2016 Spotlight: Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent

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Publication Date: 14th July from Penguin Ireland.

Source: Review Copy

The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

Having been a huge fan of Unravelling Oliver I really wanted to see what Liz Nugent would come up with next and that would be this – Lying in Wait. If you thought Oliver was a nightmare wait until you meet Lydia…

What I loved about this, and indeed about Unravelling Oliver, is the very different way the author approaches crime. Here there is no “whodunnit” but more a psychological character study of a group of people involved whether intentionally or otherwise, in murder. With Unravelling Oliver Liz Nugent literally did just that, unravelled the personality of a killer – here with “Lying in Wait” she does that again in some ways but this time expands that experience, in a completely intensely addictive ripple effect kind of way. Erm not sure if that covers it well but its the best I can come up with.

“My Husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

Thats where we start, with a killer opening and an introduction to Lydia, who you really have to read to believe. And you will believe too, she is completely utterly authentic and fascinatingly complex in her determination to protect her status, her husband and her child no matter what the cost. At various times we also hear from her son Lawrence and also Karen – sister of Annie who is determined to find out her siblings fate. These three do a dance of fateful consequences which is brilliantly plotted and extraordinarily immersive. The ending is as killer as the opening and the whole thing is really very clever, very evocative and very very dark.

I loved it. There are layers of mystery here, not in the who but in the why. There are themes of obsession and love and a lot of things inbetween. But mostly its just about people. Human beings and human nature in all its sometimes horrific glory.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more HERE

Follow the author on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Lying in Wait clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

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Summertime Blue – Guest post from John Campbell Rees

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To celebrate the release of Summertime Blue I’m happy to welcome John Campbell Rees to the blog talking about inspiration.

Inspiration for Summertime Blue by John Campbell Rees.

Inspiration was not a problem when I was writing Summertime Blue. I had always wanted to be an author and in 2013, I published my first novel, Winter Squad. I knew the end of that novel was not the end of the story. I had cut the last three chapters from the final draft of Winter Squad because I realised I had written beyond the end of that novel and started writing the sequel. However in the final version, these three chapters ended up in a different order in different parts of the book. The only one to survive virtually unscathed was the description of Nevamarsya, the novel’s main character wandering around the Central Atrium park down in the Roots.

Both books share a common background based on two facts. First was the old Wakes Week in the North of England and the Miners’ Fortnight in South Wales, when the main source of employment was closed for essential maintenance so the population of the entire town would go away to the local holiday resort. Second was a trip to Porthcawl in South Wales, when I saw all the amusements closed and boarded up, I started wondering what it would be like to be amongst the people who stayed in town to do the maintenance during Wakes Week or lived in the seaside town during the off-season. I then linked that to the way deciduous trees shut down for half the year, which combined with the Science Fiction meme of multiple universes.

Motivation was also not a problem because I have always wanted to be an author and having finally found my voice I wanted to continue. The first draft was a whopping 50,000 words and contained most of the key events but lacked a linking narrative, I only had a vague idea about political conspiracies. Try as I might, I could not think of a good reason for the characters behaving as they do.

So, I moved the novel, then entitled Summer Homes onto the back ring of the ideas cooker and did some sketching, trying to draw a group photograph of the Winter Squad taken on the first day of their Tour of Duty. As well as the main named characters all the minor named and unnamed characters. All this time stories ideas were bubbling away in my subconscious until they reached a critical mass.

Surprisingly, the first thing I did was cut a whole sub-plot and simplify another. Then I started writing the Court Martial. Poor old Serynazsya, Nevamarsya’s older sister and calamity magnet from Winter Squad drew the short straw again, as what happened to her at the start of Winter Squad would have to have consequences in Summertime Blue. The structure of the Court Martial was inspired by Rugby League, where the team that has the ball has to hand it over to the opposition after the ball carrier has been tackled five times without losing the ball. This beca,e the four questions in a row that one of the lawyers can ask. In Rugby League, the opposition then has the ball until they have been tackled five times, which translates into the other lawyers four questions. Of course, in the game team with the ball could lose it in a pass before the five tackles, and the opposition then has control of the game. This translated into the trial being carried out at breakneck speed, with both lawyers having to be in full control of the facts. Either lawyer pausing to refer to their notes is like dropping the ball.

Finally, I added the search for Gaemlovant, which meant putting old Tabbernant in the Brig and explaining why he needed the recluse to help get him out.

So, everything tied into one of the sub-arcs and they then connected into the main conspiracy arc. Except the ending was a bit flat. Having mentioned a wedding earlier, and knowing that a fashion show always ends with a wedding dress, I decided to write Kanonypsya and Keltonant’s marriage ceremony as as comic relief, I found it quite amusing.

 

Thanks so much!

You can purchase Summertime Blue HERE

 

 

Don’t you Cry Mary Kubica – Blog Tour review.

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Publication Date: 19th May from Mira UK

Source: Netgalley

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.  

I was a HUGE fan of Mary Kubica’s “The Good Girl” one of my favourite books of its year, not QUITE so fond of “Pretty Baby” even though it was still heads and shoulders above a lot of psychological thrillers, so Don’t You Cry was much anticipated. The fact that I banged through it like a grasshopper on acid probably tells you that I’m a big fan of this one too…

The two points of view work very well in tandem and Mary Kubica has such a gorgeous turn of phrase and ability to suck you in.  It really didn’t take long for me to be totally immersed in the problem of the missing Esther, the roommate she left behind and the mysterious girl wandering the streets of a small community inspiring a keen obsession in one of the residents.

The plot weaves a spell and twists and turns towards the ultimate resolution, which I won’t say anything about because obviously that would spoil things – but once again the author spins you around and uses pretty classic (and cool) misdirection to keep you on your toes. Meanwhile there are some great engaging characters and fascinating family dynamics that give a realistic edge to things and will keep you turning those pages.

The psychological thriller is definitely not dead. Not when authors like Mary Kubica can give such good book – whilst a lot of the standard tropes are in here they are often not recognisable as such, plus the prose is authentically atmospheric and intensely absorbing.

Highly Recommended.

You can purchase “Dont You Cry” HERE

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Talking The Shadow Hour – with Kate Riordan. New Release Spotlight.

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Having loved Kate Riordan’s last novel, The Girl in the Photograph, I was VERY excited to read The Shadow Hour (review to follow) and I’m delighted to welcome Kate back to the blog to tell me a little about it.

I loved hearing all about how Owlpen Manor featured in “The Girl in the Photograph” – tell us a little about the inspiration behind “The Shadow Hour”?

In terms of setting, I’ve been inspired by my home county of Gloucestershire all over again. This time, the book is set atop a hill on the outskirts of Cheltenham, where I lived for seven years before moving to the countryside last year. Fenix House is based loosely on a private house I caught a glimpse of when I was walking one day. Now, if I ever pass it in the car, it’s odd to remember that my characters aren’t actually inside.

Aside from setting, I was also inspired by books like Jane Eyre to write about governesses – and that was my starting point for this book, well before I had found the house above, or had any notion of the plot. I’ve always been fascinated by governesses in literature, and they make the perfect heroine for a novel with the sort of gothic touches I like because they were so isolated in Victorian society. As young women from respectable families without much money (generally), they occupied a peculiar sort of limbo, neither above nor below stairs. That made them very lonely, vulnerable and strangely invisible. Of course, all that makes them very interesting to write about!

One thing that struck me about The Shadow Hour was the total atmospheric sense you captured of the times once more – Is that quite difficult to achieve or does it come easy? You must have a love of history somewhere inside…

Thank you. And yes, I do so love all things old! The past is endlessly exotic and alluring to me and I love imagining myself into it. I actually found Harriet’s strand of the story, set in the 1870s, easier to write than her granddaughter Grace’s in the 1920s. I think that’s because I’ve read so many nineteenth century novels over the years and so I can just sort of switch into that more formal style without really thinking about it. The 1920s was trickier because it’s still almost a century ago, and yet I wanted it to feel different. Things were never the same after the First World War and the early twenties were a curious blend of despondency and optimism. I think conveying those general moods is just as important as getting the type of gas lamp right. More, actually.

Talk about the characters – before it started coming together who was foremost in the mind. Grace or Harriet? Or were they both hovering there…

Well, at first it was just a nameless governess who was hovering. The classic governess is Victorian to me, though, so Harriet was the first to reveal herself to me. She’s in a horrible position when we meet her as a young woman. Her father has died and there is no money and virtually no other family. She has little choice but to earn her living and, as a respectable woman, becoming a governess is one of very few options open to her. I liked her and admired her bravery immediately so she was a pleasure to write. After her, came the three children who live at Fenix House when she’s governess there. I knew I wanted to take at least a couple of them through to the 1920s, when they would be in their fifties, so I enjoyed developing them into adults who had been shaped by what happened to them. Real people evolve and change over the years according to what happens to them and so I knew I didn’t want them to simply turn into older versions of their childhood selves.

Both novels have a time shift element – do you enjoy novels with this aspect yourself?

I do, although that’s got less to do with a particular liking for time shift per se, and more to do with liking stories that stretch over several generations. Perhaps I’ll write a proper, full-on family saga one day! This is partly why both of my novels (and the one I’m currently writing) are set fully in the past. In dual narrative stories with one strand in the present, I find I’m more likely rush through that bit to get back to the past. As a result, I decided I wanted both halves of my stories to have that historical escapism. It also frees you up to go further back in time and still have characters who can realistically appear in both times. It’s those unifying characters who knit the strands together and make it one story.

Having said all that, I would like to write a contemporary novel one day – or one set in the near-past anyway. It seems very appealing on those days when you’ve got to try and look up what kind of Victorian carriage someone might have used!

Finally tell us a little more about you – when not writing or researching what do you enjoy doing? And more importantly are you a tea or coffee person?

Definitely coffee. I have one espresso in the morning and that lasts me all day. Sometimes even that stops me sleeping so I have to go easy on the caffeine. I don’t really get the tea thing, I’m afraid. I’ve probably had twenty cups in my whole life.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I always have a book on the go and feel like I’m missing something if I haven’t. A huge pleasure for me is deciding which five or six books to take on holiday to read by the pool and then just working through them in between swims. I’m a rubbish tourist in terms of museums and general sightseeing – I like to just ‘be’ when I’m away, sitting in a café with a cold glass of wine, people-watching and making up stories about them.

At home, my days are pretty low-key. I write, feel guilty for not writing, and walk the dogs. They’re both rescues – a Staffie who was abandoned and a Westie from a puppy farm who was so tiny no one bought her. They’re both really eccentric with their own funny habits and I love that. I always desperately wanted a dog as a child but my parents worked full-time. Being able to have them now is surely one of the top perks of being a writer! On summer evenings, my husband and I often take them along the river to the pub and for a drink or dinner. We’re lucky in the Cotswolds – there are so many good foodie pubs.

And what does the future hold?

I’m currently writing my next book for Penguin. Set in the summer of 1940, it’s my most modern yet – as well as having the narrowest time frame. It’s not dual narrative either, though it hasn’t felt like that much of a departure because it’s still written from various different characters’ perspectives and occasionally goes back into their pasts.

Thanks Kate!

About the book.

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Available Now from Penguin.

Source: Review copy

Nineteen twenty-two. Grace has been sent to the stately and crumbling Fenix House to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps as a governess. But when she meets the house’s inhabitants, people who she had only previously heard of in stories, the cracks in her grandmother’s tale begin to show. Secrets appear to live in the house’s very walls and everybody is resolutely protecting their own.

Why has she been sent here? Why did her grandmother leave after just one summer? And as the past collides with the present, can Grace unravel these secrets and discover who her grandmother, and who she, really is?

The Shadow Hour is really quite wonderful, atmospheric, beautifully written and with some gorgeously drawn characters that will stay with you long after reading.

I do love a past/present vibe in a novel especially when done really well as it is here – the yin and the yang of Grace and Harriet as they face their particular issues, I was particularly drawn to Grace as she went on a journey of discovery, finding out the truth in her family history.

Descriptively speaking this is lovely, Kate Riordan manages to once again capture a sense of the time and place about which she is writing and give a real feel for the places where her characters live and breathe. You are drawn in and held there, as the story unfolds, a beautiful literary touch within a novel that is quite the page turner.

I loved it again. I think I’m a Kate Riordan superfan. Really looking forward to what she gives us next.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:

Follow Kate on Twitter here:

To Purchase The Shadow Hour clickety click here:

Happy Reading Folks!

Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner. Blog tour/Review

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Publication Date: Available Now from The Borough Press

Source: Netgalley

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

Missing, Presumed was a really excellent read – probably one of the most authentic feeling crime novels I have read recently, in that it was less mystery and more character study – of the various people caught up in the investigation of a missing woman. Police, parents, friends, boyfriends, all caught up in the vortex of not knowing, each one carefully drawn and intuitively emotional on completely different levels.

Possible signs of a struggle, an open front door and Edith is gone – vanished into seemingly thin air, her parents and lover frantic, a police investigation team who immediately realise this is going to be huge due to the important nature of the people involved. Taking that as a starting point, Susie Steiner then weaves a narrative web around all the individuals concerned, showing us who they are, hinting at possible outcomes and giving us a tightly plotted and intensely addictive slow burner of a story which is very realistic and highly engaging.

I liked this one for its realism – the police investigation starts with a bang then loses cohesion as leads are investigated and the trail turns cold. The author does an excellent job of showing the very real issues faced both in public expectation and budgetary issues, in how difficult it is to allocate resources correctly. Because of the nature of the plot building, focusing very much on the various personalities and how they change the dynamic, how outside influence and external pressures can change things significantly, there are a lot of thought provoking moments throughout the reading.

On a personal note – all the characters here are excellent, but I was particularly drawn to Manon and very amused by her forays into internet dating – lightening the mood but also showing her fault lines she is a very good example of why this is so good. Because the people in it are all utterly believable, shown both at their very best and their very worst.

The ultimate resolution may or may not surprise you but with “Missing Presumed” the journey is the thing not the arrival. Tense, fascinating and with true page turning appeal, this would come highly recommended from me.

Find out more HERE

Follow Susie on Twitter HERE

To Purchase Missing Presumed Clickety click HERE

Read more – follow the tour.

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Happy Reading Folks!

Holiday Time!

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I am taking a couple of weeks off – so while a post or two may appear if I’m so inclined for the most part Liz Loves Books is having a little holiday until the 1st January – upon which date I will be on the Nightblind Blog Tour and things from there will return to normal.

Look out after that as well for a whole lot more Indie Author spotlights and also a heads up for some great books coming in 2016  which is going to be a corker of a year for us readers. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman – watch for that one it deserves to be huge, plus at least two addictively brilliant trilogies due to come to an end (The Passage and Red Rising) and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have a GREAT Christmas everyone. May Santa bring you lots of books…

 

 

Meet Oliver….Extract: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent.

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Unravelling Oliver is a terrific psychological thriller. I am pleased to show you an extract today – follow along the rest of the week and find out more.

 

Tomorrow: http://www.keithbwalters.com

 

Extract No. 1

 

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her. She just lay on the floor holding her jaw. Staring at me. Silent. She didn’t even seem to be surprised.

I was surprised. I hadn’t planned to do it. Usually when you hear about this kind of thing, it is the 1950s, and the husband comes home drunk to his slovenly wife from the pub and finds that his dinner is cold. On the contrary, it was 12 November 2011, a wintry Saturday evening on a south Dublin avenue, and Alice had prepared a delicious meal: lamb tagine, served on a bed of couscous, with pitta bread and a side dish of mint yoghurt. Though the lamb was a tad lukewarm by the time she presented it, I really couldn’t fault it. I had washed the meal down with two glasses of Sancerre, while Alice prepared the raspberry roulade for serving. I certainly wasn’t drunk.

But now, here she lay; the lower half of her body nearly hidden behind the legs of our mahogany dining table, her arms, head and torso curled inwards like a question mark. How had she fallen into that shape? There must have been

considerable force behind my closed fist. If the glass had been in my hand, would I have stopped and put it down before I hit her? Or would I have smashed it into her face? Would it have shattered on contact and torn her pale skin? Could I have scarred her for life? It’s very hard to know. The words that come to mind are ‘circumstances beyond our control’. I emphasize the word ‘our’, because, although I should not have done it, she really should not have provoked me.

The phone rang. Maybe I should have ignored it, but it might have been important.

‘Hello?’

‘Oliver. It’s Moya. How are things?’

These rhetorical questions irritate me. ‘How are things?’, indeed.

Sorry, Moya, I’ve just punched Alice in the face and she’s lying on

the floor. And we’ve had a marvellous dinner.

Of course, I didn’t say that. I made some ham- fisted attempt at an excuse and bade her farewell. I waited for the reciprocal adieu.There was a moment’s silence and then:

‘Don’t you want to know how I am? Where I am?’

I was short and to the point. ‘No.’

Another silence. And then, whispered, ‘Oh right, OK, is Alice there?’

Go away, you stupid irritating woman.

I didn’t say that either. I told her that now was not a good time. She tried to inveigle me into a conversation, prattling about her new life in France. Even amid the turmoil, I could tell that she wanted me to be jealous. Bloody Moya. I ended the conversation politely but firmly.

 

I thought that the decent thing to do was for me to leave the house immediately. Not permanently, you understand. I thought there was more chance of Alice getting up off the floor if I wasn’t looming over her. I went to get my coat from its peg in the hall. It was a little difficult to do up the buttons. My hands suddenly seemed to be too large

for my gloves.”

Unravelling Oliver is available Now from Penguin

https://www.waterstones.com/author/liz-nugent/1062038

 

Prey by James Carol – Blog Tour

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Publication Date: Available Now from Faber

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Six years ago a young married couple were found brutally stabbed to death in their home in Upstate New York. Local police arrested a suspect who later committed suicide. But what if the police got it wrong?
Ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter is drawn into a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious female psychopath as she sets him a challenge: find out what really happened six years ago.
The clock is ticking, and as Winter is about to find out, the endgame is everything…

So the third in the Jefferson Winter series then, I’ve really enjoyed these and I have to say that from a personal point of view I think that Prey is my favourite so far.

In this instalment a mysterious woman accosts Jefferson in a cafe – challenging him in a way that he cannot ignore, he begins a journey into a past case that may have far reaching consequences.

A real page turner this one – I read it in two gulping sittings, in this case it was not Jefferson I was interested in so much as it was our enigmatic female “bad guy”  I LOVED her, so much so that often I wanted her to win. Well occasionally anyway. Even Jefferson is having trouble getting a handle on things and this makes for some great moments as he attempts to make sense of the unimaginable.

I love a good “profiler” story and James Carol’s series is a cut above when it comes to pure readability and for characters that always leave you desperate for more. Jefferson is a marvellously drawn character, usually he’s right on the ball so it was actually fascinating to see him having issues. As for our appearing/disappearing lady, never knowing when she was going to suddenly appear made for some edge of the seat moments, with a very real possibility that Jefferson had met his match.

The mystery element is, as always, intelligent and compelling, lovely twisty turny goodness as things progress and more information comes to light. Keeping you off kilter as far as what may happen next is one of the strengths of this particular author and with “Prey” it is beautifully done.

Overall then a most terrific read. I simply cannot WAIT for the next one.

Find out more here: http://www.james-carol.com/

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

Purchase Information: https://www.waterstones.com/book/prey-jefferson-winter-book-3/james-carol/9780571322312

 

Also Available:

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Tomorrow at: http://upcoming4.me/

Happy Reading Folks!

Competition Time – Jo Fletcher books and The City of Stairs…

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City of Stairs launches from Robert Jackson Bennett this week. I am currently reading it and let me tell you, its a corker! A review will follow at some point but the lovely lot at Jo Fletcher are running a competition. They have five books to give away and ONE lucky winner will receive a £100 Red Letter Day experience.

Book Blurb:

You’ve got to be careful when you’re chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all worship of them banned by the Polis, reality folded; now stairs lead to nowhere, alleyways have become portals to the past, and criminals disappear into thin air.

The murder of Dr Efrem Pangyui, the Polis diplomat researching the Continent’s past, has begun something and now whispers of an uprising flutter out from invisible corners. Only one woman may be willing to pursue the truth – but it is likely to cost her everything

 

Here is what you need to do:

 

Let Jo Fletcher know on their blog, Facebook page or Twitter – with #CityOfStairswhat tangible miraculous object you would create if you were a god of Bulikov.  A door which takes you to the past and a knotted cord that brings rain when untied are just some of the miracles the gods brought to Bulikov, but we want to know what other people would add to them. The competition is open until October 30th for your chance to win.

So get thinking people – below are all the links you need to enter.

Jo Fletcher Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoFletcherBooks

Jo Fletcher Blog: http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/blog/

Jo Fletcher on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jofletcherbooks?fref=ts

Good luck everybody and Happy Reading!