Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes. His years as a police officer serve him well as he teases the truth from simple observation, now brought into the English language in a masterful translation by Alex Woodend. The stories include Two Lives, Attic, Spring, Bach, Predator.
I received a copy of this book from Flame Tree Press in return for an honest review.
A collection of literary fiction short stories, set in China and translated from Chinese. The collection focuses on crime and darker aspects of life and love. The unique and well-written stories explore Chinese society and the complexity of its individuals.
Crime features in most of the stories. The author’s knowledge of forensic science colours many of the stories, which are often explicit and graphic. Descriptions of violence and its results make some of the stories closer to horror fiction, but the underlying theme is, what people as individuals and en masse are capable of, given the right provocation.
The stories give the reader a sense of life in China. Like all short stories, some are easier to relate to than others, but if you are looking for something different, and can accept graphic descriptions, this is worth reading.
A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in- chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.
Alex Woodend (Translator) is a writer/translator whose fascination with Spanish and Chinese began at Franklin & Marshall College. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he wrote his Masters on early post-Mao literature. Translator of The Captain Riley Adventures , Murder in Dragon City, and other works, he currently lives in New York.
At a global tech gala hosted at the British Museum, scientistTobias Hawke is due to unveil an astonishing breakthrough. His AI system appears to have reached consciousness, making Hawke the leading light in his field.
But when terrorists storm the building, they don’t just leave chaos in their wake. They seize Hawke’s masterwork, sparking a chain reaction of explosive events which could end the world as we know it.
Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, must find the killers and recover the AI. But he can’t do it alone. Hawke’s wife, Esme, and teenage hacker, Fangfang, have their own reasons to help complete North’s mission – and together they unravel a dark and deadly conspiracy which stretches right to the top of the British elite.
Can North survive long enough to uncover the whole truth? Or is it already too late for humanity?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Michael North attracts danger and violence. Living with a bullet in his head carries a death sentence, which makes him reckless about his future. With his quirky team, the only family he knows, he lives his life at a fast pace, with little regard for tomorrow.
This fast-paced political thriller has a conspiracy at its heart, with every twist deepening the deceit and increasing the menace. North and his team are diverse and easy to like. They have a great team dynamic, which provides a few lighter moments, to temper the tension.
Complex characters complement an addictive, contemporary, informed plot, which flows well and has an ending with impact.
I’M ALL EARS
Guest Post –Judith O’Reilly – Curse the Day
All sorts of people are ‘broadcasting’ at the minute, as if convinced by the prospect of their own imminent death that they have to say what they have to say, or face losing their chance forever.
I get that. There is nothing like the threat of your demise to focus attention on what you think and feel, what you’ve done and still have to do, on who you love and what you know, on what you can teach and what you can share with the wider world whether that’s keeping fit or making lunch or warning the world to stay at home.
At times like these, we ask ourselves did we make the mark we wanted to make? Is there still time to do more, to say more. Is there time to say everything that has to be said before it’s just too damn late?
In the writing business, we want to sell our books and through those books, we look to sell something of ourselves. We demand to be seen. We jump up and down to be heard. And social media has given us the way to star in our very own movies.
Yet even as I struggle to get to grips with some video conferencing app or other, even as I arrange Live panels in online festivals and tweet furiously about the thriller I’m launching, I question the on-line whirligig I’m caught up in – the Facebook videos and chatter, the podcasts and the Live launches.
And I wonder if everything that’s going on in the name of entertainment and distraction should shuffle to one side and make more room for Listening.
Because we can’t all talk at the same time. Some of us have to listen. And if we are all broadcasting, furiously determined to say what we have to say rather than take it to the grave with us, we cannot – any of us – be heard.
There is a quiet virtue to listening. There is a skill to it – an art. And I’d argue those who have been listening their entire lives, are probably more interesting that those who have been broadcasting.
Over the years, listeners have learnt to sift and analyse, spot half-truths and downright lies. They’ve learnt who makes noise and who has something worthwhile to say. Who can teach and who spreads light rather than casts shadows. Who to trust.
It’s soul destroying to have your words ignored. Not to be listened to. And, in work situations, plenty of women know exactly how that feels.
Equally, there’s something life enhancing in being listened to. Properly. Deeply. In being the focus of someone’s attention, and in feeling that, finally, you are truly seen, truly heard.
As a journalist as well as a writer, perhaps listening comes more naturally to me than to some. Perhaps I was born a listener. An only child, I certainly recognised early on that listening was both a duty and a privilege. If I sat quietly, I would learn who said what to whom and how they felt and what happened next. I would be amused. I would be privy to scandals of the past and to secrets of the heart.
So how exactly do you listen? How do you listen harder and more in a world which is so full of noise? How do you even make out what is worth listening to. What and who you want to hear more of? I would argue you have to make a conscious decision to make space for it in your life. That you remind yourself other things can wait a while, but not your child and not your partner and not your parents and not your friend. Because they need to be heard and to be heard someone has to be there to listen. Even more so at a time of crisis for all.
You put aside the chore or the phone. You meet their eye if you can. You don’t let your gaze roam if they are in the room with you, and if they aren’t (and they may not be today or over the months to come), you listen all the harder to what they are telling you. You focus. You concentrate. You allow them to move centre-stage and you focus the spotlight on them. They may need that. We all need that, especially when we’re fearful and with just cause. Moreover, sometimes what they’re saying is between the words, and that’s a whole other level of listening right there. And you don’t want to miss the unsaid. And I would say that the more you do it, the better you get at it.
We always know if someone is a good listener. And then the exchange becomes something meaningful because to talk to someone who listens involves trust. There is nothing more seductive and dangerous that someone who truly listens because we give up a part of ourselves when we are with them.
Above all know that being prepared to listen, giving someone else that gift – the gift of being heard, isn’t a way to silence ourselves. The listeners among us still have things to say. They just say it in a different way to most.
Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and The Year of Doing Good. Judith is a former senior journalist with The Sunday Times and a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News. Her first Michael North thriller, Killing State was set in Westminster and was praised by thriller writers around the globe.
Review Competition for Curse The Day from April 2nd 2020.
To be in with a chance to win a Kindle Fire. Submit proof of your review of Curse The Day on Amazon/iBooks/Kobo to email@example.com,
Terms and Conditons for Review Competition forCurse The Day from April 2nd 2020.
The promoter is: Head of Zeus Ltd whose registered office is at 5-8 Hardwick Street, London, N16 5UA.
The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over except employees of Head of Zeus and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
There is no entry fee to enter this competition.
By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via the Head of Zeus Twitter.
Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
Closing date for entry will be 30th April 2020. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:
Review either the eBook or hardback of Curse The Day by Judith O’Reilly and send proof of review to firstname.lastname@example.org. Accepted retailers include Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play and Waterstones.
10. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
11. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
12. The prize is as follows: 1 Kindle Fire.
The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
13. Winners will be chosen at random.
14. The winner will be notified by email and/or DM on Twitter/Facebook and/or letter within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
15. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
16. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
17. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
18. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by [English] law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of [England].
19. The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current [UK] data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
21. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
22. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to Head of Zeus and not to any other party.
Devastated by a divorce and death of a child, Judge Torie Van Fleet rebuilds her life around succeeding in the justice system. Her goal: the U.S. Supreme Court. Vowing to do whatever it takes, she risks her relationship with her new husband, her relationship with her best friend, and the support of her constituents. Not until the critical first step in the process does she realize what an exorbitant price her backers demand that she pay. Will she risk everything, come to terms with her priorities, or does she even have a choice?
Frankie Keegan is struggling. While she tries to make strides in her career, life at home is slowly unravelling as she is haunted by the secrets of her past.
SOMEONE ELSE REMEMBERS…
As the dark nights draw in, the anniversary of the loss of her brother looms and Frankie is drawn back to the memories of that fateful night 20 years previously. As she descends into a guilt-ridden state, she begins to suspect that someone else is also remembering that night and they are determined to terrify her…
Can she confront her past before it’s too late?
From the international bestselling author of The Daughter In Law, a gripping psychological thriller about family, secrecy and grief – with a twist you won’t see coming.
I stood at the top of the stairs and held my breath as my anxiety spiked and my heart pounded in my throat. But I could no longer hear the noise that had drawn me there. As I stood, my foot perched ready to take the first step, I wondered if perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe the events of the last few days had finally caught up with me. But faces were hovering in front of me. Those people I had trusted. And those who I had hurt.
All those years ago I was trying so hard to make a difference in any way I could. But I was young. And I was foolish. I knew the past would never be able to bury itself, and I had not been able to rest for twenty years because the horrors of that day would stay with me until I took my final breath.
But now it was time to face the past head on. I tightened my grip on my weapon and began the descent to the kitchen. I knew I was now in grave danger. I knew that I had to protect my children and face the person who had found their way into my home.
Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.
When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation take them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.
I received a copy of this book from Corylus Books in exchange for an honest review.
I always enjoy reading translated books with their atmospheric settings. The cultural differences, add depth and interest to the story. This is a crime fiction book set in Romania, partly in the capital city Bucharest, and partly in the rural mountainous region. The investigative team are interesting characters, and despite their different ways of working, they prove to be effective. The second in the series, it reads well as a standalone, as I have not read book 1 yet.
The story’s dark crimes are balanced by the investigative team’s interactions, which add to the characters’ authenticity and charisma. The fast-paced plot flows well, making this an enjoyable crime novel to read.
Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.
It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.
The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.
There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.
And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Beth Chamberlain is a likeable, realistic character. Dedicated to her career, despite the problems in her personal life. As a family liaison officer, she needs great people skills and well-disguised investigative talent. She is uniquely placed to discover family tensions, and gain the trust of the victims’ relatives and find out the true story.
A historical suicide, a deliberate hit and run, which results in a man’s death. Emotions and suspense build, as the investigation proceeds. Further crimes, throw up more questions, than answers. The relentless investigation, finally finds the answers, leading to a devastating conclusion.
The story explores the concept of trial by social media, and the consequences, both personal and establishment, of this contemporary trend. The wife of the murdered man, who has stood by him, shows her strength of character in the face of public antagonism, against her late husband and her family.
The connection between the various crimes is cleverly interwoven. The police investigation is authentically portrayed. The domestic noir and suspense build gradually, giving the plot added depth and adding the ending’s impact.
Dark crime, complex characters and relatable police investigation team, make this addictive reading. Looking forward to the next one.
Author Interview – Jane Issacs – ‘For Better For Worst’ Blog Tour
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jane. I’m thrilled to be here!
Is there a particular event or person who inspired ‘For Better, For Worse’?
Ooh, I can’t say there was a particular event or person that inspired this story, more a combination of things I’ve read and watched in crime news and documentaries over the years. I was particularly struck with someone wrongly accused – or were they? Also, the challenge of being married to someone who holds a dark secret and when that secret is uncovered, the fallout of how they deal with it and ultimately how it affects the family unit.
The idea of a wife standing by her husband and the whole debate of did he/didn’t he seemed such an enticing project to work with.
What comes first in your story creation process, character, plot or setting? Why do think this is?
I think it’s a combination of things that come in stages, like building blocks, and form the foundation of the story. Often one element influences another. For Better, For Worse is the second title in the DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, series. Beth’s detective character and the setting of Northamptonshire were already established for the series, although I did have to research particular locations and site the new family. As the plot unravelled in my mind, I realised we needed another point of view in Gina Ingram (the councillor’s wife) and built her character into the story.
Do you find dialogue easy to write? How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?
I think dialogue can be very tricky to get right. I often imagine speaking it as I write and draft it without speech marks initially to avoid slowing myself down, then tidy it up later.
How do make you protagonists’ responses to a traumatic event believable?
Ooh, good question! Lots of research, talking to people who have been in the situation and reading in and around a similar event in the news or in books. Plus, I like to imagine myself in their shoes, if possible and see how I would react. Even after I’ve drafted a scene, I’ll come back to it and rewrite it several times before I’m completely happy.
Do you enjoy, or have time to read? What are your favourite genres?
Yes, I love to read and do so as much as I can. Crime fiction will always be my first love – I revel in the twists and turns of a good mystery, and love a page-turning psychological thriller. I recently read The Lying Room by Nicci French and couldn’t put it down!
That said, I do like to intersect my thrillers with other books. I’m currently reading The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd which is a beautifully written and uplifting literary novel.
Are there any other genres you would like to write in? If so, what are they, and why do they interest you?
I think the idea of creating your own fantasy world would be really interesting. I loved the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, though I’ve no plans to move at present!
Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.
Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.
The year is 1900, responding to a desperate plea from an old friend, Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne, accompanied by Veronique the Labrador, travel from England to New Zealand to unravel a new and complex mystery.
For his daughter’s twenty first birthday, Millionaire philanthropist Octavius Damant orchestrates a weekend party aboard the Taniwha, a luxurious paddle steamer moored in the primordial and isolated landscape of Milford Sound.
Several high society guests are invited to their remote home for the celebrations; Sir Wesley Eade, society lawyer and his beautiful but icy mistress Lady Leonora Carlton-Cayce, Dona Carla Riva, a flamboyant Brazilian dancer, and Carolyn Nolloth, O.D’s estranged sister-in-law who has a great love of other people’s money.
But O.D is the subject of persecution; a series of anonymous letters accuse him of past crimes and threaten the life of his daughter unless he gives in to their creator’s poisonous demands.
Elliott, Giselle, and Thorne discover the odds stacked against them when an unforeseen murder is committed, and they find themselves trapped aboard the Taniwha with a killer who will seemingly stop at nothing to achieve their ends.
As the body count rises, they must unravel the clues and piece together a devilish jigsaw that includes blackmail, extortion, desire, and the reappearance of the fabulous Larkspur Diamond, a gemstone with a past as murky and blood soaked as that of the relentless killer on board.
Set in the late Victorian era, with a touch of the odd, and a twist of the macabre, “Death in the Sound” continues the crime solving, paranormal escapades of Elliott Caine, Giselle Du’Lac, and Abernathy Thorne.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Book two, of the Versipellis Mysteries series, set predominantly in New Zealand is a late-Victorian murder mystery, with a supernatural twist. There are two prologues, one detailing a gruesome murder, the second, introducing a dark, evil supernatural element.
With a plan of the boat, at the beginning of the book, it reminds me of a Cluedo board. This murder mystery is a dark interpretation of the popular game with a paranormal twist.
The diverse investigating team, is well described, so it can be read as a standalone, but it’s so good, you’ll want to read them both.
Engaging action and lots of characters produce an absorbing, addictive story, with lots of false clues and plot twists. The writing is clear, using vivid imagery to describe the characters and setting.
Vibrant characters and dark deeds combine to produce a creepy, cleverly plotted murder mystery with exciting originality.
Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.
She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.
“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”
“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series. “A Portrait of Death” was released in 2018.
“Death in the Sound” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the second book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.