Getting to Know You with Paul Harrison. Revenge of the Malakim blog tour.

Today I’m very happy to be getting to know Paul Harrison – author of Revenge of the Malakim.

Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..

It’s an exciting, and fast paced, police procedural, with lots of surprises, twists and turns, that should keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

Based in Bridlington, in the fictional police area of Eastborough, it’s summer. The streets of the town are filled with tourists, and… a serial killer with a difference. This one, likes to get up close and personal with each victim. As the murders move around the country, to Leeds, Kettering, and London. Newly promoted DCI Will Scott and his team have their work cut out in catching the elusive killer.

Where did you grow up and what was family life like?

I’m originally from Carlisle, in Cumbria, but spent a lot of my life in Leeds. Family life as a child, was a challenge, to say the least. However, I came through it and still laugh, dance and dream, now, I have a wonderful family of my own.

Academic or creative at school?

Definitely creative. I was a non-studious schoolboy. Too busy larking about.

First job you *really* wanted to do?

It might sound obvious, but being a writer is brilliant. Every path of my life provided experiences that led me towards fulfilling my dream job.

Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?

Yes, I always enjoyed writing, it first happened one night, when I was on duty as a police officer. I entered a short story competition, writing it during my break. I submitted it, and won. That was it. I have written ever since.

Who are your real life heroes?

There’s been a few, however, my German Shepherd dog, George, attacked two burglars in my home who, at the time were in the process of beating me up. My injuries were genuinely serious, the doctors said that George undoubtedly saved my life. He’s a top dog.

Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?

I have a large library of true crime books, around four thousands books. I have these lined up in bookcases. Once when my house was for sale, an interested party, a young woman, viewed the house. As we entered the library, she saw not only my book collection, but the covers from my true books on display. As she looked over at me, I smiled. Only to realise, she thought I may be a serial killer. She left the house before I could explain. Needless to say, she didn’t buy the house.

DIY expert or phone a friend?

I’d phone a friend every time. I can’t hammer a nail without hitting my thumb!

Sun worshipper or night owl?

I love the sunshine and I love my night time sleep, so its a no brainer, this one.

A book that had you in tears.

It’s going to sound soppy, but I loved Marley and Me. I love dogs, they are a big part of my life.

A book that made you laugh out loud.

Pies and Prejudice – In Search of the North. by Stuart Maconie. So accurate, and hilarious.

One piece of life advice you give everyone

Never, ever, give up on your dream. In life, there are two types of people, radiators and drains, listen to the radiators, ignore the drains.

Thanks so much!

About the Book:

It’s high summer and the streets of Bridlington East Yorkshire are awash with tourists. A serial killer is on the loose. DCI Will Scott and his team embark upon a fast paced investigation to catch a killer with a unique agenda. As the body count rises the killer randomly moves location and the police are unwittingly drawn into a dark and sinister world where cover-ups and corruption reigns. A place where no one can truly be trusted and nothing is ever what it seems.

Publisher – Williams & Whiting

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Deadly Game Matt Johnson. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now From Orenda

Source: Review Copy

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered. Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all… Picking up where the bestselling Wicked Game left off, Deadly Game sees Matt Johnson’s damaged hero fighting on two fronts. Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate.

Deadly Game continues the story started in Wicked Game (highly recommended from me) and also takes a dark yet realistic look at the world of sex trafficking. As such it is a hard hitting novel but done with genuine thought and feeling to the subject matter, is endlessly fascinating and a totally gripping read.

I was and still am a big fan of Matt Johnson’s first novel in the Robert Finlay series but with Deadly Game he takes things both up and down a notch – emotionally speaking this is on a whole new level, with less action but more considered, brutally and beautifully authentic prose that really delves into the themes within the story and keeps you totally immersed throughout. Another book I read fast, not wanting to put it down until I was done.

Robert Finlay as a character, well, so refreshing to read a main protagonist within a thriller who is not any one thing. He has a depth that is not seen so much, a wonderfully likely outlook considering the background the author has given him, every action he takes and thought he has makes sense in the wider picture, he is both sympathetic and intriguing. He anchors us in the moment, keeping the reader emotionally invested. That is some brilliant writing right there.

Whilst we all love a good edge of the seat thriller a la Lee Child, for me the kind of novels Matt writes are more in my ballpark, I want that emotive edge and that sense of genuine involvement. Proving here that you can give multiple layers to the crime thriller genre and still not lose the thrill aspect, a thing that whilst it is not rare is not common either, Deadly Game comes highly recommended by me. I can’t speak for anyone else but I simply can’t wait for the next one, to see the bigger picture the author is creating here and because seriously, its just a damned fine read. Don’t miss it.

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Publication Day Review: From the Shadows Neil White.

Publication Date: Available Now from Bonnier

Source: Review Copy.

The Lawyer

When defence lawyer Dan Grant inherits a murder case just weeks away from trial, he’s just expected to babysit it and take his fee. But Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. If he takes on a case then he investigates it his way – wherever the evidence takes him.

The Investigator

Jayne Brett is Dan’s investigator and a woman with a terrible secret in her past – one that still haunts her today. Needing the money, she takes on the task of investigating the case that Dan’s inherited. But has she taken on more than she can handle?

The Case

Mary Kendricks was a pretty, smart, twenty-four-year-old teacher. Now Mary Kendricks is dead and Robert Carter is in the dock, accused of her brutal murder.

But as Dan and Jayne investigate, they discover that perhaps there is more to this case than meets the eye – but in order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger . .

Well it feels like its been a long time coming, a new Neil White book, which makes me grumpy but you know, you can’t have everything, like a book a week from the authors you love reading, From the Shadows was worth hanging around for because it is, as usual, damn good crime fiction.

The start of a new series here, a kind of mish mash of courtroom drama and crime thriller that is often edge of the seat clinging by the fingernails good all that interspersed with tense and authentic courtroom scenes. Plus great characters. Easily a one sitting read, the plot is dynamic and multi-layered, the relationship between Dan and Jayne is edgy and fascinating and the mystery elements are cleverly woven and definitely twisted. I do love the unpredictable stuff.

Bit creepy too. I mean genuinely look over your shoulder wonder who’s behind you creepy. Possibly don’t read this last thing at night if you are in the house all alone. Reminder to self for the next book.

I’ve long been a fan of Mr White which will come as no surprise to anybody, From The Shadows just confirms everything I’ve always said and then some. With the start of the Dan Grant series he truly is playing to his strengths, the fact that he is a Criminal Prosecutor in his other life shows here with the realistic legal layer.  If you thought UK law was rather dry and dull in comparison to the more shout out US stuff then think again. As Dan takes on the system it is ever compelling and truly absorbing, never unbelievable and just added so much to storytelling, highly readable drama.

With an ending that will have you holding your breath and a twisted, often surprising path to get you there From The Shadows is utterly gripping and highly inventive – top notch crime fiction at its appealing, page turning, captivating best. Loved it. More please. Dan and Jayne are characters to watch.

Highly Recommended.

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Jeopardy Surface Sheri Leigh Horn. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Perpetuity

Source: Review Copy (E-book)

It’s the witching hour and Special Agent Regan Ross is having a WTF kind of night. Morning? How the hell did she get from her bed to her front yard? And why is she holding a loaded firearm? Sleepwalking doesn’t bode well for the rising star in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, but whatever is causing her recent weight loss and bizarre nocturnal activities will have to wait. The phone is ringing. It’s probably her sister Erin, the surgeon who knows best, demanding to know her plans for the holidays. Why would this year be any different? They’ll spend the somber anniversary and Christmas like always—drinking too much, watching Turner Classic Movies, and not talking about their dead parents. Caller ID provides yet another surprise.

Hearing Special Agent Robert Haskins’ voice for the first time in six months has Regan reeling. The mention of Maryland’s Eastern Shore conjures images of Jennifer Abbott, the student-athlete whose disappearance from a small campus is national news. There are complications. For starters, her areas of expertise—geographic profiling and predictive analysis—require a lot of information from a series of crimes. Single murders typically aren’t her purview and involving herself in an investigation to which she has not been officially assigned will send the BAU chief’s blood pressure through the roof.  She should say no, but she won’t.

Really enjoyed this start to a new series of novels featuring highly intriguing main protagonist Regan Ross, whose specialty within the FBI is slightly different to that which you normally see in crime books and gave the premise an inventive cutting edge.

This is one of those fast flowing novels that you pick up then read in a gulp – the mystery elements are clever, the character building is particularly good – and I was completely engaged by the whole geographical profiling thing – its not that I’ve never seen it in other novels but not so far as the main focus so it made it really compelling.

Its nice when you get something different – It was easy to get behind Regan who has some rather tangled up issues but deals with them in her own way and I liked the tie between her and Haskins, it kept the underneath of the book going really well.

Great writing and a diversion from the norm in crime thrillers. Excellent stuff. Bring on the next book is what I say.

Recommended.

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The Dark Room. Interview with Jonathan Moore.

Today I’m very happy to be talking to  Jonathan Moore all about his second novel in his loose San Francisco trilogy –  The Dark Room. I loved this one. You can find a link to my review at the end.

Firstly, can we talk a little about the inspiration or original spark that started you writing not only The Dark Room but the first and last in this beautifully atmospheric loose trilogy – The Poison Artist and the forthcoming The Night Market?

Nearly twenty years ago, when I was a college student living in San Francisco, I had an idea one night for the story that would eventually become The Poison Artist. At the time, I had no idea that it would ultimately become three books—or that it would take me so long to finish the first one. But when I was 22 or 23, I wasn’t prepared to write these books. I was only thirty pages in before I realized that I was out of my depth. I came back to the story in 2013, after I’d sold my first two novels. I was more confident, and more prepared to get out and research things like police procedure and post mortem examinations. The second time around, I had an easy time writing The Poison Artist and I finished the earliest draft in just a few months. I thought that was the end of it, but when I started writing my next book, I chose San Francisco as the setting and the atmosphere took over from there. Now I have three books set in San Francisco, and I think I’m done. But you never know.

The Dark Room has a very hard hitting and utterly gripping central premise around which you have built some remarkably engaging yet often quite damaged characters – is the darker side of human nature something that completely fascinates you?

I doubt I’ll start writing romantic comedies anytime soon. And that’s not to say that I look down on anything that isn’t dark, because I don’t. I never know where my stories are going until I get there, and I’m as surprised as anyone else when I look up and discover where I’ve wound up. So yes, I guess I must have a fascination with the darker side of people. But it’s never something that I’m consciously thinking about when I sit down to write.

If I could talk about Cain for a moment – the central character at the heart of The Dark Room – whilst he comes into focus as the novel progresses, at the end we are still (or I was as a reader at least) fairly in the dark (pun unintended but there!) as to a lot of his inner soul – how do you view him now, with some distance.

One thing I’m very conscious of when I’m writing is narrative focus. The Dark Room is written in the third person, but the point of view is tightly limited to Cain. I’m a visual thinker, so most of what I write is something that you could depict on a screen. (This is all part of my plan to lure filmmakers to my books so that I can quit my day job and live on a yacht in the Mediterranean). On the other hand, that means that you’re not going to find many inner monologues and backstories in the pages I write. But the trade-off being what it is, I think it’s a more realistic way of telling a fast-paced mystery—Cain is out there trying to solve a murder, so he’s going to be thinking about ballistic reports and whether he’s being lied to, and not where he went to kindergarten or how he got along with his parents, or how he’d spend his free time (if he had any). Still, I think you’ll find plenty of clues about what kind of man he is by looking at the things he says and does on the page—how he treats his partners and his colleagues, how he interacts with authorities, how he responds to deaths of people close to him, how much sleep he gets compared to how much time he spends on the street, working. I view Cain as a good man, who’s trying to do the right thing—and who’s too busy to preach much about it.

The Poison Artist and The Dark Room both have very different yet deeply noir undertones – who would you say your biggest influences have been in the writing world?

There are so many writers whose work I love. Cormac McCarthy, for his language—if they had a prize for making existential nihilism sound good, McCarthy would win it with every book. Hemingway, for his knife-like sentences that cut right to point. Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald, who had opposite ideas of what a mystery novel should strive to be, but who shared the same fascination: their protagonists grapple to make sense of their world, navigating cities that are mazes of secrets and complex relationships. In contemporary mysteries, I adore Michael Connelly. He’s never written a disappointing book, and you can feel the layers of research and care that go into his stories.

Are you able to tell us a little about The Night Market?

The Night Market is the final piece of my San Francisco project. It is a murder mystery set fifty years after the events in The Poison Artist and The Dark Room, but it pulls in elements from both of those stories. Each one of these books stands alone, and each one has a slightly different tone. If The Poison Artist is an erotic psychological drama, and The Dark Room is a fast police procedural, then the The Night Market is a near-future, dystopian noir. Of the three, it’s my favourite.

Finally, a question I always ask, is there anything that you have read recently that you would personally like to recommend to others?

Perfidia, by James Ellroy. But if you haven’t already read his L.A. Quartet (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, White Jazz and L.A. Confidential), start there.

Thank you!

About the Book:

Gavin Cain, an SFPD homicide inspector, is in the middle of an exhumation when his phone rings. San Francisco’s mayor is being blackmailed and has ordered Cain back to the city; a helicopter is on its way. The casket, and Cain’s cold-case investigation, must wait.  At City Hall, the mayor shows Cain four photographs he’s received: the first, an unforgettable blonde; the second, pills and handcuffs on a nightstand; the third, the woman drinking from a flask; and last, the woman naked, unconscious, and shackled to a bed. The accompanying letter is straightforward: worse revelations are on the way unless the mayor takes his own life first.  An intricately plotted, deeply affecting thriller that keeps readers guessing until the final pages, The Dark Room tracks Cain as he hunts for the blackmailer, pitching him into the web of destruction and devotion the mayor casts in his shadow.

Read My Review

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The Roanoke Girls Blog Tour. Editorial Interview.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel is one of the most emotional and thought provoking reads of 2017 so far for me, today as part of the blog tour I’m talking to the editor who helped bring it all to fruition – Emily Kitchin. Thanks so much Emily!

So we are talking about The Roanoke Girls today – beautifully written and hard hitting emotionally, tell us a bit about what you thought when you first read it in the early stages.

The Roanoke Girls drew me in immediately. One of the first things we find out is that Lane (the main character)’s mother has died: ‘The second time I saw Roanoke was a month after my mother committed suicide… Her death showed a kind of dedication, a purpose, I’d never seen from her in life.’ The starkness of that, and the fact that Lane seems quite indifferent to her death, intrigued me straight away, and I knew that this was going to be one of those books I wouldn’t be able to put down. As well as Amy’s beautiful, suspenseful writing, the dark mystery of the Roanoke girls, and the curse which has befallen the family over generations (either the girls run away, or they die), made for incredibly compelling and disturbing reading. I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages – and I knew that this was a book I had to publish!

Now we can’t really talk about the central premise to this without spoilers so maybe we can talk around it a bit – The Roanoke Girls is really less psychological thriller and more pure character study, the Roanoke Girls seemingly having huge privilege but there are huge costs as well – how well do you think this author has captured that, made it real.

This is a great question! One of the things I love most about The Roanoke Girls is the way that Amy creates this image of the Roanoke women as these beautiful, privileged creatures, who all share the same long, dark hair and ice-blue eyes, who are all envied and lusted after by the men and women of the small Kansas town where the book is set – but that image is underpinned by darkness. On the surface, the girls seem to have it all – but underneath they’re all damaged in different ways, all suffering. The contrast between their beauty and the disturbed, twisted legacy of the Roanoke family is utterly chilling, and it’s what gives the book its power.

Looking at the final version in comparison to the original work, can you talk a little about the editing process, which I know I find fascinating having been delving into that a little myself lately – as an Editor, what is your first job when reading a manuscript you are going to work on?

In this case, The Roanoke Girls was edited by Amy’s US editor – the brilliant Hilary Teeman at Crown in the US. Hilary had already edited the book before we acquired the rights. In general, if I’m editing an author’s work, I read the manuscript once without making any notes – I’m reading it and responding to it as a regular reader would. Then I go back through it and evaluate it critically, making notes which will eventually become an editorial letter, which often goes alongside a line edit of the manuscript using tracked changes.

It is a very collaborative process – how important is the relationship between author and editor, and how did you and Amy bond?

The relationship between author and editor is the most important one there is. It’s often said that for an author, trusting an editor with their book is a bit like trusting them with their child… and I think there’s some truth in that. The author has worked on this project for ages, and it’s something they’re incredibly close to – and they have to trust their editor to totally ‘get’ their vision, and be proactive and passionate and strategic in publishing it. I’ve been lucky to work with Amy on two novels already – her brilliant young adult duology, The Book of Ivy – so we already had a good working relationship, which I’m pleased to say has stepped up a notch with our publication of The Roanoke Girls. My team and I are also sure to be very communicative with Amy, her agent and Crown’s team, too, so hopefully Amy feels supported and in the loop at all times, and process on both sides of the Atlantic feels very collaborative and joined-up.

How would you describe The Roanoke Girls to someone who is considering reading it?

I would describe it as a darkly disturbing, suspenseful mystery about the deeply twisted secrets families keep – beautifully written, incredibly atmospheric, and not for the faint-hearted! This is a book which will imprint itself on your soul and stay with you long after you turn the last page. And I’d say that if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn, The Virgin Suicides or Flowers in the Attic, it’s a book which you’ll love.

Thank you!

About the Book:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

Read My Review

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The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman. Blog Tour interview with Mindy Mejia.

Today I am VERY happy to welcome Mindy Mejia to the blog talking about her brilliant novel The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman.

 

Tell us a little about what started Hattie’s story in your head – was it her as a character that began the journey or was it a hint of an idea?

I grew up in a small town surrounded by a lot of farmland. There was one decrepit barn that stood at the edge of a pond. Every year the barn seemed to sink a little further into the water and that was the initial image I had for this story, of Hattie’s body in that barn.

In the novel she is very divisive, on one hand very innocent but on the other can be manipulative – if you had to describe her personality in one short paragraph what would you say?

Hattie is a natural actress, a people pleaser, but she doesn’t inhabit her roles altruistically. She does it because she’s persuasive enough to get away with it, which feeds into a bit of her natural teenage narcissism. The truth is that she’s sometimes a victim of her own manipulations. She believes what she’s selling, and that’s makes her very compelling.

The events that unfold in the novel are very emotive and have some intriguing themes running through them – not least the differing relationships Hattie has with those around her. How much do you think that our interactions with those close to us change our perceptions, and how much do you think is just ingrained in ourselves. OOH look that was quite a deep question don’t worry the next one will be easier…

Okay, (big breath), let’s paddle into the deep end of the pool. One of the major themes of this book is identity, and I think it’s commonly perceived as a static thing—that our personalities and behaviors come from some fixed noun that we think of as our ‘self’—when actually we are much more like verbs. We are bundles of dynamic, changing energy and of course we change as we respond to those around us. Hattie is more changeable than most of us, but we are all affected by our relationships. As humans we have to keep growing and evolving. The idea of a static personality means your brain is done breathing. (Swimming frantically back to the shallow end.)

What do you hope that people will take away from Hattie? Ok that wasn’t THAT much easier, the next one will be I promise!

Marginally easier. High expectations for the next question now. We all look for an escape when we pick up a novel, and I think the best fiction has the power to set us back in our worlds with new eyes and a greater sense of empathy, because we’ve just walked in someone else’s shoes. For a small town, there’s a fairly big cast of characters in HATTIE and I hope readers will empathize with at least one of them. Maybe even one they didn’t expect to.

Do you read avidly yourself? If so are there one or two novels you’ve read recently that you would like to recommend? See that one was easier, yes?

Finally! Yes, I would read all day if I could. I finished GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry recently and that was an addictive, utterly absorbing read. Her use of the dual POV in diverging timelines is mesmerizing.

Finally, just for a bit of fun, tell us 3 things about you that are unlikely to come up generally when you are promoting the book.

1. I enjoy reading the reasoning in U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

2. I can purchase train tickets in Japanese.

3. Olives are disgusting. That’s not something about me. It’s just something everyone else needs to realize.

Thanks so much!

Thanks for having me on your blog!

Read my Review HERE

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Latest Reads: Summary Justice by John Fairfax

Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown.

Source: Netgalley

The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He’d said he was innocent. She’d believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger’s in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson’s life. The price of his rehabilitation – and access to the Bar – is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He’s an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he’s subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It’s a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson’s first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she’s innocent.

Thoroughly enjoyed this legal thriller from John Fairfax (AKA William Broderick) it was full of bang on addictive quality, clever plotting and intriguing fascinating characters.

Our main two, Will and Tess have an emotional start to their interaction when Will is convicted of murder. Years later, having served his time and taken on the law as a career (not that easy with a murder conviction) Tess comes across him again – and again decides to help him. The levels of both characters are explored slowly but surely within the plot for this and that was one of my favourite things about it. I was drawn to these two for very different reasons.

Then there was the trial elements which were highly engaging and very twisty – as was the whole story surrounding Sarah Collingstone, in the dock accused of murdering her employer. John Fairfax throws a lot of curve balls at his protagonists, keeping the plot unpredictable and fast flowing, whilst also managing to keep a firm eye on developing the background plot of whether or not William Benson is in fact a murderer himself.

Key to this being so much fun to read were the little legal explanations of why things can or can’t happen (I can’t speak to the authenticity in reality of course but the authors background would suggest he knows what he is doing and it certainly FELT authentic) that kept your understanding of the legal maneuvers easy but without taking you out of the story or feeling lectured (believe me that is a huge plus) you felt like you were there on the ground so to speak, excellent stuff.

As a start to the series it was spot on – you learn so much about Will, about Tess, about those around them but there is a lot still to know – I’m genuinely looking forward to another instalment and hopefully finding out more. Both the main characters are brilliantly drawn, both have fascinating paths to where we find them here, both have a lot more to say.

As a legal mystery Summary Justice works very well indeed. As a character drama it is perhaps even better, put the two together and you have a genuinely absorbing and captivating read that I will happily recommend.

Lets have more!

You can purchase Summary Justice HERE

Happy Reading!

 

All Our Wrong Today’s – Elan Mastai. Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Michael Joseph

Source: Review Copy

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever – and I have absolutely no idea which to choose . . .

Beautifully done. Think Sliding Doors with added geekery and a wonderfully written deftly developed plot using a clear and funny character voice.

Poor Tom. He’s a bit useless really. So you probably don’t want him messing around with timelines and technology but he has an impressively intelligent and famous Father and is constantly wandering about in his shadow and disappointing him. Then Tom falls in love. What happens next is funny, engaging, full of little life insights and a whole lot of joy to read.

The humour is quirky and ironic, the time travel aspects are full of scientific what if scenario’s (except here of course the what if’s are actually happening) this is a love story on a sugar high (but not at all saccharine) Elan Mastai has an unconventional slightly wacky writing style that immerses you into Tom’s world and has you rooting for him all the way.

The short snappy chapters make this an ideal book for bedtime (or anytime that you just want to have a fast moment of indulgence reading) and also keep the story flowing out in somewhat linear style. The world Tom occupies is a strange utopia, an impressively imagined one, then of course being Tom he goes and messes around with things. Almost casually, often on a whim, sometimes through sheer emotional frustration. As a character he has many levels and I loved reading his story.

Overall All Our Wrong Today’s is a beauty of a read. Different, peculiar, often bizarre but ever bewitching, the kind of utterly captivating read you need to take you away from the mundane routine of life. I loved it.

Highly Recommended.

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Stasi Wolf – Interview with David Young

Today I’m VERY happy to be having a chat to David Young all about his follow up novel to Stasi Child, the pretty brilliant Stasi Wolf.

RIGHT so (hey I’m actually going to write a review to go along with these, just mere weeks after reading it – I must be unwell) but let’s get right to the heart of things. The main premise for Stasi Wolf is emotionally hard hitting and could be said to make for traumatic reading, but as last time is utterly gripping. Tell me a bit about what made you go with that central theme. Without spoilers. It is a challenge.

There were three things that fed into it. Two real-life murder cases, and also a feeling that I wanted to explore the after effects of WW2 on East Germany, particularly on women as my main detective protagonist is female. The idea of babies going missing from a hospital was inspired by a real-life case of multiple infanticide at a Leipzig hospital where the Stasi took over the investigation to keep it secret, and avoid alarming the public. Little was known about this until last month when it featured in a German TV documentary, so I was slightly ahead of the game (for once!).

Karin goes through the mill in this instalment – is a very different person at the end of it, her story arc was one of the best parts of Stasi Wolf for me – how do you see her progress and what might be next for her?

I think she becomes a different character quite quickly in this book. She’s forced to impose herself — at the start she doesn’t have Tilsner as her crutch. She learns a lot more about her family background too — some of it quite shocking. I suspect her story arc may not be as dramatic in Book 3. She is still part of the system. Her every move will be a compromise. But there are more shocks in store as the series develops. Some characters will reappear from Stasi Child through the series — some of whom you might have thought you’d said goodbye to.

The historical aspects as ever are brilliantly done – how much research and hair clutching goes into making it so authentic?

I do carry out extensive research, and I enjoy it. But my books aren’t fictionalisation of real stories, unlike some historical fiction. I use real stories as springboards and then extrapolate them. Hopefully the overall framework has an air of authenticity — that’s what I strive for. Some East Germans who’ve read the books agree, some don’t! But then people’s own memories of the GDR vary hugely depending on their own experiences. At the end of the day, my stories are fiction, so I don’t pull my hair out over it. I hope anyone reading my books would be inspired to seek out the real history, but no-one should accept a novel as historical fact without questioning it.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Thinking up the story and then writing the first draft. It’s very exciting creating this new world. I hate the editing process — although I recognise its necessity and value. I long for the time when an editor comes back without any suggested changes. It’ll never happen!

Finally, can you tell us anything about what is next for you?

I’ve just signed a new three book deal, although one of those is the third book from the first deal, renegotiated at a higher rate thanks to the success of Stasi Child. I’m about to start a redraft of Book 3, which takes Müller to the far east of the GDR, on the Polish border. And I’m researching and then writing Book 4, which again springs from horrific events in WW2.

Thanks lovely David – I’ll have that blog post from you soon right? 😉

You haven’t asked me for one! As soon as you do, it will be there by return of post (if you believe that, you’ll believe anything!)

About the Book:

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . .

Stasi Wolf is just brilliant – and rather emotional to be honest – first of all our favourite (well mine anyway) Karin gets all sorts of life hiccups thrown at her here and during all that she is on the trail of some missing children – but in her world things are never straight forward with the Stasi looking over her shoulder at every turn.

The writing in these is pitch perfect – engaging, historically authentic and I think it is the subtle nuances of the scene setting that make these so addictive – in Stasi Wolf perhaps even more than in Stasi Child because you’ve already absorbed some of the history and have an inkling at what our characters are going to face. David Young paces things brilliantly, throws some real curveballs your way, all the while tugging at the heartstrings with a heart breaker of a tale and an incredibly emotive ending.

If you want tough, clever historical crime novels these are the books for you.

Highly Recommended.

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East Berlin, 1975

When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.

Müller is a member of the national police, but the case has Stasi written all over it. Karin is tasked with uncovering the identity of the girl, but her Stasi handlers assure her that the perpetrators are from the West ­- and strongly discourage her asking questions.

The evidence doesn’t add up, and Muller soon realises the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Muller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home . . .

Read My Review

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Happy Reading!