Tag Archives: Crime

Killing Pretties by Rob Ashman #BookReview @RobAshmanAuthor @BOTBSPublicity #BlogTour 

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers taking part in Killing Pretties by Rob Ashman blog tour. If you are a fan of the authors this is probably his darkest book yet, and you are going to love it. If Rob Ashman is a new author to you and you enjoy a dark gritty crime thriller then look no further.  Before I share my review here’s the book description…..

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Detective Sergeant Khenan Malice is a rubbish ex-husband, a crap father but a damned good detective. It’s a shame he spoils his only redeeming quality by being a bent copper.

Detective Kelly Pietersen joins the team to help find a missing woman. But Kelly has a secret…

Damien Kaplan is a leading criminal barrister and a keen amateur potter. He also happens to be a serial killer with a chilling approach to creating his art. He’s married to Elsa, though she considers him more of a possession than a husband. She controls those around her using sex and procures men and women for her husband to play with but only after she’s finished with them first.

Killing Pretties is his passion, having sex with them is hers. It is difficult to say which one is worse.

The missing woman brings all four crashing together – an incendiary mix that doesn’t end well.

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’OMFG’ God The ‘king’ of twisted crime thrillers is back! Rob Ashman is one of my ‘turn to authors’ when I’m looking to read a dark crime thriller and Killing Pretties is unquestionably his darkest book yet! The authors latest heart thumping crime thriller has all the elements I enjoy, a protagonist whose beyond twisted, gory crime scenes, a tense plot, and a style of writing that is sharp and to the point. The authors draws the reader in with a shocking opening chapter, that’s full of promise and sets the dark tone of the book. The good news is this is a brand new series featuring DS Malice, so there’s no backlog of books to catch up on. 

There’s no need for me to give a recap on the plot, as the book description pretty much covers it, so let’s move on to the characters, starting with Detective Sergeant Khenan Malice. I have a feeling Malice is a character reader’s will have a love hate relationship with,  he wouldn’t win a father or husband of the year award, he’s considered to be a good Detective but he’s also bent. Normally in a crime thriller Detectives are sterotyped, ‘the conventional good guys’, so it makes a change to have a character who will freely cross the line, it means that Malice is unreliable, and unpredictable. 

The author takes a bold step and reveals the serial killer Damien Kaplan from the off, and ‘oh my giddy aunt’ twisted doesn’t even cover it! Sick, depraved, and warped spring to mind. Kaplan is enigma on one hand he’s smart, funny, clever and  sought after crime barrister, and then there’s the dark side of his character. He has a disturbing relationship with his wife Elsa, let’s just say it’s a ‘match made in hell’, a relationship that reminded me of the infamous Rose and Fred West, spine chilling to say the least! The nature of this book made for an uncomfortable read, and yet at the same time I read on with morbid curiosity, I’m a sucker for a well depicted serial killer! Killing Pretties is fast-paced, gruesome, and shocking, there are so many ‘OMFG’ moments that I’m sure I read most of the book with my mouth open! 

Thank god for Rob Ashman’s twisted imagination, he has such a vivid and dare I say fertile imagination I do wonder how he manages to sleep at night!  No one can ever say his books are ‘boring’ that’s for sure! This isn’t a book that I would recommend to those of a nervous disposition, as there are sexual scenes (although not in the romantic sense) included. But if you aren’t averse to a dark crime thriller with blood and guts, and you enjoy a dark, twisted read then it’s one I would happily encourage you to buy.

  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to a Rob Ashman and Sarah Hardy for an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the author

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Rob is married to Karen with two grown up daughters. He is originally from South Wales and after moving around with work settled in North Lincolnshire where he’s spent the last twenty-two years.
Like all good welsh valley boys Rob worked for the National Coal Board after leaving school at sixteen and went to University at the tender age of twenty-three when the pit closures began to bite. Since then he’s worked in a variety of manufacturing and consulting roles both in the UK and abroad.

It took Rob twenty-four years to write his first book. He only became serious about writing it when his dad got cancer. It was an aggressive illness and Rob gave up work for three months to look after him and his mum. Writing Those That Remain became his coping mechanism. After he wrote the book his family 
encouraged him to continue, so not being one for half measures, Rob got himself made redundant, went self-employed so he could devote more time to writing and four years later the Mechanic Trilogy was the result. 

Rob published Those That RemainIn Your Name and Pay the Penance with Bloodhound Books and has since written the DI Rosalind Kray series. These are Faceless, This Little Piggy, Suspended Retribution and Jaded which are also published by Bloodhound.

His latest work sees the introduction of a new set of characters – DS Khenan Malice and DC Kelly Pietersen. The first book in the series is titled Killing Pretties and the second is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Lies. Both books will be published this year.

When he is not writing, Rob is a frustrated chef with a liking for beer and prosecco, and is known for occasional outbreaks of dancing.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rob-Ashman-Author-1428800800468097/

Website: http://robashman.com/

Twitter: @RobAshmanAuthor

**********

Sarah Hardy

Book On The Bright Side Publicity & Promo
Twitter: @BOTBSPublicity

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten #BookReview @nholten40 #BlogTour @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity @HarperCollins #MustReads

Today I’m over the moon to be taking part in the blog tour for Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten. One of my most anticipated reads of the year, was it worth the wait?  you can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description……

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The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…

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I have been impatiently awaiting Dead Wrong, the second book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series, it seems like forever since I read Dead Inside by author Noelle Holten. The author knows how to draw the reader in from the off, even more so when you realise one of Raven’s victims is named after you! I would forgive you for thinking this could sway my review, but you would be dead wrong! (See what I did there?). Personally I think Dead Wrong is even better than the first book in the series, it’s what I would describe as a ‘heart-pounding, page-turner with a dark, gritty heart’.

Raven, admitted he killed three women and is serving a life sentence for his crimes, but fast forward to present time and body parts of his said victims start turning up, so he must be innocent right? And Raven makes an appeal to the courts to be set free, so begins a nightmare for DC Maggie Jamieson’s, as she attempts to solve the case once and for all. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a crime thriller that features a chilling but intriguing serial killer, and Raven is one such character, he lacks remorse, he’s callous, a master of manipulation, and a pathological liar. The heart of the plot focuses on Raven toying with Maggie, is he lying? Or is he mentally ill? Was he coerced by Maggie, admitting to crimes he didn’t commit? So many questions, but for those of us who love playing the amateur detective, it’s the perfect crime read to get those brain cells working. 

Hallelujah! DC Maggie Jamieson isn’t your standard stereotype you often find in a crime thriller, she’s not an alcoholic, nor is her character bogged down by personal problems or a shady past which makes a refreshing change. That doesn’t mean Maggie lacks depth, on the contrary her character is continuing to develop, she’s relentless in her pursuit for the truth, committed,  and has literally no personal life, I’m sure there are a lot of DC’s who can relate to that!  It’s obvious the author has an incredible insight into the justice system and the way different agencies work together, which adds an authentic feel to the plot, I find some crime thrillers lack this vital ingredient, mostly because authors have relied heavily on research, rather than personal experiences. 

Dismembered victims turning up in pieces made for a gristly read, but these scenes are paramount to the plot, and add a profound sense of tension to the overall plot. Like any good crime thriller there are many read herrings, and well-plotted twists, and that ending! Let’s just say it will leave readers desperate for the next book in the series. Noelle Holten’s writing goes from strength to strength, her writings bold and confident, she has a vivid imagination, her plots are exciting and gripping. If ever there was someone who was born to write crime thrillers, it’s this author. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a crime thriller. 

  •  Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: One More Chapter (14 March 2020)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

About the author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast.

Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the book love via her blog. 

Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson. 

Connect with Noelle on Social Media here:

Twitter: (@nholten40) https://twitter.com/nholten40

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noelleholtenauthor/

Blog FB page: https://www.facebook.com/crimebookjunkie/

Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

Website: https://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk  

Bookbub Author page : https://bit.ly/2LkT4LB

My thanks to the publishers and the author my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

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**Bookish Products** #Review Who Done It? Book Necklace #Crime

028869E0-3015-44FA-92B7-C84B82F530ABToday I’m thrilled to share my review for something that’s a little bit different to my normal book reviews. If you are a fan of suspense/crime thrillers or murder mysteries then you are going to love the Who Done It? handmade necklace.

The necklace comes complete with a “missing puzzle piece” and “key to solving the mystery” charms, as well as a miniature book charm that actually opens!! The necklace also arrived with a personal message and an adorable homemade book mark (a book lover can never have to many bookmarks).

If you order using the link I provide further down this post, you can also get a 20% discount off your necklace.

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The Who Done It? Necklace came from Ameliasartifacts  on Etsy. It’s an American site so I was expecting to wait ages for the necklace to arrive, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turned up approximately a week later. It comes well packaged in a silver holographic box.

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The necklace Dimensions are 18.75 Inches which is the perfect length for me as it falls at the top of my cleavage, if it was any longer I would worry about catching the charms.

The necklace comes with three charms, a key, a jigsaw piece and the Who Done It? book charm. The book charm is adorable and actually has pages in it, so the book literally opens! Which hang from a sturdy bar, the weight of the bar helps the necklace to sit perfectly and move around.

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The necklace has a robust clasp, and it isn’t too tiny, as I can sometimes have trouble doing up a clasp on a necklace with my fat sausage fingers! It’s really well made, and all the charms are securely fitted, I also liked the small ruby red beads on the necklace, they add a pop off colour to the item, without looking to ‘garish’.

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I do love quirky Jewellery so for me there’s nothing not to like about this necklace, it’s well made, and I love the gorgeous charms. In my opinion a lot of thought and time has gone into making this necklace.

Altogether the necklaces aren’t cheap I do think you have to bare in mind you are not only getting a unique piece of jewellery, but there’s also the time it must take Amelia to create each piece.

It’s the perfect gift for any book worm, but I also think the necklace would make a unique gift for authors, who write crime thrillers, but if the Who Done It? one isn’t your cup of tea, you can find plenty more book themed jewellery here..

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or here…..AmeliasArtiFacts-FB

**please note I did not receive payment for this review, but I did receive The Who Done It? Necklace from Amelia in exchange for an unbiased and honest review **

0EB221B2-C2B4-411D-92FD-CC76DC717DFFIf you’ve following in love with the Who Done It? Necklace, here’s a the link to get 20% discount and the discount code you need to apply BOOKCAFE2020

Buying link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmeliaWignall?coupon=BOOKCAFE2020

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Apartment Six by Stuart James #BookReview @StuartJames73 @BOTBSPUBLICITY #BlogTour @BloodhoundBook

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Apartment Six by Stuart James, if you enjoy a crime thriller with a dash of horror thrown into the mix, then this could be the book for you. Read on for my thoughts…..

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Be careful what you wish for…

When Meagan was five years old her mother was viciously attacked and murdered.

Now an adult, she herself is the victim of an abusive relationship. Meagan is desperate to escape but doesn’t have the courage to leave.

So, when Meagan meets Oliver, a decent guy who is on the rebound after a failed relationship, the two strike up a connection. But when Meagan confesses that her husband is abusive, it leads Oliver down a dark and dangerous path.

Just how far would you go to protect someone?

Oliver is about to find out and be pushed to his very limits…

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Ever since I read Turn The Other Way  by Stuart James I’ve been eagerly anticipating his latest crime thriller Apartment Six and it’s finally here! Was it worth the wait? It’s a ‘hell yes’ with bells on! Fans of the author will be thrilled to know Apartment Six has his trademark stamped through it, horror! From the off the reader experiences a strong feeling of fear and dread that only intensifies as the story progresses.  Part domestic thriller, part crime thriller Apartment Six is a tale of  manipulation, and coercion, and the darker side of human behaviour.   

Poor Meagan hasn’t had the best of life’s,  at five-years-old her mother was murdered by her abusive father, fast forward to the present and life is far from perfect as Meagan appears to be repeating history, she’s married into an abusive relationship, her life is a living hell as she faces a barrage of verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis. Then like a ray of sunshine Oliver enters her life, he’s the complete opposite of her husband, and they strike up a relationship, that begins innocently, but ends in murder. I found most of the characters beyond ‘unlikable’ now normally that can spoil the read for me, but thankfully this wasn’t the case here.

The story is told in the present with flashbacks to Meagan’s past, this is done carefully enough to compel rather than confuse the reader. It’s these chapters that explain the events that have shaped Meagan’s character, these chapters make for an uncomfortable read, but at the same time it’s these chapters that add weight to the simmering tension that’s bubbling away. Stuart James doesn’t do things by half, as we are privy to Meagan’s life we are only to aware of the domestic abuse she suffers, it was disconcerting to watch these scenes unfold, but it also goes along way to explaining some of  her choices.

Apartment Six starts out as one of those ‘ok’ reads,  but then the authors twisted and devious imagination comes into play, which completely threw me, the plot took a seriously twisted turn that I definitely didn’t see coming!  I had so many niggling questions about Meagan’s story, but once I reached the ending everything became clear and I finished this book with a hugely satisfying sigh. Brilliantly written and so cleverly plotted,  I ended up loving Apartment Six, its sinister, dark and seriously twisted, just how I like my books! Highly recommended.

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodhound Books (22 Jan. 2020)

Buying link:  Amazon Uk 🇬🇧

My thanks to the author, Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

About the author

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I have always loved scary stories, especially ones that shocked me, left me terrified, looking under my bed or in the wardrobe before going to sleep.

There was just a fantastic buzz whenever I watched or read something that took my breathe away.

I remember going to my nan’s house in Ireland as a youngster with my mother and sister, on the West Coast, staying in a cottage, surrounded by miles of fields and my family sitting around the table in the kitchen at night telling ghost stories. Going out and exploring derelict farmhouses in the middle of nowhere. I remember clearly the field at the end of the road was supposed to be haunted by headless nuns.

My cousins often remind me of the great times we had, frightening each other and running for our lives whenever we’d see something that didn’t look right.

This is why I love nothing more than to tell a story.

I started writing two years ago, penning The House On Rectory Lane.

I got the idea from something that has often seemed scary to me. I know that a terrifying story has to be something that you’re frightened of doing, something that makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck, something that fills you with dread, yet also with excitement.

To me, the thought of going to a house in the middle of nowhere, upping and leaving a busy town and moving to the country is something that scares lots of people and me: the seclusion, the quiet, the darkness.

That’s what inspired me to write my first novel.

My second thriller is called Turn The Other Way.

I have multiple stories running, past and present. A family who want answers from the surgeon responsible for their daughter’s death.

A young woman looking for her parents after they go missing from a party.

A couple driving home and hearing screams for help from the back of the van in front of them.

A serial killer on the loose in North London, dragging victims off the street.

I’m so grateful when people not only read my thrillers but also take the time to get in touch and leave a review. To me, that is the greatest feeling, hearing from people that have enjoyed my work. I know then that I’m doing something right.

I’m currently working on my new thriller, Apartment Six, which Will be released 29th of January.

I’m 45, married and have two beautiful children. Currently, I’m a full-time plumber but would love nothing more than to make a living from my writing.

I hope I write stories and people continue to enjoy them for years to come. That would be completely amazing and a dream come true.

stuartjamesthrillers.com

@StuartJames73

https://www.facebook.com/stuartjamesauthor/

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All The Rage by Cara Hunter #BookReview @CaraHunterBooks #AllTheRage @DIAdamFawley @penguinrandom @PenguinUKBooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for one of my favourite crime series. All The Rage by Cara Hunter, but first the book description…….

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History doesn’t repeat itself. Does it?

A distressed teenage girl is found on the outskirts of Oxford. The story she tells is terrifying: grabbed off the street, a plastic bag forced over her head, then driven somewhere remote and subjected to an assault.

DI Adam Fawley is doing the best he can to investigate, but the teenager refuses to press charges. All he can do is try to ignore the sickening feeling he’s seen something like this before…

But when another girl goes missing, Fawley knows his time is running out.

Because if he ignores the past any longer, this girl may not be coming back.

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I have eagerly been waiting to get my hands on a copy of All The Rage by Cara Hunter, as it’s definitely one of my all-time favourite police procedure/crime thriller series. The author has a unique way of presenting her story (more about that in a while) which make her books such an exciting read. Although All The Rage could be read as a stand-alone, I would urge you to start at the beginning because this really is an addictive crime series, and you will have a better understanding of the history of the characters.  

The book description doesn’t give much away, and I’m not going to spend time on rehashing or expanding on the plot details. One of the strengths of this book is DI Fawley and his merry band of team members, each one has grown as the series has evolved. As with any good team, the team members are a diverse bunch, their focus is set firmly on solving the case.  As the investigation intensifies  Fawley and his team seem no nearer  to obtaining a breakthrough in the case, the team’s frustration is obvious. In this book Fawley is pivotal to the investigation, and we see a different side to the DI as the plot evolves. 

Unusual in a book, there are no chapters which some readers may find strange, but as there are no lulls or breaks in the story, it keeps the reader’s attention firmly on the investigation. One of the things that make this series such an original read, is the author’s use of social media, we are privy to the chat rooms on the dark web, and the poison they spout (which made for an uncomfortable read). There are also tweets, from key board warriors and sympathetic members of the public, which serve to make the story feel current. Cara Hunter also incorporates eye witnesses’ statements, psychiatric reports, court transcripts, and suspect interviews to make the investigation even more authentic.

Some of the crimes committed, coupled with certain subject matters, made this book a disquieting read but I appreciated the author’s sensitive handling of the plot lines. Like every book in the series so far the plot is packed full of twists which made it impossible to predict what would come next, in fact at one point I had one of those  ‘I never saw that coming’ moments’, I love it when an author manages to shock me. Red herrings are perfectly placed, tension increases tenfold, and remains that way, right up to the shocking conclusion. Cara Hunter has away of writing that immediately draws you in, when you add to this her unique way of including various media’s to tell a story,  and Voila,  you have another cracking read from Cara Hunter. Highly recommended and a MUST read for crime thriller lovers. 

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020) Kindle (19 Dec.2019)

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My thanks to fellow book blogger Jen at https://jenmedsbookreviews.com/ for sending me her spare ARC.

 

#Beast by at Matt Wesolowski #SixStories @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken #HangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for Beast by Matt Wesolowski. Beast is the fourth book in the #SixStories series and although they can all be read as stand-alones, I would urge you to read them in order, just because it’s such a brilliant series. Read on for my thoughts on the latest book in series……

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Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’

However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire… 

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

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The Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski is one of my favourite crime series EVER! It’s deliciously dark, extremely imaginative, each book has been beyond riveting. Beast like the other books in the series features modern day themes, combined with darkest folklore, and yet again the author’s vivid imagination propels the reader into a plot that’s marked by an unrelenting bleakness, and yet Beast makes for an all consuming read.

Six Stories is precisely that, Six Stories told from the perspective of six witnesses narrated in the form of pod casts with online investigating journalist Paul King. I’m not going to rehash the plot details, I think the tagline on the book sums Beast up perfectly “A frozen girl, a haunted town, a deadly challenge, six stories, which one is true?”. What follows is a tense, horrifying read that’s darker than the dead of night.  

The author has an unique ability to create the perfect setting, Tankerville Tower in the small town of Ergarth is a character darkly atmospheric, and creeping, it’s a place shrouded in folklore tales of bloodthirsty vampires, a place where evil lies. Even the climate is the perfect backdrop for this book, set during the wake of  ‘The Beast from the East’, with its plummeting temperatures, the biting winds, it gives the sense that Ergarth is inhospitable, a place you wouldn’t want to visit for the fear of what you might encounter.

Beast is very much a modern day tale, and one that highlights, a phenomenon that’s very real, society’s need for validation and attention through social media. The author paints a bleak and disquieting picture of the negative side of social media, it’s disturbing and frighteningly credible. As each pod cast ends, trepidation and dread grows, the darkness of the book pulls you in, holding you in its clutches until the final page.

If there’s one thing I love about this series, it’s the author’s ability to write a book that doesn’t fit one particular genre, Beast is no different it has components of horror, thriller and crime with a modern day twist, it’s impossible to second guess where the plot is leading, which for me made this such a memorising read. Each book Matt Wesolowski writes is imaginative, captivating, and cleverly constructed, this is an author who doesn’t rest on his laurels each book is as good if not better than the last. Matt  Wesolowski has once again written the epitome of a page-turner. Highly, highly recommended. 

Yes you’ve guessed it I’m giving Beast, my second book of 2020 the shiny Book hangover award, 

What criteria does a book need to meet to win this award?

It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orenda Books (6 Feb. 2020) kindle edition (out now)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

 

Other books in the Six Stories series

 

 

Author interview with Edgar Swamp #AmberHollow #Horror #Mystery

Today it’s a pleasure to share an interview with Edgar Swamp, the authors book Amber Hollow definitely sounds like my kind of read. It’s described as
new mystery blends horror and fantasy in white-hot thriller centered on cursed Wisconsin village
SAN DIEGO, California. 

Edgar Swamp’s new novel turns the classic detective mystery on its head by mixing elements of horror and fantasy into an epic page-turner. The isolated village, fiery tragedy, and ancient curse of “AmberHollow” will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing. Before I share the interview here’s the book description…

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Detective Jeremy LeFevre and his partner Detective Sadie Conrad find themselves baffled as they step into a homicide case with 595 victims — and no evidence. The scene of the crime, Amber Hollow, is known by neighboring towns to be a reclusivisitic, colloquial community with a history of unverified mysterious occurrences, when a fire rages through the small Wisconsin village, killing everyone but five people.

The partially intact bodies of the few victims
recovered suggest violent deaths prior to being incinerated, but the lack of forensic evidence has the detectives and pathologists stymied. Making matters worse, the five survivors contradict each other with wild stories and accusations. Only one detail connects their testimonies –– that the mayor, Anthony Guntram, is to blame.

With a dead suspect and nothing else to go on, the two detectives must learn the secrets of Amber Hollow before anyone else becomes victim to its curse.

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“Amber Hollow” is your fourth book but your first foray into mysteries. What drew you to the genre? 

I wanted to create a story enshrouded in mystique, one that would keep readers guessing as I gradually doled out misinformation, capping it off with a wildly unpredictable ending. “Amber Hollow” is centered around two detectives investigating a seemingly impossible case, so for what I wanted, the format appeared to be the best choice. It was intended to be a horror novel, but it reads like a mystery. Hopefully, the combination of genres resulted in a truly special piece of fiction.

How has your writing process evolved since your first book?

With each new novel, I endeavour to be more efficient with my character development and pacing, always keeping the story moving. I try to grow and learn with each book, seeing what worked for readers and (most importantly) what didn’t. Know who your target audience is, and give them what they want. Reading books by great writers helps, so it’s best to keep up with your reading, no matter how much you want to write. And re-writes are essential; that’s a constant for me. A novel is never finished until I’m at least 95 percent certain that it’s done (there is no 100 percent for me, unfortunately, I feel I could always do something better).

Besides cheese curds and football, Wisconsin is known for its serial killers. How did growing up there influence your decision to write a horror novel?

Wisconsin has a climate that is geared for indoor activities if you don’t especially favour the cold, so I have to thank the West DePere Library for introducing me to a plethora of writers who specialise in scaring readers silly. Curling up with a good book in front of a blazing fire was a favourite pastime of mine growing up, when I wasn’t outside shovelling mountains of snow! Also, my father worked in law enforcement, and he always had some really cool stories. For instance, he once had the chance to meet Ed Gein (Painesville, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1953-54, who inspired the movies “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and half a dozen others). Ed was serving multiple life sentences at the Mendota State Psychiatric Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and a guard who knew my father made the offer. My dad took a hard pass on that one; because of his occupation, he saw enough blood and guts on a regular basis owing to hunting accidents and vehicular manslaughter cases, so the last thing he needed was to meet a cannibal who robbed graves and made flesh-suits that he wore while eating stew out of bowls made of human skulls! I also knew several people who were approached by Jeffery Dahmer (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1991 who drugged, raped, killed, dismembered, and ate almost 20 men). They all made the smart decision not to take him up on his invitation to go to his place for a drink. Inspiration indeed!

You’ve written detective Sadie Conrad as an African-American woman. Why did you choose this representation for the character?

In all of my novels I try and represent a healthy balance of racially diverse people because I want to appeal to a wider audience, even in this case in which it isn’t truly authentic. I made a conscious decision to make Sadie’s character African-American because when I grew up in Green Bay in the ’70s-’90s it wasn’t a very racially diverse area, so it really shows that she’s an exceptionally skilled detective to break through the barrier of being a woman and being African-American. In other words, she’d truly have to know her stuff to work for a mostly male police station (there were very few female police officers who worked for the Brown County Sheriff’s Department during that time) in a predominantly white community. I felt that specific environment would make her stronger as both a detective and a woman, to prove she could tackle the job just as well as any man, of any race. And when crunch time comes, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. The novel embraces themes of female empowerment, and I thought, “Who would best represent a strong female than one who is cast in this situation?” 

Why do you think people seek out media that scares them?

In a controlled environment, having the crap scared out of you is fun! Psychologically, horror stories can take you through a fiendishly nightmarish landscape, so by proxy, your own problems seem insignificant in comparison. And fear is a very motivating feeling, so it’s best to embrace it by confronting your demons. By delving into this darkness, one inevitably becomes stronger in the process. 

How do modern-day political and social climates affect your writing?

All of my ideas are inspired by the modern-day social and political climates in which I am writing them; I simply can’t help it. I consider myself a humanitarian, and even though I put my characters through torturous situations in which the majority of them are killed, I’d like to think of these novels as social experiments, possibly character studies by which to live (or die) by. Who doesn’t enjoy reading/watching the bloated, sleazy politician falling into a bed of hypodermic syringes before being eaten alive by mutants? In fiction, we get to shape how we want to see the world, maybe try and make it a better place by giving the average person the satisfaction they most likely won’t get in real life. And by writing about these themes, at least they are being talked about. We shouldn’t cringe from the reality in which we are thrust; we should try to think of ways in which we can change the world for the better.

You dropped out of college to pursue your passion for music. How did that decision ultimately affect your life and your writing career?

One of the worst decisions I ever made was dropping out of college; my headspace at the time was that of a young man deluded by his musical obsession with absolutely no foresight of the future. If I could go back in time, I’d go back to 1990 and stay in school to at least earn a bachelor’s degree in English versus having nothing. I had some fun, saw a lot of this fine country, and made acquaintances with many charming ladies, but ultimately, I gave myself nothing to fall back on when the bottom dropped out and I couldn’t sleep in/on cars, floors, warehouses, abandoned lumber yards, or seedy motels anymore. Actually, though, the decision may have been a good thing for my creative writing. I’d been writing my whole life (first thing I ever wrote was a play in second grade where I cast myself as Santa and the girl I liked as Mrs. Clause) but I never took it very seriously, so failing at being a professional musician really inspired me to try and succeed as a professional writer, a goal I have yet to achieve. For this reason, music is always rooted in my writing; I can’t get it out of there. There are song lyrics in the beginning of “Amber Hollow,” and if you Google the bands you won’t find them, because they don’t exist. They are my songs. You know how hard it is to get an artist to allow you the rights to use their songs?!? It was easier to write my own!

What are you working on now?

Being a self-published writer brings about the task of trying to get your work in front of as many people as possible within the constraints of a shoestring budget and the limitations that come without being traditionally published (i.e. larger media snubs because you aren’t “legit”). With that said, I am presently working on getting “Amber Hollow” in as many hands as possible while I revisit my earlier works and decide which one I’ll choose to rewrite, re-edit, and re-publish. I self-published a novel in 2012 called “The Gyre Mission,” about an island of garbage on which I stranded a group of disposable rejects who had to battle mutant animals and humans in a quest for survival. To this day, readers of my books cite this as their favorite novel of mine, but they complain that it was too long and that most of the characters weren’t very likeable. So, to answer the question: I’m going to rewrite “The Gyre Mission,” shorten it up (it was a monstrosity at 280,000 words…think telephone book!), make some of the characters more likeable, and possibly allow someone to live in the end. A total-loss death count seems to bum people out…I don’t know why!

About the author

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EDGAR SWAMP​ is the author of the “Gyre Mission,” “Glitch in the Machine,” and “Blackout.” His short stories have appeared in Alienskin, Macabre Cadaver, and Urban Reinventors. When he isn’t holed up in his office playing online poker, he likes to dig up the recently deceased and make furniture out of their skin. He lives and works in San Diego, California. For more information, visit his website at www.edgarswamp.com​.
My thanks to the author for this interview.