hannibal Lecter. I was there because I have been watching the F.B.I. portrayed in films since I could watch films – I even worked on one as an assistant editor: a studio picture about an F.B.I. agent who infiltrates the New York mafia and ends up building an emotional, complex bond with the connected man who had vouched for him, and would ultimately lose his life because of it.

In short, even though my character, Alice Madison, is a homicide detective in Seattle, the F.B.I. has been a huge part in my mythology of U.S. law enforcement. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to spend the day at the F.B.I. headquarters in NYC and it is fair to say that even though I was going to be in town for ThrillerFest, it was really the chance to walk those corridors that drew me across the Atlantic. The day was organised by ThrillerFest with clear understanding of what would get a bunch of writers to drop whatever they were doing and rush over.

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While it is certainly true that the F.B.I. has featured in many films and TV series it does not begin to compare to the number of detectives and uniformed officers that has populated the screen. The F.B.I. is different: it acts different, it has a different jurisdiction and it even dresses different – unless of course we are talking about counterterrorism agents undercover, but that’s a, yes, different conversation.

The security at Federal Plaza was as thorough as for boarding an international flight and then I was suddenly inside: inside the fictional representation of this building Fox Moulder and Dana Scully had faced terrestrial and extra-terrestrial threats. What would it be like to walk such hallowed ground? Well, quite honestly, it looked like a massive, corporate exercise for a designer who really liked oatmeal. It was very, very bland. The corridors were non-descript and the people I saw were unarmed, regular office workers whom I stood next to on the train every day. Then, of course, the presentations started and we listened in rapt silence as the agents spoke to us about hostage negotiation and rescues around the world, about cybercrime and the insidious threats it represent, about counterterrorism and the F.B.I.’s pursuit of political corruption. For a group of crime writers who had never met and talked to people who live the stories we make up on the page it was like Christmas.

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The agents had come from all kinds of backgrounds – the New York Office deputy chief used to be a teacher before he joined three decades ago – and yet they had something in common: they were all completely, absolutely, passionately invested in what they were doing. The two agents who ran a presentation about the unmasking, arrest and deportation of a number of Russian illegals (in this context not illegal immigrants but Russian spies who had come to the U.S., immersed themselves into American society and become essentially invisible to the eye of law enforcement) had been lawyers in their previous life and now they were having a wonderful time telling us about the spy who had simply handed over her laptop to the undercover agent because she was so sloppy it was ridiculous. They showed us video surveillance footage of payments passing from handler to spy in a subway stairway. And at the same time, they were quite upset as they recounted the fate of the American born children of the Russian spies who had been inevitably deported with their parents and whose future was uncertain.

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The day had been brilliant but the F.B.I. had kept the best for last: how do you get one hundred writers to stand up and clap and go nuts? You bring them Iris, the first F.B.I. dog agent and only one of seven in the world who have been trained to sniff electronic devices. Think about a memory stick containing terrorist information. If the terrorist has hidden it behind a wall, Iris can find it. She will sit next to it, touch her nose to the wall and wait for her handler to reward her with kibble and a pat. I saw it happen, it looks miraculous.

The day ended with a visit to the F.B.I. gift shop and I assure you I bought as much as I could carry.

It was wonderful to see first-hand the kind of energy and commitment the agents brought to their work and I can’t wait to put it on the page. In the meantime, I go walking in the Lake District and I’m reasonably sure I’m the only one on the grassy hills wearing an F.B.I. baseball cap.

About the book:

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After two years in the Seattle Police Department, Detective Alice Madison has finally found the kind of personal and professional peace she has never known before.

When a local burglary escalates into a horrific murder, Madison is put in charge of the investigation. She finds herself tracking a killer who may have haunted the city for years – and whose brutality is the stuff of myth in high security prisons.

As she delves deeper into the case, Madison learns that the widow of one of the victims is being stalked – is the killer poised to strike again? But then her own past comes under scrutiny from enemies close to home, and Madison’s position on the force – and the fate of the case itself – are suddenly thrown in jeopardy.

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Blood and Bone clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour! 

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The Hidden Legacy – Interview with G J Minett

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Today VERY happy to welcome the lovely Mr Minett to the blog answering a few questions for me about The Hidden Legacy amongst other things. You can get The Hidden Legacy in paperback right now – bookish details follow after this…

What has the road to being a published novelist been like for you? And how has life changed since you got the book deal with Bonnier?

The road has been a much longer one than I’m comfortable with admitting. I started writing stories when I was very young, wrote a novel in my mid-20s that attracted the attention of a top agent but didn’t make the breakthrough and then drifted through the professional and small family years, using these important responsibilities as an excuse for not really committing to my writing. It was only when I did an MA in Creative Writing and was taught to be more professional in my approach that I realised what was needed and made the necessary adjustments. That may be a fairly simplistic interpretation of a process that was a whole lot more fraught and challenging in reality but in essence that was what happened. I wasn’t doing what I needed to do and was lucky enough to have the right guidance.

Since getting an agent and then the initial two-book deal with Bonnier, I’ve been amazed at the way things have changed. Nothing, not even the MA course, could have prepared me for the changes that have come about since that amazing day when I heard I was going to be a published author. The main ones would be:

* I was resolute in my stance against social media. Nothing was going to persuade me that there was anything to gain from going on Twitter and Facebook which I regarded with the deepest suspicion. Now I spend two hours a day on it at the insistence of my publishers and understand just how essential it is if you’re going to get your name out there as a debut author

* I review books. Before the book deal I just read them but having devoured and often thoroughly enjoyed the 75 or so novels I get through in a year, it never occurred to me to go to Amazon and Goodreads and leave even a rating let alone a short review – I simply moved on to the next. Now I know from first-hand experience just how desperate authors are for feedback, good or bad as long as the criticism is constructive, and I also understand how important reviews are in helping to market the novels so I make a point of writing them.

* I now know all about bloggers and reviewers. Until I made a breakthrough, I assumed reviewers wrote for newspapers and that was it. I now realise there are so many reviewers out there, including some who have their own blogs which are as important to them as our novels are to us. And some of these are just so, so supportive it’s unbelievable. The reason they are in this at all is because of their love of reading and their fascination with the way authors go about their business and there’s a world of activity out there about which I knew absolutely nothing.

* I’m seriously under pressure for time to write new material. It never once occurred to me that this would be the case but ask any writer and she/he will tell you . . . there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If you have a job and also have to deal with all the fallout from social media plus requests for blogs plus personal appearances and attending launches for fellow authors, not to mention organising one for yourself, there’s not a lot of time left to sit back and compose a novel with the same level of deliberation and concentration you were able to devote to the first one. Not complaining, mind you – just taken by surprise.

There are plenty of others but not enough space here. I feel another blog coming on.

How about your own reading choices? Do you tend to stick within Crime and Mystery or spread your wings a little. What is the best book you have read lately that you would recommend to others?

I do read a lot of Crime and Mystery but that’s by no means all I read. It’s probably about 50/50. My favourite authors in that genre would probably be John Hart, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, Ian Rankin, Ace Atkins, John Sandford, Neely Tucker . . . there are so many. But I also read plenty of other genres as well – the classics, US authors from the first half of the 20th century (with Faulkner and Fitzgerald as all-time favourites) and a lot of modern literature from both sides of the Atlantic. The best two books I’ve read all year are in no way related to crime and they would be A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson and This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. They are two of my favourite contemporary authors, writers of outstanding ability and I’d love to spend time talking to them some day. If getting published brings me even half a step closer to meeting them, that will be the bonus to beat all bonuses. I think I’m little more than a literary groupie at heart!

On the writing front, what will be happening next for you? I know I have Lying in Wait still to read (can’t wait) and I loved, as you know, The Hidden Legacy so I’m definitely intrigued to know what might be coming up..

I have a third novel floating around in my head but nothing on paper as yet. August and September were optimistically (and naively) selected by me as the two months when I would get around to writing out the detailed plan with all its timelines and character sketches, a schedule which worked well for me with the two previous novels, but I’m still a good way from that. I know it will be a crime one, I know it will be set in a small seaside town somewhere in England and also in an amazing place called Peak’s Island off the coast of Portland, Maine and I have a sketchy idea of two of the characters but I need to do a lot of catch-up work soon or starting to write in October won’t be feasible. The story’s there though – has been for some weeks now. I just need time to flesh it out.

Can you tell us 5 random facts about you that would not normally come up?

OK. Five things that people won’t know unless they’ve been close to me for a while.

* I’m a complete philistine when it comes to food and drink. If I go to a restaurant I’ll probably go for the same option just about every time and it won’t contain vegetables or salad items if I can help it . . . pretty much anything green is ruled out really. And I’m married to a vegetarian!

* I nearly died from meningitis when I was in my early 20s. They were looking for a brain tumour and I’ll never forget the immortal words: Great news. It’s meningitis. If you’ve ever had a lumbar puncture, you’ll share my view that this is a curious definition of great news but I imagine these things are relative.

* I’m a sports addict. I’ll watch most sports but especially cricket, football, rugby, boxing and athletics. I tried to name our first son Courtney after a West Indies opening bowler but my wife Elaine said no for some reason. She liked the name Alex though and was happy to go along with a middle name of Stewart. Cricket fans will understand my moment of triumph there!

* I am the world’s least practical person. Putting up shelves, building patios, servicing the car or assembling flat packs are all disaster areas . . . or would be if I allowed myself to go anywhere near them. My spatial awareness is a thing of wonder. IQ test scores are all heavily dependent on the literacy and numeracy questions. Give me a shape with a chunk missing and ask me which of five chunks would fill it and I haven’t a clue.

* I may write about disturbed individuals who have endured difficult childhoods but none of that is from personal experience. I had a wonderful time growing up and have always had the most supportive family environment imaginable and make no apologies at all for seizing this opportunity to say so.

My wife suggested I mention that I snore but I think there’s such a thing as too much information…..

HA! Thanks so much!

About the Book:

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1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Bearing the scars of a recent divorce – and the splatters of two young children – Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way out to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she can barely be bothered to make the journey.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage, worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .

Read my original review of The Hidden Legacy HERE

Follow on Twitter HERE

To Purchase The Hidden Legacy clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Ash and Bones – Top 5 Dodgy Cops with Mike Thomas

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

Top Five Books about Dodgy Cops – Mike Thomas

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

Filth by Irvine Welsh

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

Manners by Robert Newman

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

The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh

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

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

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

LA Confidential by James Ellroy

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

Honourable Mentions

Red Riding Quartet by David Peace

Miami Blues by Charles Willeford

Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane

The Business of Dying by Simon Kernick

I Was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond

Thanks Mike!

About the book:

Ash and Bones

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

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

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

Find out more HERE

Follow Mike on Twitter

To purchase Ash and Bones clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Happy Reading!

Ash and Bones

The Constant Soldier – Rod Reynolds talks to William Ryan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some quickfire questions before one more to wrap this up:

How long did the novel take you to write?

Write everyday or as and when?

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

Who are your biggest writing influences?

What’s next for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much you two!

About the book:

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

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

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

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

Read my review of The Constant Soldier HERE

Find out more  here

Follow on Twitter  here

To Order “The Constant Soldier” clickety click right HERE

 

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

Follow Rod on Twitter here:

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Happy Reading!

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Bloody Scotland Part Two – Whats Happening in Stirling…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tights? Love it!

You can purchase The Dead Don’t Boogie HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can purchase And When I Die HERE

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

 

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2016 Spotlight: The Stepmother Claire Seeber.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Bookouture

Source: Netgalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Find out more HERE

Follow Claire on Twitter HERE

To Purchase The Stepmother clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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The Road to Publication – Interview with J A Marley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about you in 5 easy soundbites:

* Tea, coffee or other?

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

* Something you wish you were good at but are not

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

* Soap operas or crime dramas?

Crime every time…

* Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn?

I love the month of October…

* One book you recommend to everyone...

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

Thank you!

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

About the book:

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

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

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

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

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

You can find out more HERE

And follow John on Twitter HERE

Happy Reading!

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2016 Spotlight: Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

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Publication Date: 3rd November from Headline

Source: Review Copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highly Recommended

Find out more HERE

 Follow Adam on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Pendulum clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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