Wednesday, 31 October 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Ali Knight

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 

ALI KNIGHT


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...



... AUTHORS
Barbara Vine. Ruth Rendell took her writing in a new direction away from detective fiction in her series of novels writing as Barbara Vine. Really good books remain timeless, and even though some of her psychological thrillers – exploring the why of a crime rather than the who -  were written more than thirty years ago, they feel modern and up to date. A Fatal Inversion, about a group of young people staying at a country house over one long hot summer, is particularly fine. 


... FILMS/MOVIES
Black Widow. This 1987 film starring Debra Winger and Theresa Russell was way ahead of its time. It is so rare to find a film where the two leads are women, and this cat and mouse game, where detective Winger is trying to convince her superiors that Russell is repeatedly killing her husbands for their money, is the original Killing Eve.


... TV DRAMAS
Prime Suspect – I worry there’s a theme here – everything I’ve picked so far is decades old! But it is impossible to underestimate how groundbreaking DCI Jane Tennyson was as a character on TV in the  first series in 1991. Impeccably and elegantly plotted, it dealt with sexism  and corruption in the police.  
To show that I also like contemporary crime, I’m very impressed with Ozark. Less violent than Breaking Bad, it shows the ripple effect of the illegal drugs trade and makes the viewer realise that the money laundering end of the business has been under-represented in the endless crime dramas that revolve around drugs.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. She is a real game changer. The best killers are the ones that get away with it. And we know she is never going to get caught.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
I’m a fan of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar, mainly because he’s a former sports pro and in an alternate universe I would have loved to have been fantastically good at tennis. His ruminations on life after peak physical fitness and fame are touching. It’s hard to beat Jack Reacher for pure, unadulterated reading entertainment.


... MURDER WEAPONS
Stephen King’s use of a sit-on lawnmower to kill a policeman in Misery is genius.
    

... DEATH SCENES
Dying in an Afghan hut after being injected with smallpox as Terry Hayes created in I Am Pilgrim takes some beating.
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Google Maps’ feature where you can walk down roads and actually see them is pure genius for the writer. I was immensely entertained by a Quora internet thread on how to dispose of a dead body. People have really thought about this stuff. 


... WRITING TIPS
Keep going. There is no other way. And it is difficult. Anyone who says writing is easy is a liar.


... WRITING SNACKS
Don’t. Otherwise there would be no room for lunch.


About ALI KNIGHT
Ali Knight has written five crime novels. Her books have been translated into 12 languages and sold as TV scripts. Her debut novel, Wink Murder, was an Independent Book of the Year in 2011.

Find Ali Knight on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @aliknightauthor


About Before I Find You




Publisher's description
Maggie is a husband watcher.  A snooper, a marriage doctor, a killer of happy-ever-afters. She runs her own private detective agency specialising in catching out those who cheat. And she's very good at it. Until Helene walks through her door.
Helene is a husband catcher. A beautiful wife, a doting stepmother, a dazzling presence at parties. She counts herself lucky to have married one of the most eligible men in town - Gabe Moreau. Until she sees something that threatens her little family of three.
Alice is a perfect daughter. Apple of her father's eye, a kind stepchild to Helene, a tragic daughter of a dead mother. She lives a sheltered but happy life. Until she finds a handwritten note on her father's desk: 'You owe me. I'm not going away.'
All three women suspect Gabe Moreau of keeping secrets and telling lies. But not one of them suspects that the truth could result in murder . . .

Before I Find You is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 1 November 2018.


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Researching fiction versus non-fiction by Gill Paul

I am delighted to welcome Gill Paul to Off-the-Shelf Books today. The Lost Daughter was published by Headline Review on 18 October 2018.


Researching fiction versus non-fiction
By Gill Paul



Research is one of my favourite bits of my job. It means I get to sit and read books all day. What’s not to like? I’ve developed a habit of using torn bits of Post-It notes to mark facts I might want to use, so my books end up looking like scruffy yellow hedgehogs.

I write historical novels and historical non-fiction, and the research process is quite different for each. With non-fiction I need to understand the big events: the nature of the political regime in power, the root causes of wars and famines, the movers and shakers of the day. With fiction, on the other hand, I need to know the tiny details: what kind of aspirin they took for a headache, where they did their grocery shopping and what style of clothes they wore.

I usually narrate my novels from one or two characters’ points of view, so this means I can only include information that those characters would reasonably have known. In The Lost Daughter, the characters know nothing about the power struggles in Russian politics between Kerensky and Lenin, Lenin and Trotsky, then Stalin and just about everyone else. What I needed to find out in my research was what it was like to live under those regimes: the fact that country people who came to town during the 1921–22 famine were known disparagingly as lapti after the birch bark shoes they wore; that women queued for food coupons at separate offices – one for meat, one for vegetables, one for bread; and that soap ran out completely in the early 1920s. When writing about the siege of Leningrad, I couldn’t give the total numbers who died, because my characters wouldn’t have known that, but I could describe the eerie metronome sound that was broadcast from loudspeakers on street corners, punctuating their days.

It will probably make me sound nerdy, but I get very excited when I come across a new detail that I know will fit my narrative. I don’t want to load it down, but just the odd snippet here and there helps to create a sense of authenticity. The quirkier, the better!

I have the kind of readers who let me know when I get things wrong. In The Affair, I had my heroine, Diana, wearing tights in 1962 and I was devastated when someone who was clearly an expert emailed to tell me that although they were commonly worn in America then, they did not reach British shores till 1963, so Diana would have been in stockings and a suspender belt. Gah! I’ve also had dozens of emails telling me I got the name of the lake wrong in The Secret Wife – I called it Lake Akanabee and it’s Lake Abanakee – a simple error of transcription that was never picked up. These things are intensely irritating! I do a lot of fact-checking myself, and I’ll find experts to check specific areas on which I am clueless – like Russian Orthodox religion and military ranks – but some tiny things can always slip through the net.

Of course, it’s fiction, so I could make it up if I wanted to. I tend to tinker with the bigger picture – like letting a Romanov daughter escape from Ekaterinburg – while trying to get the details spot on. In non-fiction, absolutely everything has to be true and that means the writing process is slower, because I can’t slip off into a chunk of made-up dialogue. I might manage to write 1,500 words a day in a novel, but it would probably be under 1,000 in non-fiction.

There are similarities, though. Both fiction and non-fiction need a narrative drive, something that makes you want to keep turning the pages. Both need a writing style that suits the subject matter. And I would argue that both need to be emotionally engaging. 

Which do I prefer writing? Both are rewarding but if you forced me to answer, with my arm twisted up my back, I’d say fiction every time.

            
About Gill Paul 
Gill Paul is a Scottish-born, London-based writer of historical fiction and non-fiction. Her novels include The Lost Daughter, about the Romanov royal family, Another Woman’s Husband, about Wallis Simpson and Princess Dianathe USA Today bestseller The Secret WifeWomen and Children First, a novel set on the Titanic which was short­listed for an RNA Award, The Affair and No Place for a Lady, which was shortlisted for a Love Stories Award. Her non-fiction includes A History of Medicine in 50 ObjectsWorld War I Love Stories and Royal Love Stories. Gill lives in London, where, as well as writing full-time, she enjoys swimming year-round in an outdoor pond.

Find Gill Paul on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @GillPaulAUTHOR

About The Lost Daughter 

The Lost Daughter
By Gill Paul
Published by Headline Review (18 October 2018) 



Publisher's description
A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret... 
From the author of The Secret Wife, a gripping journey through decades and across continents, of love, devastating loss and courage against all odds.
1918
With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of Russia's imperial family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria Romanova captivates two of the guards, it will lead to a fateful choice between right and wrong.
Fifty-five years later . . .
Val rushes to her father's side when she hears of his troubling end-of-life confession: 'I didn't want to kill her.' As she unravels the secrets behind her mother's disappearance when she was twelve years old, she finds herself caught up in one of the world's greatest mysteries.


Wednesday, 24 October 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Mel Sherratt

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 

MEL SHERRATT

for her Hush Hush blog tour

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
At the moment, it’s Cara Hunter. She has two books out in a series, and a third on its way that I have read too, as an early copy. She writes police procedurals. I find her style so energetic, raw and her storylines and plots so fast and furious that I can’t turn the pages quick enough. Her main character, DI Adam Fawley, reminds me so much of David Tennant in Broadchurch that I almost imagine it is him as I read.


... FILMS/MOVIES
Seven is one of my all-time favourites as I find it so cleverly plotted, dark and disgusting and yet compelling at the same time. Morgan Freeman is one of my favourite actors too. 

The first time I watched it, I had no idea what was going on, and then when it all became clear, I thought it was so clever. So much so that I used the same method for one of my novels – can’t tell you which one though!


... TV DRAMAS
Line of Duty. Although there is a huge amount of poetic license in the procedural element of the plot that has me shouting at the TV a fair amount of times, this is a show that is built on fantastic recurring characters, and a sense of being right there in the room in the investigation with them. I remember one scene being in the interview room for the whole hour and it was so tense. I was sitting on the edge of my seat. Vicky McClure is one of my favourite actresses too.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Bonnie and Clyde. A love story within with the violence. 


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
I thoroughly enjoy the lead detectives in the series Unforgotten. Nicola Walker is a terrific actress and with her DI, I just love their ‘ordinariness.’ I pride myself in keeping my characters as ordinary as possible. They may have colourful backgrounds but they are nice to their colleagues and families. I like that sense of normality. As well, the emotion they bring to each show and then the ability to flip that to a one line of humour is great writing.  


... MURDER WEAPONS
That would have to be death by chocolate…
    

... DEATH SCENES
It has to be the shoot out at the end of Enemy of the State, where Will Smith is playing one crime family against another. The way he plays them both is just genius, and I love how he comes out of it after climbing under the table to hide. 
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Research for my novels is so varied that there is never the one, and always a few new ones with each subject I tackle. I tend to buy a lot of non-fiction books on each subject I write about too. 


... WRITING TIPS
I use a Twitter hashtag #keeponkeepingon so I guess that would be my writing tip. It’s so easy to get carried away in the first few happy chapters as we get to know our characters. Then comes the middle muddle and often that’s where writers stop because they have lost the momentum, and the faith to see it through to the end. My advice would be to carry on – write a ‘dirty’ first draft that no one will see. Once the words are down, they can always be edited. No one can edit a blank page. 


... WRITING SNACKS
Coffee and a biscuit. Any biscuit will do, but cake is much better. 


About MEL SHERRATT
Mel Sherratt is the author of ten novels, all of which have become bestsellers. In 2017, she was named as one of her home town of Stoke-on-Trent’s top 100 influential people.
She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter.

Find Mel Sherratt on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @writermels


About HUSH HUSH



Publisher's description
A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.
All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.
To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?


Hush Hush was published by Avon in paperback on 18 October 2018.


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Follow the Blog Tour


Tuesday, 23 October 2018

5 ingredients that make up Rosewater: Technology


About Rosewater

Rosewater
By Tade Thompson
Published by Orbit (20 September 2018)



Publisher's description
Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumoured healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn't care to again—but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.

Technology by Tade Thompson)


For the most part science fiction is pretty bad at predicting the future, although one should make a distinction between saying “this is future tech” and being an inspiration in the mind of a scientist. For example, the late, great Jack Kirby’s Mother Box technology is very similar to what we call a smart phone. There’s nothing wrong with grown scientists wanting to create things they saw on Star Trek when they were kids.

Knowing all this, I still went ahead and tried to extrapolate a future: that all humans would be given a chip ID in the future, similarly to what we do for pets right now. Growing up in an area of Nigeria where Christian Fundamentalism is rife, discussions of various incarnations of the dreaded Mark of the Beast were one of our favourite pastimes. The Mark being related to computer identification is one of the more accepted interpretations, and I just included it in ROSEWATER as something Nigerians would recognise is coming.

And it probably is coming, what with identity theft, password fatigue, election hacking and other problems of identity management.

In the world of ROSEWATER you are chipped as a baby and the government follows you everywhere, from waking hours through sleep, sex, to entrance examinations. This vast information is gathered in servers which can be mined for patterns. Insurgents can be found.

Is this so far fetched?


            About Tade Thompson
Tade Thompson is the author of the sci-fi novel ROSEWATER, a John W. Campbell Award finalist, and The Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award winning novel MAKING WOLF. His novella THE MURDERS OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE has been optioned for screen adaptation. He also writes short stories, notably THE APOLOGISTS which was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association award. Born in London to Yoruba parents, he lives and works on the south coast of England where he battles an addiction to books.

Find Tade Thompson on Twitter - @tadethompson

Find Rosewater on Amazon here.

Monday, 22 October 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Stav Sherez

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 

STAV SHEREZ


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...



... AUTHORS
My current favourite is Sara Gran. Her third Claire DeWitt novel (The Infinite Blacktop) is out this month and it's stunning. James Ellroy is the author I keep coming back to - there's such an intensity of focus and history in his best novels, an electric underpulse running through his language.


... FILMS/MOVIES
Zodiac by David Fincher. I came out of the cinema wanting to give up my job as a writer and become a detective after watching this! Perhaps the best police procedural movie ever, Zodiac slowly winds you in only to leave you hanging at the brink of a solution.


... TV DRAMAS
The Shield. One of the most-underrated shows out there. One of the few where, each week, I had no idea in which direction it would twist. Jaw-dropping reversals and revelations and truly Shakespearean characters arcs.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
I'm sure everyone says this but Dexter is a brilliant creation. A serial-killer who's managed to sublimate his compulsions into killing other serial killers. He's also funny, wry and self-perceptive; things we don't often see in fictional serial killers. Otherwise, Patrick Bateman from Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho – the alpha-male stripped to the bare forked thing he really is.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Harry Bosch and Jack Reacher and Claire DeWitt. Each uses deductive logic with an alacrity that William of Ockham would be proud of.


... MURDER WEAPONS
Guilt is the most deadly weapon.
    

... DEATH SCENES
Not a book, but the moment in the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink where Barton wakes up next to the woman he's slept with, swats a mosquito on her skin, only to realise she's dead. It totally blew my mind when I first saw it, and is the moment where the film begins its true descent into hell.
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Twitter is where I go for sanity (and, unfortunately, insanity). The crime writing community is well represented on there and everyone chats about books and movies and you can almost avoid the outside world.


... WRITING TIPS
Write what you don't know you know. Let your subconscious find new ways to tell old stories. 


... WRITING SNACKS
Used to be coffee and cigarettes. Now, being older and (hopefully) wiser, it's coffee and vape.


About STAV SHEREZ
Stav Sherez is the author of two standalone novels, "The Devil's Playground" and "The Black Monastery", as well as the Carrigan and Miller series, the most recent of which, "The Intrusions" won the 2018 Theakston's Old Peculier crime Novel of the Year. He is also co-author, with Mark Bllingham, Martyn Waites and David Quantick, of "Great Lost Albums". He is published by Faber and Faber.

Find Stav Sherez on Twitter - @stavsherez


About THE INTRUSIONS



Publisher's description
Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into the terrifying world of stalking and obsession when a drugged and distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted. Taking them from a backpackers' hostel in west London, to the world of online intimidation, hacking and control, The Intrusions explores themes of dark psychology as Carrigan and Miller hunt for the shadowy figure behind a frightening and spiralling campaign of intrusion . . .

The Intrusions was published by Faber & Faber on 1 February 2018.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Elle Croft

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 

ELLE CROFT


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
Gillian Flynn! The worlds and characters she creates are so dark and messy and intriguing - I love them. She’s the queen of the unlikeable character, and she uses such vivid imagery, all of her books are just perfect. I re-read them all at least once a year, because even though I know what happens, they’re written so well that I’m taken on the journey again and again.


... FILMS/MOVIES
I absolutely love The Fugitive and have probably seen it about 20 times. I have a slight obsession with wrongful conviction stories (which is why Double Jeopardy is another firm favourite), and The Fugitive has me on the edge of my seat every time I see it. Plus Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones are so much fun to watch!


... TV DRAMAS
I’m very much into true crime dramas right now, so Making a Murderer, The Staircase, Killer Women (the show hosted by Piers Morgan) and Evil Genius are all recent favourites. When it comes to fictional dramas, I’m really enjoying Ozark at the moment, and am excited to get stuck into season 2 soon. 


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Dexter - he’s the only killer I’ve ever felt sympathy for, and his development over the course of the show was remarkable. He was such a cleverly written character, because as a viewer, I just wanted him to succeed. I’m not sure what that says about me, though!


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
I know Castle is not technically a detective, but he fancies himself one and the results are usually (predictably) hilarious. And Detective Beckett, who’s an actual detective, and who Castle is sidekick to, is an absolute badass and knows how to put him in his place when he’s getting too cheeky. They make a fab pair. 


... MURDER WEAPONS
The gold paint that smothered the Bond Girl in Goldfinger was a stroke of genius, and after watching the film as a kid it haunted me for years. Apparently it wouldn’t actually happen in real life but it was still an incredible scene and a creative murder weapon anyway!
    

... DEATH SCENES
The method of his death was not unusual as such, but the murder of Ned Stark in Game of Thrones was so utterly shocking that it is an unforgettable scene. It was the first time I stopped trusting that the hero of a series was going to journey through to the end of the storyline, and it was a devastating moment. 
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
It varies so much, I think the only constant is Google. Honestly, the best word to sum up my search history is ’bizarre’, and definitely a little concerning if you looked at it without context!


... WRITING TIPS
Get rid of as many distractions as possible. I have an internet-blocker called Freedom, which I turn on for hour-long chunks of time, and I also keep my phone in another room. That way, there’s not much for it but to just get on with it and write.


... WRITING SNACKS
In an attempt to stay healthy, I tend not to keep snacks in the house. This results in some pretty weird food combinations being created at around 3pm when I’m inevitably starving or, more commonly, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.  


About ELLE CROFT
Elle Croft was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia and moved to the UK in 2010 after travelling around the world with her husband. She works as a freelance social media specialist and also blogs about travel, food and life in London.

Find Elle Croft on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @elle_croft


About THE OTHER SISTER




Publisher's description
How far would you go...
Gina Mills is desperate to be a newsreader, but her boss - the director of the struggling Channel Eight, won't help.
Walking home one night, Gina stumbles upon a dead body, and after calling the police, she makes the split-second decision to report the murder live. 
When questioned by the police, Gina can't remember specific details about her discovery, but these memory gaps are explained away as shock. 
...to uncover your family's deadly secret?
But when Gina finds a second body, it's clear she's being targeted. But why? 
And how is this connected to the death of Gina's younger sister so many years ago?

The Other Sister is published in paperback by Orion on 18 October 2018.


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Trap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Trap is published by Orenda Books in paperback on 18th October 2018.

Trap
By Lilja Sigurdardóttir
Published by Orenda Books (e-book - 13 September; paperback - 18 October 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My verdict
Yet again, Lilja Sigurdardóttir has written an addictive thriller with well-defined characters and a rollercoaster storyline. I thought Sonja's life was complicated in previous book Snare. Well, in Trap, it now becomes even more complicated, as she finds herself cornered by powerful drug barons and her scheming ex-husband.

Trap certainly trapped me within its 225 pages while I blocked out the rest of the world for a while. Short snappy chapters, switching between characters, kept the story flowing at a fast pace, making it very easy to read 'one more chapter' and then 'just one more'. I had to force myself not to race through the latter half of the book (as I was desperate to see what was in store for Sonja). Instead, I deliberately slowed down my reading pace to savour all of the poetic descriptions.

In Trap, reluctant cocaine smuggler Sonja, who was on the run with her son Tomas, is dragged back to Iceland to 'pay her debts' and her lover, disgraced banker Agla, is awaiting trial for financial misconduct. Reykjavik is still covered in volcanic dust and the Icelanders are still struggling with the financial crash. Sonja is now working with customs officer Bragi, who has his beloved wife Valdís home and will do anything to make sure he can afford the nursing care she needs as her dementia progresses. Great to see Mr José and his tiger back too (providing me with a few laughs as well as a few OMG moments - breaking up the darkness at the heart of the book).

Trap covers serious issues, including money laundering and drug dealing. Yet it is also laced with tenderness and affection, with key characters Sonja and Bragi prepared to risk their lives and reputations for their loved ones. Sonja is a great character - a loving mother who will do anything to keep her son safe, strong and capable when she needs to be but also naive enough to get herself into all manner of difficult (and often dangerous) situations. I still haven't warmed fully to Agla - she's a manipulator and a schemer, which is how she ended up on the wrong side of the law, but she's now slowly redeeming herself.

I found this to be an easy read, thanks to the seamless translation by Quentin Bates. The tension escalated throughout the book, culminating in a thrilling, heart-stopping conclusion. And while most of the threads were tied up neatly by the end, leaving me feeling satisfied, I can't wait to see what happens next.

Follow the Blog Tour


Monday, 15 October 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Jack Jordan

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 

JACK JORDAN


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
Karin Slaughter. Her standalones are something to behold. I’ve read Cop Town twice! Whenever I finish reading her latest book, I eagerly await her next offering. 


... FILMS/MOVIES
Okay, I know it’s more in the horror genre, but I love the original Scream trilogy; so twisty and tense and melodramatic. I mean, the scene in Scream 3 where Sidney has to climb over the unconscious killer to get out of the cop car… talk about holding one’s breath! Amazing. 


... TV DRAMAS
Silent Witness. It’s just so British and I love it, and although it doesn’t always ring true when it comes to procedure, I love it for what it is. How they continually come up with new ideas after two decades is astonishing!


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
I think it has to be the Scream trilogy again. There’s a different masked killer in each film, and yet the ‘Ghost Killer’ became a staple character of its own. Genius. 


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Clarice Starling. I love a rookie who wins, and boy did she have to go through some sh*t to win!


... MURDER WEAPONS
I think the dagger-like icicle is the most ingenious. A weapon that melts away after it’s been used? Sign me up! Although the ice pick in Basic Instinct is also a contender!
    

... DEATH SCENES
The death scene that I’ll never forget (because it genuinely traumatised me and rendered me speechless) was in The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. The fact that it’s based on a true story makes the string of events even more horrifying. This book is not for everyone (probably not for anyone!).
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
I actually don’t have any staple websites or blogs I visit for research. With each story comes a new subject matter, so I’m surfing all over the place and never visit the same website twice. However, I’ve found Youtube extremely useful for finding information on a huge range of topics. 


... WRITING TIPS
  • It is very normal to hate your own writing.
  • The first draft is for you; the other drafts are for the readers. 
  • Repeat after me: ‘I cannot please everyone’. There will always be someone who is going to hate your work (and be vocal about it) – this is not a reflection on your talent or worth. 
  • In a very competitive, sometimes cut-throat industry, I think this is a very handy motto to live by: don’t be jealous, be inspired. 

... WRITING SNACKS
I start off relatively healthy, mirroring my optimism before the real work begins and the snacks gets worse and worse until I’m essentially shoveling sugar into my mouth during copy-edits. Best snacks/fuel: chocolate and coffee.


About JACK JORDAN
Jack Jordan is the bestselling author of four books: Anything for Her, My Girl, A Woman Scorned, and Before Her Eyes, with number five, Night by Night, arriving in 2019. 

Find Jack Jordan on Instagram, on his Facebook page and on Twitter - @JackJordanBooks


About BEFORE HER EYES


Publisher's description
She can't see the killer
But the killer can see her...
Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene - watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer's face, but she is still the only person who can identify him. 
As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?
In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes...

Before Her Eyes was published by Corvus on 16 August 2018.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Cold Breath by Quentin Bates

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Cold Breath by Quentin Bates. Cold Breath was published by Constable on 11 October 2018.

Cold Breath 
By Quentin Bates
Published by Constable (11 October 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
Gunnhildur reluctantly allows herself to be taken off police duties to act as bodyguard to a man with a price on his head . . . 
Hidden away in a secure house outside Reykjavík, Gunna and the high-profile stranger, a guest of the interiors minister, are thrown together - too close for comfort. They soon find they are neither as safe nor as carefully hidden as Gunna and her boss had thought. Conflicting glimpses of the man's past start to emerge as the press begin to sniff him out, as does another group with their own reasons for locating him. Gunna struggles to come to terms with protecting the life of a man who may have the lives of many on his conscience - or indeed may be the philanthropist he claims to be.
Isolated together, the friction grows between Gunna and the foreign visitor, and she realises they are out of their depth as the trails lead from the house outside Reykjavík to Brussels, Russia and the Middle East.

My verdict
Cold Breath is a twisty mix of Icelandic police procedural and action thriller.

Gunna is acting as bodyguard to a guest of the interiors minister, but doesn't know why she's been asked to do this job. Her foreign charge is as cagey as everyone else who knows where he's in hiding, yet they're having to live in very close proximity - too close at times. Gradually Gunna begins to piece together his history, and his past, and doesn't like everything she finds, leading her to wonder who she's really protecting - and why. She's not the only one with questions, as there's a relentless journalist on their trail, and also some ruthless killers on the loose, determined to discover where this high-profile visitor is being hidden.

Cold Breath features several strands, all equally intriguing, following the various different characters, from police officers and journalists to the determined villains. Gradually, these individual strands weave together to reveal a complex well-planned plot. It soon became clear to me that nothing was clearcut, with the killers and the press closing in, culminating in an action-packed explosive ending.

Gunna is a tough cookie, yet also has plenty of heart, focusing as much on her family as on her job - and she definitely brings the story to life. I have read the previous book in this series, but haven't yet read any of the others, yet there's enough backstory here to be able to read Cold Breath as a standalone. The chilling Icelandic setting is a perfect backdrop, and the author's vivid evocative descriptions transported me there myself - feeling the freezing temperatures, experiencing suburban life just outside Reykjavik and seeing the starkness of more-remote areas. Quentin Bates lived in Iceland for a decade and still visits the country every year, and this personal knowledge of Icelandic culture shows in his writing.

Cold Breath is a gripping read and a great addition to any Nordic Noir crime shelf.

Follow the Blog Tour