Monday, 9 September 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Andy Martin

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 

ANDY MARTIN


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
Lee Child. He has the best sentences (short or long).


... FILMS/MOVIES
2001: A Space Odyssey. Serial murders in space.


... TV DRAMAS
Breaking Bad. Big fan of the pork pie hat. 
Big Little Lies. I’m probably in love with Celeste.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
Jack Reacher


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Jack Reacher
It’s an interesting combination.


... MURDER WEAPONS
In Blue Moon Reacher uses a guitar, thus giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “head-banger”.
I also like the one Lee Child keeps on a shelf in his living room. He says it’s his only lethal weapon. A flint hand-axe dating from around 250,000 years ago. Possibly Neanderthal.
    

... DEATH SCENES
I always think of Jean-Paul Belmondo staggering along the street in Paris, having been shot, in A bout de souffle. So implausible, but he almost makes you believe. And he manages to get out déguelasse as he’s dying. 


... WRITING TIPS
I like Lee Child’s idea: don’t think of yourself as a writer, more as a reader. If I’m getting stuck, I find the “pomodoro” system works well: 25 mins on, 5 mins off.


... WRITING SNACKS
Sunflower seeds – just don’t get them in your keyboard. They hit the spot but they’re not too ridiculously delicious.


About ANDY MARTIN
Andy Martin is the author of Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me.

Find Andy Martin on his website and on Twitter - @andymartinink


About WITH CHILD



Publisher's description
With a foreword by Lee Child. Andy Martin spent a year in the company of Lee Child, creator of tough-guy hero Jack Reacher. With Child is the diary of their adventures, tracking the publication and reception of Make Me, the writing of Night School at an apartment in Manhattan, the filming of Never Go Back in New Orleans, all the agony and ecstasy of the creative process and the sheer hard work of selling a bestseller. They go on the road together, from TV studios to bookstores, from Harvard to Stockholm, amid literary conferences and gunshows, rivalries and reviews ranging from adulatory to murderous. We meet fellow writers like Stephen King and David Lagercrantz and Karin Slaughter, and dissect the latest novel from Jonathan Franzen. But Martin also reaches out to Child's legion of readers in America and around the world. He tracks down a woman in Texas whose name appears in the home invasion scene in Make Me; he goes up a mountain in Montana in search of the only reader who thinks Reacher is a "lightweight"; and he talks to obsessive fans from Europe to South Africa who find salvation or consolation in the colossal form of Jack Reacher. This compelling account of life on the road with Lee Child demonstrates that readers are just as important as writers in the making of modern fiction.

With Child: Lee Child and the Readers of Jack Reacher was published by Polity Press on 6 September 2019


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.



Friday, 6 September 2019

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Nothing Important Happened Today
By Will Carver
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - 14 September 2019; Paperback - 14 November 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader
Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.
That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.
Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe: a decapitation in Germany, a public shooting at a university in Bordeaux; in Illinois, a sports team stands around the centre circle of the football pitch and pulls the trigger of the gun pressed to the temple of the person on their right. It becomes a movement.

My verdict
Nothing Important Happened Today... So hard to describe this book and discuss it with someone who hasn't read it, other than to say it's brilliant (apologies as I'm going to use this word a few times in this review).

It's beautifully written. The writing is staccato - quick, fast-paced and compelling - drawing the reader in. As a few things slotted into place, I realised that the book was so clever too - like nothing I've ever read before. The underlying premise is unique and ... yep ... brilliant.

The book is so well plotted, bringing everything together, weaving in historical references to cults and serial killers with the events in the present day. It provides a melancholy monologue on modern living, social media culture and the pace of society. The book focuses on a highly emotional topic, yet doesn't read that way - I can't give anything away, so it's really hard to explain! The descriptions are shocking and graphic in places and maybe slightly disturbing.

Nothing Important Happened Today will intrigue you from the start and after a while you won't want to put it down. The ending is so good and so right and ... so brilliant. You won't forget this book after you've read it! And you'll just have to read it to find out why!

OK. I think I've waffled on enough now. Just buy the book!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Miranda Boer

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 

M K BOERS


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




... AUTHORS
Stephen King. I’m one of what he calls his 'Constant Readers'. Between the horror, the fantasy, the science fiction and more recently crime thrillers, he really can’t be missed. His Mr. Mercedes series was excellent, and Joyland, was a return to old style ‘Hard Case Crime’ novels. 


... FILMS/MOVIES
Just one?! So hard - there are so many movies I love, across many categories. I have recently been educating my eldest in classic horror: revisiting Halloween, Nightmare on Elm St and Silence of the Lambs! But of more recent movies Split encapsulates for me what I love in a good movie: great characterisation of a complex murderer. 


... TV DRAMAS
There’s a lot of good dramas around at the moment, and I tend to rewatch my favourites when I am doing housework or cooking. Elementary is one of them, and I was gutted to find Netflix has taken it off! So no more reruns for me for a while (I am sending them daily request to return it!). I love Johnny Miller’s version of Sherlock Holmes: it’s contemporary and he gives him so much depth. 


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
John Wick. I know he is more revenge and retaliation killing, but I love the sort of aloof, don’t-give-a-damn attitude as he shoots up everywhere and everyone, while giving us a glimpse into the whole the underbelly of organised crime and contract killing he is embroiled in.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Whenever anyone mentions fiction detectives I always think of Poirot, in particular David Suchet’s version. Having recently read Agatha Christie’s autobiography I was surprised to find that she had never planned for him to be in more than one book, or popular, and initially didn’t like writing him. 


... MURDER WEAPONS
Umbrella. One of my characters used one in Mostly DarkScissors are another one good one. My characters have to use whatever is at hand. 
    

... DEATH SCENES
I’m an avid watcher of Game of Thrones, and the series offers a plethora of choice for death scenes. But my favourite is definitely when Viserys Targaryen, Daenerys’s brother, dies. Khal Drogo gives him the crown he is demanding, in molten gold over his head! It’s marvellous! The one thing about Game of Thrones is how satisfying it is to watch the characters you hate die.  
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
I don’t have specific sites I go to, it depends what I am looking for; when researching for Sleep I found myself on prison or government sites. For writing, I use www.thesaurus.com for synonyms a lot, when I am trying to find a word to describe something better or differently. 


... WRITING TIPS
It all down to you; you can talk about it, think about it and dream about it, but in the end you have to sit down and write.


... WRITING SNACKS
Can’t type and eat, so I tend not to when I’m at my desk. It’s also an excuse to get up and move around, because the hours fly by and I’m not getting any younger!


About M K BOERS
M K Boers spent her early childhood in Surrey, in the south of England, and her teens moving round the UK, but currently resides in the Netherlands. 

Under her pen name Miranda Kate, she has been featured in several Flash Fiction anthologies, and has published two collections, one of dark flash-fiction tales called Mostly Dark, and another of science fiction stories called Slipping Through, the latter containing a short novella for which a sequel will be forthcoming this year. 

Find M K Boers on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @PurpleQueenNL


About SLEEP


Publisher's description
A marriage made in heaven, a murder made in hell.
Why kill the man you love?
Lizzy was struggling, everyone knew that.
He shouldn't have done those things.
He shouldn't have pushed her so hard.
And now, her children, her marriage, her hope - gone.
It was all her fault, she knew that, but was there a chance of redemption?
Lizzy Dyson’s on trial for her life. She knows she must pay for what she did, even if it wasn’t planned, but will the jury believe her?
A suspense-filled psychological drama about heartbreak and betrayal, Sleep reveals what drives a woman to murder.
Deals with the sensitive subjects of miscarriage and depression.

Sleep was published on 1 September 2019


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Don't Make A Sound by David Jackson

Don't Make A Sound
By David Jackson
Published by Zaffre (November 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
You can't choose your family. Or can you? 
Meet the Bensons. They're an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.
There's just one problem. 
SHE'S NOT THEIRS.
D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .

My verdict
Don't Make A Sound hooked me in immediately.

It's my first Nathan Cody book - and certainly won't be my last - and I read it very easily as a standalone. From its chilling first chapter right through to the final page, this was pretty much a one-sitting read for me - a 'just one more chapter' book.

Don't Make A Sound is very much a character-led novel - a mixture of psychological thriller and police procedural. It's fast paced and twisty, and felt very believable - what's going on behind closed doors? It's cleverly plotted, with a dark and disturbing storyline, as well as well written - several scenes had me holding my breath.

For months, I've seen people on social media raving about the brilliance of this book - and now I can understand why!

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

Blood Song
By Johana Gustawsson 
Translated by David Warriner
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - out now; Paperback - 19 September 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.
Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

My verdict
Yet again, Johana Gustawsson has astounded me with her fabulous ability to intertwine crimes of the past with crimes of the present, seamlessly weaving multiple threads together to create a well-plotted, intelligent thriller.

Blood Song has been translated from French to English extremely well by David Warriner, not just showcasing the author's vivid prose but also her visceral writing. It focuses on a period of history I know little about - Franco's brutal dictatorship - and led me to Google to learn more. I love the use of multiple locations - London, Sweden and Spain - to enrich the story with culture and history.

Johana Gustawson's books are more than just crime thrillers. Each one has been written from the heart. Blood Song, in particular, is filled with emotion - from the brutality of Franco's dictatorship and shocking conditions in 1930s Spanish prisons & orphanages to the heartache of families attending modern-day fertility clinics, alongside the savage murder of a wealthy family in Sweden. It's based on the author's own experiences and her family history, and this shines through in her writing - it's personal and raw.

Blood Song is tragic and heartbreaking - a book of love, loss and hope and a book to make you cry and make you think. Yes, the crimes are dark, but the author manages to cover them with sensitivity and delve deeper into the 'why?' as well as the 'what?', 'how?' and 'who?'. Plus the crime element is fascinating and intriguing, right up to the big reveal - how are all of the threads linked together and why is it such a personal one for the team of investigators?

Bring on the next Roy & Castells book!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

After She's Gone by Camilla Grebe

After She's Gone
By Camilla Grebe
Published by Zaffre (March 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher



Publisher's description
A case as cold as the season. A profiler who can't remember. A killer ready to strike again.
Psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schön and her partner, investigator Peter Lindgren are invited to the small, sleepy industrial town of Ormberg to investigate a cold case: ten years earlier a five-year-old girl's remains were found in a cairn near the town.
But when a recurring memory problem resurfaces, Hanne struggles to keep track of the case. She begins keeping a diary, noting down everything she is likely to forget to keep up appearances so she doesn't lose her job. 
When the body of a woman is found at the cairn and one of Hanne's shoes is found nearby covered in the victim's blood, can Hanne's diary hold the key to what happened? How does this new murder connect to their old one? 
How can you put together what happened when the pieces keep fading away?

My verdict
I really enjoy Nordic Noir and always welcome the opportunity to find a new author to add to my list.

After She's Gone is highly chilling, not just in plot but also in setting. Set in a small Swedish town and depopulated highly forested area, the story focuses on a cold case, in which a young girl's remains were found but never identified. This discovery in the past is soon linked to crimes in the present.

The plot is complex, though certainly not too complex to follow, and focuses on various contemporary issues (which I can't reveal as I don't want to give away any spoilers). As with all good Nordic Noir, the atmospheric setting and inclement weather are as essential to the plot as the characters themselves. I tried to read between the lines and solve the case myself.

After She's Gone offers everything I look for in good crime fiction - an intelligent multi-layered plot, intriguing mystery, well-developed characters, realistic dialogue and good writing. I haven't read the first book in the series and, while I did have a few questions about the main character, this can easily be read as a standalone.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

The Secretary by Renée Knight

The Secretary 
By Renée Knight
Published by Doubleday (February 2019)



Publisher's description
Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?
Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.
There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room...

My verdict
The Secretary is chilling and twisty. One of those psychological thrillers that really gets right under your skin.

This is a story of the revenge, power and betrayal - and that it's often the quiet ones you have to watch. Christine, a seemingly mild-mannered secretary, is the 'star of the show' - she knows everything there is to know about her employer, including secrets that have been brushed under the carpet, and would do anything to protect the family name.

The plot is realistic, in an everyday setting that mirrors current world affairs, with the destruction of essential documents in high-profile court cases. The drama escalates slowly, creeping up on the reader, and is clever, dark and compelling, with believable and often hateful characters.

I struggle with a lot of psychological thrillers at the moment, but The Secretary had me hooked all the way through.



Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes

Ruin Beach
By Kate Rhodes
Published by Simon & Schuster (February 2019)




Publisher's description
THE ISLAND OF TRESCO HOLDS A DARK SECRET SOMEONE WILL KILL TO PROTECT.
Ben Kitto is the Scilly Isles' Deputy Chief of Police, but as the island's lazy summer takes hold, he finds himself missing the excitement of the murder squad in London - until the body of a diver is discovered, anchored to the rocks of a nearby cave.
At first it appears that the young woman's death was a tragic accident, but when evidence is found that suggests otherwise, the islanders close ranks. With even those closest to the victim refusing to talk, Ben questions whether more than one resident might have had reason to harm her . . .
Everyone is a suspect. No one is safe.

My verdict
Ruin Beach is yet another suspense-filled crime novel from Kate Rhodes, with a fabulous sense of place.

I loved the first book in the series - Hell Bay - and couldn't wait to 'meet' Ben Kitto again. This is the perfect blend of mystery, history and thriller, set in a small isolated community. I loved all of the little  details - from the dangers of the diving, the wonders of shipwrecks and the beauty of the islands - providing the perfect background to murder.

Every time I read a Kate Rhodes book, I have the same thought and go through the same reading experience. The author has poetic writing that's begging to be read out loud (I urge you to try it). Her descriptions of the Scilly Isles - landscape, fauna and flora - paint pictures in the mind.

I highly recommend this series - and the author's other series too.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Violet by SJI Holliday

Violet 
By SJI Holliday
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - 14 September 2019; Paperback - 14 November 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher



Publisher's description
When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, an intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending … a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday
Carrie's best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they'd planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone. 
Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.
When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend's place.
Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

My verdict
If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I love SJI Holliday's books. Violet is set to be one of my favourite reads of this year.

Violet was great fun to read - there's mystery, humour and intrigue on every page. The writing is beautiful and compelling. The plot is creepy, chilling and clever - and very dark and very twisted.
It's what I often call a 'car crash book'. When you know something bad is going to happen but you have no idea what, and there's obviously nothing you can do to stop it. And then, BAM, it all hits you.

I could tell that the author has first-hand experience of the Trans-Siberian Express journey, from all of the tiny descriptive details, and I suspect that the book was a highly personal one to write. Maybe not the best book to read when your 18-year-old son is interrailing around Europe, but fortunately my son came back safely in one piece - unlike some of the characters in this book!

SJI Holliday has written two believable and deeply flawed unreliable narrators. I had no idea which one was to be trusted, if either of them. I read the book with bated breath - and wanted to applaud the author's brilliance at the end.

I don't often 'compare' books as it's not something I'm very good at, and reading is such a subjective experience anyway. But immediately I thought of Liz Nugent's Skin Deep - both books featuring an in-depth analysis of a female psychopath.

SJI Holliday is proving to be a master of psychological thrillers, with expert plotting and fabulous characterisation. Brilliant stuff

Breaking Dad by James Lubbock

Breaking Dad
By James Lubbock
Published by Mirror Books (April 2019)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher




Publisher's description
Think you've got a dysfunctional family?
Meet mine.
For 18 years, my family lived a normal life in a respectable suburb…
Until one day, my dad gave up his successful career, and unexpectedly became Britain's most wanted crystal meth dealer.
This is our story. At times shocking, often unbelievable, and all 100% true.

My verdict
Breaking Dad is about a very unconventional - and dysfunctional - family. It reads like a work of fiction - but the story is true.

James Lubbock's father switched from being a quiet and successful businessman to being a crystal meth dealer, addicted to drugs and leading a bohemian lifestyle. So James had to become the 'sensible' one, trying to keep his dad's behaviour in check.

I first heard about the book in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper and was intrigued to learn more, especially as the family originally lived close to where I grew up, not far from where I live now. Most of the book is set elsewhere, but I still had a strong sense of understanding the family background - especially the Jewish references - and why the events would have been so out of character.

Breaking Dad is filled with humour and honesty. It's fun to follow, yet there's also a sense of sadness when you read between the lines. It made me laugh, cry and somewhere in-between. James Lubbock isn't afraid to share his feelings about events of the past. The book is written as if he's chatting to a friend in a pub - no holds barred.

I wished there had been longer to 'chat' as I would have loved a few more details in some places. But obviously there's a limit to what you can fit in a book. So obviously I did the next best thing, which involved Googling more... And that's always a sign that a book has been a fascinating read.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Lin Anderson

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 

LIN ANDERSON


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...



... AUTHORS
William McIllvanney. Willie began Tartan Noir with his Laidlaw Trilogy. Suddenly here were our voices, our locations, our thoughts about the social fabric of Scotland in the voices of the people who walked the streets of Glasgow. The greats who followed, like Ian Rankin and Val McDermid pay tribute to the man who began it all. Willie’s trilogy is to my mind, and many others, one of the finest things in modern (crime) fiction, and definitely in the Chandler and Simenon class.


... FILMS/MOVIES
It has to be To Kill a Mockingbird. A coming of age story, a mystery, a crime, a trial, a social commentary. It has everything and all told through the innocent eyes of a child. And even better, that child is a girl.


... TV DRAMAS
Sons of Anarchy… Hamlet on a Harley Davidson. Can watch this multiple times. In fact it so influenced me, I wrote Sins of the Dead starring HD female riders and also bought a Harley. I also loved Line of Duty. As a writer of forensic novels, it’s so easy to spot the glaring errors, but the characters were fabulous.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
At the moment it’s definitely Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer in Killing Eve. She kills with abandon and yet, you like her! And you don’t want her caught. An obvious psychopath with no empathy, yet she catches us out all the time, when she pretends to have some. (Like in the latest season when she befriends a young badly burned boy in hospital…I won’t mention how that ends.)


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
I was a big reader of P.D. James as a teenager and a definite fan of Adam Dalgliesh. On screen I loved Cagney and Lacey. It was way ahead of it time, and in my opinion still to be beaten. A wonderful example of how the chemistry of female duos work, which inspired the relationship between Rhona and Chrissy in the Rhona MacLeod novels. After that it has to be Jack Laidlaw, philosopher and detective.


... MURDER WEAPONS
I liked arsenic in an alcopop bottle, so I featured it in Blood Red Roses where I killed the bride-to-be on her hen night.
    

... DEATH SCENES
The small push at the top of the Edinburgh Crags when a husband murdered his wife after looking round to check no one was about. However four folk looking through Camera Obscura on the Royal Mile saw it happen!
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
Depends on the book. As my protagonist moves round Scotland, I like to research the area thoroughly on line plus spend time there. The current book is set on the Isle of Skye, so everything I needed to know about Skye, using the Mountain Rescue Team, Climbing and walking sites, the Skye and Lochaber Police Twitter Feed! 


... WRITING TIPS
Keep the secret as long as possible, regardless of its size. That’s what keeps people turning the pages. And remember, it’s all about character. Readers stay with a series because they want to be with the characters.


About LIN ANDERSON
Lin Anderson is a Scottish novelist and screenwriter best known for her bestselling series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod of which there are currently fourteen novels, four of which have been long listed for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist. 
Lin is co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland which takes place annually in Stirling, Scotland, mid September. 

Find Lin Anderson on her website and on Twitter - @Lin_Anderson


About TIME FOR THE DEAD



Publisher's description
When forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod returns to her roots on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, a chance encounter in the woods behind a nearby activities centre leads her to what seems to be a crime scene, but without a victim. Could this be linked to a group of army medics, who visited the centre while on leave from Afghanistan and can no longer be located on the island?
Enlisting the help of local tracker dog Blaze, Rhona starts searching for a connection.
As the island’s unforgiving conditions close in, Rhona must find out what really happened to the group in Afghanistan, as the consequences may be being played out in brutal killings on Skye . . .

Time for the Dead was published by Macmillan on 8 August 2019


Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

Click here to read more BEST OF CRIME features.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Sleep by M K Boers

Sleep
By M K Boers
Published on 1 September 2019
I received an Advance Reader Copy




Publisher's description
A marriage made in heaven, a murder made in hell.
Why kill the man you love?
Lizzy was struggling, everyone knew that.
He shouldn't have done those things.
He shouldn't have pushed her so hard.
And now, her children, her marriage, her hope - gone.
It was all her fault, she knew that, but was there a chance of redemption?
Lizzy Dyson’s on trial for her life. She knows she must pay for what she did, even if it wasn’t planned, but will the jury believe her?

My verdict
Sleep is a compelling read - a character-led psychological thriller and courtroom drama.

Lizzy is on trial for murder, spending most of her time locked in a cell, which means she has plenty of time to think about the past. And she certainly has plenty to think about it.

By getting into Lizzy's thoughts and following her conversations with her friends, family and legal team, the tiny details of her marriage are gradually revealed, with secrets unravelled and heartache exposed. This is well-written domestic noir with great characterisation - as well as a believable insight into a woman's breakdown and the impact of miscarriage and stillbirth (and the need for support).

This is one of those books where you think you know the story at the start, but your views and allegiance change as the book progresses. It made me want to shout and sigh and cry. I wanted to shake Lizzy at times to help her see the truth, to realise she wasn't the monster she thought she was and that she was much stronger (deep inside) that she had been led to believe.

I really felt that I knew Lizzy by the end - her honesty, her grief, her remorse as she took herself on a journey of self-discovery, all she could really do to pass the time. I found myself turning the pages faster and faster, and felt bereft when there were no more. The ending of the book was perfect - satisfyingly so.

Check out the Blog Tour in September




Monday, 12 August 2019

The Night She Died by Jenny Blackhurst

The Night She Died
By Jenny Blackhurst
Published by Headline (November 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher



Publisher's description
On her own wedding night, beautiful and complicated Evie White leaps off a cliff to her death. 
What drove her to commit this terrible act? It's left to her best friend and her husband to unravel the sinister mystery. 
Following a twisted trail of clues leading to Evie's darkest secrets, they begin to realize they never knew the real Evie at all...

My verdict
The Night She Died is yet another dark psychological thriller from Jenny Blackhurst.

It's the story of Evie and her best friend Rebecca - and what led Evie to jump off a cliff to her death on her own wedding night. It sounds like a straightforward suicide but, as expected, there's far more to the plot than that. The narrative is split mainly between Evie and Rebecca, opening up a complex and twisty plot of secrets, lies and betrayal.

I had no idea which way this book was going - right through to the end. The book has been cleverly plotted and cleverly written to confuse as much as possible. As soon as I thought I had worked it out, the author threw something else into the mix, jumbling up my thoughts yet again. And made me question whether I even trusted any of the characters,

I love Jenny Blackhurst's books and should have read The Night She Died sooner. It means I'm now a book behind, as Someone is Lying is out in ebook already - but it's on my shopping list (paperback out in November!).

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

BEST OF CRIME with Louise Candlish (The Glass Bell Awards 2019 Shortlist spotlight)

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 

LOUISE CANDLISH


to share her BEST OF CRIME ...




Our House by Louise Candlish has been shortlisted for the 2019 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Awards. The winner will be announced on Monday 16th September. 


THE GOLDSBORO BOOKS GLASS BELL AWARDS

Launched in 2017, the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award is awarded annually to an outstanding work of contemporary fiction, rewarding quality storytelling in any genre. The winner of the Glass Bell will receive £2,000 in prize money, and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The jury of ten consists of team members from Goldsboro Books, DHH Literary Agency and The Dome Press. There is no fee, or limit to the number of books that a publisher may submit, allowing both established and debut authors a chance to win. The inaugural winner was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain. Last year, the award went to John Boyne for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Transworld).




... AUTHORS
I tend to like crime fiction that isn’t too strict about the genre, like Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books. A sly, satirical edge is good for me. One of my all-time favourite thrillers is John Colapinto’s About the Author, which combines plagiarism and murder. Bliss.


... FILMS/MOVIES
Old movies win every time. I love a dangerously discontented housewife, preferably played by Barbara Stanwyck, and so I can’t not choose Double Indemnity (1944) by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. I love the mood of doom, the clouds of cigarette smoke, the way you can’t help wanting the villains to get away with it.


... TV DRAMAS
I like TV crime with a legal element and also a series that’s inventive in its storytelling. It’s hard now to remember when TV drama wasn’t nonlinear, but for me Damages – set in a legal firm helmed by Glenn Close’s ruthless patty Hewes – was a game changer for its brilliant use of flash-forwards.


... FICTIONAL KILLERS
I’m a sucker for a killer who doesn’t recognize or remember his crime(s), like the enigmatic Mike Engleby in Engleby, a square peg in the round hole of an Oxbridge college who gets caught up in a missing persons investigation. Sebastian Faulks isn’t known for crime fiction, but this is a psychological masterpiece.


... FICTIONAL DETECTIVES 
Surely the most common answer, but Poirot has never been bettered, has he? The egg-shaped head, the eccentric use of English, the OCD habits. I love his sense of compassion, especially for the young and desperate. Death on the Nile was my first and favourite Poirot and I remember being very struck by his mercy, the way he allows the killer a way out.


... MURDER WEAPONS
Sorry to be Agatha Christie-centric, but I have to choose the infected pus from a cat’s ear used in Murder is Easy. Urgh. I also have a soft spot for the scene in Serial Mom (by John Waters), when Kathleen Turner’s character bludgeons a neighbourhood enemy to death with a leg of lamb. Now that’s domestic noir.
    

... DEATH SCENES
The one I find the most powerful is in The Talented Mr Ripley, when Tom Ripley beats Dickie Greenleaf to death with an oar. It’s such a stark, visual scene, just victim and killer in a little boat in the middle of an empty sunlit ocean. Horrific.
  

... BLOGS/WEBSITES
I admit to trawling Mailonline daily for ideas for new ways to torture my middle-class characters. 


... WRITING TIPS
When I was first asked to do a reading, I found I was editing the scene to make it more fluent, so I’m now a big believer in reading your WIP aloud. For dialogue in particular, it weeds out unnecessary words and unnatural phrasing.


... WRITING SNACKS
I’m keen on a mashup of snacks. I might mix together some walnuts and Maltesers and shards of Dime bar. As with reading, you don’t want the same texture and flavour with every mouthful.


About LOUISE CANDLISH
Sunday Times bestselling author Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and worked as an illustrated books editor and copywriter before writing fiction. She is the author of thirteen novels, including the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year and shortlisted for several other awards. It was a #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audiobook and has been optioned for TV by Red Planet Pictures. Those People, a novel about the neighbours from hell, was published in hardback in June 2019.

Find Louise Candlish on her website and on Twitter - @louise_candlish


About OUR HOUSE



Publisher's description
On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.
When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all their belongings? How could this have happened? Faced with a new family standing in their kitchen, Fi desperately calls her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her. He’s disappeared… 
The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been destroyed by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?

Our House was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2018.


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