Monday, 30 April 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Peter Swanson

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 his BEST OF CRIME ...

John D. MacDonald. I’ve been reading his brilliantly written pulp thrillers since I was twelve years old. He was a great plotter, even better at writing characters, and the absolute best at atmosphere.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious is the perfect synthesis of suspense, romance, incredible acting, and impeccable film making. I went to see it on the big screen this past New Year’s Eve and its better than any champagne.

I think Breaking Bad is the best television series ever, but I’m picking the show I loved more. And that would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith’s four Ripley novels. I’m always drawn to accidental killers. 

The Spenser series by Robert B. Parker was the first detective series I fell in love with as a young reader (besides Nancy Drew). And Spenser gets points for being from my hometown of Boston.

Knitting needles. So innocent in one person’s hands and so nasty in another. There is a Highsmith book that ends with a death by knitting needles, I believe, but I can’t remember the name right now.

The death of Marion Crane (Mary in the book) in both Robert Bloch’s perfect short thriller, and Hitchcock’s game changing film. The very brief description in the book is more horrifying even than the movie.

Wikipedia. Because everything is there, even if you can’t always trust it.

The best writing tip is to read a ton of books.

Is coffee a snack?

Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.
A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat. 

Find Peter Swanson on his website, on his Facebook page and on Twitter - @PeterSwanson3


Publisher's description
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

All the Beautiful Lies was published by Faber & Faber on 3 April 2018.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The Old You by Louise Voss

The Old You 
By Louise Voss
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - out now; Paperback - 15 May 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Publisher's description
Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface... and Lynn's perfect world begins to crumble. 
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers...?

My verdict
The Old You is dark domestic noir published by Orenda Books, a publisher that's well known for its quality writing. And I have to say that Louise Voss' writing in this book is outstanding.

This psychological thriller provided some uncomfortable reading, tackling the emotional topic of early-onset dementia. It provoked an uneasy feeling inside me from beginning to end, as I worried about what was to come, yet I couldn't tear myself away from it. I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't, whether everything was as it seemed or whether something more sinister was going on.

Louise Voss' prose is highly compelling, creating vivid (and brilliant) imagery of people and places. I found myself right inside protagonist Lynn's head straight away as she comes to terms with her husband Ed's recent diagnosis and the disturbing changes in his behaviour. The narrative flits between past and present, as Lynn thinks back to when she and Ed first met.

I won't give anything away about the plot. But I will say that The Old You is filled with jaw-dropping revelations. I had no idea where the book was heading and I was certainly surprised as I followed this twisty rollercoaster journey.

Thursday, 26 April 2018


Welcome to my latest MY PUBLISHING LIFE feature, an interview with a literary agent, publisher, publicist or editor about their publishing career to date. Some serious questions, and some just for fun!

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


BrandHive Ltd

What and when was your first job in publishing?
My first job in publishing was with Constable and Robinson, who were still independent when I joined back in 2010. I absolutely loved that job. It was a small, hardworking and passionate team publishing some really exciting fiction and non-fiction authors. I’d been working in consumer PR for 3 years before my first job in publishing and I soon learnt that it really is the nicest industry. 

How long have you been working in your current job/role?
I decided to form my own PR and Communications company, BrandHive, late last year when I was on honeymoon. It was very much a ‘now or never’ moment ,and I’m so happy I took the leap - I’ve never been happier. I officially left Bonnier Zaffre where I was Head of PR in early February 2018, so I’ve only been in a freelance role for a couple of months so far.

Which books have you worked on recently/are you working on?
The book that I’m most proud to have worked on recently has been The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s based on the incredible true story of Lale Sokolov, who was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival at Auschwitz.  It’s also the place he met his wife. His story will make you weep, but it is also one of the most uplifting stories you’ll ever read.

In April, I’m working on the last book in the ‘Maestra’ trilogy by LS Hilton, and then in May, for a total change of pace, the last children’s book from lovely Isla Fisher! In the first half of 2018, I’m also working with Tramp Press, a small Irish independent who are bringing some really fresh voices to the market. Look out for Problems by Jade Sharma in May and Notes to Self by Emilie Pine in July!

Which qualifications/life skills/experience have helped you get to where you are today?
I knew that if I had a hope of getting a job after graduating (my degree was in marketing), I had to do as many work experience placements as possible. Over the course of three years, I did around 10 work experience placements. I was really lucky that one of those placements led to a job when I graduated. PR is an amazing job but I’ve found you need to be passionate, organised and creative. In any role, you need to be self motivated but to be freelance, more so than anything else.

I was very lucky to have a fantastic boss in my second job in publishing (at Little, Brown) and she taught me more than anyone else has. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without having had support from great colleagues and the personal drive of knowing that my end goal was creating my own company.

How do you relax after a busy working day?
I usually stop working around 8/9pm then cook something from one of my hundreds of cookbooks (it’s an addiction), pour a glass of wine, take the dog for a walk and catch up with friends and family at the local pub.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?
The last book I read for pleasure was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Bonnier Zaffre didn’t publish any non-fiction (which I really missed!) so I would try to read at least one a month in between all the great fiction!

Describe your job in 15 words or less...
In its purest form, PR is the art and science of influencing public opinion through communications.

What have been the highlights of your publishing life so far
The one thing I absolutely love is creating brand and media partnerships for both the publishers I’ve worked with and individual authors. A couple of my favourites are:
  • A media partnership with Prospect magazine for a series of co-branded events, podcasts, subscription offers and reciprocal benefits
  • To launch social talent star, Louise Pentland’s first adult novel, I originated and executed a partnership with Glossybox, who featured a sampler of Wilde Like Me in every subscriber box, and I also devised and developed a partnership with Be At One cocktail bars who created a ‘Wilde Like Me’ cocktail to celebrate publication. It is now a permanent fixture on their menu.

I’m also really proud to have launched Isla Fisher’s series, which began with Marge in Charge two years ago.  We’ve worked together ever since. 

If you could try out any other job for one day (with no limits on money, travel etc.), what would you choose?
I would definitely be a movie producer. There are so many books I’d love to see turned into films. Tall Oaks and All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker would be the first ones I’d choose. It would be so fun to find the literary property, shape the idea into a viable film, raise the money, hire the director, choose the cast, oversee production and postproduction, mastermind the marketing, negotiate the worldwide rights — basically be a movie’s begetter and first demanding viewer…

If your publishing life was a book, what would the title be?
Warm wine. It basically sums up every book party ever!

Thanks so much for taking part, Emily!

Look out for more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features coming soon.

Click here to read more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features.

If any literary agents, publishers, publicists or editors would like to take part, please contact me through my blog or Twitter for the full list of questions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Freefall by Adam Hamdy

By Adam Hamdy
Published by Headline (2 November 2017)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley

Publisher's description
Hiding off-grid after exposing the shadowy Pendulum conspiracy, Wallace is horrified to discover he is still marked for death.
DI Patrick Bailey is still reeling from the murder investigation that nearly cost him his life. 
FBI Agent Christine Ash is hunting a serial killer with a link to an unfinished case
The death of a London journalist triggers an investigation that brings them back together, hurling them into the path of an unknown enemy.

Hunted across the world, they are plunged into a nightmare deadlier than they could have ever imagined.

My verdict
Freefall is the sequel to Pendulum, which I really enjoyed last year. Yet again, Adam Hamdy has written a gripping rollercoaster read. Some action thrillers can be read easily as standalones. But I would recommend that you read Pendulum first, if you haven't already done so, as parts of Freefall may not make sense otherwise.

The reader is launched straight into the action from the very first page. After uncovering a shocking conspiracy in Pendulum, John Wallace is now hiding in Afghanistan, right in the middle of a war zone. But it's hard to stay hidden for long, as he soon discovers. DI Patrick Bailey in London and FBI agent Christine Bailey in New York are the only ones he can trust. When a London journalist is discovered dead in her home in a possible suicide, the three of them are thrust together into yet another investigation that isn't what it seems.

Freefall is full of action and suspense and is highly entertaining. It's an emotional journey too, as all three characters have been left with physical and mental scars from their previous encounter. The chapters are fairly short, which helps to keep the pace moving quickly - there's so much energy within the book that I found it difficult to find time to take a breath. The plot may seem a little over the top in places - but that's the beauty of fiction, stretching the highly imaginative into pure escapism. The characters are believable and realistic, triggering plenty of shocks and surprises by the end.

I raced through Freefall and can't wait to read the next book in the series.