Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

Flowers for the Dead
By Barbara Copperthwaite
Published by CreateSpace (2 September 2015)
ISBN: 978-1514263976

Publisher's description
Adam Bourne is a serial killer who thinks he is a saviour. When he murders his victims and cuts off the women’s lips, he believes he has done it to make them happy. How did he become warped from the sensitive four-year-old who adored his gran and the fairy tales she read to him? What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? When he meets Laura Weir, Adam weaves a fairy tale romance around them. A tale she has no idea she is part of. As he hatches his twisted plan for their fairy story ending, can anyone stop him before he creates the ultimate sacrifice to love?

My verdict
Flowers for the Dead is a very dark and twisted psychological thriller - just as I like them - with a real rogue as the main character.

Adam is evil, manipulative and very creepy, yet is yearning to love and be loved (although in a warped way). Thanks to the book's switching between past and present, you learn how Adam has become the man he is today. This book tackles the whole issue of what creates a serial killer - is it nature or nurture?

Barbara Copperthwaite writes in a very vivid and descriptive way. Flowers for the Dead is very well written and easy to read, but is a long book so certainly isn't a quick read. Every little detail of the characters' actions and thoughts are there on the page. This enables readers to get right inside the characters' heads and picture each scene very clearly, which adds to the chilling nature of the book.

You know Adam is a serial killer from the outset, and you know the ending won't be good. The momentum builds up, as does the body count, but you just have to keep reading anyway. I found myself racing to the end. Would Adam find true love and mend his ways? Or would he get his comeuppence? And more importantly, does he deserve his destiny or fate?

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Quantrill Talks: The Dead Can't Talk - Hull: From Crap Town to City of Culture

I'm delighted to welcome Nick Quantrill to my blog today to talk about Hull: From Crap Town to City of Culture. His latest novel The Dead Can't Talk was published by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 12 May 2016.

Hull: From Crap Town to City of Culture
by Nick Quantrill

When Hull was voted the country’s top ‘Crap Town’ in 2003, it really had sunk to its lowest point. Rather than sulk, my home city simply dusted itself down and readied to change things. Why not aim to become the next UK City of Culture instead? But how does a much-maligned northern port do that? It’s something that’s both internal and external.

The city’s confidence was on the rise after ‘Crap Town’; the newly built Kingston Communications Stadium was the catalyst for Hull City AFC’s march to the Premier League. The Deep, a large aquarium, a rare success for the National Lottery’s Millennium project, helped reposition the city as a tourist destination. Something was brewing. Such a process needed brains and a crack team was put in place, the bidding process taken deadly seriously. Fast forward to November 2013 and Hull had seen off challenges from Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay to be awarded the 2017 UK City of Culture title.

My Joe Geraghty trilogy chronicled the change, even though I had no idea what was coming. Broken Dreams very much has the feel of the city at its lowest. It deals with the trickledown effect of the loss of heavy industry and asks what people do once work is taken away from them. The Late Greats examined the nature of a city isolated on the north east coast, marching to the beat of its own drum, but The Crooked Beat was more optimistic in tone, the city buoyant with news of green technology and culture offering a newly imagine future.

The winds of change made me conclude I needed some fresh eyes to see what these new changes will bring. Joe Geraghty is a Private Investigator, so certain doors in the city are closed to him. In The Dead Can’t Talk, the story is told through the eyes of Anna Stone, a disillusioned Detective Constable with Humberside Police, and Luke Carver, a drifter freshly out of prison. They have the potential to reach all of the city, the good and the bad, as they’re brought together by Stone’s missing sister.

In The Dead Can’t Talk, the build-up to the City of Culture celebrations is in the background, much like it was as it was written. The novel I’m working on now will delve into the city’s nightlife and will contain the sights, sounds and smells of the celebrations. It’ll also contain murder, corruption and money. Which is only right for a crime novel.

I don’t know what will happen, but it’s something I’ll be examining in future work. Hull remains a somewhat maligned place, mainly because you need a reason to visit. You don’t simply pass through Hull as you head elsewhere. It remains a mystery to many people, yet has its own spirit. Of course, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. Come and visit in 2017 and see for yourself what it’s like.

About Nick Quantrill

Nick Quantrill was born and raised in Hull. In 2011, Nick became the first person to hold the role of Writer in Residence at Hull Kingston Rovers, contributing sports-based fiction to the match day programme and assisting with the club's literacy programme. When not writing fiction, Nick pens reviews and essays for a variety of football and music websites. He lives in Hull with his wife, daughter, cat and the constant fear Hull City will let him down.

Readers can find out more about Nick Quantrill on his website. Follow Nick Quantrill on Twitter - @nickquantrill 

The Dead Can't Talk
By Nick Quantrill
Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing (12 May 2016)
ISBN: 978-1910720455

Publisher's description
How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister's disappearance? Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she's previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber's desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.

Buy The Dead Can't Talk from Amazon UK here.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

See How They Run by Tom Bale

See How They Run
By Tom Bale
Published by Bookouture (6 May 2016)

Publisher's description
In the dead of night, new parents Alice and Harry French are plunged into their worst nightmare when they wake to find masked men in their bedroom. Men ruthless enough to threaten their baby daughter, Evie.

This is no burglary gone wrong.
The intruders know who they’re looking for – a man called Edward Renshaw.
And they are prepared to kill to get to him.

When the men leave empty handed, little do Alice and Harry realise that their nightmare is just beginning. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Who is Renshaw? And what is he hiding?

One thing is clear – they already know too much.

As Alice and Harry are separated in the run for their lives, there is no time for breathe in their fight to be reunited. And with their attackers closing in, there is only a choice:


My verdict
See How They Run is so fast paced that at times I struggled to catch my breath! The constant action reminded me of Claire Seeber's 24 Hours, which is also published by Bookouture.

The book takes an ordinary family and sticks them in a very extraordinary situation to see how they would cope and react. It made me wonder what I would do if something similar happened to me. Imagine waking in the night to discover two strangers in your bedroom - and they threaten not only you, but also your baby. Because they believe you have something of theirs - even though you don't. That's when Alice and Harry's nightmare begins.

The book is basically non-stop rollercoaster action, with plenty of twists and turns and cat and mouse chases.  The plot moves very very quickly (sometimes a bit too quickly for me), making the book an easy read. The storyline isn't believable at all times, but it's certainly entertaining. Adding a baby into the mix enhanced the plot, as Alice's main focus was protecting her daughter, although there were lots of nappy changes involved. I was surprised that Alice took some of the risks in the first place - certainly a brave woman!

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Terrible Twos - an author guest post by Mary-Jane Riley

I'm delighted to welcome Mary-Jane Riley to my blog today, to talk about Terrible Twos - that dreaded second book syndrome. Mary-Jane's latest book After She Fell was published by Killer Reads on 26 April 2016.

Terrible Twos
By Mary-Jane Riley

It’s true what they say – writing a book is like having a baby. There you are, writing it over several months, nourishing it, worrying about it, then pushing it out into the world, fearful things will go horribly wrong. So it was with my first book, The Bad Things. When it appeared on my kindle last August on publication day I expected to feel euphoric. I’d done it! But the overwhelming emotion was worry. Would people like it? After all, that was the main reason for this whole rocky journey (not to be too X Factor about it) – to have people enjoy reading the book. My best friend rang me in the evening. I burst into tears. Overwhelmed. Then I drank champagne (my agent told me to celebrate every stage with champagne. I took her at her word. Still do). As the days and weeks went on, people did read it and enjoyed it. Friends and colleagues were so proud of me and for me – they knew I had wanted this for some time. The reviews were great. I was determined not to obsess about the slightest critical word in a review (there is one reviewer who is a swear word in our house). It did really well in various the kindle charts in the UK and the US. I was a proper author. Then I held the paperback in my hand. Photographed it a lot. Tweeted and Face-booked until my head was spinning.

And I wasn’t going to have second book dread. Absolutely not. No way. What do you take me for? Worry about doing it all over again? Come on! Okay, so I’d had months, years of preparing for my first book. I could sit and dream and think about accepting awards, of being on panels of being able to do what I had always wanted to do. Now I could begin to think about the next one –

‘You are writing the second one?’ (My agent.)

‘Er…yes.’ (Me, looking at the doodles in my notebook.)

‘Because you can’t hang around, you know. This is what you do.’   (My agent – not known as The Fearsome One for nothing)

So I tried not to hang around. I chatted to the dog (she always listens, though occasionally appears bored). I sat my bottom in front of my computer (only way and if you’re not careful it can get quite large) and began to shape the doodles into words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Chapters. A book. After She Fell. The main character the same as in The Bad Things as I felt there was more of her story to tell – though I did move her out of her home town of Sole Bay to avoid it becoming like Midsomer with bodies everywhere.


Are the characters just standing around drinking coffee?

Do they spend most of their time in the pub?

Does anything actually happen?

What if I’ve lost the ability to write?

What if nobody likes it?

What if it doesn’t sell as well?

Is it as good as The Bad Things?

Do I have enough gin in the house?

My agent loved it. My editor wanted it. After some more shaping and honing and polishing, it was pushed out into the world too.

I had a fabulous publication day. Went out to lunch with my husband. Drank champagne in the evening. Didn’t cry this time, I knew what to expect. And yet. And yet.

It was like having a second baby. First baby gets showered with teddy bears and rattles and cute clothes. Second baby gets a pair of bootees. Knitted by a maiden aunt. Friends and colleagues made appreciative noises and have, I hope, bought it. My family are still extremely proud of me though I do accept it’s not as exciting for them this time round. The good reviews are beginning to appear, though I have weaned myself off refreshing the Amazon/Kobo/iBooks/Goodreads page every few minutes (it’s a wonder I write anything). But still the doubts, the worry. See? Like having babies. But that’s life. And I am privileged to be able to do this, so damn lucky to have the opportunity a great many people dream of.

The phone rings. It’s my friend – the one who I cried down the phone to last August.

‘Well done,’ she says. ‘I’m so proud of you.’

‘But I don’t know whether it’s going to be as good… do as well…’

‘I am very proud of you,’ she says firmly. ‘You have written and published two books. Two. Books.’

She’s right (she always is).

Now for Book Three.

About Mary-Jane Riley

Mary-Jane Riley is an ex BBC journey and crime writer.  Mary-Jane loves wine. And dogs.

Readers can find out more about Mary-Jane Riley on her Facebook page. Follow Mary-Jane Riley on Twitter - @mrsmjriley 

After She Fell
By Mary-Jane Riley
Published by Killer Reads (26 April 2016)

Publisher's description
There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Writing and The Law - an author guest post by Steve Cavanagh - Blog Tour

I'm delighted to welcome Steve Cavanagh to my blog today, to talk about Writing and The Law (juggling two careers).  Steve's latest book The Plea is published by Orion today (19 May 2016).

Writing and The Law
By Steve Cavanagh

A drunk man once told me, “A trial is simple. It’s all about telling a story. In a trial, whichever side tells the best story usually wins.” The man was my friend, and fellow first year law student. It remains the simplest and yet most profound thing I’ve ever learned about the law. Clients and witnesses go to court to (hopefully) tell the truth. In the course of my career I’ve seen witnesses approach the task of testifying with a sense of relish. They are not nervous at all: they know they are right, that their version of events is truthful and honest and exactly how it happened. Inevitably, they go down in flames. Their story, irrespective of its truth, may not in fact be the BEST story. Their perfect recollection is questioned, prodded, pulled apart and dissected in minute detail. Before they know what’s hit them, an inconsistency appears.

                  “Mr. Bloggs, in your statement to police, at the scene of the accident, you stated that the traffic light was red. In your evidence to this court today, you stated that the light was amber, then it turned red…”

The slightest deviation from a previous statement by any witness is ruthlessly exploited and treated not as a lapse of memory, but as a dagger through the heart of their credibility. It is the trial lawyer’s job not only to produce a good story to the court, but to destroy his opponent’s story in the process. I suppose that having the kind of mind that is able to pull narratives apart does lend itself to editing.
A trial is conflict. There is a loser, and a victor. One story will be declared the best, and the verdict follows. Similarly, you can’t create drama on the page without conflict.

My skills as a lawyer probably derive from storytelling. I’m Irish, so I grew up in a house full of people that told and read stories all day long. I knew what a good story sounded like and it gave me an advantage in my career as a lawyer. Sure, I went to University, and did my post graduate stuff alongside my apprenticeship, but I didn’t learn anything that was of any use in my legal career. Knowing the law is not too difficult. It’s knowing how to apply it, and when necessary how to change it. The only other thing that I cling to in my legal career is a healthy disrespect for the law. There is such a thing as bad law. And bad laws can be manipulated.

I would never draw upon real cases that I’ve handled and allow that to feed my writing. That just wouldn’t be right. Has law helped my writing? It certainly helps when you’re writing legal thrillers, but my abilities as a storyteller probably help my career as a lawyer more.

There have been many great lawyers and writers. John Mortimer, the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, immediately springs to mind. For many years he was able to balance writing and legal practice, and I’m doing the same at the moment. The only other lawyer and writer that I know of is Scott Turow. He continues to practice and produce a new novel every few years. I don’t mind telling you, it’s tough. But I wouldn’t pursue these careers if I didn’t enjoy them. I know that when John Grisham hit the big time with his second novel, The Firm, he said he left his law offices so fast he didn’t even stop to turn the lights off. In fairness, I suppose he could afford a large electric bill at that stage. In fairness, he could probably buy the electricity company.

At the moment I’m enjoying both careers. As a lawyer I get to help people during the day, and as a writer I make up stories at night. Just as long as I can keep doing that, in that order, I think it’ll all work out in the end. The moment I start making stories up during the day…well, let’s not go there.

About Steve Cavanagh

Steve was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is a qualified solicitor. He currently practices in the fields of Discrimination Law, Employment Law, Personal Injury Law and Judicial Review. He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy jointly awarded by the Law Society of Northern Ireland and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy in Boulder, Colorado. In 2011 Steve was appointed to the Labour Relations Agency’s panel of Arbitrators and Independent Appeal Chairmen by the Northern Ireland Department of Employment and Learning. As well as practicing law, he often lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes).

Steve is married to Tracy, they live in Northern Ireland with their two young children and a rescue dog, called Lolly, who keeps Steve company during those long nights at the writing desk.

Readers can find out more about Steve Cavanagh on his website. Follow Steve Cavanagh on Twitter - @SSCav 

The Plea
By Steve Cavanagh
Published by Orion (19 May 2016)
ISBN: 978-1409152347

Publisher's description
When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm.
Eddie's not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie's wife, and if Eddie won't play ball, she'll pay the price.
When Eddie meets Child he's convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child's innocence while keeping his wife out of danger - not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.

My review is coming very soon - I'm reading the book at the moment and it's fantastic.

Click here to read my review of The Defence. 

And click here to read a Q&A with Steve Cavanagh on my blog last year.