Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Killer Women Weekend - be an early bird!

Will YOU write the next crime bestseller?

There's only one way to find out! Get writing! 

If you need some guidance, there's a brilliant weekend in October that aims to help you with the writing and editing process, research and pitching to editors and agents.

The Killer Women Weekend is taking place on 28 & 29 October 2017, from 10am to 6 pm, at Browns Courtrooms, Covent Garden, London WC2.

What's on?
Learn the art & craft of crime fiction from bestselling authors including Rachel Abbott, Mark Billingham, Erin Kelly, Mick Herron, Stuart MacBride, Sarah Pinborough and Cally Taylor.

Pitch your idea to senior commissioning editors and agents including HarperCollins, Orion, Penguin Random House and Headline.

·      Masterclasses on thrillers, procedurals, author as brand, self publishing and more 

·      Insider tips from top writers, editors and agents

·      Craft workshops on suspense, character, plotting and more

·      One-to-one research sessions with experts

Check out the full programme here.

More about the venue here.

Get in early!
Book your weekend ticket at the special earlybird price of £260* by joining the Killer Women Club (for free) - click here.  (Killer Women will email you an exclusive secret link to the earlybird ticketing page.)

*Tickets go on general release on 1 September. Weekend tickets will be £275.

To learn more about the weekend, click here.

About Killer Women
Killer Women is an author collective of 21 female crime-writers, who work together to put on exciting, innovative crime fiction events around the country, for men and women. It also offers its Crime Club members exclusive access to free chapters of Killer Women authors' new books, giveaways, competitions and discounted early bird tickets to their annual Killer Weekend event.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono

The Hit
By Nadia Dalbuono
Published by Scribe (9 February 2017)

Publisher's description 
Detective Leone Scamarcio, the son of a former leading mafioso, has turned his back on the family business, and has joined the Rome police force. He may be one of the last honest men in Italy. 
But when Scamarcio is handed a file of extremely compromising photographs of a high-profile Italian politician, and told to ‘deal with it’, he knows he’s in for trouble. And when a young man is found stabbed to death in Rome, and a young American girl disappears on a beach in Elba, Scamarcio’s job gets a whole lot more complicated. 
Worst of all, every lead seems to implicate the prime minister ― a multi-media baron, and the most powerful man in Italy. As the case spins out of control, and his own past catches up with him, Scamarcio must navigate the darkest currents of Italian society ― only to find that nothing is as it seems, and that the price of truth may be higher than he can pay. 

My verdict
The Hit is the third in the Leona Scamarcio detective series, which is set in Rome. This is a new series for me, and what better place to read the book than in stunning Rome itself. I took The Hit away with me on my six-day summer break last month.

I enjoy reading police procedurals, but even more so when they're set in another country, as you learn so much about the culture there through the eyes of the locals. This twisty police procedural contains enough description to give the reader a great sense of place, but not too much to slow down the plot. This was an enjoyable gripping read, filled with tension and humour and a lead detective with murky family roots.

The book can easily be read as a standalone, although I'm now intrigued enough to buy the first two books to catch up on Scamarcio's family background. I also loved the insight into Italian culture, organised crime and police corruption.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Monday, 21 August 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Tammy Cohen

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 


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...

I’ve loved both of Liz Nugent’s books because they’re so fresh and different. Belinda Bauer’s originality makes her stand out in the crowded terrain of psychological thrillers. I’ve always loved Lisa Jewell’s writing, but her more recent venture into psychological suspense has given her books a darker edge, but still with her trademark focus on totally rounded, utterly believable characters, which is an unbeatable combination. Recently I’ve loved The Dry by Jane Harper, set in the parched outback in Australia. You can feel the relentless heat coming off the page. 

Strangers on a Train is still the ultimate crime movie for me. The central concept of the Patricia Highsmith novel on which it is based – two random strangers swap murders - is so neat and perfectly self-contained. And the character of Bruno Anthony is such a brilliant psychological study. Oh, and all the most crucial action takes place in an amusement park, ending in an out-of-control carousel ride. Who could resist? 


Like millions of others, our household was hooked on the first two series of Narcos where two DEA officers try to bring Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar to justice. It’s the combination of a powerhouse central performance from Wagner Moura which shows the violence and cruelty of Escobar, who went from nothing to being one of the richest men in the world, and at the same time his vulnerability. But also the psychological interplay between the DEA agents and their quarry, and between Escobar and his various key henchmen. And all set against the breathtaking backdrop of Colombia itself.

As soon as I read Caroline Kepnes’ brilliant psychological thriller ‘You’, I fell a little bit in love with Joe Goldberg, a charming, witty, razor-smart New York bookseller, who just happens to be a stalker. And a psychopath. But somehow that doesn’t stop the reader from secretly willing him on. Genius.

Commandant Camille Verhoeven, the invention of French crime writer Pierre Lemaitre is a brilliant creation. At just four foot eleven (due to his mother’s heavy smoking during pregnancy), what he lacks in height he makes up for in intellect and determination and old-fashioned nobility. His own tragic past, which involved the murder of his beloved wife, has made him more intuitive to evil, but also to love.

I’m such a total wuss, I can’t read or watch very graphic violence. However, Robert Harris’s Mason Verger being fed to his own beloved pet pigs whom he has been cultivating purely for the pleasure of seeing them eat his nemesis Hannibal Lecter, has stuck in my mind.

See above. 

I’m a big believer in the old adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction’ and when I’m at a loose end for plot ideas, I’ll invariably end up googling ‘weirdest real life crimes’ or some variant thereof and then spending the rest of the day lost down the wormhole of bizarre human behavior. Although all too often I’ll get enthused about an idea before ruling it out on the basis that if I tried to put it in a novel, readers would claim it was too far-fetched.

Don’t show your first draft to anyone – unless you want to find yourself pulled in a myriad of conflicting directions.
If your interest is flagging, chances are your readers’ will be too. Think about the most shocking thing that might happen at this point. And then write it. You might not end up keeping it in, but at least it might have re-energised you.
Accept that some people won’t like what you write. That’s fine. Most of my favourite books have a low to average rating on Amazon. That’s because the writer hasn’t played safe. Which, conversely, is why those are my favourite books! 

I drink a lot of coffee and green tea (not together, that would be weird), so the ideal writing snack has to be one that is eminently dunkable. I’m going to sound very dull here, but I favour the plain, simple, noble digestive. Please don’t stop buying my books now I’ve shared that. 


Tammy Cohen wrote three dark contemporary novels (The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding) under the name Tamar Cohen, before deciding to move into crime, principally because crime writers always seemed to be having the most fun. Her psychological thrillers The Broken, First One Missing, Dying For Christmas, When She was Bad and They All Fall Down, have all been published internationally and When She Was Bad has been optioned for television. Tammy’s first historical novel, A Dangerous Crossing, written under the pseudonym Rachel Rhys, came out in March 2017 and has been shortlisted for the 2017 HWA Golden Crown Award. A Dangerous Crossing is one of Richard & Judy's Autumn 2017 Book Club Selection. As well as writing fiction, Tammy has worked as a journalist for over twenty years, writing for newspapers such as The Times, The Telegraph and magazines including Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Woman & Home.

Find Tammy Cohen on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @MsTamarCohen


Publisher's description
Orange is the New Black meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. They All Fall Down is set in a private psychiatric clinic for women at high risk of self harm where Hannah Lovell is a patient. From the outset it’s clear she’s done something shocking, but we don’t know what. When two of Hannah’s fellow patients die in quick succession, suicide is the obvious assumption. Only Hannah is convinced there's a serial killer at large in the unit, preying on her friends. But who will believe she's telling the truth when she's proved so expert in lying to herself? 

They All Fall Down was published by Transworld on 13 July 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Collector by Fiona Cummins - VERY EARLY REVIEW

I don't usually do such early reviews. So apologies. This isn't out until 2018 but I couldn't wait to read it. Now I've read it, I couldn't wait to review it. If you haven't read Rattle, Fiona Cummins' first book, I suggest you buy it now (out in paperback on 24th August). Then the wait for The Collector won't seem quite so long.

The Collector
By Fiona Cummins
Published by Pan Macmillan

Publisher's description
Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town.
His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting...
Clara, the girl he left behind, is clinging to the hope that someone will come and save her.
Life has fallen apart for Clara’s mother as she starts to lose hope.
The Bone Collector has a new apprentice to take over his family’s legacy. But he can’t forget the boy who got away and the detective who had destroyed his dreams
Detective Etta Fitzroy’s life collapsed when the Collector escaped. With Clara still missing, and a new wave of uncannily similar murders beginning, will she be able to find him again?
The Collector is back and this time he has nothing to lose . . .

My verdict
Fiona Cummins is one of the most talented crime writers I've stumbled upon in recent years. Not only is she a plotting genius, but her writing is sublime. I loved Rattle - an outstanding crime thriller - and couldn't wait to read The Collector. Well, not only has Fiona done it again but she's totally surpassed herself.

The Collector is harrowing, gruesome, chilling, terrifying, horrific, gripping, compelling... I could go on. This is a very dark plot, and descriptions may turn your stomach, get right under your skin and (dare I write this) rattle your bones. BUT the horror is dabbled with moments of tenderness and hope, with characters to believe in and invest in. This is a return to old characters and an introduction to new ones. Could this be read as a standalone? Probably. Yet why do so, when you can read Rattle too?

The plot moves at a cracking pace, with short concise chapters - I barely took a breath all the way through. This is a book that's hard to put down once you've started reading. It tackles all of your senses in one go, with such powerful writing in every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every page...

Fiona Cummins' books are perfect for fans of top authors Mo Hader and Thomas Harris. I suspect in years to come, though, that Rattle, The Collector and many more of Fiona's books themselves will be on the lists of crime fiction masterclasses to study pace, tension and creepiness.

The Collector is, without doubt, going to be a top recommendation of mine for 2018, just as Rattle has been this year. I can't wait to see what Fiona Cummins writes next - unfortunately, I suspect I'll have to wait a while, considering this book isn't out for several months.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Here's the link to my review of Rattle: