When builder Terry Johnson spots what he thinks is a bargain he
can’t resist but to succumb to temptation. The large, detached house stands on
the side of a railway track and would be perfect for his needs … and it’s
But Billington Manor has a very tainted history, and the grounds upon which it stands were part of an unsolved murder back in the 1850s. Terry is about to discover that the road to hell is not always paved with good intentions.
Based upon a true incident, Ryder On The Storm is a stand-alone supernatural crime novella from the author of the IMP series, featuring desk sergeant Maurice Cragg.
His head was all over the place, not to mention his stomach. If he’d eaten anything at all he was sure it would have reappeared. Pins and needles raced up and down both his arms.
What the fuck had he walked into? Was George a ghost? Was he being haunted? Is that what the Billingtons had been on about when they said “he’d” take care of the place. And who exactly were the Billingtons? What part did they play in it all?
Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb for the first story in this book intrigued me. I like stories with a supernatural element. This story starts in the past with the discovery of a body. Then in the present day, a builder is viewing an old house with a view to redevelopment. The elderly couple are strange and the logistics of the sale is similarly odd, but the builder’s eyes are focused on profit.
What follows is suspenseful and dark. I read it through twice, and the second time it resonated. The twist of the story is a popular one, but it is effectively used here. The more you think about it, the darker it becomes.
The other three short stories feature the author’s characters from the IMP series, which I haven’t read. The first two are Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries. Each is prefaced with an author’s note detailing how the story came about. This has intrinsic interest and puts each short story in context.The stories are well-plotted with complex characters and decent twists. All have engaging settings. Each delivers a good murder-mystery, and police procedural genre story.
I enjoyed reading all of these stories, perhaps the last three short stories are my favourite, and make me want to read the IMP series.
The British Fantasy Society published Ray Clark’s first work in 1995 – Manitou Man: The World of Graham Masterton, was nominated for both the World and British Fantasy Awards. In 2009, Ray’s short story, Promises To Keep, made the final shortlist for the best short story award from The Tom Howard Foundation. Ray is based in Goole and has set his Gardener and Reilly crime series in nearby Leeds.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The rape scene in this story is brutal, the violation and loss of control implicit in every word. This description is harrowing. Given the inspiration for this story, the attack is realistic and sets the scene for what follows. This an adult story. One that will upset most people, but it doesn’t detract from it, or the message it is sending.
Eve’s attack and subsequent action is the main storyline, but running alongside her need for retribution is the need for closure to heal, and the need to stop this happening to anyone else. Eve is complex, but she is easy to empathise. You want her to have justice.
Including the friend and lodger characters, may seem incidental to the story, but they are important. Eve’s reaction to them shows how emotionally scarred and traumatised she is, and why she does what she does. They are an important focus for her mental state.
The plot is chilling and suspenseful, and whether or not you agree with the outcome, or what happens before, the ending is well thought out and believable. A fusion of the psychological thriller and crime genres, with authentic emotion and a menacing antagonist, and an ending that leaves you with a moral dilemma. Perfect.
Author Interview – Gemma Rogers – Stalker
What are the inspirations behind your book – Stalker? Is it a standalone or part of a series?
The inspiration for Stalker came from an indecent assault that happened to me back in 2001. I found writing about it extremely cathartic. In terms of the story, I wanted to explore the feelings that can be left behind as a result of such a traumatic event. How far someone would go for justice? It’s a standalone novel that follows Eve from the incident to her resolution.
How did you create your main protagonist Eve? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?
Eve isn’t based on anyone I know, she’s a creation, although very much a part of me. How she feels after her attack, mirrors how I felt almost twenty years ago. She’s a complex character, struggling to understand the emotions she’s forced to deal with; the anger, self-loathing and guilt.
How do you make your characters believable?
I people watch and try to absorb as much as I can when I’m out and about. It’s great to watch and see how people react in certain situations. I also draw from my own experiences too, use those to try and flesh my characters out, make them three dimensional. I hope I’ve managed that with Stalker.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
For me, generally, it’s the plot. I’ll come up with an idea first and it will grow from there. I’m not sure why the idea will plant itself and get bigger until I can’t think of anything else. That’s when I know it’s a good one. However, with Stalker, the setting was equally as important. Where the assault takes place in the novel, is where I grew up. Close to where it actually happened.
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’ve always written, from a very young age. I’d create stories with my brother, and turn them into little illustrated books, the pages tied together with string. I wrote some fan fiction in my teens but it’s only the past five years I’ve pushed myself to write a book, and actually finish it! I like this genre very much, I’m a lover of horror films and books, dark thrillers seemed right for me. I think the genre chose me rather than the other way around.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I mostly read thrillers; psychological, gritty thrillers, the darker the better. I fell in love with The Birdman by Mo Hayder and was hooked from there. My favourite authors are Alex Marwood, John Marrs, Mark Edwards, and CJ Tudor. However, when I fancy something a bit lighter I always head to Jane Fallon. I’m a massive fan of her writing.
What are you currently writing?
I’m currently in the process of writing Book 3 which I believe will be out at some point in 2020, so that is keeping me busy. Book 2 is due for release in January, so not long to wait.
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Chapter One Saturday 27 January 2018 I’ve never been in trouble before. Not the sort of trouble that brought me here. Freshly painted, stark white walls surround me; their toxic scent lingers in the air. A fluorescent glow from strip lights so dazzling they must be there to desensitise the occupants. Everything is white or chrome-like I’m on the set of a futuristic movie. I swing my legs, which dangle over the edge of the bed, not quite reaching the floor. I do this for a minute to keep warm. Despite the blanket around my shoulders, I can’t help but shiver. It’s late and they didn’t bring my jacket. I guess it’s been taken away as evidence. The woman in front of me is standing too close, hot breath on my arm. It makes me squirm and I fight the urge to yank my hand away from her grip. She’s holding it like I’m a china doll, fragile and easily broken. I dislike the invasion of my personal space. It’s something I’ve learnt to tolerate over the years. I was never a big fan of being touched, shrinking away if someone brushed past me or stood too close on public transport. I’m not a hugger either – no one was in the house where I grew up. After tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll let anyone touch me again. Her name is Doctor Joyce Hargreaves, she told me as we entered the victim examination room. Her job, she said, was to collect evidence from me, which is why she was wearing a paper suit, so there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. She hasn’t picked up on my anxiety, the tremor in my fingers; she’s too busy. Brows furrowed, eyes focused as she peels the plastic bag away from my bloodied hand to collect scrapings from my skin and beneath my fingernails. The tool she uses makes me nervous. ‘Is that a scalpel?’ my voice barely a whisper. ‘No, it’s a scraper. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. This is just so I can make sure we collect any skin cells that may be buried underneath the tips of your nails. I’m afraid I’ll have to give them a trim in a minute too.’ She wields the scraper with care and it’s true, it doesn’t hurt. Physically I’m okay, except my throat is on fire and the ringing in my ears is deafening, timed perfectly with the throbbing of my face. I have a feeling I might feel worse once the adrenaline leaves my system. When she finishes with my hands, she pulls the fallen blanket back over my shoulders and offers a kind smile as she pushes her glasses up her nose. I can see strands of greying hair trying to escape by her ear, exposed beneath the coverall hat. She wears no jewellery and her face is free of make-up. Was she on duty or has she been called out of her bed to attend to me? Would we recognise each other in different circumstances? Probably not, I must be one of many people that pass through this room every day. Joyce delicately inserts each of the specimens into small tubes before labelling them to be sent for analysis. I don’t know why? I’ve told them what happened. Soon she’ll want to examine me thoroughly. Internally. Until there are no more swabs left to be taken. She glances at me, knowing what is coming, what she must ask me to do. Her eyes are full of pity. I must look a mess. Dried blood on my face and chest is beginning to flake away, like charred skin falling into my lap. My cheek is puffy and the vision poor on my left side. I wish I could stop shivering. They said it’s shock and provided me with a mug of hot, sweet tea after the ambulance checked me over. They wanted to make sure the blood I am doused in isn’t mine. It isn’t.
is not the man everyone believes him to be. And Emelia is not the woman he
wants her to be.
was a whirlwind romance, Anthony was the doting boyfriend, the charismatic and
successful career man who swept her off her feet. But now Emelia is trapped in
a marriage of dark secrets and obsession. She is no more than something Anthony
wants to ‘fix’, one of his pet projects.
has no escape from the life that Anthony insists on controlling, so she shares
her story through the only means she can – her blog. Yet Anthony can never find
out. Forced to hide behind a false name, Emelia knows the only way that Anthony
will allow her to leave him, is death.
Trapped with a man she knows is trying to kill her, Emelia is determined that someone will hear her story and Anthony will meet his ends. That everyone will discover the truth.
I received a copy of this book from the Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A story of two halves as many psychological thrillers are.
The story begins with a blog post, Emelia has a life-limiting condition and wondered if she would have the chance of a normal marriage. Anthony was more than she thought possible until he wasn’t. Once married, things change and the doting man becomes increasingly controlling. Limiting her life, even more than her physical state does.
This is a domestic thriller, claustrophobic and dark, and you wonder if she has it in her to escape. Then there’s a twist that turns this into a noir psychological thriller, where you doubt what you read, and don’t know who to believe, and wonder if anything that came before is ‘The Truth’?
The ending has another twist and leaves ‘normal’ minds with more questions. Based on a collection of real events, this is chilling, claustrophobic and clever, something different.
Guest Post – Naomi Joy – The Truth –Notes on Inspiration
If you ask authors where they get their inspiration, you’ll receive a range of answers. It might be an amazing location that’s captured their imagination – I think of Mandy Baggot’s Greek settings or Pat Black’s dark forests. They could have picked up on trends in our society – how more and more people are meeting one another online (Click, L.Smyth). It could have been a big change in their own lives – a new baby, a new job, a new man on the train (The Note, Z.Folbigg) – that sparked their creative fuse. I read about an author whose grandparent had lived through the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and written a diary about the day – inspiration indeed. It could be other worlds, imagined worlds, or a hypothetical question they’re keen to explore. But for me, my interest is usually piqued by a real-life person, most often a fascinating female case-study who’s done something terrible. I love to start from that point and imagine what’s come before: how did this evil emerge? What made this person who they are? Why?
Before I started writing The Truth, I was inspired by a collection of real people who’ve all committed the same sociopathic crime and, though I can’t go into detail about the specifics, as soon as I heard about them I couldn’t do anything else until I’d written a version of their stories myself.
The Liars, inspiration came from a number of toxic women I’d worked with, but, more interesting than their devious and despicable behaviour, was what made them that way. I read about how modern office culture favours competition and actively encourages employees to cut-down their competitors rather than collaborate, and thus the office-culture at the heart of the story was born.
As I sit down to work on my third novel for Aria Fiction, I will follow the same process, so, if you hear about any deranged and dastardly women: send them my way!
Naomi Joy is the pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.
My ears prick, and I tune into the crescendo of footsteps, the turn of a lock, the twist of a doorknob. I push my laptop under the bed, determined to keep my blog a secret. It’s not that I don’t trust him, I just… It thuds as it hits the damask rug beneath and I recoil my arm quickly, pulling the covers back over my body and up around my neck to make it looks as though I’ve been sleeping rather than typing, but this sudden movement throws fistfuls of confetti-dust into the splinters of light in the room and I worry he’ll suspect that I’ve been up to something.
in,’ I reply.
dressing gown fans as the door opens, the gust catching the silk sleeve and
part of the body, transforming it, for a second, from inanimate object to
darling. How are you feeling?’
He peers at me through full-moon black-rimmed spectacles, the paper-thin skin beneath his eyes tinged purple – not enough sleep – his long fingers curled around the door handle. His carefully groomed moustache quivers above his top lip flicked up at the ends. He’s excited about something.
better?’ he asks.
I croak from my resting place. ‘I still feel like death.’
walks towards me, eyebrows crooked, wedding ring flashing as he passes through
the bursts of sunlight. He dabs the sweat slathering my brow and folds back the
duvet gently, eager to help, but the movement releases the smell of my own
stench into the otherwise beautiful room. His lips pucker in response. He tries
not to gag.
want to take you somewhere today,’ he says, bitter coffee on his breath.
my head fully towards him and we lock eyes.
I ask too quickly, too eagerly, droplets pooling anew in the curve of my lower
excavation. I thought it might make you feel better.’
smile, elated for a moment, then look away, my eyes on the opposite wall. There
are a couple of problems with this suggestion. The first: he’s promised this
before. I must not get my hopes up. The second: I am sick, deathly unwell, and,
though I have the will to leave, I’m not sure there’s any possible way that I
can. My stomach twists and jealousy rumbles in its pit. He is well. He can go
wherever he likes. He can work and, better still, he loves his job. Anthony’s a
famous archaeologist and, although that might sound oxymoronic, to those in the
industry he’s a rock star. Literally.
love to,’ I answer.
Despite my reservations, I am hopeful that I will go outside today. In fact, it is imperative that I do; Anthony is nothing but kind and patient with me and yet my brain is turning me against him, doubting his intentions. If I could just find the strength to ignore the searing pain in my abdomen, the tightness in my chest, the raging sweats, the all-consuming itch of my skin, the fire beneath, things would start to improve, we’d get back to who we were before. I know we would. My heart thumps, already exhausted, as I heave my reluctant body up to a seated position and swing my feet to the floor. I balance on the edge of the mattress, letting the black spots from my headrush pass, and, just as I’m about to stand, my toes hit the edge of my laptop hidden beneath the bed, making me jump. I glance behind me, hoping he won’t have noticed.
then,’ he says softly, taking my hand. ‘Time for your medicine.’
pills land in my palm – Antriptophene – and for once I stutter at what he’s given
me: I don’t recognise this brand and I’m immediately suspicious of it. I look
at the long drink of lukewarm water left on the bedside table overnight, coated
now with a thin film of dust. Something doesn’t feel right.
doctor’s recommended them, they’re supposed to be excellent.’
at the pills again, at the blocky red writing atop bright orange casing and
make a decision.
not taking these.’
face breaks with lines, lips curling at my refusal, shocked that I would even
question what he’s giving me. Taken aback, he stalls, then relents, folding
them into his hand and leaving the room without another word, his tall frame
pausing momentarily in the light of the doorway.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
Right from the first page, there is an air of menace, the occurrences seem ordinary, but something seems off, and by the end of the chapter you realise that you are right.
Set in New York, there are a series of freak incidents, a murder, political corruption allegations, and a building sense of panic, as the citizens of New York realise that maybe the freak incidents have some sinister connection.
An urban thriller, the city’s reliance on elevators, (lifts in the UK), makes the attacks, a threat to the city’s economy and infrastructure, in addition to the loss of life. The brewing political scandal amidst the confusion and terror building in the city, make this complex, fast-paced thriller, addictive reading.
This is a cerebral thriller, lots of characters, seemingly unconnected apart from the location. Their connection and the motivation for the mindless attacks becomes clearer as the story progresses, but there is so much happening, you may miss the clues, or not believe what you read.
The final chapters bring the story to a shocking conclusion.
SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?
Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red-light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence.
Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.
A fast-paced police procedural, with a twist.
Journalist, Hannah Weybridge, is also a single mum, freelance now, she works mainly for magazines, but work is hard to find, when you not in the centre of things. The chance to write a news article is too good to pass up, even if it means leaving the world of free make-up samples and glamour behind.
Tom Jordan is the Senior Investigating Officer(SIO) in a murder investigation. The victims are all young street workers, and they are connected.
Princess, a young street worker, is the focus of Hannah’s article, she is smart, streetwise, but Hannah still sees, the vulnerability, hidden behind the make-up. She feels sorry for her but is not prepared for the disruption to her life, when they meet again.
The plot has a sinister ethos, everyone is a suspect, Hannah doesn’t know who is telling the truth, who she can trust. She keeps her secrets too. The web of danger closes in, Hannah wishes she’d never met Princess.
This story’s themes are dark. There are violence and abuse, but this is not graphically described. The story doesn’t rely on sensationalism. The themes of corruption, cover-up and vice are common in crime novels, but they are given a new angle here.
The police investigation makes this part police procedural, but the main character is the journalist Hannah. She is ill-equipped, naive, but courageous and tenacious in her investigation. She is believable and easy to empathise. The tentative relationship between Hannah and Tom, adds a romantic layer to the story, it also adds to their inner conflict of how much information to share with the other.
The ending is a perfect fusion of action and suspense, with a satisfying conclusion that makes you want to read the next book in the series.
For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, she has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’. That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in return for an honest review.
‘Lies, Lies, Lies’, deals with serious contemporary issues, has characters who are hard to empathise with, and yet, it is a compulsive read.
It starts with a lie, and as it infolds the web of lies intensifies. Simon is an alcoholic, he tells so many lies to hide the extent of his addiction. When he stumbles upon an uncomfortable secret, alcohol is his solace, but his lies are less believable and Daisy. his usually forgiving wife is losing patience. Daisy protects her daughter at all costs., increasingly she feels it’s Simon she needs to protect her from. His descent into alcoholism is accelerating, and the changes of keeping a secret and their family intact recede.
The first part of the book focuses on Simon’s alcoholism, how it affects him, Daisy and Millie their six-year-old daughter. For me this part of the story is hard going, it is authentic and believable, but a little long. The second part of the story is better. Faster paced, the hint that everything isn’t quite how it seems. The final part is suspenseful and shocking. The lies fall apart and the truth is finally revealed. The plot twists, are realistic, even though I guessed some, others are not revealed until the very end.
This book is primarily a family drama, an exploration of how addiction can damage family life. Sacrifice, secrets nd suspense all feature in this story, and the menace increases as the final chapters.reveal the truth.
This believable, claustrophobic story for fans of family drama and domestic thrillers.
Ex-CIA assassin Eva Driscoll has found a new life in Australia and believes she’s outrun the Executive Security Office, the most powerful and secretive organization on the planet. But the ESO has been watching her every move and when they approach her with a high-risk mission in North Korea, Eva is forced to co-operate with the organization she once vowed to destroy.
But releasing a high-ranking defector proves costly, and Driscoll is captured and imprisoned in a secret camp on the Chinese border. What she witnesses there will haunt her forever . . . so she decides to take matters into her own hands. But how long can she keep the ESO thinking she’s working in their interests rather than her own?
When her handlers become suspicious, Eva knows time is not on her side. Can she defeat the evil at the heart of the camp and get out alive—or will this final instalment really be her last?
I received a copy of this book from Thomas anMyd Mercer via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Having read the first Eva Driscoll thriller, I missed out on the second, but this story is a standalone read, with all the necessary backstory.
Eva is attempting to stay under the radar, but her compassionate nature, which is at odds with her profession, forces her to do the right thing, but at what personal risk? Her next assignment comes from the organisation she is hiding from, they make it impossible for her to refuse, but are they organising her demise? What follows is a well researched, action-packed extraction from North Korea, it doesn’t go to plan, and when she escapes against the odds, why would she ever go back?
The characters are realistic, and there is a return of some old friends, the violence is believable, but not too explicit. The plot is fast-paced and relentless, there is no time to get bored. The twists are well-thought-out and give this series its edge.
The perfect series, for lovers of international and political thrillers.