Monday, 30 January 2017

Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1

Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #
By various female crime fiction authors
Published by Killer Women Ltd (6 September 2016)
ISBN: 978-1527200715

Publisher's description
Blade-sharp and pared to the bone, these original stories by bestselling, award-winning female crime writers will lure you to the dark side. Fifteen perfectly twisted tales with a measure of evil, a dash of horror, and a dose of humour. Expect the unexpected…

Fifteen original stories by Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Sarah Hilary, Alison Joseph, Erin Kelly, Alex Marwood, Kate Medina, Colette McBeth, Melanie McGrath, D. E. Meredith, Louise Millar, Kate Rhodes, Helen Smith, Louise Voss and Laura Wilson, with a foreword by Val McDermid.

My verdict
I began reading this Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1 a while back. The fact that it's taken so long for me to get through it is certainly no reflection on the quality of the writing or my enjoyment of the stories. Sadly life (and other books) just kept getting in the way.

I admit that I'm not usually one for short story collections. I tend to read full length novels, not even novellas. But having entered a reading slump recently, I realised it was time to get stuck into this anthology again. And this was the best thing I could have done. It was so easy to dip into whenever there was a spare moment and I could read a whole story at a time, feeling a sense of completion at the end.

The Killer Women are an incredibly talented bunch of women. The stories in their collection are all very different, providing something for everyone. These twisted tales are full of shocks, surprises and dark humour. Some are chilling, some are creepy, some are stomach churning and some are totally offbeat and 'laugh out loud' reads.

The Killer Women: Crime Club Anthology #1 is a fantastic introduction to 15 amazing authors and offers the reader great value for money. I'm assuming (and hoping) that there are more collections to come.

Do I have a favourite story? Maybe. But my lips are sealed. Buy the book and work out which one is your favourite. I have no doubt that everyone will find their own.

I received an Advance Reader Copy (but actually bought the e-book too).

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson - Blog Tour

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Rupture by Ragnar Jónassen, which was published by Orenda Books on 15 January 2017. Here's my review (plus details of a giveawaat the end) ...

By Ragnar Jónasson
Translated by Quentin Bates
Published by Orenda Books (15 January 2017)
ISBN: 978-1910633571

Publisher's description
1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He's assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinsister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

My verdict
I love this Dark Iceland series and believe that Rupture may possibly be the most intriguing so far.

Rupture is set in a small Icelandic community, which becomes quarantined (and even more isolated than usual) when a deadly virus strikes at its heart. Stranded by the epidemic, Ari Thór begins to investigate a 60-year-old cold case of poisoning at a remote fjord, looking for a mysterious young man in a old photograph. He seeks the help of Isrun, a news reporter in Reykjavik (first introduced in Blackout), who is investigating a hit and run and the disappearance of a young child.

Rupture is chilling, atmospheric and very readable (beautifully translated by Quentin Bates). I whizzed through it in just a few hours - totally captivated by the vivid descriptions of the Icelandic setting and daily life and haunted by the suspicious death of the past.

Yet again, as with all Dark Iceland books, there are several seemingly unconnected strands. They flowed alongside one another until they gradually began to weave together, creating a tapestry of deception and lies. There was more than a hint of Agatha Christie within the plot, especially as Ari Thór gathered everyone together for the final reveal. I believe these Dark Iceland books will feature on classic crime fiction reading lists for decades to come.

I have one copy of Rupture to give away (UK only). To enter, follow me on Twitter (@VictoriaGoldma2) and RT my pinned Rupture giveaway tweet. Entries close at midnight on 5th February. Winner chosen at random on 6th February and will be notified by Twitter Direct Messaging.

Follow the Blog Tour

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her Eyes
By Sarah Pinborough
Published by Harper Collins (26 January 2017)
ISBN: 978-0008131968

Publisher's description
David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He's a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

As Louise, David's new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can't guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage's secrets.

My verdict
Behind Her Eyes is SO hard to review as I don't want to give anything away. All I will say is that this is a very dark, disturbing and addictive read, with a hint of 'something very different'...

This psychological thriller feels a bit creepy from the start, focusing on a not-so-conventional marriage with secrets. Sarah Pinborough draws you in with a well-engineered plot, believable characters and lots of unease. And then, just as you think you have it worked out, she gets you with a killer ending - one that slams you into stunned silence followed by lots of swearing.

The hashtag for this book is #WTFthatending. I challenge anyone to guess the ending of this book! Certainly a book to remember.

I received an Advance Reader Copy.

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

Evil Games
By Angela Marsons
Published by Zaffre (26 January 2017)
ISBN: 978-1785762147

Publisher's description
The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time - it's personal.

My verdict
Angela Marsons has written a 5* crime novel.

In Evil Games, we return to DI Kim Stone, the first-rate detective with a damaged past. In her second book, Angela Marsons gives us more background about Kim's horrific childhood, which was hinted about in the previous one. I love Kim's friendship and banter with Bryant, as it brings her softer side to the surface.

This time, Kim has a great adversary in the form of an evil and creepy psychiatrist, Alexandra 'Alex' Thorne. Kim suspects something sinister is going on following a series of seemingly unrelated killings. As Alex delves into Kim's past, this becomes a terrifying game of cat and mouse.

Evil Games is fast-paced writing and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I can't wait for the third instalment!

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola - now out in Paperback!

The Unseeing
By Anna Mazzola
Published by Tinder Press (Paperback - 26 January 2017)
ISBN: 978-1472234759

Publisher's description
Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola's THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she's hiding something, but needs to discover just why she's maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

My verdict
The Unseeing is page-turning historical crime fiction. It's a gripping read and I was glued to the book from start to finish. I was particularly fascinated by the underlying true story and this is certainly one I'm interested to explore.

The story focuses on Sarah Gale, who was sentenced to hang for murder, but Sarah refuses to say anything that could either help her case or hinder it. Edmund Fleetwood, the lawyer appointed to investigate, isn't sure whether Sarah's hiding something.

Thanks to Anna Mazzola's gift for storytelling, I also wasn't sure whether or not Sarah could be trusted. The characters are so well developed that I actually cared what happened to them by the end of the book - and would still love to know the 'after'. The vivid descriptions brought 19th century London to life - the sights, smells and sounds - from the very first page.

Anna Mazzola is certainly an author to watch, as this is an amazing debut novel.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Read my Q&A with Anna here.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

From News to Novels - author guest post by TM Logan

I am delighted to welcome author TM Logan to my blog today to talk about 'From News to Novels'. TM Logan's book Lies was published in e-book by Twenty7 on 17 January 2017.

From News to Novels
By TM Logan

Authors come from every kind of background. For me, it was journalism. I always knew I wanted to write, and that instinct led me to spend eight years as a newspaper reporter including a stint on a national daily in London. In many respects I think it’s a good preparation for a writer – here are a few of the ways that journalism helped me in writing my debut novel LIES.

1. Respect the reader
A constant refrain during my training was that if the reader didn’t understand what you’d written first time around, it wasn’t their fault, it was yours. In other words, the point is to communicate – to be clear – rather than try to show off. Whatever you’re writing, your words should be a bridge to connect with the reader, rather than a barrier. As the writer Amy Hempel put it: ‘Journalism taught me how to write a sentence that would make someone want to read the next one.’

2. People are going to change what you write
There’s (almost) always a better way to write what you’ve already written. When I was a reporter, it was absolutely routine for everyone’s copy to go through one or more sub-editors on its way to the page. They would tighten it, sharpen it, improve it, and come back with questions that needed answers or elements that ought to be added. This gets you used to the process of revising and copy-editing a novel – to make it the very best it can be.

3. Getting used to deadlines
This is both a blessing and a curse. I spent so long working to daily deadlines, filing three or four stories a day, that I became used to the pressure and accustomed to writing against the clock. Which is helpful when you have to meet a short writing deadline. The flipside, however, is that when the deadline stretches out for months – such as writing a 100,000-word first draft – it can be difficult to retain your focus. My solution is to have self-imposed wordcount targets, and to write every day to meet them.

4. Writing as a way to make a living
In some ways, writing is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the more effective it becomes. Being a journalist, and in my current role in communications, there is an expectation that you will be writing every day, and this is not a bad preparation for the writer’s life. Every day you start with a blank page, and every day you fill it. Journalism showed me that I could do something I love – writing – and make a living out of it

5. ‘Write it as if it’s true'
I had quite a few weird moments as science reporter at the Daily Mail. One day I was assigned a story about strange lights in the sky that looked like alien spacecraft. Could they be visitors from another galaxy? I duly rang around various astronomers who explained to me what caused this phenomenon (not aliens, unfortunately). I told the assistant news editor the story was a dud. His response was a furrowed brow, followed by: ‘Can you write it as if it’s true?’ But it’s not true, I said again. It was one of the weirdest instructions I ever received as a journalist, but it has some merit for fiction writers. Because if you can write your story as if it’s true, as if it’s really happening to someone, somewhere, then it will feel all the more real to the reader – and that’s something I’ve tried to do with LIES.

About TM Logan

T M Logan is former Daily Mail science reporter, covering stories on new developments in a wide variety of scientific fields. He is Deputy Director of Communications at the University of Nottingham and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

Find TM Logan on Twitter - @TMLoganAuthor

About Lies

By TM Logan
Published by Twenty7 (E-book out now; Paperback in May 2017)
ISBN: 978-1785770555

Publisher's description
When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she's supposed to be at work, he's intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe's young son has an asthma attack - and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that's when Joe receives the first message . . .

You can buy Lies here.