#GuestPost by David Videcette @DavidVidecette

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Today I’m thrilled to have David Videcette author of the highly gripping crime thrillers, The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment appear on the book review café, both books are based on true events, and are books I would highly recommend if you are looking for a highly original crime thriller

David Videcette has very kindly written a special guest post for me to share with you all, and what an intriguing post it is too. So without further ado…….

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CRIME FICTION: SHOW ME THE BODIES

I’ve been in the book writing world for two years now, having come from life as a detective. I really enjoy it and I’ve met some truly fantastic people. But, standing in a room with readers, book bloggers, other authors and publishers, as I often do, I always have the same uneasy question buzzing around in my head: Why are all these people obsessed with murder and killing?

When you pick up pretty much any crime fiction novel, it’s full of death and murder. Crime fiction authors are obsessed with body count – the more cadavers and the more gruesome the death, the better.

Watch the average detective series on TV or pick up one of the hottest new paperbacks and you’d be forgiven for thinking that slaughtered corpses of murder victims were as numerous as pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
I have often wondered whether we should just rename it murder fiction. Why bother with the ‘crime’ prefix at all?

Murder capital of the UK?
 

One of my old favourites is the television series, ‘Midsomer Murders,’ based on Caroline Graham’s novels. Tally up the show’s total body count and it’s currently running at around 265. That’s almost four-and-a-half murders per episode in one tiny, rural area. And that’s not even including the twelve accidental deaths, eleven suicides and eight deaths from natural causes…

I write Crime thrillers based on truth events, so it got me thinking – do we ever stop to wonder how common these incidents are in real life? Or do we simply want to be entertained in a fantasy world of murder fiction?
 
Let’s start with some basics. (I’ll use the UK crime figures from 2015 for this bit.)

Murder is extremely rare – there were six and a half million crimes recorded in the UK in 2015 – just 573 of those were murders; that’s less than 0.01% of the overall total. 

If we delve further into those figures, we find that crime fiction not only over-represents murder, it also blurs the reality of who the victims are and how they are killed.

Who gets it?


In real life, most murder victims are men (64%) – and 2015 was an unusual year for male homicides, they normally make up nearly 70% of a year’s overall total. Men are mostly either stabbed or beaten to death. They are as likely to be killed by a stranger, as they are to be killed by someone they know. I think this underscores how lots of men end up dead. It’s mainly spontaneous violence by other men that kills them. Unplanned, messy, screaming, beating-each-other-up violence. In 2015, just five men were shot dead in the UK.

Women always make up the minority of homicide victims. They represent around 30% of the victims normally, but in 2015, this figure was running slightly higher at 36%. And if you’re a woman, again, in real life, the most common form of murder is to be stabbed. You are very unlikely to be beaten to death, unlike your male counterparts. Asphyxiation also features highly amongst female murder victims, perhaps demonstrating that many women are most likely to be killed by their partners in fits of rage following years of domestic abuse.
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So crime fiction tends to major on women being the victims, which is far from the truth – as you can see from the figures. A juicy murder yarn also tends to depict women being killed by strangers. But in real life this is very unlikely – just twelve of the 186 victims that year were killed by strangers. Just 6.5% of all female murders are by strangers, a tiny proportion.

When we look at crime fiction books published over recent years, many of the most high-profile releases were big on serial killings perpetrated by one individual, but how many of these feature in the year’s crime stats? None. You’d have to go backwards some way to find statistics on any real life serial killers – male or female.

And here we find another difference between real life and ‘murder fiction’. The terms serial killer and mass murderer are often used interchangeably in fiction, but in real life, they are two distinct, separate things.

Mass murder is when the killing of more than one person takes place at the same time, with little or no passage of time between the killings. This might be an act of terrorism or people killing their own family all in one place.

A serial killer is someone who repeatedly kills, normally three or more people, and there is space between the killings. The space might be several hours, days, months or years, but it is often multi-site, rather than all in one place – and the case will often hinge on premeditation, rather than a split-second act in a mist of rage.

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If we compare our 2015 real life stats with fictional events in Midsomer during 2015, sadly there were only four episodes of the show made that year. But don’t let that disappoint you, because in just those four episodes, we saw 12 locals strangled, 13 poisoned, 16 drowned – including one in a vat of soup – four killed by bow and arrow attack, and six decapitated. That’s 52 gruesome deaths in four episodes!

So, why the obsession with death and killing in crime fiction? Why is it that screenwriters and authors keep churning out book-after-book that doesn’t represent what is actually happening in real life? 

Maybe we see murder as the ultimate crime? It does after all have the most serious penalties. Perhaps as readers, we want to escape, to explore our darkest fears in a safe and secure environment?

Supply and demand

Perhaps it is easier to ask: Who creates the market for killing, in the world of crime fiction? Is it what the reader wants, or is it that there is nothing else on offer?

One thing I’ve found since being in the book business, is that it is dominated by women. The agents are mainly women, the editors are mainly women, the publishers are mainly women and the book buyers and bloggers are mainly women. And as authors, many of us are bound to write what our agents and publishers tell us that they believe the market wants.

As any large publisher will tell you, as many told me – ‘Most of our readers are middle-aged women who are married with children. Remember that’s who you’re writing books for.’

Industry figures back this up, showing that around 70 to 80 per cent of crime fiction readers are women, and 80 per cent of those signing up for writing workshops to become aspiring crime writers are also women.

So why is it that mainly middle-aged women with children who love to read and write about murder and serial killers – the blood thirstier the better?
 
Various people have hypothesised that women, many of whom see themselves as vulnerable, want to explore the darkest depths of the human mind, and that crime fiction is a metaphor through which they see themselves.

So, how do we explain the rise in novels which depict women as the killers themselves? And how likely is that?

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Women do kill, of course, but again it’s rare. Female serial killers are even rarer. There are currently just three women in the UK who have been given life imprisonment without parole for this crime.

When women do kill, it’s mostly domestic-related killing of partners.

Women adore murder


Germaine Greer once wrote that, ‘Women have very little idea how much men hate them.’ Although I do not agree with her, I do wonder if this rise in the popularity of the female killer in crime fiction, is down to women seeing the world as male dominated and wanting to explore ways of killing the men that they hate and that they believe hate them – metaphorically speaking? Or are there just a whole bunch of women who do secretly hate men and want to kill as many of them as possible?

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I don’t have the answers. But you can see why I worry at these book events, surrounded by these women, hungry for blood…

Perhaps for both women and men, crime fiction gives us all an outlet for our hidden sides; the vindictive avengers within us who hold angry and bitter grudges against those who’ve wronged us in the past.

In real life, murder is rare, most often perpetrated by a partner and over in an instant. But because of its rarity and shock factor – murder in fiction is a simple hook to cling to. In other words, it’s an ‘easy sell’.

But when I look at some of the most harrowing crimes I’ve investigated as a detective in real life, murder has featured very little. Where are the books about getting into the depraved mind of a serial male rapist who drugs and rapes other men?

How many books have you read that look at the effects of serious fraud perpetrated on a female victim who then has to turn to a haunting and tragic life of prostitution to survive? How many books look at drug addiction and what twisted and degenerate acts mothers will do in front of their children, just to be sure of their next fix. 

But these would be far harder to write, and far harder to sell.

So maybe we should just stick with the slaughter.

After all… everybody loves a good body count?

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IMG_2187David Videcette is a former Scotland Yard investigator with twenty years’ policing experience, including counter-terror operations and organised crime.

He is the author of detective thrillers The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment. Based on true events, David’s books are perfect for readers who like their crime fiction as close to real crime as it gets.

He loves to interact with fans of all crime fiction genres. Readers can chat to him on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. For the chance to win a signed copy of David’s latest thriller, pop in your Email address here

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My thanks to David Videcette for the fabulous guest post and the images shown on this post.

**Blog Tour** Unforgivable by Mike Thomas #Review & #GuestPost @ItDaFiveOh @BonnierZaffre

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Today I’m thrilled to be the next stop on the Unforgivable by Mike Thomas blog tour. Not only do I get to share my review for this thrilling book, but I also have a fabulous guest post from the author about the places that inspired the locations in Unforgivable. Interestingly enough my son and his wife had their wedding photographs taken in Roath Park one of the settings the author mentions.

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My Cardiff: the places that inspired locations in ‘Unforgivable’

It’s safe to say I know Cardiff like the back of my hand.
The nice regions and the dodgy areas, the best route to take to avoid rush hour traffic, the lanes and parks and alleys where gangs from rival estates used to meet for a rumble on a Friday night (Birdies Lane, if you must know). Where you can get stolen electrical equipment for a very low price. Where you can get a good kicking just for walking into the wrong pub.

I worked the city for twenty years, first as a uniformed officer then with stints on CID before moving on to drugs teams and other plain clothes work where I’d follow heroin dealers to Bristol and not see my own bed for three days. Finally – when my first novel was published and I knew I was on my way out of The Job and the hierarchy didn’t really know what to do with me – I found myself in the Operations Room working as an – haha – Intelligence Officer.

If you want a guided tour – warts and all – of the Welsh capital, I’m your man. And that knowledge was one of the reasons I decided to set the MacReady novels in the city. Also, London has its fair share of fictional cops and I felt Cardiff, bar a few novels, wasn’t really getting a look in. I wanted to redress the balance a little.
So what are the locations that appear in ‘Unforgivable’?

St. David’s – huge, sprawling and full of Shiny Things You Will Want, this shopping centre – or mall, if you must – has grown and been added to and modified extensively over the decades, and has become a colossal ode to commerce. Everything you want – and quite a lot you don’t – can be found under its roofs, and its food court is where things take a sudden, nasty turn in the book. I used to work here as a late-teenager at John Menzies (remember those stores?) where I would lump myself behind the counter of the music section, rolling my eyes at customers’ terrible purchases – Duran Duran, heaven forfend! – and making sure Depeche Mode’s output was at the forefront of every display. They are the greatest band in the world, after all.

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Fairwater – tucked just west of the city centre is this sprawling, leafy suburb where MacReady and the team carry out a property search after they’ve arrested their bad guy. In real life I worked in the building adjacent to the police station – that aforementioned Intel Officer role – until I quit for good. A busy ‘nick’, Fairwater Police Station is also uglier than ugly, and I describe it in the novel as ‘a mixed orange-brick and prefab square lump that resembled a hideous layer cake, and which MacReady assumed had cut the value of the surrounding properties by at least half when it was built.’ This is entirely correct and I refuse to describe it otherwise. So there.

Park Place – when I were a lad, and when Cardiff’ had pretty limited places to go of an evening, Park Place just off the main pedestrianised shopping drag was the epicentre of all the fun for a few good years. ‘Brannigans’ bar (now ‘Jongleurs’ comedy club), and around the corner the superclub ‘Zeus’ attracted thousands of punters from all around South Wales, where we revelled in this new-fangled tunesmithery of ‘Britpop’ (and, of course, ‘Cool Cymru’). ‘Zeus’ is replicated in ‘Unforgivable’ for an important scene, and it was lovely to dredge up all those memories. Apart from the time I accidentally set fire to a girl’s leggings while I was trying to impress her with my cigarette lighter-wielding skills. Turns out polyester is really flammable. Who knew?

City Hall – the heart of the capital’s bureaucratic and judicial area, a place of ornate gardens and Portland Stone edifices and the imposing Crown Court, and a prime choice for weddings and University graduation ceremonies. It’s also the scene of several foot chases in my career, one of which ended up with me falling in a very nice pond. My protagonist, MacReady, has a similar chase at one point in ‘Unforgivable’ but manages to avoid the watery mishap…

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Roath Park – locally famous, this pretty sliver of water and greenery just north of the city centre has a boating lake, clock tower, enormo-conservatory and ornamental gardens, and is something of a rite of passage for children who descend here en masse in school holidays to slide down its notoriously bumpy slide and get chased by irate swans. It features briefly in ‘Unforgivable’ during a vehicle pursuit. It is also where, as a five year old bored of her whining, I threw my infant sister into the water while we were out in a rowing boat. Fun times!

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The UHW – the University Hospital of Wales, or ‘The Heath’ to Cardiffians. As a copper you spend an inordinate amount of time in hospitals – sitting with injured prisoners, dealing with sudden deaths, removing brawling drunks from A&E – and the UHW was my home from home at certain points in my career. MacReady and his colleagues have to deal with the terrible aftermath of the bombings at the market and mosque in The Heath – but it is a nameless, injured young woman who leads him to discover there is more going on in the city than the police first realised. Woo, excitement!

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Book description

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

IMG_2357 I didn’t realise Unforgettable was the second book in the MacReady series, if I’m honest I’m not one for jumping ahead in a series as I fear I might have missed something, and although it’s obvious that DC Will MacReady has issues that pertain to the previous book I still think Unforgettable made for an extremely gripping standalone. It’s pretty standard to have a detective in a crime thriller with issues and MacReady is no different, his personal life is one huge disaster but I still found him to be an interesting character. The commaradie amongst his fellow work colleagues added just the right amount of “gallows” humour to add.

Unforgettable begins with a “bang” literally when a bomb detonated in a busy Souk in the middle of Cardiff causes massive devastation as you can well imagine. We only have to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news to see events like this are very sadly part of our times, so the opening chapters were terrifyingly credible and shocking. What at first appears to be a racially motivated attack soon becomes something much more complex and Unforgettable made for a gritty fast paced read.

There are numerous strands to Unforgettable the bombings, a vicious knife attack, a group of Asians on trial for the vicious assault and murder of a young white male, all these events appear to be unrelated but are they? Well here’s where the author deftly leads the reader through the police investigation, revealing clues and red herrings aplenty.

Mike Thomas own career as a policeman adds authenticity to Unforgettable, the investigation, the dynamics within the team all give the reader insight into the workers of an investigation. You can help but feel the same frustrations that MacReady and his team have to endure on a daily basis. Fast paced and fraught with tension I found Unforgivable to be a “white knuckle” read, covering a very frighteningly credible topic. Action packed and filled with intrigue Unforgivable combines police procedure with a powerful and thrilling plot making for a throughly gripping read.

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧Print Length: 400 pages

Publisher: Zaffre (27 July 2017)

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Mike Thomas was born in 1971 in the Welsh town of Caerphilly, famed for being the birthplace of comedian Tommy Cooper, its ‘deliciously’ salty cheese, and its castle with a tower which allegedly leans at a sharper angle than the more celebrated one in Pisa.

His teenage years were spent breakdancing, spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks and just about staying on the right side of the law, until his early twenties when, inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks.

“…inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks…”

While working as a plod in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff, Thomas continued with his childhood passion: writing. As a freelance he produced articles for local newspapers, various websites and national travel magazines, while in 2007 he was one of the winners in the annual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition organised by Literature Wales. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Wales between 2007 and 2009, Thomas published his debut novel, Pocket Notebook, in 2010 with William Heinemann/Penguin Random House.

The author was on the prestigious list of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for that year, while Pocket Notebook was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and optioned for television by Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey. His second novel, Ugly Bus, was released by Heinemann in 2014 and is currently in development as a six part television series with the BBC. Both novels deal with the uglier side of policing.

“…He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children…”

Thomas left the police in the spring of 2015 and grew his hair and a pathetic attempt at a beard. He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children. Alongside chopping wood, cementing crumbling house walls and trying to find somewhere that sells his beloved Marmite, he continues to write articles and web pieces for a variety of sites and publications, and is contracted to London’s Bonnier Publishing for three new novels, the first of which – Ash and Bones – was released August 2016. The second in the series, Unforgivable, is due for publication in the summer of 2017.

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Links to author: Website Twitter Facebook

Follow the Unforgivable blog tour ………..

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**Blog Tour** Dying To Live by Michael Stanley #GuestPost @detectivekuba @OrendaBooks

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I’m delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Dying To Live by Micheal Stanley which is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books. Peter James describes this book as ‘A wonderful, original voice – McCall Smith with a dark edge and even darker underbelly’ and the good news, Dying To Live was published on the 30th June 2017 so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy.

To celebrate I have a really fascinating guest Post from the authors about The Bushmen people of the Kalahari, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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A Culture at Odds

The Bushmen people of the Kalahari are at the centre of the latest Detective Kubu mystery – Dying to Live. It’s a Bushman who is found dead at the start of the story. At first it seems to be a natural death, but then the police decide that, in fact, he was killed. The more they look into his death, the more confusing it becomes. His body seems young on the inside but old on the outside. There’s an ancient black-powder bullet lodged in his abdomen, but no entry scar. And then his body is stolen from the morgue.

The Bushmen have been nomadic for hundreds of thousands of years. As other population groups crowded them, they moved into the arid regions of southern Africa and developed a very successful, if Spartan, lifestyle. They would dig for water and suck it out of the ground through grass straws, or find fluid in Tsama melons. If they found natural water, they would always leave some for those who came after; sharing was a survival strategy. They moved with the seasons, following game which they hunted using bows and poisoned arrows. The poisons make a story in themselves, ranging from snake venom, through extraordinary desert plants, to an extraction from the larva of a beetle which is so poisonous there’s no known antidote.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century. (There’s some pretty sickening stuff in the years we’re skipping, including a period when governments issued licenses to hunt Bushmen.) Now much of the Kalahari is declared as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Diamond mining drives the Botswana economy. Bushmen numbers have declined, and in 1997, the Government of Botswana started to relocate the Bushman to a permanent settlement outside the game reserve. In 2005 they forced the last of the Bushmen to move.

How you interpret the situation depends on your perspective. Here’s a superficial summary of the way some of the Bushman leaders see it, and how support groups like Survival International see it:

The Bushmen have always lived in the Kalahari. Fences and private land ownership—which is alien to them—interferes with their nomadic behaviours, and rules concerning hunting force them near starvation. Their culture is disrespected and is being destroyed by the change in environment, and legal constraints in which they’ve had no say. In order to keep the Kalahari for tourism and—according to some—diamond mining, the Bushmen are being forced into settlements little better than concentration camps on the verges of the land they once regarded as their own. Yes, there is some compensation, but this is soon frittered away leaving nothing. Financial planning is completely outside their ken.

And here is how the Botswana government sees it:

The government has a constitutional obligation to provide appropriate infrastructure for all its citizens. This includes proper schools, health care, water and sanitation. Furthermore, the Kalahari is remote and inaccessible, an ecological treasure that must be preserved. Discrimination on race is forbidden by the constitution, so if the Bushmen live there, how are other population groups to be prevented from living and hunting there? And now the Bushmen hunt with guns rather than bows and arrows. Their nomadic behaviour has changed to informal settlements where water has to be supplied by the government by road, rather than found in natural depressions or melons. Crudely put, the traditional culture is already dead, only the inconvenience remains. Thus planned settlements set up in appropriate places with schools and services is the answer. Appropriate compensation is paid to the people who have to move. They have a new and better life ahead.

In the wide gap between these two viewpoints is a variety of groups who tried to negotiate a scenario which would bring the two sides closer together. Nevertheless, with such extreme perspectives, and the muscle behind each side, it was almost inevitable that the matter would end in the Botswana High Court. In 2006, the presiding judge of the Court was the remarkable Unity Dow—first woman High Court judge in Botswana, member of the Kenyan Constitutional Court, writer, and now minister of education. Broadly, the three judges ruled in favour of the Bushmen. In the judgement, Dow said that the case was ‘ultimately about a people demanding dignity and respect. It is a people saying in essence: “Our way of life may be different, but it is worthy of respect. We may be changing and getting closer to your way of life, but give us a chance to decide what we want to carry with us into the future”.’ When we met her on a trip to Gaborone some years later, we asked her whether she felt the issues had been resolved by the ‘the most expensive and longest-running trial’ Botswana has ever had. She just smiled sadly and shook her head.

While researching our book, we visited New Xade, the settlement established by the government to the west of the Kalahari game reserve a hundred kilometres from anywhere. It’s a depressing place, there is little being done there, and little to do. It’s even some way off the main road into the game reserve, itself a dirt track. People pass it by; there’s nothing there they want.

But in Dying to Live we suppose that there is something there that people find they want very much. Something that kept the dead old Bushman young.

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger.

The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

Author links: Website     Twitter     Facebook

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Book description

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Buying Links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orenda Books, Michael Stanley for the fascinating guest post  and Anne Cater for organising another fabulous blog tour.

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**Blog Tour** #TheGoodDaughter by Karin Slaughter #AuthorInterview #BookReview @HarperCollinsUK @SlaughterKarin

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. I’ve always been a huge fan of this author so I literally jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour. I never imagined when I started up my blog I would be helping to promote the book of one of the most famous crime thriller authors on the planet, so excuse me while I jump up and down with excitement!

Not only am I sharing my review for this gripping book, but I also have an author Q & A with Karin Slaughter, so without further ado………..

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You write about crimes, particularly those violent crimes against women, that are sadly all too common, but was The Good Daughter based on any specific incidents? If so, do you find that difficult to deal with?

I’m always conscious when I write about crime that this sort of thing is happening everywhere in the world, multiple times a day. Especially when you’re talking about crimes against women. The Centers for Disease control tracks the leading causes of death for all Americans and publishes their report annually. For female infants, the number one cause of death is homicide. For pregnant women, the number one cause of death is homicide. From the ages of zero to 45, you can scan the top five reasons for premature death of women and find the word “homicide” listed. So, statistically, it’s an inherently dangerous thing to be a woman. In fact, almost every act of violence that’s not gang-related generally victimizes a woman, either obliquely or directly. Even terrorist attacks like the horrible bombing in Manchester victimized women. When we have random shooters here in the US, they tend to be angry young men who generally target women, or their first victim in a shooting spree is an ex girlfriend, a mothers, or a woman they think has rejected them.

So, to answer the question, the crimes in the Good Daughter are crimes that are taking place every second of the day, and I don’t find it difficult to write about them so much as feel the weight of that responsibility to hold a mirror up to society and say, “this is happening. What are we going to do about it?”

What’s the first ever story you remember writing?

I have one of only two existing copies: The Boom Diddy Kitty. It’s about a cat who helps a kid who is not very popular.

Cats are amazing.

If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have wanted to do in life?

Being a writer is literally the only thing I’ve ever consistently wanted to do in life, from at least kindergarten. I always assumed you couldn’t make a living being a writer (and that’s true—I’m very aware of how fortunate I am) so I had back-up plans. I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a comic book illustrator, I wanted to be an astronaut…all the cool jobs. What I ended up doing was being an exterminator, then a house painter, then an employee at a sign shop, then a sign shop owner, then I got very lucky and the thing I had been toiling away at all along during my non-working-hours finally paid off and I got my first book deal. I am aware every single day that I am one of the luckiest folks on earth. Not many people do for a living exactly the job they have always wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about being a published author?

That’s honestly a hard question to answer. I get to work in my pajamas, but honestly, I wore my pajamas to work before and no one really noticed. I get to travel all over the world, which is nice because I’ve met all sorts of interesting people and that one mildy racist woman in Canberra. I love working with my editor because she really gets me. I love being able to write for a job. Maybe the coolest part is walking into a book store and seeing my books on the shelves, but not too many books because people have been reading them and the store needs to get more. That’s really one of the best things about being published—knowing my readers are out there and that they are happy with my books.

It’s certainly not being able to get an expired Nando’s card accepted for a free order of peri-peri chicken!

img_1639Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally-bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestsellers Cop Town and Pretty Girls. She has sold over 35 million books, making her one of the most popular crime writers today. She is passionate, no-nonsense, provocative, and is one of suspense fiction’s most articulate ambassadors. Her Will Trent Series, Grant County Series, and stand-alone novel Cop Town are all in development for film & television. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can learn more about Karin Slaughter and her books over at…….www.karinslaughter.com

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IMG_2352Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever …

IMG_2298I’ve always been a huge fan of Karin Slaughter’s writing and have pretty much read every book she has ever written, so to say I was excited to see she was publishing a new novel was an understatement! The Good Daughter is a standalone, no sign of Will Trent here (I love this series by the way) and once again the author has shown why she is considered to be one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. I was surprised to find The Good Daughter isn’t as fast paced or as graphic as the authors previous books, although some of the scenes and subject matter may not be to ever reader’s taste I must admit! After finishing The Good Daughter I definitely think this is the authors most ambitious and powerful book yet!

Like any book by this author there is plenty of mystery, terrible crimes are committed, but it also gives insight into family relationships when terrible things happen to them. Much of the book is about the horrifying events that happened to Charlie and her sister Samantha during their childhood , and how they are affecting their characters in the present and their relationships to each other and the people around them. I felt this novel was very much character led and the crimes almost felt secondary to the plot, that’s not a criticism by any means as The Good Daughter still made for a disturbing yet compelling read.

Karin Slaughter has created exceptionally complex characters, both sisters have their own demons that continue to haunt them, this novel is very much about the complexity of relationships and bad things happening to good people. Each character in The Good Daughter is garenteed to provoke a strong reactions, like anyone they have their strengths and weakness that make your own feelings towards each character sway constantly depending at what point you are in this throughly compelling read.

The author describes the small town of Pikeville so vividly it feels incredibly stifling, but also very typical, the kind of place where everyone knows you and your business, so it was intriguing to read how and why one sister choose to leave and the other one stayed, the reasons are complex but at the same time credible. Karen Slaughter never shies away from the darker side of life, in fact she hits it head on. The Good Daughter is dark, gritty and at times disturbing, with a superbly written plot, yet again the author has shown me why she continues to be one of my all time favourite authors on the planet.

Buying links:        Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 512 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (13 July 2017)

Follow  the rest of the blog tour

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**Blog Tour** The Other Twin by L V Hay #GuestPost @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks

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I’m delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for The Other Twin by L V Hay, which is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books. To celebrate I have a really interesting guest Post from the author which has resulted in me adding even more books to my huge TBR pile, so be warned!

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TOP 5 TWISTED SISTER STORIES TO CREEP YOU OUT

By @LucyVHayAuthor

Things come and go in terms of ‘fashions’ and crime fiction is no different … Just recently, it would seem sisters are prevalent in the genre. Even my own book, a mystery set in the LGBT community in diverse Brighton, features a pair of sisters!
The Other Twin follows the fates of Poppy, a young woman who suspects her sister India has been murdered. India has left behind a blog, detailing a number of people with code names who all may have a motive for killing her. Poppy must work out who these people are and why they could have had it in for India. We also hear from India, in her own words, via the blog.
So, to celebrate The Other Twin being released, I thought I would reflect on five of my favourite recent ‘Sister’ stories – how many of these have you read, too? Don’t worry if you haven’t read them yet though, there’s NO SPOILERS:

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwod  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one … and it plays with your assumptions throughout! It’s a clever tale, with thought-provoking commentary, but it’s still easy to digest. I devoured it very quickly, mainly thanks to the three-dimensional characters and the situation they find themselves in. Protagonist Kate is a war reporter, so the scenes in Syria are hard-going, yet it’s the ones in her backwards little hometown that are the creepiest!

My Sister’s Secrets by Tracy Buchanan I have three sisters myself and they can be secretive beasts, so reading this was a no-brainer for me! I enjoyed this tale of intrigue, set in a seaside town and focusing on a family bereavement. The diving sequences in the submerged forests were especially creepy and claustrophobic, plus the characters of the three sisters in this story were appealing. Recommended.

Little sister by Isabel Ashdown This book is set on the Isle of Wight, a place I know particularly well, so the storyworld really added something for me. But even if I hadn’t known the island, the author really ratchets up the tension here in this child abduction thriller: it’s a twisty tale with a relentless, fast pace. There have been LOTS of missing child thrillers in recent years, but this one really stands out for me because it’s always one step ahead – I am pretty good at figuring out twists, but this one really GOT me!

The Sister by Louise Jensen This one is *slightly* different to the rest on this list in that it doesn’t involve the protagonist’s own sister, but her deceased best friend’s! I really liked the intrigue here – when Grace finds a note, written a long time before best friend Charlie’s death, it reads: “I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …” I was BESIDE MYSELF with wanting to know what this *terrible something* was! Great job.

My Sister And Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall My personal favourite on this list, this is a devastatingly authentic read. Dugdall never shies away from grabbing the dark and taboo with both hands and she excels here, confronting issues of self-harm, anorexia and domestic abuse. Told via the POV of Sam, a girl intent on starving herself to death, she must confront her memories and work out who could have attacked her big sister Jena – and why. As you might expect from this author, the ‘showdown’ is quite something in that it may take you somewhere VERY uncomfortable!

BONUS!

Twisted’s Evil Little Sister, Volume 1 Twisted50 is a crowd-sourced collection of fifty horror stories – I took part last year and was thrilled when my story, The Retribution of Elsie Buckle was picked for the anthology. However, there were SO MANY great entries that the people at Create50 – the initiative behind Twisted50 – created another anthology, Twisted’s Evil Little Sister, Vol 1 AS WELL! So obviously no round up of ‘sister’ books would be complete without this evil tome … There are some real sick minds behind this volume, it creeped me out to the max: you have been warned!

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BIO: @LucyVHayAuthor is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015). Her debut crime novel, THE OTHER TWIN, is due out with Orenda Books in 2017. Check out her website HERE and all her books, HERE

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Book description

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana?

Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

Print Length: 300 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (18 May 2017)

Buy links:      Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to L V Hay for her guest post, Karen Sullivan over at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my ARC of The Other Twin and for allowing me to be part of this awesome blog tour.

Don’t forget to check out fellow book bloggers for reviews, guest posts and much more…..

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**Blog Tour** Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear #GuestPost (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre

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I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour. Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith. To celebrate the release of this crime thriller  I have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…

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In defence of self-doubt – overcome it or work with it?

It’s a can-of-worms debate, and yet still a widely-held view, that crippling self-doubt is more of a female thing. Study after study seem to indicate that while men approach a challenge thinking they’ll naturally ace it, women, on the whole, expect the worst.

I’m not entirely sure where I stand on this. It seems a bit black and white, a bit ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, although I’ll admit in my case, it’s 100% true. My school reports were littered with comments like, “Caroline has the ability but not the confidence,” and while I’d argue that in maths, physics and geography, they were being too kind as I had no ability at all, in all other subjects their assessments were bang on. Even in English, no matter how many A grades I amassed in every piece of coursework and exam, I still assumed that the next one would go badly. It’s a ‘girl thing’, I heard my teachers say on more than one occasion. But I’m no longer a girl. And with age should come confidence, surely?

It appears not. I am female and worse still, I’m a female writer, and therefore popular myth states that I must doubt myself as readily as I breathe.

I read an interview with Marian Keyes many years ago where she said – although I’m paraphrasing a little – that every day she sits down to write, she wonders if it’s the day the words leave her. The day she has to admit that all her previous bestsellers were mere flukes and she’s been trading on luck. The day the world realises that she’s simply not good enough at writing.

Yep. Marian Keyes said that. Hilarious, incisive, warm, multi-talented Marian Keyes.

What chance the rest of us??

My debut novel, Sweet Little Lies, came out on Thursday. It won the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and has had unbelievably generous reviews from some amazing crime fiction authors (still fainting over Lynda La Plante and Ann Cleeves!) In addition to this, my agent and my editor have never been anything short of insanely passionate about my writing but right now, as Sweet Little Lies goes out into the world, I’m still asking myself the same question. Still tormenting myself with the same fears.

Is it really any good?

Am I about to be ‘found out’ for being the ‘average-on-a-good-day writer’ that Self-Doubt keeps insisting I am?

And if it really is any good, and no-one is about to ‘out’ me as possibly-the-worst-published-author-in-all-of-history, how can I ever repeat the success with Book 2? I mean, what if I’m a one-book wonder? The literary equivalent of Chesney Hawkes.

Sweet Little Lies was written against a backdrop of 90% gnawing self-doubt and 10% soaring over-confidence. There’s very little in between however I’m told that’s normal. The soaring over-confidence comes when what’s in your head appears on the page perfectly formed. When you completely nail a description, or a feeling. When you feel your heart pounding in the tense scenes or you well up during a sad exchange. In those rare moments, you dream of success, unreservedly. In fact, you’ve made it already. You’ve managed to craft one perfect paragraph and now the Booker Prize beckons.

You are at one with The Words.

ALERT. This is not a good thing.

“Bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt,” Charles Bukowski lamented in an interview, and the man couldn’t be more right. It’s during these self-confidence surges that you’ll do your most cringey writing – the purple prose that adds nothing to the story other than to show the reader how clever you are (the reader almost always thinks it’s boring, not clever). It’s during these surges that you’ll become convinced you can find a far superior way to say, “He sat on the chair” than any other writer that has gone before you.

You can’t. And there’s no need to. Self-doubt reins you in from all this floweriness.

There are several other reasons why it’s a good thing too.

If you don’t have self-doubt, then what’s the alternative – complacency? We can all probably think of an author who we used to love but we now feel has lost it a little over the years. This happens in series crime the most – knowing you have a winning formula that can be relied doesn’t always inspire new heights of creativity.

Self-doubt makes you question everything about your book. Is that periphery character really needed? Is the sub-plot superfluous? Are 4 narrators too many? Is the swearing too much? Over-confidence leads to less questioning.

Self-doubt encourages you to go the extra mile – if don’t believe you’re the bees knees, you’ll work twice as hard to get there.

Self-doubt/self-reflection is a common trait in a lot of crime protagonists and literally feeling how your character feels is no bad thing.

And most importantly, the ONLY way to slap down self-doubt is through action. And it’s only action that gets books written!

About the author

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Caz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

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Book description

What happens when the trust has gone?

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.

Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.

When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.

For fans of Erin Kelly and Belinda Bauer, Sweet Little Lies is a suspenseful page-turner from a talented new voice.

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**Blog tour** Reconciliation For The Dead Paul E. Hardisty @orendabooks @Hardisty_Paul

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Today I’m delighted to be the next stop on the Paul E Hardisty author of Reconciliation For The Dead blog tour. 

Reconciliation For The Dead is published by one of my favourite publishers on the planet Orenda Books, Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction. This book is available in both kindle and paperback  and you don’t even have to wait to get a copy as it’s already been published

To celebrate the occasion author Paul E. Hardisty has written a fascinating guest post, so without further ado…….

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Engineering a Novel By Paul E. Hardisty

I was trained as a scientist and an engineer. In these disciplines, we are taught to apply scientific principles and mathematics to understand the forces, flows and stresses that govern a problem, and optimise a design to deliver the desired outcome. Over years of training and practice, this structured way of thinking becomes almost second nature, a part of you.

So, when I approach the writing of a novel, it won’t be much of a surprise when I say that I use the same approach. Even though it is a work of art, I engineer the novel.

First, I need to understand the problem. What is it that I am trying to accomplish with the book? Where do I want to take the reader, and why? What do I want to have the reader see, feel, think, experience, and what images do I want to leave them with? In other words, I need to have a firm idea, in my own mind, of the purpose of the book. For me, entertaining the reader is important, but it is not enough. I also want to inform, or evoke certain emotions, and to challenge the reader to consider other viewpoints than perhaps they might have had going in. In my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead (third book in the Claymore Straker series), set in apartheid-era South Africa, the goals were to show readers how Clay became the man we meet first in Yemen during the 1994 civil war in The Abrupt Physics of Dying, and then in its sequel The Evolution of Fear. I also wanted to expose the reader to a little-known conflict, and illustrate why apartheid, and the ridding of that scourge from the earth, is still relevant today.

When I know where I want the book to go, I need to determine how to get there. For me, this means developing, or designing, the full narrative arc of the book, before I start writing. This arc is made of up a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent scenes. And if these pieces are not joined together well, the thing will fail when put under stress. Sometimes, I think of it a bit like a bridge, with each span and beam holding up the others. Sometimes, these designs can be quite complex, and in their own way, I hope, beautiful. In the first two books of the series, I used a simple time-forward structure, with events largely unfolding in un-creased chronological order. In Reconciliation for the Dead, I needed a more complicated structure. The core of the novel is a flashback to Clay’s time in the war as a young paratrooper in the early 1980’s. Interspersed within this are snippets of transcript (recreated) from the 1996 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where Clay gives testimony, having returned to South Africa fifteen years after the war. This is buttressed on either end (by prologue and epilogue) with short scenes that take place after Clay has finished testifying, and is in Mozambique contemplating his future. You can call it a prequel set within the envelope of a sequel.

Once the structure is designed, I can start writing (building). I find that knowing where I want to go, what I am trying to say, and how I am going to get there, gives me a sense of certainty every morning when I sit down to write. Each day I plan to work on a specific span or section. Because I know where it fits in the whole structure, its unique role, and how it fits with the others, I can focus on the prose itself, and try to create the most beautiful and powerful imagery I can. Bit by bit, day by day, the whole structure rises, until one day, I have a first draft.

Then comes what I call the testing and infilling stage. The main structure is there, and (hopefully!) has achieved its overall objectives. Now, I weave in any additional detail and context that is required, not only to strengthen the whole, but to make the parts stand strongly together. This is where expert editorial support and review from others can be so helpful.
I have always felt that in science and engineering, there can be beauty. As I write a novel, I always get a strong sense that art and science are really not so far apart.

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Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.

In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

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Book description

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make.

Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

‘A solid, meaty thriller – Hardisty is a fine writer and Straker is a great lead character’ Lee Child

‘A trenchant and engaging thriller that unravels this mysterious land in cool, precise sentences’ Stav Sherez, Catholic Herald

‘Just occasionally, a book comes along to restore your faith in a genre – and Paul Hardisty does this in spades’ Sharon Wheeler, Crime Review

This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page…’ Literary Review

‘Hardisty doesn’t put a foot wrong in this forceful, evocative thriller … the author’s deep knowledge of the settings never slows down the non-stop action, with distant echoes of a more-moral minded Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne’ Maxim Jakubowski

My thanks to Karen over at Orenda books who publishes the most amazing books, Anne cater who organises such brilliant blog tours for Orenda books, and Paul Hardisty for his guest post.

As my post doesn’t include a review you may want to check out some of my fellow bloggers reviews who are on the blog tour.

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