A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody.

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A murder most foul
When the landlord of a Yorkshire tavern is killed in plain sight, Freda Simonson, the only witness to the crime, becomes plagued with guilt, believing the wrong man has been convicted. Following her death, it seems that the truth will never be uncovered in the peaceful village of Langcliffe . . .
A village of secrets
But it just so happens that Freda’s nephew is courting the renowned amateur sleuth Kate Shackleton, who decides to holiday in Langcliffe with her indomitable teenage niece, Harriet. When Harriet strikes up a friendship with a local girl whose young brother is missing, the search leads Kate to uncover another suspicious death, not to mention an illicit affair.
The case of a lifetime
As the present mysteries merge with the past’s mistakes, Kate is thrust into the secrets that Freda left behind and realises that this courageous woman has entrusted her with solving a murder from beyond the grave. It soon becomes clear to her that nothing in Langcliffe is quite as it appears, and with a murderer on the loose and an ever-growing roster of suspects, this isn’t the holiday Kate was expecting . . .

8 february 2010. Author Frances McNeil, of Crossgates.

8 february 2010.
Author Frances McNeil, of Crossgates.

A Death in the Dales, set in the 20’s is an old school mystery story with shades of Christie and a lead female investigator who is great to follow along with.

The sense of place is terrific as is the sense of time and I really enjoyed this offering from Frances Brody – the first of hers I have read.

The mystery elements are well imagined and it is beautifully written – I loved Kate as a character and I loved Ms Brody’s descriptive style when it came to setting and the attitudes and outlook of the time.

The author has a sharp eye for human nature and the best parts of the story come within the interactions between all the characters, as Kate unravels the clues it is really fun to read.

Overall a great book – I’ll definitely be reading more.

Find out more here: http://www.frances-brody.com/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/FrancesBrody

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0349406561/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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Happy Reading Folks”

Dead Star Island Blog Tour

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Today I am very happy to welcome Andrew Shantos to the blog – telling us about the “why” when it came to his idea to write Dead Star Island.

Dead Star Island: the psychology of an idea

Andrew Shantos on not how, but why, he had the idea for his book.

I remember very well from a young age my dearest hope. An impossible dream, my first (and very innocent I should add) fantasy.

It was this:

I already played in a football team from the age of eight, and I used to dream about me and my friends – eleven or twelve of us – living together in an articulated lorry. A luxurious lorry, with arcade machines, table football and a snooker table; and each of us had a single bed with a Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club duvet (or whatever club each person wanted; it was a very tolerant fantasy). We’d travel round the country, stopping at various places, playing football matches (against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or whoever), then back on the luxury lorry to have dinner and play computer games.

It was a simple, innocent dream, perhaps born of a rather solitary disposition, of someone who always found himself in with the out-crowd and wanted to be part of a select gang.

There’s something really quite compelling about exclusive clubs. You often find them in books. Take Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: millions of readers (including me) were bewitched, gripped by the desire to join an intimate group of students and find out their secrets. Or Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five, or her Secret Seven. We read on because we want to be one of them, find ourselves becoming one of them.

As I got into my teens, football morphed into music. But the dream followed the same pattern. Now the lorry was simply my bedroom, my private refuge, which I shared with my heroes. A life-size poster of Jim Morrison gazed, Christ-like, from my bedroom wall. On the opposite side was Jimi Hendrix, looking cool and stoned and just really pleased to be there. I would play computer games late into the night while listening to The Stones, Elvis, Marc Bolan – someone young, beautiful, and almost always dead, martyred to rock and roll.

In my twenties I lost my way. I joined a real gang, an actual top-secret elite. I found myself part of a religious cult. (I really did by the way, I’m not making this up!) I don’t really know how it happened. But I think I know why.

Partly it was spiritual quest: being a seeker, as so many are in their lost and confused early twenties, fresh out of university, trying to make meaning of the world. Partly it was finding something else to tell me what to do, after sixteen years of passive comfort, each day directed by parents and teachers.

But above all, this cult (a rather nice one actually, nothing too nasty, only a very gentle forty degree brainwash) allowed me to become part of an exclusive club. It was another iteration of the fantasy. Quite a full-on iteration admittedly. I’m glad I saw through it, lightened up and started having fun again.

All this time – before, even, that early age when in my mind I was living in a lorry – above all things I loved books. Even more than the heroes on my bedroom wall. I knew I wanted to write a book, or two, or more. And now, having written Dead Star Island, and at the time having just had an idea and writing it, now I’ve been thinking quite deeply about the idea behind it. And not on how I had the idea, but rather why I had the idea.

I’m very much with Stephen King, who describes writing a novel as akin to excavating a fossil: uncovering it little by little, until it is fully exposed, and you lovingly restore it to its full glory. But it was always there to begin with, or, at least, formed over many, many years.

What I did in my book was create yet another exclusive club (unwittingly, there was nothing in my conscious mind that brought this about). I restored the heroes from my bedroom walls, and from my record deck, back to life. Not just some of them. All of them. Together, living on a secret tropical island. Not dead at all, but very much alive, having staged their deaths to come here.

But regardless of this concept, and how it forms the background for a detective novel, I see now there was an irresistible compulsion for doing this, one single reason my mind created this top secret gang.

It was so I could go there. So I could be on the island, live with them and be part of it.

About the Book:

Dead Star Island, a remote tropical paradise, home to sixteen rock and movie superstars the world thinks are dead.

Elvis is there, so are Jimi, Marilyn and others. They’ve all lived for decades in luxurious, isolated anonymity. But someone is murdering them one by one in bizarre reconstructions of the deaths they staged to leave the real world.

Christian Adhis, the island’s mysterious Director, is worried. Brian and John have been murdered in copycat killings, and that’s bad for business. The remaining residents are living in fear, and demanding the killer is caught before he strikes again. So Christian calls in his old school friend Mario Gunzabo.

Dead Star Island, published by APP, can be ordered through Amazon priced £4.99 for Kindle and £8.99 paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Star-Island-Andrew-Shantos/dp/0992811627

 

To get in touch visit him here….

 

w:  http://andrewshantos.com/

 

t: @andrewshantos

 

#deadstarisland

 

How To Be Brave. Or how to make readers cry great big buckets of tears….

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Publication Date: Available Now from Orenda

Source: Via the publisher and several reads later….

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

It’s difficult to know where to begin with “How to be Brave”..there’s a whole history behind my love of this novel and a little bit of a thing. There was a time in my life recently and ongoing where I’ve had to be brave…during that time one of the things I did was some reading for my very good friend and the loveliest lady in the whole wide world, Karen Sullivan of Orenda books fame. She kept me busy in order to keep me sane – one of the things that landed was this. How to Be Brave, a debut from equally lovely lady Louise Beech. And I was in awe. And should probably thank Nick Quantrill too he knows what for.

I read it start to finish. Couldn’t put it down, couldn’t stop, was immersed in the gorgeous power  of the prose and the sheer imaginative and emotional pull of the whole thing. This is a novel about life. A novel about love. A novel about the things that haunt us and the things that save us. It had a particularly  beautiful quality I’ve not seen captured in any other book I’ve read ever.  And this was quite an early read. The finished product is a thing of pure joy – I have indeed devoured it twice since then and probably will again.

The author’s background and family experiences play into “How to be Brave” and make it authentic, immersive and an unforgettable reading experience. It reminds us of the frailty of the human condition and speaks to the deeper maternal love that exists between mother and child – parents everywhere will simply exist within the pages.

The two threads of the story are cleverly interwoven, the historical aspects are stunningly intuitive and with a highly engaging sense of place and time – a novel of two intensely emotional halves creating an incredible whole. Yes it is emotionally resonant, you will cry but it is also brave, true and utterly compelling, a cliffs edge read where you are waiting for that moment then realise that the whole darn thing is THAT moment.

What else can I say? I think that will have to do you.

Don’t wait another minute for this one. There’s a time to read and this is it.

Purchase Information:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1910633194/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

#HowToBeBrave

Louise is on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LouiseWriter

I’m not alone. Follow the tour:

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Finally keep an eye on Orenda here: http://orendabooks.co.uk/

Or by following Karen here: https://twitter.com/OrendaBooks

Some very special reads coming up soon. I guarantee it.

Happy Reading Folks!

Please Don’t Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler. Author Interview. Blog Tour

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Publication Date: 24th September from Scribe.

Today I am pleased to welcome Tania Chandler to the blog answering a few questions about her terrific novel “Please Don’t Leave Me Here” as part of the official blog tour. My review will also follow. Thanks Tania!

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story?

It’s hard to pinpoint where the story idea came from. I kept journals when I was young and, for some reason, one day I was looking back through them and I came across an entry from the day Kurt Cobain was found dead. I was surprised by how different my memory of that time was compared to what I had written on the actual day in my journal. It made me think about the memories we hold and how they become skewed over time.

Initially, I was interested in exploring the way people change — or whether they ever really do — over time, with age, circumstances, relationships. What remains constant and what shifts?

Brigitte really does not have a happy time of it – how do you get into the mindset of a character with her deep seated issues?

Brigitte is a character full of contradictions — she’s deeply flawed, awkward and vulnerable, but also gritty and capable. She tries to do what she thinks is right, but invariably makes bad decisions. I think she’s very human.

I studied drama when I was young and I think writing is a bit like acting when it comes to getting into a character’s head. You have to put yourself into their shoes somehow, imagine how they would feel. We’ve all made wrong choices. And we’ve all experienced love, pain and fear to some degree. As a writer, you can take these feelings and manipulate or amplify them.

My writing buddy, Graeme Simsion, says characters are a third the author, a third somebody the author knows, and a third made up. I can relate to Brigitte’s awkwardness as a young woman, and to her later difficulties that come with being a mother. I’ve known people like Brigitte: somebody that others seem drawn too, and want to love and protect. But she is also one of those people who – through deep emotional need, or lack of love as a child – never believe they are good enough and settle for less than they deserve. The rest is invention.

The relationship between Brigitte and her brother is a fascinating one – they seem to feed off each other sometimes in a negative way – it has always fascinated me how writers develop the character interactions. Is it all planned, as in you know how you want them to come across?

The character of Ryan, and the relationship he has with Brigitte, was one of the easiest parts of the novel to write. I pulled out my hair planning some character interactions, but when I put Brigitte and Ryan together in a scene, the writing seemed to flow and I always knew what they would do without having to think too much about it. They were reckless enough on their own, but together: disaster. However, they were always there for one another when the chips were down. Their troubled childhood would account for much of their behaviour, and their closeness. They were fun to write, even though at times I felt like shaking them!

The mystery element is very well developed – unlike a lot of novels you’ve chosen to do blocks of time rather than alternating throughout which works well – was the ultimate resolution always the one you had in mind?

No! Please Don’t Leave Me Here was always structured in two blocks of time, but I wrote four different endings before I came up with the final one. A lot of writers say you should know the ending before you begin. I learnt this the hard way. I thought I was being clever because even I didn’t know how it was going to end! But apparently nobody likes a deus ex machina resolution. I had to go back and plant clues retrospectively. This was a painstaking process, with my editor encouraging me to add more foreshadowing, and me worrying about being too obvious and giving it away. I think, after all, there’s just enough foreshadowing for attentive readers.

When not writing, what type of novels do you enjoy – any recommendations?

I’ve just finished reading The Girl on the Train. I think I was the only person in the world who hadn’t read it, plus my book has the ‘If you liked The Girl on the Train, you’ll love this’ sticker, so I thought I should get onto it. I’m a sucker for a well-written thriller or crime story, but I also enjoy more literary books. I’m currently reading two excellent new releases by fellow Australian authors: Resurrection Bay by Emma Visckic (crime) and Fever of Animals by Miles Allinson (literary fiction).

I also recently reread The Great Gatsby (I’m sure I read it at high school, but I think maybe I just read the blurb at the time because I couldn’t remember anything about it!) I was blown away by the compelling story, and the elegant descriptive prose. Hard to believe it was written almost a hundred years ago.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

My second novel (provisionally titled: Dead in the Water) is the sequel to Please Don’t Leave Me Here. It’s about the darkness that lies beneath the surface: a corpse found in the lake; a loving wife and mother with a shady past and unfulfilled desires; and a brave, in-control detective who is scared and losing control.

It’s more crime fiction than psychological thriller, although, like in PDLMH, the characters are more important than the crime. It’s set five years later, on an island in the middle of an inland lakes system where there is no way off after the last ferry leaves for the night. Brigitte and several of the original characters return.

Thank you so much!

Thank you!

My Review:

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Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

Nobody knows why she was in the east of the city so early on the morning she was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver. It was the Friday before Christmas 1994 — the same day police discovered the body of a man beaten to death in her apartment.

Fourteen years later, Brigitte is married to the detective who investigated the murder, which she claims to have lost her memory of in the car accident. They have young twins, and seem to be a happy family. Until the reopening of the cold case.

A really excellent psychological thriller this – which has a lot going for it, the fact that it doesnt have the word Girl in the title, even though this is the story of a girl – and whether or not she is a killer – is just an aside that I thought I’d throw out there!

That’s not the reason it’s so good though,obviously. There is some really excellent writing here, beautiful descriptive prose that gets you right into the head of the main protagonist and a really really intriguing and enthralling story. Whilst there are two timelines to be had here as well, Tania Chandler has chosen to be a lot more straighforward about it, which really helped – and she brings a deep pyschological depth to all the characters that is definitely above and beyond a lot of the similar seeming tales around this year.

Whether or not Brigitte really is a killer or simply a victim that got away may be the anchor to the story as a whole, but this is not so much about THAT as it is about HER. Her life, the relationships she develops, her upbringing and attitude. I really found her to be intensely fascinating and she does have a very hard time of it and although it’s possible she once murdered somebody you will root for her all the way.

The resolution is not immediately obvious which is always a huge plus – and this is one of those novels where you are caught up in events from first page to last rather than hoppity skipping through to find out “whodunnit” – in a sense it doesnt really matter, for me this was more about how Brigitte would end up, whether she would face her inner demons and win or lose.

Overall really great stuff. And in answer to a question I saw on Twitter recently – is the Psychological thriller dead – my answer is a resounding NO. That genre lives and breathes in novels like this one.

Highly Recommended.

Follow Tania on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Tania_Chandler

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Please-Dont-Leave-Me-Here/dp/1925228258/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442699286&sr=1-1&keywords=please+don%27t+leave+me+here

Join the conversation: #WifeOrKiller

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Happy Reading Folks!

Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne – Blog Tour: Author Interview & Review

solomon creedSimon Toyne by Toby Madden USEPhoto by Toby Madden USE

Today I am VERY happy to have Simon Toyne on the blog answering a few questions on “Solomon Creed” a novel that has been described as the Thriller of the year. I can’t really argue with that…So here is what I asked (and what he answered rather brilliantly I thought) and following that is a little review of the book from me.

 

Solomon Creed kicks off a new trilogy for you – tell us a little about the inspiration behind this one.

It’s actually a new series, not a trilogy, though I had the idea for it in the middle of writing The Key, second book in the Sanctus trilogy. I always seem to have my best ideas in the middle of something else. It started as a one line idea about a man who has to save a series of souls in order to ultimately save his own. About a year or so after having that idea I happened to re-watch the Wim Wenders film – ‘Paris, Texas’ – and during the opening sequence (have a look here) I thought to myself ‘That’s how that story should start. A man walking out of the desert wearing a suit.’ I ended up listening to the Ry Cooder soundtrack of ‘Paris, Texas’ all the way through writing Solomon too. It became one of his themes.

Although in a very different way from Sanctus, there is a religious theme running through the narrative – does this subject hold a particular interest for you?

I do find religion, particularly the stories woven into it, endlessly fascinating. If you look at the origins of all the older religions they were all about trying to make sense of unfathomable things and posing the big existential and philosophical questions like who am I, why are we here, what does it all mean? When I’m writing a novel and pushing my characters around the page with a pen I’m dealing with all these same questions, so the two work very well together. I also think they resonate with readers because we’re all still trying to figure out these same questions.

On the topic of trilogies and series fiction in general, moving forward will this be your preferred method? It does allow for a wider scope.

It does and that’s why I like it. The Sanctus trilogy was very much rooted in the city of Ruin and the mysteries it contained, it was the pivot around which everything else revolved. With Solomon, he is the central mystery and he can go anywhere. That was one of the things that appealed to me about him, that I can continue his story towards his own redemption and colour in his backstory as we go along whilst at the same time setting each new book in a totally different setting. As a writer it gives me the best of both worlds – familiarity and a long-form unfolding story, but also novelty. I hope that will appeal to the readers too.

All your novels so far have had a high addictive quality – how difficult is it to walk the line, creating a thriller that gets the heart pounding yet still has great depth of plot and character?

It’s hard. In the middle of every book I always have a moment where I think ‘why don’t I try and write something simpler next time?’ but ultimately I want to write books that I haven’t read before and that means trying to break away a little from the genre conventions. Some readers respond to that, others slam me for it. I’ve already had early reviews for Solomon saying they’re not sure what audience it’s aimed at because it contains a variety of different genre elements. For me that’s the point. I don’t see the benefit of staying inside the lines. Thriller readers are very sophisticated. They know the rules as well as we writers do. As a reader myself I like to be surprised and not know instinctively where something is going. So as a writer that’s what I try and do.

Having said that your other point is always first and foremost in my mind. I never try and lose pace at the expense of complexity or genre blurring. Each book goes through several drafts and each one is all about paring the story down until every storyline and every character is well-balanced, always developing, and always moving forward. Thrillers are like sharks, if they stop moving forward they die. I always spend a lot of time on the characters, all of them, not just the heroes. I think you need to care about everyone and everyone needs to feel real otherwise they’re not engaging. There’s an old joke about actors that if you asked someone playing a courtier in ‘Hamlet’ what the play was about they’d say ‘It’s about this courtier’. I think there’s some wisdom in that so I write each character as if the whole book is about them. Everyone has a yesterday and, hopefully, a tomorrow, even if they appear on just one page.

Are you allowed to give any clues about the next step in the Solomon Creed saga?

Probably not but I will anyway. In the first book Solomon knows nothing about himself. He only knows his name because it’s stitched into the label of his tailor-made suit jacket. At the end of the first book he has learned some things about himself but not enough. He figures the tailor who made his jacket must have measured him to make the suit so must know more about who he is. So he goes to France in search of him and finds more murder, mystery, and a shadowy legacy of the Nazi occupation.

Any writing habits or foibles?

I use my kids as a timing device. I drop them off at school then go and sit in a cafe and work until it’s time to pick them up again. I also try and write 1,000 words a day. These two things combined help focus the mind.

When not writing what kind of novels do you enjoy reading – and have there been any stand out reads for you this year so far?

I read all sorts, generally not thrillers though. Having said that I was one of the judges of a big US thriller prize earlier this year so read hundreds. Of those, my favourites were ‘Natchez Burning’ by Greg Iles, ‘The Fever’ by Megan Abbott, ‘Bad Country’ by CB Mackenzie. I also just read ‘The Son’ by Phillip Meyer – not a thriller but brilliantly written and just as compelling.

Thank you so much!

No, thank you. I was actually very nervous to see what you made of Solomon, being as you’re such a big Stephen King fan and all, so I’m delighted that you seemed to enjoy it so much.

My Review:

solomon creed

A plane crash in the Arizona desert. An explosion that sets the world on fire. A damning pact to hide an appalling secret. And one man bound to expose the truth. He is Solomon Creed. No one knows what he is capable of.

Not even him.

When Solomon Creed flees the burning wreckage of a plane in the Arizona desert, seconds before an explosion sets the world alight, he is acting on instinct alone. He has no memory of his past, and no idea what his future holds. Running towards a nearby town, one name fires in his mind – James Coronado. Somehow, Solomon knows he must save this man. But how do you save a man who is already dead?

I’m not going to tell you much about Solomon Creed when it comes to plot to be honest. It’s one of those books that is best read cold once you have looked at the blurb and gone “ooh…rather fancy that one” which is what I did. And also I remembered that my utter  hatred of Religious conspiracy type novels was completely changed to  huge amounts of love by this authors Sanctus trilogy. I went back to despising them after that – obviously Mr Toyne has that X factor something.

Moving onto Solomon Creed then – the reading experience of it is something akin to being on a runaway train I imagine. It starts with a bang then off you go – no stopping, hang on for dear life and hope to holy heck that there is something soft to cushion the impact at the other end..

The thing about this book though is there is plenty of action, often quiet action,  but also a wonderfully perfect mix of drama and character study wrapped around the “Oh God” moments  – Solomon Creed is enigmatic and unknoweable even to himself. But slowly things start to come to light, although to say I’m now in a state of chronic impatience for book two would be putting it somewhat mildly.

I loved the clever writing, the delicate little touches that make this story into a legend waiting to happen –  There are gorgeous intricacies in the plot detail  and as things pan out it is highly addictive stuff – like you know, if you’d taken this away from me while I was still in the middle of it there would have been blood. And it wouldn’t have been fictional.

Clever intuitive storytelling. I rather adored it. Certainly I would highly recommend it. And then some.

Find out more here: http://www.simontoyne.net/

Follow Simon on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/simontoyne

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Solomon-Creed-Simon-Toyne/dp/0007551355/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441922452&sr=1-1&keywords=solomon+creed

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Happy Reading Folks!

The Dark Inside. Blog Tour.

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Oh goodie look I get to babble on about this one again. I reviewed this recently (review can be seen below) and felt VERY lucky to be able to ask author, Rod Reynolds a few questions about The Dark Inside as part of the official blog tour. Here is what I asked. And you know, what he answered. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about the inspiration and starting point for “The Dark Inside” – I’m aware it is loosely based on real events, was it that story or the time period perhaps that engaged you?

It was very much the real life story that first caught my eye. I’m a fan of novels written in and set in the 1940s anyway – Chandler to Ellroy and everything in between – but this was something very different.

The first thing that hooked me was the sense of sheer menace and terror reading about the murders provoked in me. It’s impossible to read about a masked gunman stepping out of the night and attacking young couples without feeling a sense of real unease. It’s like something out of a nightmare. But the more I read, the more intriguing the case became. The setting was unusual – a town (technically two towns) split between two quite different states, that was overwhelmed with GIs travelling home from war; seemingly endless law enforcement agencies involved – city, county and state police from both sides of the state line, railroad detectives, highway patrolmen and more, and all under the command of the Texas Rangers – the opportunities for infighting, corruption and ineptitude seemed huge. Then there were the persistent rumours of institutional corruption, cover-ups, conspiracy – it was a potent mix that just grabbed me from the instant I started thinking about it. Right away I had a very nebulous sense of a mood and a tone and a voice that I wanted to use to tell the story, even if the plot and characters came later. Everything developed from that.

One of the most fascinating things for me while reading was the huge difference in how the Press worked back then and now – in today’s world of 24/7 news where everything is immediate and in your face do you think we could learn something from those old school reporters?

It’s a fascinating area to me. I worked extensively with newspapers in my previous profession, and there is an assumption among most observers that the newspaper is dead, or certainly moribund. However, if you look at some of the biggest stories in recent years – thinking of things like the MP expenses scandal, FIFA corruption, etc. – they were brought to light as a direct result of investigative journalism on the part of newspapers. Furthermore, a good friend of mine makes the point that newspapers still set the news agenda, most days, that the 24/7 stations and websites then take their lead from.

Of course, we’ve also seen the dark side of that doggedness and ‘getting the story by any means’ attitude – the phone hacking scandal being the most recent example – but if we lose the old school style of journalism where reporters are given time and money to investigate a story properly, and then report on it fully, I think we’d be losing something very valuable indeed. At their best, newspapers should be democracy’s first line of defence.

Tell me about Charlie – that poor man goes on quite the journey of personal discovery during the telling of the tale – did you know from the start how it would all work out for him or did he change your mind?

Most of Charlie’s development as a character came about naturally as I was writing the story, but there were several key starting points I knew I wanted to work from. I was certain I wanted him to be an outsider, from a very different part of America, both to accentuate the strange and closed nature of the Texarkana he finds himself in, and to accentuate his own feelings of isolation and self-doubt, which plague him before he leaves and are only heightened by being plunged into such a nightmarish situation.

I also knew I wanted him to consider himself a coward, because that set the stage for the age-old tale of personal redemption that I wanted to try to tell. I was partly inspired by the quote James Ellroy has at the start of LA Confidential – ‘A glory that costs everything and means nothing.’ Although you can interpret that in many ways, to me it speaks to those times in life when we become obsessed with something, to the exclusion of everything else, even when we know what’s waiting for us at the top of that hill is nothing you’d call a victory. Ultimately that’s Charlie’s story – he’s a man who thinks he’s sunk as low as he can go, but discovers that’s not the case when he finally finds a cause worth risking his life for – and the only prize waiting for him if he survives is that he might hate himself just a little bit less.

However, the exact narrative arc of how that would play out was not decided in advance. I had certain plot points I wanted to get to along the way – not much more than a start, middle and end – but I find organic plots, influenced by the characters themselves, are the most satisfying to write. In addition, I don’t tend to plan out all the characters in advance, and there are several major characters in The Dark Inside who developed as the story was written. Therefore, once you have them interacting with Charlie, that in itself opens up new narrative possibilities you can’t anticipate in advance.

The “Southern Noir” feel you have embedded into the narrative is pitch perfect – right down to the conversational tone – how hard was that to accomplish?

I’m really glad you think so, thank you. It was quite tricky to get that right, and I knew it was crucial to the atmosphere, so I was keen to do so. In my head, I had a voice and a tone for Charlie quite early on, which is pretty much the one you see in the book, and I’ve long been a fan of American books/TV/culture, so I had a decent background to draw on.

However, to really get it right still took a lot of effort. I read and re-read a lot of the 40s & 50s noir classics, looking for vocabulary and speech patterns that have since faded, and also watched a lot of the old noir movies for the same reason. It also helped travelling to Texarkana to get a better idea of the local dialect and idiosyncrasies (as soon as the cabbie at the airport started talking – ‘My nose is itching, means someone’s lying about me; wish it was my hand – that means money.’ – I knew it was a worthwhile trip!)

However, my fantastic agent, Kate Burke at Diane Banks Associates, also had a huge role to play in getting it right, as she was brilliant at helping me weed out the parts that sounded anachronistic or inauthentic, and really helping me hone the text. I think Kate really got the tone and feel I was hoping to achieve, and I couldn’t have asked for a keener set of eyes to help do so.

The tagline tells us this might be a good read for fans of “True Detective” – and this is a comment I absolutely agree with – I wondered if you were a fan of that particular tv show, which is in a way like your book but in the visual medium and if so why do you think it IS so good?

I was over the moon with that tagline because I am a huge fan of the show (specifically the first series – although I was in the minority that quite likes series two as well).

I think there are lots of aspects of the first True Detective that made it so good. The show’s creator, Nic Pizzolatto, is a novelist as well as screenwriter (his book, Galveston, is very good) and I think that shows in the complexity of the plotting, the narrative setup, and the pacing.

I read a comment that said True Detective was, ‘A 7/10 story with 10/10 acting, direction and camerawork.’ I agree with the second part of that statement, and clearly the excellence the show exhibited in those respects played a part in making it ‘special’; but I think the first part is to underrate the plot hugely. Some were apparently disappointed that there were no huge twists towards the end of the series, but I think that’s to miss the point. The real story of the show, and what made it so great, was the personal journeys Rust and Marty made over the course of the series. It’s just another reminder that character really is everything.

Moving away from “The Dark Inside” and more towards Rod Reynolds himself, tell us a little about your writing heroes and was there anyone in particular (not necessarily an author) who inspired you growing up?

I’ve mentioned Ellroy a couple of times and that reflects the huge impact he had on me. The Cold Six Thousand was the first book of his I discovered, and I read it in my early twenties, when I’d fallen out of love with reading a bit. It’s probably his most divisive and stylistically extreme book, but it just blew me away. It reignited my passion for reading, and it is the book that first made me want to be a writer. I devoured everything of his after that, and then moved on to the people that inspired him – particularly Chandler and Hammett. I read everything I could get my hands on in that sub-genre. I discovered southern noir around the same time, first through James Lee Burke and then others like him, and I’ve just carried on from there.

If I was to pick a non-author creative influence, it would definitely be Michael Mann. He’s made some of my favourite films of all time – Heat being the pinnacle – and I just love the look, feel, tone and depth of a lot of his work. There’s so much to learn from his style, and I’ve definitely tried to incorporate elements of it in my writing.

Finally, the question I always have to ask, especially when I have particularly loved a book – what’s next for you? If you are allowed to give us a clue…

Next up is a the sequel to The Dark Inside, which I’m just drafting at the moment. The story is set six months after the first book in a town called Hot Springs, which is close to Texarkana, but has a distinct and incredible real-life history of its own. The town played host to gangsters from Capone to Siegel, and served as their model for early Las Vegas.

At the start of the book, Charlie is compelled to travel to Hot Springs, despite Arkansas being the last place on earth he wants to go. As soon as he arrives, things go bad and Charlie finds himself trapped in a nightmare web of murder, corruption and lies. Working in the shadow of Texarkana, Charlie fights to save himself – but the closer he gets to the truth, the more it seems he can’t outrun his own past…

Thank you!

Thanks for having me on the blog!

My Review (just in case you didn’t catch it)

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1946, Texarkana: a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Disgraced New York reporter Charlie Yates has been sent to cover the story of a spate of brutal murders – young couples who’ve been slaughtered at a local date spot. Charlie finds himself drawn into the case by the beautiful and fiery Lizzie, sister to one of the victims, Alice – the only person to have survived the attacks and seen the killer up close.
But Charlie has his own demons to fight, and as he starts to dig into the murders he discovers that the people of Texarkana have secrets that they want kept hidden at all costs. Before long, Charlie discovers that powerful forces might be protecting the killer, and as he investigates further his pursuit of the truth could cost him more than his job…

I loved this book so much. So very very much. Will that do? No? Jeez but you lot are demanding…

The Dark Inside is old school noir – Southern Noir at that – and I have not read a book like it in many years, and when I have they have come from old school crime writers who are almost a dying breed (think James Lee Burke or Flannery O Connor)  – but like Rod Reynolds here they have this magic touch when it comes to taking very little time to put you BAM heart and soul into another era.

Here we enter the Texas/Arkansas border in 1946 – alongside Charlie Yates, who having had somewhat of a meltdown in New York has been sent along to cover a series of murders in a small town – to the folks back in the big city very unimportant stuff. But to Charlie it’s about to become everything…

Language is a beautiful thing when in the right hands – it has the power to evoke all the  senses, to paint a picture, to bring on a memory, to make you catch your breath and feel an emotion – The Dark Inside has this in spades. Chocka block full of that sort of thing this book is, all the while telling a compelling and really powerful story that will envelop you in the pure texture and realism of that time now passed.

The author sends his main protagonist on a real journey of self discovery, sets him on a perilous path and takes us with him every step of the way – down into the seething whirlpool of fear that this small town has become in the wake of the deaths. The sheer atmosphere and sense of something horrific lurking just below the surface is palpable throughout the telling and as Charlie faces his demons and everyone else’s head on you will be utterly gripped and totally unable to look away. I was really quite tearful by the end simply down to the sheer impact of every single chapter.

This is a debut – something that stops me in my tracks every time I remember it – the writing is both visceral and gentle, a really quite staggering achievement both in character study and incorporation of setting – If Rod Reynolds spends the rest of his writing career (and boy is this guy going to have a career) creating books only half as good as this one, he will still be writing some of the top fiction out there. A truly incredible talent.

I don’t really need to add “Highly Recommended” do I? Not really. You can take that one as read. When I had finished The Dark Inside, devoured it over the course of one gloriously reading mad day, I had that spider sense that told me I’d just made a lifetime commitment. If this author keeps writing I’m going to keep reading. A bit like with Stephen King if he publishes his shopping list I’m probably going to get in the queue to take a look.

I guess you could say I’m a fan.  How many people will agree with me remains to be seen. But early buzz from people I respect in the field tells me I’m not going to be alone here – and as one reader to another I’m saying go take a look. Sometimes it really is that simple.

 

You can follow Rod on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Rod_WR

To Order clickety clickhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0571323049/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1HNHHLUGTKHX5&co

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Dead Eyed – Idea to Publication. Guest Post from Matt Brolly

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Today I am VERY pleased to welcome author Matt Brolly to tell us about how his first novel, Dead Eyed, came into being.

 

Dead Eyed – Idea to Publication

The idea for Dead Eyed came to me in 2008. I initially called it Souljacker, and the ‘soul-stealing’ element to the story was much more prominent. I set the story in a small seaside town, and the killer’s motive was tied into the history of the town’s church and small community.

I planned the whole story, and even submitted some opening chapters and a synopsis to the Debut Dagger Award. But for one reason or another, I stopped writing it and focused my energies on another project.

That project was a dystopian thriller which I finished and sent off to a select number of literary agents. I received some positive feedback, amongst the rejections, the most interesting of which came from an agent who commented that she thought my writing style was well suited to more ‘straight’ crime/thriller fiction. So, I decided to take another look at the Souljacker.

Although I liked certain aspects of the story, I couldn’t get interested in the piece as it stood. It had an air of the supernatural about it which I wanted to move away from. But I still liked the idea of the Souljacker. I sat down and started again from scratch.

Once I’d finished the new draft, nothing, save for the serial killer known as the Souljacker, remained from that original version. I changed the location, the main protagonists, and the victims. I even changed the Souljacker himself, giving him a completely different back story. Rather than have the Souljacker as a new case, I reactivated his killing spree after a twenty year hiatus. As I began writing the new main protagonist, Michael Lambert, I realised the book was really about his journey. The Souljacker started to take a back seat, as I explored Lambert’s past, and his motivation to investigate the killer.

Six months later the first draft of Dead Eyed was complete.

Not much of that version exists now, either. The Souljacker stayed, as did Lambert, but the novel was far from complete. Something was missing from Lambert’s journey, and the investigation itself. Over the next few drafts I added a second protagonist, DI May, who had a different approach to investigating than Lambert. The two characters began playing off each other, until the story started going in a completely different direction. Another few drafts later, and I felt ready to send the MS into the big world.

After a few near misses, Dead Eyed was accepted for publication by Carina UK (Harlequin/Harper Collins) who were keen to develop the book into a series.

It seemed that my journey with Dead Eyed was over. I worked through my first draft of the second in the series, thinking that the major work on Dead Eyed was complete.

Then I received my first set of editorial feedback.

The story was structurally sound, but could I take a second look at certain areas? Perhaps I could dig deeper into Lambert’s background, develop the relationship between Lambert and May further? A few months later, and Dead Eyed was a different monster to the book initially submitted. Whilst tightening up certain areas, the editorial feedback had enabled me to propel the story into something different. The feedback was sound, and just what I needed to make the book the best it could be.

August 2015 and I received my copy edited Author Amendments Copy of Dead Eyed. Reading through, it was hard to equate the book I was reading not only with the first draft of years ago, but also to the version which was initially accepted by my publishers. Signing off, I was relieved, and a little sad, to say goodbye to the story.

However, I now have a rich and exciting direction for the series so although from a writing perspective, my work on Dead Eyed is finished, some of the characters live on. The second in the series, Dead Lucky, is due for publication before Christmas 2015, and I will shortly start work on Book Three.

Find out more here: http://mattbrolly.co.uk/

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MatthewBrolly

Purchase Information:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B013L2OHYS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=2506&creative=9298&creativeASIN=B013L2OHYS&link_code=as3&tag=thesqucag-21

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DCI Michael Lambert thought he’d closed his last case…

Yet when he’s passed a file detailing a particularly gruesome murder, Michael knows that this is no ordinary killer at work.

The removal of the victim’s eyes and the Latin inscription carved into the chest is the chilling calling-card of the ‘soul jacker’: a cold-blooded murderer who struck close to Michael once before, twenty-five years ago.

Now the long-buried case is being re-opened, and Michael is determined to use his inside knowledge to finally bring the killer to justice. But as the body count rises, Michael realises that his own links to the victims could mean that he is next on the killer’s list…

The gripping first novel in a thrilling new crime series by Matt Brolly. Perfect for fans of Tony Parsons, Lee Child and Angela Marsons.

Happy Reading Folks!

The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne. Blog Tour Review.

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Publication Date: Available Now from Blackfriars.

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn’t know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail — an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea — she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she’s hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother’s rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama’s fates will entwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the core.

The Girl in the Road was an interesting one for me. I’ll admit that I didn’t really “get it” whilst still being caught up in the language and the cultural imagery that the author brings to the story.

We have two times, two locations, two women, both on a journey of discovery. One across land and one across the floating road (which was an imaginative and well executed concept that was highly engaging). Apart from that I really don’t know what to say about the plot. It kind of has that inner  turmoil/inner monologue/descriptive prose that defies explanation but still gets you to where you need to  go.

There were several things I loved about it – Monica Byrne has written something different, created a future that itself could not be called any one thing – it just is what it is. For a lot of the read I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going (there is a lot of introspection and unreliable narrator vibe going on) but I was still somehow sucked into it – this was one that I kept re-reading little bits of, sometimes to clarify in my own head and sometimes just because of the author’s way with words.

Violence against women is explored here, sometimes a little too much so (although again I’m not really sure I  grasped what the author was trying to achieve) and the world is a mish mash of cultural identity, gender, sexuality and attitudes. The way the two stories are linked was cleverly woven into the whole  – this is fantasy and reality colliding somewhere in the middle and as such was an intriguing concept.

I think perhaps for me it was a little too convoluted when looked at as an entire first page to last read – there were portions of it that were stunning, shocking and emotionally resonant but they were mixed up in some almost mundane meandering points in time that I felt I wasn’t really getting.

Overall though this is a book that is meant to be read – one of those that everyone will take something different from, a book that will divide opinion and generate discussion – in THAT sense it works on all levels. I’m not sure I enjoyed it because enjoyed is not the right word – I admired it and had an interesting time reading it. Monica Byrne has attempted something very different and for that alone I’d recommend picking it up, the underlying messages are there for the taking and in the meantime you’ll get a vivid, imaginative and often heart wrenching tale which I can’t really tell you what you’ll do with.

Fascinating.

Find out more here: http://www.monicabyrne.org/books.html

Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/monicabyrne13

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Road-Monica-Byrne/dp/0349134219/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441437599&sr=1-1&keywords=the+girl+in+the+road+by+monica+byrne

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THE GIRL IN THE ROAD BLOG TOUR

Happy Reading Folks!

New Release Spotlight/Blog Tour. Burnt Paper Sky. Author Interview.

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Today see’s the release of Gilly Macmillan’s brilliant novel Burnt Paper Sky – I am absolutely delighted to welcome Gilly to the blog to tell us a little about it. I’ve also persuaded her to come back another time so look out for that one in the future! Review to follow the interview – this comes highly recommended from me.

 

Tell us a little about the original inspiration for Burnt Paper Sky.

Burnt Paper Sky was inspired by my love for page-turning psychological thrillers, and especially those in the domestic noir genre. Before I started it I had recently read Linwood Barclay’s No Time for Goodbye, which had a brilliantly simple premise and a domestic setting that I really related to. It inspired me to try to think of what my worst nightmare would be, as a starting point for my book, and the answer came quickly and easily: for one of my children to be abducted and not to know what had happened to them. It’s just one of the most desperate situations imaginable and I knew it would give me lots of potential for interesting characters, a ticking clock as the investigation progressed, and the opportunity to explore all kinds of interesting themes and ideas.

The social media age and living life in the spotlight is a huge theme here, we all judge people caught up in these distressing events from the comfort of our sofa’s – do you think this hinders the police rather than helps?

I think social media can play a very useful role in spreading awareness about cases, or appealing for information, which can be extremely useful to police in some circumstances, especially missing persons. It can galvanise large numbers of people to help in physical searches too. Beyond that, however, I’m very dubious about its benefits in circumstances like these. On social media sites the judgements can become so extreme, so quickly – and this isn’t helped by traditional media reporting on the social media reaction – that it can seem as if a bit of a lynch mob mentality has developed, and that has to affect the behaviour of everybody involved in a case.

If families are being victimized before the investigation is underway, that can’t be good. And nor can it be good for there to be such a frenzy via traditional or social media, with all the demands for information and action that goes along with that, that police have to actively manage it when their efforts would be better concentrated on the investigation itself. And of course there have been extreme cases where use of social media has compromised investigations and also caused trials to collapse (to the point that there is new legislation that makes this unlawful). Having researched this in great detail, I believe we should all think very carefully before we wade in and express our opinions online in these cases, especially as so often we only know a fraction of the real story.

Did you have everything plotted from the start or did things change as you went?

Nothing was plotted! Though I’m not sure if I should admit to that! The only thing I had when I started the book was the first scene, the knowledge that I wanted Rachel (the mother of the missing child) as narrator, and a sense of what the ultimate fate of her son Ben would be. That was it. The rest evolved as I wrote, and was rewritten many times both before and after submission to publishers.

Which character was your favourite, if that is the right word – who came easily?

Rachel definitely came most easily. Her voice arrived fully formed right at the start and in fact one of the parts of the book that’s been tampered with least is her prologue and opening scenes in the woods. I so much wanted to explore her experience of her situation that although it was sometimes hard to be in her head, I never hesitated because her voice came easily and I felt as if the story of her experience needed to be told. Having said that, I do also have a huge soft spot for Jim Clemo. He wasn’t a narrator in the first draft, and it took me a long time to develop his character and to get the courage to write in a male voice and to be happy with that, but once I was in my stride I really enjoyed writing him too. He’s a character I’m very fond of.

When not writing what type of novels do you enjoy reading?

As I said above, I love a page-turner, but I’ll happily read any kind of novel.

I’ve been an obsessive reader since I was a child, and I don’t really stick to any genre. I’m glad I don’t because I think I would be missing out on so much if I did, and I think reading widely is very good for my writing. Lately, I’ve raced through historical fiction, comedy, crime and more traditionally literary books too. I read mostly contemporary fiction but not exclusively. A massive discovery this year has been Georges Simenon. For me, if a book turns pages, I don’t care what genre it’s in or when it was written, I just want to find out what happens next.

Can you tell us anything about what’s next?

I submitted my second novel to my publisher in June. It’s another psychological thriller called Butterfly in the Dark and I’ve just finished work on the proofs. I’m really excited about this one as writing a second novel, for a deadline, has felt like a massive challenge over the last year, and this one has a complex plot and a cast of characters who both thrilled and unnerved me. ‘Butterfly in the Dark’ is set over a very short time frame, barely two days. There are several narrators and it’s extremely intense, and claustrophobic. Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

Several years ago, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time. And now she’s free. Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life. By midnight, her mother is dead. BUTTERFLY IN THE DARK is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance. It’s a story about the wrongs in our past not letting go and how hard we must fight for second chances.

Thanks SO much Gilly – and gosh can’t wait to read Butterfly in the Dark.

Burnt Paper Sky – Review.

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Available Now from Little Brown.

Source: Review Copy.

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.

But what really happened that fateful afternoon?

Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?

The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

An absolutely brilliant page turner this, focusing very much on character rather than mystery (although the mystery element is also superb) as we delve into the heads, hearts and minds of a group of people caught up in a child abduction case.

When Rachel lets Ben out of her sight for a few moments, he disappears apparently into thin air. Following the ensuing police investigation and how it affects not only the family but the officers involved, this is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that utterly grips you from the very first page.

Rachel is an elegantly drawn character who is both sympathetic yet often incomprehensible – it is easy to understand why the general public turn on her. Gilly Macmillan has taken a story that could be straight out of the news and given us a fictional insight behind the scenes of such a traumatic event. It brought to mind a very obvious real life case which caught the public imagination, lets face it we’ve all done it, that little voyeuristic leaning. Seeing someone being interviewed on the news and thinking “ooh they look suspicious”. In “Burnt Paper Sky” you see it from all sides, from many angles and most of all get a real feel for how that can make an already stressful time that much worse.

Then we have Jim Clemo, in charge of the investigation, a man who we see in the aftermath as haunted and broken – as we look back over the details the reasons for this become apparent. It is beautifully constructed and has huge psychological depth. Jim I did sympathise with throughout, genuinely determined to find Ben at all costs, still his own personality traits often interfere with what might be logical. Authentic and totally believable, it was heart wrenching stuff.

Looking at the mystery element (what DID happen to Ben) this is woven into the plot seemlessly – whilst the characters and what they are going through are key, each little insight into them (not only our two main protagonists but the wider family and the other officers involved) gives another clue to a possible outcome, another step on the ladder to discovering what happened on that afternoon. Again realistically drawn, there is nothing here that is thrown in for the sake of it or to create red herrings, it is simply a good story that could easily be completely true.

Mostly this novel will have you questioning – the next time you see a breaking news story a little like this one (sadly I feel that this is bound to happen) you may look at things differently. After all if YOUR life was thrown under such a spotlight, where every nuance and every action was dissected and taken apart, how would you look to the outside world? We all have our secrets, we all make errors in judgement. If that one error led to a tragedy, could anyone really blame you more than you would blame yourself?

Whose Side are you on? Well Ben’s of course. But that won’t stop you going back and forth on the other players in the drama – guilty or innocent they will all get into your head and stay there. Brilliantly done.

Highly Recommended

Find out more here: http://www.gillymacmillan.com/

Follow Gilly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/GillyMacmillan

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9780349406398&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21

Seek out the rest of the tour!

BURNT PAPER SKY BLOG TOUR

Happy Reading Folks!

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica – Blog Tour

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Publication Date: Available Now from Mira

Source: Review Copy

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

Mary Kubica is a great storyteller as proven by her first novel “The Good Girl” – with Pretty Baby she has taken a slightly different approach whilst still writing a dark, intriguing psychological drama with great depth of character and a strong emotive edge.

Heidi is heavily into charitable acts so when she constantly spots a young mother and her baby on the streets, she becomes slightly obsessed -to the point of eventually inviting Willow into her home much to the consternation of her husband and daughter.  There is more going on than meets the eye however and things soon start to spiral out of control…

Told from 3 points of view – Heidi, Willow and Heidi’s husband Chris the story unfolds slowly, Willow’s story is gradually revealed and Heidi must decide just how far she is willing to go to protect this stranger and her Pretty Baby…

It is cleverly constructed to allow the characters to develop and the story to unfold in a highly intriguing and often very emotional manner – the psychological depth to all of our three main protagonists is such that you really get a feel for them and as a reader will react accordingly.

For me, I found Heidi rather dislikeable – seemingly wearing her charitable personality as a badge of honour, doing things with no thought to those close to her – I had a huge sympathy for Chris and their 12 year old daughter who have pretty much spent their lives working around Heidi’s propensity to give most of herself away to other people. Willow is fascinating and her character voice is probably the one that resonated most for me – as she slowly reveals where she came from it is gripping and addictive.

Pretty Baby is a slow burner…no rush to judgement just an intense and well imagined cautionary tale with some engaging themes and thought provoking events. Overall a beautifully written story which, whilst I did not engage with it QUITE as much as I had done with The Good Girl, I would have no hesitation in recommending. The twists and turns are surprising and unpredictable and overall it was an excellent read. If you love family drama focused psychological thrillers you will adore this.

Find out more here: http://www.marykubica.com/

Follow Mary on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MaryKubica

Purchase Information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0778317706/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Girl-Mary-Kubica/dp/1848453116/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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