The Good Thief Guides – Chris Ewan talks to Neil White.

Chris Ewan’s “The Good Thief’s Guides” have recently been re-issued, I read them all a long time ago now and loved every one – they offer highly intriguing mysteries, following along with an engaging main character in Charlie Howard and are beautifully witty, both funny and fascinating so if you missed them the first time round now is your chance – helpful links at the end of this feature.

So we know how I love to make Neil White work for a living (or in this case simply so I don’t glare at him) so I asked him to have a chat with Chris Ewan all about The Good Thief Guides so you all can find out more about it. Neil also has a book out next week – the first in his new series featuring lawyer Dan Grant – and that one is ok as well I suppose (its blinking brilliant) so you know  – I’ve helpfully added some links to that later too…

Over to them then…

Neil: It’s my great pleasure to chat to someone I’ve known around the crime fiction circuit for a few years now and, more importantly, whose books I’ve enjoyed. I feel like I know Chris but perhaps not as well as I should, so this is my chance to explore more about the man and his excellent books and share it with whoever decides to read this.

Chris, I came across you for the first time when you were on a panel of authors at the Crimefest crime fiction festival in Bristol in 2008. I was a little late entering the event and I caught you explaining to the audience that you are a former wrestling champion. Is this true? And if not, who are you? What’s your story?

Chris: Blimey, you did come in late. The wrestling stuff really only happened for a brief spell after my (not too successful) period as an Olympic Triathlete. But to answer your question, I’m the author of nine crime novels: five in The Good Thief’s Guide To … series of mystery novels about globetrotting crime writer and thief-for-hire Charlie Howard, and four standalone thrillers. Probably the best known of my standalone thrillers is Safe House, which has sold over 500,000 copies in the UK and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Like many of my thrillers, Safe House is set on the Isle of Man, where I lived for eleven years. My Good Thief novels, meanwhile, are set in a number of international cities – from Amsterdam to Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was also a lawyer, like your good self, though I spent most of my legal career (such as it was) helping to make movies and TV shows on the Isle of Man. Now I spend my time making stuff up (which in some ways isn’t so different from pretending I knew what I was doing when I was a media lawyer …).

Before we get to the Good Thief books, which is the main reason we’re chatting like this, what made you decide to have a go at writing, and how long was your journey to your first published book?

It was down to a book, really. I read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road at university, when I was twenty, and it was one of those examples of just reading the right book at the right time in my life, and being inspired by it. I’d always loved reading and writing but On The Road made me get serious about attempting a novel for the first time. So I started to write one book, and then another and another, and over the decade that followed I landed a literary agent but no publishing deal. Then I wrote my first crime novel, The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam, and I submitted it to a competition the author Susan Hill was running via her small publishing company Long Barn Books. Several more months went by until one day I was at work when my phone rang and I answered it to find that Susan was on the other end of the line. She told me I’d won her writing competition and she was going to publish my novel. Susan changed everything for me with that one phone call.

 

The journeys of other writers always interest me. What made you turn to crime, and what sort of books were you writing before then?

I started out writing a book that was submitted to publishers as an “edgy” literary novel (I think “edgy” was probably code for unpublishable …). Then I wrote a couple of more mainstream novels. But in all that time, what I was mostly reading was crime fiction and it eventually hit me (after way too long) that crime fiction was what I should be writing, too. It was another book that set me on the path to that – Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. It’s still my favourite crime novel.

This brings us neatly to the Good Thief books, a series of most splendid books. For those who don’t know, tell me about them. What were your thoughts on starting them and what inspired you?

The Good Thief’s Guides are a series of five (so far!) mystery novels about hack crime writer Charlie Howard who pens a mystery series of his own about a burglar and who, unbeknown to most people, also moonlights as a burglar. The books are fun and fast paced and they’re set in a number of international cities. Basically, if you like heist movies like The Thomas Crown Affair and Ocean’s Eleven, I think you’ll love the Good Thief’s Guides.

As I mentioned earlier, each book is set in a different city and deals with a different type of theft and they can all be read in order, out of order, upside down, however you’d like! As you can tell from the settings, they also involve an element of travel writing and it’s always been important to me that the geography and culture of each city I write about has a real bearing on what happens in the books (after all, you can’t have a caper novel set in Vegas, say, without it involving a casino heist and I don’t think you can have a mystery novel set in Venice that doesn’t feature some romance …).

The books grew out of my love of crime novels about crooks and anti-heroes, and I also really liked the idea of writing a series where each book was set in a completely different location. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I had to travel to some fantastic cities to research the books …

I knew it was a mistake to always set mine no more thirty miles from where I live! Did writing a villain as a hero cause you any particular difficulties, and what would you say is the key to get the reader to cheer on a crook?

If anything, it’s a huge advantage, I think. Charlie doesn’t need to worry about getting people arrested for their crimes or bringing them to justice in a conventional sense because, as a crook himself, he usually enforces a different kind of justice. Plus, there’s no waiting around for search warrants when Charlie is on the hunt for a clue! A lot of readers have told me they find Charlie a fun guy to spend time with, and I think a big part of that is because all the books are narrated by him and he doesn’t take life too seriously. Also, as the title suggests, he’s really not such a bad guy after all …

Just so that the readers get to know you a little better, what is your writing routine?

It varies. I’m a full-time writer but I also look after my kids three days a week while my wife is at work. On days when I have the kids, I write as much as I can in the evenings before I collapse. On days when my wife is home, I prefer to start work early in the morning because I’m really a morning writer. If I’m working on the first draft of a book, I write five pages every day. If I’m rewriting a book, I work as many hours as I can. It usually takes me nine months to write a book and then another three months to figure out the idea for the next one …

It’s served you well, of course, because you had the runaway success of Safe House, the number one bestseller. How hard was it to follow such a hit, and what comes next?

The nice thing about the success of Safe House was that I’d already finished my follow up novel, Dead Line, before Safe House really took off. So there was no pressure on the writing and, of all my thrillers, Dead Line is probably my favourite. I only wish it had gone on to sell as many copies as Safe House did …

What was behind your decision to bring out the Good Thief books yourself, and how different is the experience to that of being published traditionally, which is how you started out?

The paperback and ebook rights to the Good Thief Guides were held by Simon & Schuster in the UK but the books had gone out of print and they kindly agreed to let me have the rights back. Publishing them myself as ebooks gives me an opportunity to try and take the series out to a wider audience by hopefully communicating my ongoing enthusiasm for the series to readers.

I’m very lucky that the books are well supported by St Martin’s Minotaur in the States, so they’re still traditionally published in the USA and in several other territories. Which I guess makes me a kind of hybrid writer right now. I have to say I’m finding the experience of publishing the books myself really rewarding creatively and I’ve learned a huge amount. But at the same time, it’s a massive amount of work. If I didn’t love writing the Good Thief mysteries as much as I do, and hope to write more of them, I wouldn’t have taken it on. But this seemed to me like the best chance I have of publishing a sixth Good Thief’s Guide novel in the UK.

If there are to be more Good Thief books, where can we expect Charlie to travel next?

I hope there will be more, although it’ll depend to some extent on how the books do. But I really do want to write more books in the series and I know from the emails I’ve had over the years that lots of my readers want more, too. As for where

I’d take Charlie next, there are a few cities on the shortlist. But first, there’s the small matter of getting him out of Berlin …

Thanks for the chat, Chris. The best of luck with the Good Thief series. To anyone reading this, if you like fast-paced fun crime, you should give the series a go. Chris is great, although I’m always bound to say that, him being a former champion wrestler and all that.

And thanks to you, Neil. The next time you need someone to break into a house, you know who to call.

 

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Out 10th August from Bonnier Zaffre

He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . . 

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her.

When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter’s case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan’s not that kind of lawyer. He’ll follow the evidence – wherever it takes him.

But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Together they will get to the truth – whatever the cost .

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Latest Reads: I Know A Secret Tess Gerritsen

Publication Date: 10th August from Random House (Transworld)

Source: Netgalley

The crime scene is unlike any that Detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have ever before encountered. The woman lies in apparently peaceful repose on her bed, and Maura finds no apparent cause of death, but there is no doubt the woman is indeed dead. The victim’s eyes have been removed and placed in the palm of her hand, a gesture that echoes the terrifying films she produces. Is a crazed movie fan reenacting scenes from those disturbing films?

When another victim is found, again with no apparent cause of death, again with a grotesquely staged crime scene, Jane and Maura realize the killer has widened his circle of targets. He’s chosen one particular woman for his next victim, and she knows he’s coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Jane and Maura catch the killer.

But she knows a secret. And it’s a secret she’ll never tell.

I can’t believe there is any avid crime reader out there who has not yet dipped into the Rizzoli and Isles series from Tess Gerritsen but if that is you then you might want to take a look – I have yet to read one that disappointed me (and I’ve read them all sometimes more than once) right from way back when “The Surgeon” was published.

The two main characters have such a fascinating story arc throughout the series (maintained and intriguingly expanded once again here) and in “I Know a Secret” they have a strange and unpredictable case to deal with, a new possible nemesis for Jane Rizzoli that opens up the series beautifully and the usual brilliantly insightful medical detail layered into the cleverly plotted mystery element.

The author has a medical background that makes that side of things oh so authentic (and often horrifyingly thought provoking) and the storytelling is simply divine – I read this, as all the others, in one sitting – starting it yesterday morning and finishing yesterday evening, emerging breathless from an ending that just made me desperate for the next novel. Waiting. I HATE waiting.

Even the usually stoic and unshakable Maura Iles gets thrown a curveball or two in this instalment – I’ve always loved her for her tough outer shell hiding an inner emotional turmoil, her friendship with Jane is solidly reassuring and endlessly addictive – as a reader you can’t really ask for a better pair to head down into the darkness with.

Darkness is right too – these two see the worst of human frailty and come in contact with some dangerous, erratic people – The secret being hidden here is classically engaging and I was very taken with the other voice, Holly, she was captivating and kept me on my toes. Overall a genuinely excellent addition to the Rizzoli and Iles hall of fame and one that has just confirmed my love for them.

Top notch quality crime fiction always tells. Tess Gerritsen delivers every single time.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: My Little Eye Stephanie Marland

Publication Date: November 2nd from Trapeze

Source: Proof copy

KISS THE GIRLS
A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

AND MAKE THEM DIE…
As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights. 

So it is no secret at all that Stephanie Marland (better known currently as Crime Thriller Girl Steph Broadbribb) is a good friend of mine who I love dearly – and you might think that would mean I’d give her an easy ride but trust me you would be mistaken. If anything I’m a much tougher critic of the people I have come to know well, they have to go some for me to be impressed even slightly.

So when I say that “My Little Eye” is a bang on psychological thriller of the most addictive kind, throwing us some brilliantly divisive and fascinating characters with a twisted plot full of gorgeous unpredictability you can be reassured that I genuinely mean it. And then some. I raced through this read in my grasshopper on acid type manner, every time I thought I could put it down something else happened that made me do that proverbial “one more chapter” thing.

Clementine is just brilliant. She’s unusual, compelling, creates unpredictability all by herself you hardly need a mystery element so right away you are sucked into this, as she rockets around London (brilliantly described) trying to catch a murderer. The central theme – could a group of online crime enthusiasts solve a murder in real time – is a cleverly socially current one – we’ve all been on Twitter and Facebook doing our armchair detective thing on the headlines of the moment, in My Little Eye that takes on a whole new vibe.

Dom the detective (I couldn’t help that it’s how I’ve been thinking of him all the way through) is also an intelligently divisive character and one of the strengths of this read for me was in the way he and Clementine came together. We also have a mystery element that is beautifully imagined, has a truly thrilling serial killer vibe and doesn’t necessarily do what it says on the tin all the way through. That alongside the layered characterisation and the really very good writing (she says grudgingly once again I can’t complain even though it’s one of my favourite things to do) makes “My Little Eye” a pure joy to read. Get the caffeine, get the chocolate, find a corner to hide in and go into Clementine’s world. You won’t regret it.

Highly Recommended. Well done Steph – all the wine for you.

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Lucky Ghost Matthew Blakstad Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder

Source: Review Copy

Early one Monday morning, much like today, journalist Alex Kubelick walks up to a total stranger and slaps him across the face. Hard.

He thanks her.

They’ve both just earned Emoticoins in a new, all-consuming game that trades real-life emotions for digital currency. Emoticoins are changing the face of the global economy – but someone or something seems to be controlling the game for their own, nefarious purposes.

As Alex begins to pick apart the tangled threads that are holding the virtual game together she finds herself on the run from very real enemies. With the world economy teetering on the brink of collapse, it seems there’s only one person who might have the answers she seeks.Someone who hides behind the mysterious name ‘Lucky Ghost.’

But who is Lucky Ghost… and can they really be trusted?

And what do they want?

Lucky Ghost (the follow up to the amazingly brilliant Sockpuppet ) is a banging speculative novel with yet more geeky gorgeous and some top notch often controversial but always fascinating characters.

Lucky Ghost certainly should not be trusted, nor should you necessarily trust anything in this game, the plotting is brilliantly done, a woven web of tech and trauma, human foibles and group shenanigans all mixed up into a beautiful hotpot of a story where nothing is ever quite as it seems. Alex as a character is both fun to follow along with and very intriguing, we meet some old friends along the way and if you loved Sockpuppet you’ll adore this – which, it must be said, could easily be read as a standalone if necessary however I recommend one after the other.

The writing is sharp and absolutely immersive and the world created here is all too likely – after all we are all practically glued to our phones daily, imagine if the tech was slightly more advanced. Then add in some manipulative forces, nefarious schemes and the often horrible realities of human nature and you are good to go on a rollercoaster ride of a book trip. A literal head trip if you get as involved in it as I did.

Like Sockpuppet, Lucky Ghost has a very thought provoking central theme and a firm eye on social issues all layered into the more action and speculative elements. Always character driven, never dull and with a totally edge of the seat banging finale which made me crazy. Oh ssh ok more crazy. In a good way.

Even geekier shenanigans with an even darker heart – that’s Lucky Ghost. Top top notch.

Highly Recommended.

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Latest Reads: Perfect Prey Helen Fields

Publication Date: Available Now from Avon

Source: Netgalley

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

So we come to the second in Helen Fields rather fist pumping DI Callanach series – the first being Perfect Remains which you should certainly check out and its a right old page turner. Dark though, very dark. I don’t think there is any writer out there doing death scenes like Helen Fields is doing them and they are horrifically hard hitting (which I love it has to be said. Not sure what that says about me)

Anyone who has read the first book will know what to expect – and here you get more of it and better, the characters are top notch fascinating and further developed in a brilliantly immersive way  – at the same time there is a new case and what a case it is. Fast paced action, some new people I hope we meet again with a beautifully twisty plot that will keep you on your toes. Descriptively speaking this is absolute genius – you get so involved all the way through you go through a gamut of emotions from subtle smile to outrage to terror and back again. One character will CERTAINLY get your goat, you know you are loving a book when you end up shouting at the people in it like they can hear you and will modify their behaviour accordingly..

Overall Perfect Prey is a perfect second novel to follow up the intensity of the first, upping the ante, keeping you in the characters lives and certainly at the end of this I was hoping desperately that the next one would not take too long to come along.

If you like your crime dark and dastardly with a hint of horror and a strong degree of unpredictability then Perfect Prey is for you.

Recommended.

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Ones to Watch in 2018: The Collector Fiona Cummins

Publication Date: February 2018 from Pan Macmillan

Source: Proof copy

Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town.
His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting…
Clara, the girl he left behind, is clinging to the hope that someone will come and save her.
Life has fallen apart for Clara’s mother as she starts to lose hope.
The Bone Collector has a new apprentice to take over his family’s legacy. But he can’t forget the boy who got away and the detective who had destroyed his dreams, Detective Etta Fitzroy.

I think a lot of people when asked would say that “The Silence of the Lambs” is the definitive serial killer thriller – its all about the atmosphere and the low key haunting scares and the quality writing – but boy I’m telling you that book has some competition now.

Last year at proof stage I was genuinely rattled by “Rattle”, this authors debut, and now she brings us the follow up and boy its a doozy and a half. And then another half. Ok it’s a double doozy. At the very least. Picking up where “Rattle” left off we go further down into the darkness with the Collector and his victims, with his nemesis Etta Fitzroy and this is a twisted darkness indeed, portrayed and embedded into your consciousness in a brilliantly written and utterly riveting piece of character driven  plotting.

I’ve talked about a few writers who are pitch perfect and that is certainly the case here – not only does Fiona Cummins make you care about her characters, fear them and for them but she does it in such an immersive way that you just rattle (sorry) through it, caught up in the horror and the emotional trauma (and boy is this emotionally traumatic on so many levels) – you can’t look away and wouldn’t even if you could. It is gripping, totally gripping, does literally make you hold your breath at times and bloody hell that ending, that slow, scary, uncertain finale almost had me falling off my chair.

The beautifully woven relationships simmer throughout, we see the aftermath of Rattle in all its reality, the devastation and the hope, you can’t help but feel every moment of it whilst metaphorically glancing over your shoulder and waiting for the axe to fall. It is cleverly done to make no promises – happy endings are not always a thing, so you really cannot be sure of anything, in the fight between darkness and light the light often loses and until you turn that last page you can’t and won’t know. Maybe not even then….

Edgy, unpredictable, scary as all heck and so brilliantly spellbinding that you may come away with actual bruises from the tension, The Collector is one for thriller readers everywhere who are looking for those differences, those books that stand out not only for quality but for pure reading pleasure. Painful pleasure sure. But absolute reading joy.

Highly HIGHLY recommended (but read it in the daytime or you will be sleeping with the lights on)

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The Other Twin Lucy Hay – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Review Copy

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? 

I’ve read a few novels that focus on familial relationships and also have a strong mystery element this year but perhaps none that have engaged me as much as Lucy Hay’s “The Other Twin” a beautifully written psychological drama with a vivid setting and some incredibly fascinating characters.

It is a twisty tale in the sense that you really don’t know what is coming but it is also an emotionally resonant read that digs deep into the psyche of the characters (not all of them likable but all of them compelling) and takes you on a journey through their lives ending with a beautifully placed and unexpectedly poignant ending.

Lucy Hay writes with a gorgeous intensity, bringing Brighton to life, bringing the people that live there to life and adding some insightful and often thought provoking layers to the whole thing that just make it a wonderful and, it has to be said, highly addictive read.

When you read and review as many books as I do it is sometimes hard to come up with new things to say -but you know, sometimes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it so I’ll just say The Other Twin. Highly Recommended.

Don’t miss it!

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The Pinocchio Brief Abi Silver – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Lightning Books

Source: Review Copy

A schoolboy accused of a brutal murder. A retired lawyer with secrets to hide…

A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers, the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance, begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school. But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?

I’ve been looking for great legal thrillers and The Pinocchio Brief really hit the sweet spot – addictive, intelligent and with some truly memorable characters it was a real page turner whilst being a brilliantly observant look at human nature and the  vagaries of the legal system.

Somewhat speculative (the Pinocchio device giving a different feel to things) there are plenty of twists and turns, the plotting is tight and immersive, we see things from different points of view, the most involving of these for me being the boy who stands accused of this crime – he is a highly intriguing character and somewhat of an unreliable narrator which brings many levels to the mystery elements.

Judith too is a fascinating character, her developing relationship with Constance is one of the strengths of this book, the secrets Judith hides make for a few edgy moments and overall it was just simply a cracking read.

Yes I think I’ll leave it there – The Pinocchio Brief – Simply a cracking read.

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Fateful Mornings Tom Bouman – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Faber and Faber

Source: Review Copy

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, Officer Henry Farrell’s life is getting complicated. Widowed and more traumatised than he cares to admit, he is caught up in an affair with a local woman, and with helping out his friend’s barn construction job – on which the clock is ticking. When a troubled old acquaintance of theirs becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of his girlfriend, it becomes increasingly clear that something seriously dark is at large in the woods that surround them.

Against this old and strange landscape – where silence rules – a fascinating and troubling case ensues, as Henry struggles for his very survival.

Fateful Mornings, like Dry Bones in the Valley before it is a fully character driven novel, paced to haunting perfection and featuring once again main protagonist Henry Farrell.

What I love about Tom Bouman’s writing is the sense of place and the true authenticity he brings to every aspect of his storytelling. In this case the mystery elements of the plot are very much secondary to the relationships and rural realities faced by those living within the community – the author takes Henry out of his comfort zone and into some dark dark places. Political machinations play their part and it is a slow and considered journey towards the final resolution.

Beautiful prose and intelligent plotting that includes some deeply layered characters and occasionally hard hitting moments makes Fateful Mornings a literary joy to read and really just means that Tom Bouman is now firmly on my must read list.

Highly Recommended.

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Ones To Watch in 2018 – Dark Pines Will Dean

Publication Date: January 2018 from OneWorld

Source: Netgalley

An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

Dark Pines is one of those books where I look up from the pages after finishing it, slightly dazed, going Yep THAT is what I am looking for.

Beautiful beautiful writing, totally immersive from the very first page with a main protagonist that you just fall in love with and an atmospheric, haunting sense of things that will linger for a long time. Will Dean’s intuitive prose just sends you to Gavrik, a small town, a tight knit community, people just looking for a quiet life, but there is a dangerous underbelly to it all that you just feel throughout the reading. Tuva is truly intriguing, living and working in Gavrik to be close to her unwell Mother, just waiting to escape but somehow so very much a part of it all anyway. Her so called “disability” is just part of her, she works around it with no sense of being different to anyone else and I loved that about her.

The scene setting is a huge part of what makes this so very very excellent though. The “Dark Pines” of the title, that brooding, beautifully threatening forest is a character in its own right – making you want to visit and want to hide from it – always in the background, a definable, vivid environment that ingrains itself into the wider story with a truly imaginative intensity.

Then you have the quirky, odd and realistic characters that live in and around Gavrik – from the sisters (my favourites!) with their extremely strange creative profession and their lilting way of talking to Tuva herself, everyone you meet in Dark Pines will give you a different emotional response. The mystery element is so so SO well done, I don’t even want to say anything about it, you should just read it and live in it and wait for that downright eerie ending that is elegantly achieved.

I loved every moment of this one. Every word. It was just blinking brilliant. This is DEFINITELY one to watch in 2018 and has pretty much guaranteed itself a place in my top ten reads for this year – Dark Pines is a novel to watch and Will Dean is an author to watch. I sense great things ahead.

Highly HIGHLY recommended.

You can Follow Will on Twitter and  Pre-order Dark Pines

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