Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries
By Elly Griffiths
Published by Quercus (1 November 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?
Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare's life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer's works somehow hold the key to the case.
Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn't hers...

My verdict
Elly Griffiths has written a compelling and entertaining modern-day gothic mystery.

The Stranger Diaries is a spooky mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, linking murders in a secondary school to a creepy Victorian story (which is revealed in snippets throughout the book and then in full at the end). The plot moves at a fast pace, building up the suspense, with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter leading to 'just one more'. The author's lyrical writing flows beautifully, with plenty of rhythm within her prose, leading me to read much of the book out loud.

All three narrators - teacher Clare Cassidy, her teenage daughter Georgie and police officer DS Harbinger Kaur - seemed authentic and believable. I particularly loved DS Kaur, with her wit, bluntness and warmth, and hope she will appear in another Elly Griffiths book in the future. Using different narrators means that although we get inside their heads, we also see each character from someone else's point of view (often in a different light so maybe trust them a little bit less). We also experience events and conversations from multiple sides, which can be unnerving and slightly disorientating, adding to the supernatural feel of the book.

The Stranger Diaries is cleverly plotted, mixing past and present and dropping in red herrings and false leads, playing games with the reader's mind. It certainly kept me on my toes. I tried very hard to guess the whodunnit but failed!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

My Jewish-themed Reads Part 1 - #JBW2019

This year, I'm an official book blog partner of Jewish Book Week in London (2 to 10 March 2019), so I've made it my mission to read more Jewish-themed books throughout 2019.

Booking for the 85+ events during Jewish Book Week opened on Wednesday 9th January. Visit the website - http://jewishbookweek.com - for more details. I'll be coming along to three events taking place on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th March. Hopefully I'll do some live tweeting while I'm there and also write a summary post on Off-the-Shelf Books afterwards.

So which Jewish-themed books have I read so far?

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi
Published by W&N in October 2018


Bitter by Francesca Jakobi was the first Jewish-themed book I read with Jewish Book Week in mind. At 12 pm on Sunday 3rd March 2019, at Kings Place, London, Francesca will be talking about the perils and pitfalls of fictionalising a family story. Bitter was inspired by her grandmother, who was sued for divorce in the 1940s.

Publisher's description
It's 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he will never forgive her. When Reuben marries Alice, he seems transformed by love - a love Gilda has craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn't? And how far will she go to find out? It's an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

My verdict
This is a bittersweet character-led tale of a mother's obsessive love for her son and her resulting jealousy for her new daughter-in-law. It's beautifully written and emotionally tense, with poignant insights into Jewish family life and the period between the Second World War and the late 1960s. Filled with secrets from the past, the story manages to be both sinister and moving at the same time. Gilda's acerbic voice got right under my skin, eventually worming its way into my heart, as understanding her past helped me to understand her present. The book chilled me, gripped me and entertained me - an unforgettable character and story.

To book a ticket for Francesca's Jewish Book Week event, click here.

The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise 
Published in hardback by No Exit Press in July 2018 - paperback being published in April 2019


Publisher's description
Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant's vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realisation: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex's own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organiser of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow labourers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

My verdict
The Emperor of Shoes is a fascinating blend of Jewish and Chinese cultures, with a focus on contemporary social and political themes at a time of vast change and revolution. It's also a love story and an exploration of difficult father-son relationships, portrayed through emotional scenes and Yiddish humour. Vivid descriptions transported me to contemporary Southern China. I felt as though I was there alongside the characters, seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling the contrast between the hustle and bustle of city life and the tranquility of the rural areas. This book is a thought-provoking exploration of the working conditions in Chinese factories, communism versus capitalism and Jewish identity.


Invisible City & Run You Down by Julia Dahl
Invisible City was published by Faber on 31 July 2018.
Run You Down was published by Faber on 1 January 2019.




Publisher's description: Invisible City
Fresh out of journalism school, Rebekah Roberts is working for the New York Tribune, trying to make a name for herself. Assigned a story about the murder of a woman in Brooklyn, Rebekah finds a case from inside a closed, secretive Hasidic Jewish community - the same Brooklyn neighbourhood her estranged mother was brought up in.
Shocked to discover that the victim is set to be buried without an autopsy, Rebekah knows there is a story to uncover, but getting to the truth won't be easy - in the cloistered world her mother rebelled against, it's clear she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep, most of all from an outsider.

Publisher's description: Run You Down
Aviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hasidic Jewish life in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida. A few months later she was pregnant, engaged to be married and trapped in a life she never imagined. So, shortly after the birth of her daughter she disappeared.
Twenty-three years later, the child she walked away from, NYC tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts, wants nothing to do with her. But when a man from the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, NY contacts Rebekah about his young wife's mysterious death, she is drawn into Aviva's old world, and a hidden culture full of dangerous secrets and frustrations.

My verdict
Invisible City and Run You Down are the first two books in a crime fiction series featuring reporter Rebekah Roberts. I read Invisible City in the summer and Run You Down in the last few weeks. Both books are set within the Ultra-Orthodox Hassidic Jewish communities in Brooklyn, where Rebekah freelances for the local tabloid newspaper. Rebekah's mother Aviva was brought up within this community, rebelled, became pregnant and then returned to them (leaving Rebekah with her father). This helps to introduce religious Jewish culture, as Rebekah learns more about the traditions and her own heritage during her investigations. Both books are thought provoking, covering social issues and contemporary themes, including diversity, race and religion, gun control, white supremacy, acceptance, racism and anti-semitism. They are also bittersweet stories of family relationships and self-discovery. 

So that's it for now! But I have many more Jewish-themed books on my list and will reading (and reviewing) them over the coming year. So do pop back to Off-the-Shelf Books for more updates!

Monday, 14 January 2019

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb

I am delighted to be today's stop on the Blog Tour for Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb. Deep Dirty Truth is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 24th January 2019. It's the third book in the Lori Anderson action thriller series.

Deep Dirty Truth
By Steph Broadribb
Published by Orenda Books (ebook - out now; paperback - 24 January 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.


My verdict
I'm more than a little in love with Deep Dirty Truth. In fact, I raced through the first two books in this series - Deep Down Dead and Deep Blue Trouble - but THIS book has now stolen my heart even more than they did.

There's not really much more for me to say, other than READ IT or, rather, READ THEM ALL! But I do usually write slightly longer reviews. So what can I say about this book, other than 'it is brilliant'?

Deep Dirty Truth is an action-packed, adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster read - a race against the clock. It's so fast-paced that I barely drew a breath and didn't have time to make notes, which isn't ideal when you need to write a review (and why I may be waffling here - sorry, as it's not something I usually do).

The Lori Anderson series reminds me a lot of the Stephanie Plum series (by Janet Evanovich), which I used to read voraciously but haven't read for years. But, to me, the Lori Anderson series is even better - it's full of emotion and the writing is fantastic. Lori is more than just a bounty hunter - she puts her role as a mother first, every time. Everything she does is for the sake of her young daughter, Dakota, even if it means putting her own life in danger to keep Dakota safe.

Deep Dirty Truth and the previous two books feel very real, which isn't surprising as the author has spent a lot of time in the USA and even trained as a bounty hunter herself. Steph Broadribb writes vivid descriptions of characters, action and setting - I felt like I was there too. She's created a great family dynamic between Lori and JT and Dakota, and I even love some of the more-minor characters I'm not supposed to even like.

Everything in the book is tied up neatly by the end (well, almost everything - at least, everything that needs to be - you'll just have to read it to find out more). The scene is now set perfectly for the next instalment and I can't wait to see both Lori and JT in action.

Bring it on!!! Go #TeamLori

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Friday, 11 January 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Julia Dahl

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 




Today I'm delighted to welcome 

JULIA DAHL


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
It feels impossible to pick a favorite among so many, but I suppose if I had to take the books of just one crime author to a deserted island it would probably be Patricia Highsmith. She is an absolute master of menace. The sun is shining in paradise, everyone dresses for dinner, but the ugliness beneath the surface casts a pall over everything.


... FILMS/MOVIES
My lifelong love affair with the Coen Brothers began in 1996 with Fargo. It’s a wickedly funny, twisted drama about a kidnapping gone wrong in the frozen tundra of America’s upper Midwest. Joel and Ethan Coen have an uncanny ability to inhabit and illuminate subcultures that has you rooting for everyone, even the most depraved career criminal.


... TV DRAMAS
Soon after I moved to New York the HBO series Six Feet Under premiered. It’s the story of a family in Los Angeles that runs a funeral home and at the beginning of each episode, we watch someone (whom the family will later bury) die. It wasn’t a crime show, per se, but death was an integral part of the fabric of the character’s lives. That darkness permeated their psyches and affected them in endlessly fascinating ways.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES
Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote. I started watching this television show as a pre-teen and decided my life goal was to be Jessica: a crime novelist/amateur sleuth. I haven’t solved any murders yet, but maybe it’s just a matter of time. Jessica (otherwise known by her nom de plume, J.B. Fletcher) was a feminist hero. She was a widow with a booming career (an apartment in Manhattan and a house in Maine? Unheard of!), a generous heart, and a spot-on bullshit detector. The first gift my husband gave me when we started dating was a book in the Murder, She Wrote series – I knew I’d found “the one.”


... DEATH SCENE 
I have to go back to Fargo for this, too. At the end of the film, the character played by Steve Buscemi meets his end…inside a wood chipper.


... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Local newspapers are where I go to learn about contemporary crime. These days, there are around 17,000 homicides in the U.S. each year, and much as I love the New York Times, the paper of record doesn’t cover more than a handful. If you want to know who is killing who and how justice is – or isn’t – meted out, you need to read the Fresno Bee, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Arizona Sun. 


... WRITING TIPS
I’ve read that there are two kinds of writers: those who plan, and those who run to the end. I am the latter. I want to get the skeleton of the book as fast as I can so that I have a solid structure to work with. If I’m writing a scene that I know needs details I don’t have at the moment, I use the journalistic notation “TK” (meaning, to come) and skip ahead. Getting caught up on small things can slow your progress.


About JULIA DAHL
Julia Dahl is the author of three novels about a New York City crime reporter: INVISIBLE CITY, RUN YOU DOWN, and CONVICTION. After 20 years as a reporter and editor, she now teaches journalism at NYU.

Find Julia Dahl on Twitter - @juliadahl


About RUN YOU DOWN



Publisher's description
Aviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hasidic Jewish life in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida. A few months later she was pregnant, engaged to be married and trapped in a life she never imagined. So, shortly after the birth of her daughter she disappeared.
Twenty-three years later, the child she walked away from, NYC tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts, wants nothing to do with her. But when a man from the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, NY contacts Rebekah about his young wife’s mysterious death, she is drawn into Aviva’s old world, and a hidden culture full of dangerous secrets and frustrations.

Run You Down was published in paperback by Faber & Faber on 1 January 2019


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Did you follow the Blog Tour?


Author catch up: Julia Dahl

I was excited and intrigued when I first discovered the existence of Julia Dahl's US-based Jewish-themed crime fiction (particularly as my own Work In Progress (WIP) is UK-based Jewish-themed crime fiction). I bought and read Invisible City in the summer and was then delighted to receive Run You Down from Faber. Here's my Author Catch up with a double review, for the Run You Down Blog Tour.

Invisible City and Run You Down are the first two books in a crime fiction series featuring reporter Rebekah Roberts. Both books are set within the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, where Rebekah freelances for the local tabloid newspaper. The third book, which I haven't yet read, is called Conviction.



Invisible City: Publisher's description
Fresh out of journalism school, Rebekah Roberts is working for the New York Tribune, trying to make a name for herself. Assigned a story about the murder of a woman in Brooklyn, Rebekah finds a case from inside a closed, secretive Hasidic Jewish community - the same Brooklyn neighbourhood her estranged mother was brought up in.
Shocked to discover that the victim is set to be buried without an autopsy, Rebekah knows there is a story to uncover, but getting to the truth won't be easy - in the cloistered world her mother rebelled against, it's clear she's not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep, most of all from an outsider.



Run You Down: Publisher's description
Aviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hasidic Jewish life in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida. A few months later she was pregnant, engaged to be married and trapped in a life she never imagined. So, shortly after the birth of her daughter she disappeared.
Twenty-three years later, the child she walked away from, NYC tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts, wants nothing to do with her. But when a man from the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, NY contacts Rebekah about his young wife's mysterious death, she is drawn into Aviva's old world, and a hidden culture full of dangerous secrets and frustrations.

My verdict of both books
Both books provide a fascinating insight into the Ultra-Orthodox Hassidic (Chasidic - if you are in the UK) Jewish communities, which often remain an enigma to outsiders. Julia Dahl gets right into the heart of the problems that Jewish families (and individuals) face from within their own community as well as the outside world. In particular, she focuses on the darker side - what happens when some people choose to escape what they feel is a restrictive religious lifestyle and how the community closes ranks when necessary (for example, in cases of murder or abuse). Her books prove that there is just as much diversity within these communities as there is within the rest of the world (Jewish or otherwise) - helping to break down religious stereotyping.

In Invisible City, Rebekah Roberts is dragged into an investigation within the local Hassidic community when a young mother is murdered. At the same time, she's wondering what happened to her own mother Aviva, who was brought up within this community, rebelled, became pregnant and then returned to them (leaving Rebekah with her father). The book is an interesting whodunnit, with a twisty, multi-layered plot. It provides an introduction to the secret world of the Hassidic community, as Rebekah learns more about Jewish traditions and her own heritage during her investigations.

Run You Down follows almost straight on from Invisible City. Rebekah is investigating the supposed suicide of a young woman. The husband believes instead that it was murder. But due to the Jewish tradition of burying bodies within 24 hours of a death and the Hassidic community not wanting to seek attention, the family refuses an autopsy and investigation. The narrative switches between Rebekah and Aviva, providing an insight into why Rebekah's mother left the religious community - and then returned to it. At first, Aviva's story of the past seems to break up Rebekah's investigation in the present, but it gradually becomes clear that there is a link between the two. The pace ramps up in the second half in particular, culminating in a dramatic conclusion.

Invisible City and Run You Down are both thought-provoking crime novels that cover social issues and contemporary themes, including diversity, race and religion, gun control, white supremacy, acceptance, racism and anti-semitism. They are also bittersweet stories of family relationships and self-discovery. Protagonist Rebekah is a well-rounded, likeable character. As a journalist, she's determined to find a publishable story, whatever it takes. But with personal connections to the Jewish community, she also has to maintain empathy and sensitivity towards the people she's investigating - just as Julia Dahl has done in writing these multi-layered books. The stories feel believable and very real, emotional and poignant as well as gripping and compelling.

I look forward to reading Conviction to see how the series moves forward, develops and grows along with its main characters.

Invisible City was published by Faber on 31 July 2018.
Run You Down was published by Faber on 1 January 2019.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski - Six Stories Series Spotlight

I am delighted to be today's slot on the Blog Tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski. I've read all three books in his Six Stories series so far (published by Orenda Books) and urge you to read them if you haven't already done so. 

Here's a brief recap to help you catch up.

About the series
The three books in the series so far are Six StoriesHydra and Changeling. These classic murder mysteries are given a modern twist with their hint of horror and supernatural. Each book is skilfully executed through a series of six podcasts. They all feature the reclusive journalist Scott King, who is investigating cold cases by interviewing leading witnesses to see if they reveal further snippets of information.
The books feel so real that part of me is convinced that these are genuine cases and genuine podcasts and that Matt Wesolowski has a secret life as a crime podcaster. This would mean he IS his character, but he hasn't revealed that yet! 😜😂😱


Six Stories (published in paperback on 15 March 2017)



1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

My verdict
Six Stories is an eerie spine-tingling read. It's unpredictable and chilling and kept me guessing all the way through. I don't scare easily, but certainly found this book unsettling. Matt Wesolowski has built up a dark, atmospheric setting with his vivid descriptive prose. The voices were so distinctive that I felt like I was listening to a podcast rather than simply reading the transcript. I built up a picture of the people, relationships between characters and an amazing sense of place. It felt more like fact than fiction - and I had to keep reminding myself that Scarclaw Fell isn't real!

To read my full review, click here.

Hydra (published in paperback on 15 January 2018)




Before Scarfell Claw, there was Hydra… One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the 'Macleod Massacre'. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…  

My verdict
Hydra is just as creepy and chilling - a perfect mix of crime, horror and supernatural - and just as unsettling. It follows the same brilliant format as Six Stories - six linked podcasts investigating a cold case (the Macleod Massacre). Investigative journalist Scott King interviews six different witnesses, including Arla Macleod herself - now held in a medium-security mental health institution. This book reveals the dark side of teenage obsessive behaviour - do you really know what your teenagers are up to behind their locked doors?

To read my full review, click here.

Changeling (published in paperback on 24 January 2019)




On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…

My verdict
A missing child, a grieving father, a neglectful alcoholic mother, things that go tap tap tap in the night, local folklore, creepy forests... Plus gripping writing, authentic dialogue, heart-pounding tension and a final twist that I seriously didn’t see coming! Yes, as you may have guessed, I loved Changeling.

To read my full review, click here.

Message to Matt Wesolowski and Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books): Bring on the next one! I'm assuming that there is a next one ... and hoping that we don't have to wait TOO long! No pressure. None at all. 😂

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Friday, 4 January 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Alex Reeve

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 




Today I'm delighted to welcome 

ALEX REEVE


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
Gosh, it’s so hard to pick just one! If you asked me tomorrow, I might have a different answer, but today I’ll say Sarah Waters for Fingersmith. She writes with huge compassion and authenticity, and was an inspiration for The House on Half Moon Street. She also shows why crime writers shouldn’t set out to write formulaic crime novels; we should create engaging characters, settings and plots that happen to involve a crime.


... FILMS/MOVIES
Fargo, directed by the Coen brothers, is a movie I can watch again and again. Marge Gunderson (Francis McDormand) is a heavily pregnant police officer in frozen Minnesota investigating a bungled homicide. The story works like clockwork and everything that happens, however awful and horrifying, is driven by the fears, desires and flaws of the characters.


... TV DRAMAS
I’m a massive fan of police procedurals, but I’m still going to pick Breaking Bad. I love the relentless descent of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from mild and desperate to utterly ruthless. I believe that a propensity for violence was always within him, but it needed the right trigger, making him a great example of why ‘because he’s evil’ never works as character motivation. We all have the capability to do good and bad things. 


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy is charming, manipulative and callous. The world in which he lives is rigidly hierarchical, and no-one understands its intricacies better than Steerpike.  He is its natural product, and so feels entirely organic within the fantastical setting. He shows how crime stories can stretch into any genre or style.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Easy Rawlins from Walter Mosley’s novels is one of the all-time greats. He shares features of other hard-boiled detectives such as Philp Marlowe and Sam Spade, but his combination of weary humour and duty to his neighbours is unique. The Los Angeles setting, social complexity and sense of time passing make the characters feel like real people. And, of course, Easy has one of literature’s most appealing (and terrifying) sidekicks in Mouse, who can insert random violence into any situation.


... MURDER WEAPONS
Spoiler alert! In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the murder weapon is the ink in a book of Aristotle’s Poetics. Victims are killed when they lick their fingers to turn the pages – punished for their philosophical curiosity. It provides the perfect example of a weapon connecting both to the motivation of the murderer and a key theme of the novel. 
    

... DEATH SCENES
The movie Reservoir Dogs directed by Quentin Tarantino contains a killing shocking for its contrariness. In a famous scene, a police officer is tortured and doused with petrol, but at the last second, his tormentor is shot. The audience, having rooted for the police officer, is relieved and expects him to be freed, but moments later he is dismissively murdered by another character. The scene disrupts the comfort of narrative flow. It tells the audience that anything can happen.
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
My absolute favourite is www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk, which contains thousands of archived newspapers. It’s the best place to get contemporaneous accounts of Victorian history, and also get a feel for the phrasing and intonations of that time. Many are brilliantly written, putting much of today’s journalism to shame, and some are hilarious. It’s a wonderfully human connection, I think, to laugh out loud while reading an article written in 1880.


... WRITING TIPS
Write, write and then write some more. Write headlong and free, with no brake or throttle. And then edit brutally with your reader in mind. 


... WRITING SNACKS
A strong cup of Yorkshire Gold tea with milk – absolutely not the awful ‘Biscuit Brew’ flavour, which is a crime greater than anything I could think up.


About ALEX REEVE
Alex Reeve lives in Buckinghamshire and is a university lecturer, working on a PhD. The House on Half Moon Street is his debut, and the first in a series of books featuring Leo Stanhope.

Find Alex Reeve on Twitter - @storyjoy


About THE HOUSE ON HALF MOON STREET


Publisher's description
Everyone has a secret... Only some lead to murder. Introducing Leo Stanhope: a Victorian transgender coroner's assistant who must uncover a killer without risking his own future
When the body of a young woman is wheeled into the hospital where Leo Stanhope works, his life is thrown into chaos. Maria, the woman he loves, has been murdered and it is not long before the finger of suspicion is turned on him, threatening to expose his lifelong secret.
For Leo Stanhope was born Charlotte, the daughter of a respectable reverend. Knowing he was meant to be a man - despite the evidence of his body - and unable to cope with living a lie any longer, he fled his family home at just fifteen and has been living as Leo ever since: his secret known to only a few trusted people. 
Desperate to find Maria's killer and thrown into gaol, he stands to lose not just his freedom, but ultimately his life.

The House on Half Moon Street was published in paperback by Raven Books on 27 December 2018.


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.