Wednesday, 21 September 2016

From Helping Fight Crime to Helping Write Crime - Stuart Gibbons

I would like to welcome Stuart Gibbon to my blog today. Stuart is a former policer officer who now advises writers on police actions and procedures. You can find out more by visiting Stuart's website -

From Helping Fight Crime to Helping Write Crime
by Stuart Gibbon

My name is Stuart Gibbon and I'm a former police officer who served for 30 years in London and the East Midlands before retiring from the police service in 2012. A large part of my career was spent as a Detective in Major Crime. As a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) I was in charge of Murder and other serious crime investigations. As such, I have considerable experience in the way police investigate crime and other police-related issues.

On leaving the police service I decided to set up my own business, GIB Consultancy I now help writers by giving advice on police actions and procedures. It can be anything from how a missing person is investigated or how forensic evidence works to how the police would go about solving a Murder.

Writers generally contact me via e-mail through my website and either send me a list of questions which they would like answering or send me a draft of the police procedural element of their work for fact-checking.

Although most of my work comes from crime writers, I sometimes get enquiries from writers of other genres who may want to include a police-related topic in their book. My first written acknowledgement came courtesy of Tammy Cohen, after I provided advice for the thriller 'Dying for Christmas'. More recently I've been helping C.L. Taylor with advice for 'The Missing' (released in April nd a massive hit!!) and her fourth thriller currently being written. I was originally contacted by Cally back in November 2014 and continue to help as and when required. It's great to see the advice and information you have given to authors actually appearing in the published version.

I've helped writers with many different topics from the role of the Coroner in suspicious deaths, how the police promotion system works to forensic procedures and Court sentencing guidelines. One of the most interesting was explaining how the police would deal with a person in prison who had confessed to a serious crime (you may recognise this if you've read 'The Missing', if you haven't keep an eye out for it!!!)

I also talk with Writing Groups on the subject of 'Murder investigation' and have a couple of national conferences booked for later this year as a speaker. I take the audience through a Murder case (using a generic case study) from discovery of a body to the arrest and detention of a suspect, explaining the challenges facing Detectives in such cases.   

My new career is every bit as interesting and rewarding as my old one and it's great to contribute towards the hard work that goes into writing a book. If any writers need help with police procedural or investigative processes I can be contacted via my website whether you just have the odd question or require more detailed advice.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains
By Sharon Bolton
Published by Transworld/Bantam (2 June 2016)
ISBN:  978-0593076316

Publisher's description
Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He's handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he's innocent, and that he's the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she's immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

My verdict
Sharon Bolton has been one of my favourite authors for years, with her talent for writing dark and twisted novels,with strong female lead characters. Daisy in Chains is certainly another fast-paced read that kept me transfixed.

Daisy in Chains covers a fascinating topic - women who develop an obsession with men in prison, specifically those locked up for murder. It focuses on whether Hamish Wolfe is innocent or guilty of atrocious crimes. Hamish is charming and seductive and used to getting his own way. And once he decides that Maggie Rose is the lawyer he wants, there's no stopping him.

I can't say too much about the book without giving anything away. But it certainly kept me guessing and surprised me, although I'm not sure how I felt about it when all was revealed. Hamish and Maggie play a ruthless game, and so does Sharon Bolton, with all of her red herrings and twists and turns.

I received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Served with a Twist: a guest post by J.A. Marley - STANDSTILL BLOG TOUR

am delighted to welcome J.A. Marley to my blog today for his Standstill Blog Tour. John is talking about twists in crime fictionStandstill is being published in paperback original by Avocado Books on 15 September 2016.  

Served with a Twist
By J.A. Marley

At the age of 18 I got my first job in television.  I didn’t know it would be the start of a thirty-year career in TV land.  Nor did I realise it was also the start of a convoluted apprenticeship for when I started to write my debut novel about a huge robbery in London, Standstill.

All TV programmes are basically a narrative.  It doesn’t matter if it is a quiz show, a musical performance, a news report or even a documentary. They all have defined beginnings, middles and ends, and they all peak and trough in the same way a good story does. 

Years sat in edit suites piecing footage together to create a larger whole for the likes of an episode of Through the Keyhole (yes, I produced that with Sir David Frost and Loyd Grossman) or fine cutting one of my RAF series (Britain’s Flying Past and Britain’s Ultimate Pilots) for BBC2 were great proving grounds.  They taught me how to pace a story, how to lead the audience where I wanted them to go and how to satisfy them with a denouement that would meet and then exceed their expectations.
One such vital lesson was taught to me by an amazing producer, Conor McAnally.  He was a fabulous character, and we collaborated on several series during my career.  Our most notable shows were kids programmes such as Disney Club and SMTV:Live and CD:UK.  He’s a charismatic man and he used to plaster our office walls with his latest thoughts on how our shows were doing or how they could be better. And one of those thoughts has always stuck with me.

“Surprise and delight your audience”

Now that doesn’t sound revelatory when you first read it, but when you are constructing a TV entertainment it becomes a big ask.  That audience will have expectations.  They will demand you fulfil them or with a flick of the remote they will be gone.  But then when you apply it to a novel, especially a crime thriller, it’s not a big ask…it’s a huge one.

Surprising and delighting a crime reader means you have to keep them on their toes.  Lead them down a blind alley, then get them out in the most unexpected of ways.  They love genre conventions.  They will always know them better than you.  So you better stick with them and then subvert them only in a manner that crime readers will approve of. 

Basically…you better have a load of twists for me in here buster, or your book goes to the charity shop!

At a recent author event the excellent writer Tim Weaver talked about how writing a crime thriller means the author has to second guess the reader second guessing the author.  I thought that was terrific insight and on reflection it is the same message as the one Conor used to drill into me. 
In Standstill I have tried to end each chapter with either a mini twist or at least a moment that will lead the reader to think “Oh, just one more chapter then…”.  The twist is all important as far I am concerned.  The smarter the twist, the more concealed, the better set up, the more satisfying it is, and usually makes the whole book shine out as well. 

That moment in LA Confidential when Capt Dudley Smith kills Det Jack Vincennes.  Or realising that Bruce Willis is dead in The Sixth Sense.  Any version you choose of Witness for the Prosecution, stories with moments that blindside you, take your breath away, confound your expectations…they are electric.   Is there a big twist in Standstill?  You’ll have to read it to find out!

So I suppose this blog post is a long winded thank you.  A thank you from me to television, and especially to Conor McAnally.  The lessons learnt trying to make a TV show zing have lead me down the path to realising my true ambition.  I have written a thriller, the first of many hopefully, and I couldn’t have done it without learning how to serve it up with a twist…

I hope Standstill manages to surprise and delight you…

About J.A. Marley

John A. Marley was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Following early success as a film journalist and radio broadcaster in his homeland, he embarked on an accomplished career in television production in England. An avid film fan, John is addicted to crime and mystery thrillers and is passionate about walking his two dogs, discovering new music and travel.

Find J. A. Marley on his website and on Twitter - @jamarleybooks

By J. A. Marley
Published by Avocado Books (Paperback - 15 September 2016)
ISBN: 978-1910633465

Publisher's description
One man’s chaos is another man’s comfort zone...
When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psychotic cop in an early morning raid, he could hardly imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.
But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated Flying Squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?
And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can...but there will be bloodshed.

Have you been following the Blog Tour?

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Inspiration behind Sophie, central character in The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards

Today it's my stop on the blog tour for Mark Edward's The Devil's Work. I would like to welcome Mark to my blog to talk about the inspiration behind his central character Sophie. Plus there's a Book Giveaway at the end of this blog post. The Devil's Work was published by Thomas & Mercer on 13 September 2016.

The inspiration behind Sophie
By Mark Edwards

Before I was a full-time writer, I worked as a marketing manager for a small publisher in London. It’s where I met my wife, Sara. We worked together for several years, at one point sitting at adjacent banks of desks. We were together 24 hours a day, talking about work when we were at home, chatting about home when we were at work.

After our first child was born, Sara went on maternity leave. When she returned seven months later, she was promoted immediately and became the manager of a small team. Over the coming months, I watched her deal with enormous stress – pressure from above and below, an enormous workload that meant she could never switch off, lots of issues with the people she was managing. As well as that, she felt guilty about the amount of time she was spending apart from our daughter, who was in full-time nursery. And on top of all that, there was always a huge amount of psychodrama in our office. Politics and gossip and power struggles. It was intense, and Sara eventually left to become a much happier freelancer.

When I came up with the idea for The Devil’s Work – a psychological thriller about colleagues from hell, where paranoia is fully justified – I immediately decided I wanted the main character to be a woman. I had written from female points of view before, but the protagonists in my solo books had previously always been male. I was a little nervous. Could I make Sophie, the central character, convincing?

I didn’t realise at first that I was writing about the situation Sara had found herself in a few years before. Or that Sophie was based, in some ways, on my wife. She didn’t recognise herself, though. In fact, when I showed the first draft to Sara she said that Sophie was more like a female version of me! It seemed that I had based Sophie on a hybrid of Sara and myself. But I feel confident that I have created a convincing woman. One early reviewer told me she had to keep reminding herself that I was male – the only instance when that is a compliment.

There are strong echoes of our marriage in the relationship between Sophie and her husband, Guy, too. The way Guy tells Sophie she worries too much and she tells him he doesn’t worry enough. His habit of describing everything as a nightmare and her irritation at that.

But there is one big difference between Sophie and Sara and me. Sophie has a dark secret in her past, something that comes back to wreck her life, and neither Sara nor I do.

At least, I don’t think Sara has a dark secret…

About Mark Edwards
Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers. His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014) and Follow You Home (2015). 
He also co-writes with Louise Voss, including a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). 

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

Find Mark Edwards on his website and on Twitter - @mredwards

The Devil's Work
By Mark Edwards
Published by Thomas & Mercer (13 September 2016)

Publisher's description
The Devil’s Work is an exhilarating and chilling grip-lit novel that follows Sophie Greenwood, a young mother who unwittingly accepts a job at the office from hell! Re-entering the workforce after having her first child, Sophie thinks she’s found her dream job in the marketing department of an iconic children’s publisher.

But very quickly Sophie comes to find that someone is out to get her and that the dream job may turn out to be a nightmare. A mouse nailed to her front door… A stranger following her home in the shadows… Unexplainable whispers in the office late at night…

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must confront dark secrets from the past and race to uncover the truth about her new job… before it kills her. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor?

Follow the Blog Tour

I have two copies of The Devil's Work to give away, one to each of two lucky winners. To be in with a chance of winning one of these fantastic books, please follow me on Twitter (@VictoriaGoldma2) and RT one of my The Devil's Work giveaway tweets by 5 pm on Thursday 21st September 2016. 

The two winners will be chosen at random on Friday 22nd September 2016 and will be notified through Twitter DM, so make sure you're following me. 

Good Luck!