Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Bad Place M.K.Hill 4*#Review @markhillwriter @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #PoliceProcedural #DISashaDawson #Author Interview #CrimeFiction #Essex #BookReview

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.

That was twenty years ago. Now, adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.

Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?

DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl…

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The recent trend in police procedurals, is towards female detectives, with a family. This reflects twenty-first-century policing and is a welcome change from the hard-boiled male detectives, who often come across as cliched and stereotypical. DI Sasha Dawson has reached her rank, by dedication, intelligence, sacrifice and tenacity. She is a mother and a wife, and like most professional women suffers from the constant guilt of juggling her home and work life.

The story plays out in dual timelines, one historic, which provides the story with its dramatic beginning. It introduces Sasha Dawson, as a probationary police officer. The second, present-day timeline, brings the survivors of a traumatic event together in an annual ritual. One witnesses an abduction, reminiscent of what happened to them, and the plot begins its shocks and twists to an unexpected conclusion.

This is a good police procedural, which allows the reader glimpses into the lives of the suspects, police and victims. This coupled with its flawed and realistic characters gives the story its authentic feel. DI Dawson is a compassionate woman who wants to make a positive difference, and this reflects in the story’s ethos.

A great start, to what promises to be an addictive series.

#MKHill

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it! 

It’s nice to see you here, thanks for coming. 

I’ve been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. I worked for about five minutes in PR. But I write the Drake and Crowley thriller series now, which is just as well because I love writing. It’s my dream job.

If you enjoyed His First Lie or It Was Her, do get in touch. There are plenty of ways to do it!  Facebook Twitter Instagram

 Interview with – M.K. Hill- The Bad Place

Is this story inspired by a real event or an imaginative creation?

The Bad Place is all made up! I’m afraid my mind tends towards the dark and twisted. I wanted to write about a group of characters who went through a very traumatic experience together and who came out the other side, but who may – or may not – be responsible for the death of one of their own.

This story is the first in your DI Sasha Dawson series, what characteristics are important to include to make your detective memorable? Do they need to be likeable too?

My first priority when I sat down to write The Bad Place was to make Sasha likeable. A lot of police novels make their protagonists interesting by giving them a dark secret or addictions, or to make them driven and obsessed, and I really wanted to write about someone who was just, you know – nice. I love a dark protag myself, I’ve got my own maverick detective in DI Ray Drake, who has so far appeared in my novels His First Lie and It Was Her. But I really wanted to go in the opposite direction with Sasha and make her optimistic, friendly and respected by her team. Of course, Sasha isn’t perfect, she’s often distracted by her chaotic home life and her timekeeping ain’t so good. But she’s quietly determined and wants the best for people, she’s someone you’d really want on your side in a fix. We’re all attracted to compelling characters, but I don’t think nice people in detective fiction have to be boring, and Sasha (I hope) is proof of that.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

I think it’s a combination of both. You need a good hook for a book – adult survivors of an abduction fear the kidnappings have started again – but if you’re writing a series you also need a cast of recurring characters that people can get to know over time. And because Sasha has more of a sunny disposition, it felt right to place her in a sunny place, which is why she and her team solve crime on the Thames estuary. That part of Essex has huge potential for lots of crime fictiony fun. Sasha’s second investigation will feature my version of a certain TV reality show phenomenon…

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I love my life as an author and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I grew up reading genre fiction  – crime, fantasy and science-fiction – and always wanted to write a series of my own. It’s such a thrill – and frankly a relief – to be able to say I’ve delivered three crime books, with another one on the way. I write crime fiction because it’s the perfect way of setting a fire under the bottoms of my characters, getting them into massive trouble and then – sometimes, if they’re lucky – getting them out of it.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I’ll read anything, really. I’ll always have a book or a device on me. I read a lot of crime, obviously, but I try to change it up. Recent reads include books by Lisa Jewell, Blake Crouch, Kate Atkinson, Rosie Walsh, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jonathan Coe.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

There are so many good things about being a writer. You can write what you want, where you want. You can drink a lot of coffee – the cafes in my local area have made a mint out of me. It’s fun and cathartic to send your characters to some very bad places. But you also have an important responsibility to your book. You carry it around in your head for a year or so, and at inopportune moments it will transmit to you from a deep place inside of you. And when it wants your attention, it will not be ignored, so prepared to get very distracted at all times of the day and night. In the middle of a conversation, say, or a movie or an important meeting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Horror Fiction, Noir, Novella, Short stories, Suspense

Ryder On The Storm Ray Clark 4* #Review @T1LOM #LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup #Supernatural #CrimeFiction #Novella #ShortStories #Excerpt #BlogTour #BookReview #bookbloggers

#RyderOnTheStorm

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 cheap! 

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.  

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Excerpt from Ryder OnThe Storm – Ray Clark

Terry slammed the door shut.

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.
#RyderOnTheStorm

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

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.

#RayClark

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.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post

Daddy’s Girls Sarah Flint 5*#Review @SarahFlint19 @Aria_Fiction #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Crime #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #London #DCCharlieStafford

#DaddysGirls

He wasn’t always a killer. At first, he just wanted to talk.

 D.C. Charlie Stafford has an odd case on her hands. And it may be her toughest one yet.

A burglar who isn’t interested in valuables, the subject of Operation Greystream is a strange but smooth operator. In the dead of the night, gloved and masked, he visits the elderly. He doesn’t hurt them and, if they beg, he won’t take anything of real value. All he wants is conversation… and they’re powerless to refuse him.

But then 87-year-old Florence Briarly is found by her friend, cold to the touch and neatly, too neatly, tucked into bed. And Charlie realises this case has taken a sinister, urgent turn. Now, this stealthy burglar has had a taste of murder, it’s only a matter of time until he craves it again…

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I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Another exciting range of investigations for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues. This book illustrates the problems faced by detectives, the procedures that must be followed and how the law can sometimes work against them, It is its authenticity that makes this such a readable crime thriller. There are also moral questions explored in this story. Can something be illegal, yet in most people’s eyes morally right?

There are multiple crimes for the team to solve in this book, which shows the complexity of modern police work, and the many competing demands they have to satisfy, with often limited resources. Mistakes are made, which have consequences, and the team have to live with this

Whilst, the overt violence is less than in previous stories, the trauma that the victims suffer is palpable and well described. This is also a family drama. How do family members react, when someone they know and love becomes a criminal or a victim? Can this, sometimes, misguided loyalty, impede the police investigation? Suspense builds with each crime, and it is only the relentless, painstaking detection and forensic evidence that will solve the crimes.

This reads as a standalone, but if you enjoy authentic police procedurals, with believable family drama and complex characters, read the series.

#Daddy’sGirls
Guest Post – Sarah Flint – Daddy’s Girls

It’s been a long, but exciting year!

Well, it’s been just over 13 months since ‘Broken Dolls’ was published and boy, what a year!

In that time, I’ve written ‘Daddy’s Girls’ and a new standalone book, (yet to be revealed) travelled New Zealand, Australia and the UK and beaten breast cancer – not necessarily in that order!

I think I said in my last blog post that with the smooth comes the rough – and my rough was a fairly hefty dose of hospital admissions and treatment. The smooth, was hearing that I was fully cured of my cancer, and meeting an incredibly courageous lady on my ward, who gave me the thrill of actually finding a total stranger who had read all my books – for the first time ever. The rough to that meeting was that within a fortnight I heard she had sadly died, but I will always remember her bravery and fortitude and the time I spent chatting with her and her lovely husband.

On that note, during my travels I’ve also met some fantastic people; both personally and professionally, who have become friends, fans and followers and I count you, as avid readers, bloggers and tweeters, among them. From my local writers group, to contributors and visitors at Bristol CrimeFest it has been amazing to hear your stories. You have all been an incredible support during this year and I have heard from many who have, or are, going through similar tribulations and have very much appreciated your motivational offerings and words of wisdom. I hope I can now do the same in return.

Thank you x

When thinking about my friends and family, my thoughts always return to a similar theme. What would you do to save, protect or avenge a family member or good friend? Would you be prepared to lie for them, or even die for them? It’s a theme that drove ‘Daddy’s Girls’, and has steered my newest standalone.

Thomas Houghton was loosely based on a suspect I arrested during my time as a police officer in the Metropolitan Police. The man’s history fascinated me as he had very few, and very minor criminal convictions, yet he appeared to have committed the most heinous burglary and knife-point rape imaginable. What drove him to commit that crime? And why had the man’s daughter been prepared to lie and even take on a false identity herself, in order to cover for him? Was it love, fear or simply bewilderment that compelled her ill-conceived loyalty?

Out of those questions came ‘Daddy’s Girls’, a story that evolved in order to provide a fictional reason for the man’s actions – his decline into drugs, mental illness and criminality – and the imaginary outcome for both he and his daughter.

I witnessed my own mother’s battle with multiple sclerosis, so I know how devastating it can be to watch someone you love change from an outgoing, active person to someone unable to walk, talk or feed themselves. The toll on carers, physically, mentally and emotionally is far harder than, I think, we as a society appreciate. Could this be a reason for Thomas’s crime? I don’t know, and I don’t excuse it, but it seemed to make sense as a work of fiction.

The book could equally have been named ‘Mummy’s Girl’, as I also wanted to explore the motivations of the victim’s child when searching for justice. How had Florence Briarly’s daughter acted? Could one crime be judged to have been morally right, even if legally wrong? Why can standing-up for your parent in one situation be considered wrong, while acting for your parent in another be judged as right?

It’s an interesting dilemma and one that seems to rear its ugly head on a regular basis in the media, along with the question of how safe you really are in your own home and what steps can you lawfully take in order to protect your loved ones, and your possessions?

Ooh – it’s a moral and legal nightmare! But it makes for great stories.

Throw into the mix Charlie, with her unfailing quest to get justice for the victim and her continuing loyalty to Hunter, as well as Ben’s on-going problems, and you have my latest offering. I have really enjoyed exploring the dilemmas in all the storylines, as well as finishing the book on a note of intrigue. It certainly has made me want to continue Charlie’s story – and I hope it will make you want to do the same.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Many thanks.

Sarah xx    

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Stalker Gemma Rogers 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @GemmaRogers79 #boldwoodblogtours #PsychologicalThriller #Suspense #Violence #Women #Justice #RevengeFiction #CrimeFiction #Crime #BookReview #bookbloggers #Author #Interview #Extract #PublicationDay

#Stalker

‘My body reacted before I was even sure, the memory of him on my skin still fresh. I knew where he lived, where he hunted, and it wouldn’t be long before I knew his name.’

Eve Harding’s world implodes one Sunday morning when she is violently assaulted and raped walking to a South London train station.

As her attacker evades the Police and is left to roam the streets to stalk his next victim, Eve is forced to seek out her assailant before he strikes again.

With vengeance in mind, Eve is determined to find him in time and deliver justice on her own terms. In a game of cat and mouse, who is stalking who?

A gritty crime thriller, asking how far would you go to seek justice.

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

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.

#GemmaRogers

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.

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Extract From Stalker – Gemma Rogers

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.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, International Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Elevator Pitch Linwood Barclay 5*#Review @HQStories @linwood_barclay #Suspense #urbanfiction #Thriller #policeprocedual #Crimefiction #NewYork #ElevatorPitch #BlogTour #BookReview #bookbloggers

#ElevatorPitch
#ElevatorPitch

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I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

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.

A polished, haunting urban thriller.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Fourth Victim John Mead 4*#Review @BookGuild @JohnMeadAuthor @rararesources #PoliceProcedural #CrimeFiction #EastEnd #London #BookBirthdayBlitz #BookReview #BookBloggers

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight.  And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong.  The victim deserves more.  However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

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#TheFourthVictim
Author Interview – John Mead – The Fourth Victim

Is this story inspired by a real event? If not, what are the inspirations behind this story?

Most of the ideas I have are sparked by incidents I’ve heard about or been involved in. However, they do get greatly adapted to fit the plot.  For example, the idea to set the main narrative of The Fourth Victim in Whitechapel came from walking past Lehman Street police station and wondering what a modern-day Jack the Ripper might be like. It didn’t take me long to decide that the events if enacted today, would be more mundane – less sensational in this jaded age – and  Jack would be psychoanalysed to death. Though he or she would, no doubt, be a Twitter celeb – at least for a day!

Given that I wanted to write something about how the police deal with mental health issues, and how this impacts on the nature of criminality and victimhood; then that ‘Whitechapel Ripper’ setting seemed to put everything into place.

Is it important to create memorable detectives in this genre? Why do think this is?

In general, I would say it is important to create a memorable team of detectives. Even if it is mainly a partnership – Morse had Lewis but also Dr Max DeBryn and Strange, while Poirot had Hastings and Japp.  Although neither Morse nor Poirot could function in a modern police force. A better example would be Vera or Montalbano, both of whom have their teams and sidekicks.   It is the people around the central character and their relationships which define them and make them memorable.

It is, therefore, necessary to create characters which are relatable, well-rounded humans with flaws and inconsistencies. The interactions of these characters are what creates interest and bring the story alive. I tend to find ‘lone wolf’ characters unrealistic, especially in the police as these are organisations based on teamwork. If you consider some of the more modern ‘classic’ detectives, like Martin Beck or Wallander, they may not be the best team players but they are still part of a team and interact with them.  This is as true of the criminals – no one is all good or all bad – and the victims. Both of which are often used as mere plot devices and quickly forgotten, while in reality, they are central to the crime.

Do your detectives have to be likeable? Why is this?

No, not essentially, in reality, how many of the detectives you read about would you want to spend an evening with (Holmes would be insufferable and Jimmy Perez would be maudlin)? I would say it is more important to make them understandable, to show their weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as their strengths – this is what makes a character interesting and, hopefully, why people want to read about them. 

Take Maigret or Elise Wassermann, these characters only become likeable once you start to understand their backgrounds and relationships. Both these characters might seem to be the typical ‘lone wolf’ detective but neither would be anything more than a cypher until you realise that Maigret needs his wife to give him a strong anchor in life and Wassermann, who is autistic, is really doing her utmost to fit in. Otherwise, neither of them would be particularly likeable.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Sometimes, someone, I come across sparks an idea for a character and, at other times, I realise a character I have written reminds me of someone I know.  But, on the whole, I find the characters develop a life of their own – once you have a few basic characteristics defined for a character it is surprising how complex they can become.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I enjoy books that teach me something: whether it is about writing technique, a moment in history or life in general.

Treasure Island is technically the best book ever written. Not a word is wasted, the plot is fast-paced, the characters are well rounded and every scene comes to life.  Which is quite a feat?

Though I like anything by PG Woodhouse for his wordplay, and CJ Sansom and C Hibbert for their impeccable research.

These days I generally read crime fiction – usually, police procedurals – and the masters of this genre are Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö who wrote the Martin Beck series.

What are you currently writing?

Having decided to write a trilogy based on the Metropolitan Police’s Major Investigation Team East – who deal with murders in modern-day East End of London – I have discovered this is actually a ‘trilogy’ in four parts. And I am currently working on the final two parts of this series, the second book in the series – Geraldine – is being published at the end of September. 

However, I am also working on the plot of another book, an allegorical story of modern life.  It’s about a paranoid white suprematist who befriends a homeless Muslim woman – now if I can pull that off who knows what will come next …

What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

I absolutely love the act of writing, editing and all aspects of the process – I become totally absorbed by it. Unfortunately, because I am naturally lazy, I completely hate the thought of having to start writing, editing or anything else connected with the process, and do all I can to put it off.

Life is full of contradictions.

#TheFourthVictim

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The iconic setting of Whitechapel for this book puts you in the correct frame of mind for murder. Although this part of the EastEnd of London, is much changed, it seems the possibility of a serial killer is an uncomfortable echo of its gruesome past.

Detective Inspector Merry, who on the surface is anything but, and Detective Sergeant Lukula make an interesting an investigating duo. The other members of the murder investigating team are also distinctive, and despite their personality differences, the team functions well.

This is a character-driven police procedural, with well-drawn realistic characters whose multiple human frailties make them authentic. The plot gives heavier emphasis on the police team’s personal lives than is usual in a police procedural. This adds interest to the more routine parts of the story, but for some will detract from the main storyline.

The investigation of the crimes is detailed and well researched. There is also a mental health theme in this story, which is contemporary, and again, shows copious research.

The plot has twists and false information, and the ending draws everything together in a satisfying way.

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern-day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Sleepover Carol Wyer 5* #Review Detective Natalie Ward #crimefiction #policeprocedural #familydrama @bookouture @carolewyer #bookreview #bookbloggers

Roxy had a secret. Now she’s gone.

When fourteen-year-old Roxy says she’s going for a sleepover at her best friend Ellie’s house, Cathy sees no reason to check her daughter’s story. The two families are neighbours, and the girls are in and out of each other’s homes every day.

It is a decision she will regret. A day later, Roxy is found murdered in exclusive Linnet Lane, miles across town, in a house owned by two brothers with no apparent connection to Roxy. Detective Natalie Ward, called to lead the investigation, is determined to get to the bottom of why Roxy was in the basement of this grand Victorian mansion when she should have been eating chocolate in her pyjamas with her best friend.

As Natalie begins to look closely at Roxy’s stepfather and three brothers, she discovers that Roxy had recently been admitted to hospital with suspicious injuries. Her mother Cathy seems very jumpy and Ellie refuses to talk. Who are the people that knew Roxy best in the world protecting?

Then Roxy’s mother Cathy disappears.

When Cathy’s body is discovered close to where her daughter was found, Natalie is forced to face the grim fact that the killer is just getting started. She is troubled by the reaction of Roxy’s brother Seth to the tragedies and when his alibi falls through she brings him in for questioning, certain she is making headway.

But while Seth is in custody, one of Roxy’s school friends is found murdered and Natalie knows she must cast her net wider. Things take a more sinister turn when Ellie vanishes, her mobile phone switched off. What is Ellie hiding about the night Roxy died that could put her in terrible danger? And can Natalie work it out before another innocent life is taken?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

This is the second book I have read in the Detective Natalie Ward series. It is an excellent police procedural and crime fiction novel. Fused with family drama, the characters are believable and complex, they have flaws and secrets, which make them realistic.

The fast-paced plot is suspenseful, building with each new character, and incident. The initial case appears normal, straightforward, but it isn’t, and as the crimes compound, so do the suspects and possible reasons. The twists are clever and keep you guessing, and there are plenty of heartstopping moments.

The urban setting is authentic and grounds the events that occur, making you believe they could happen. The story doesn’t lose sight of the human element and there is plenty of poignant emotion in this book.

The police team is what makes these stories resonate. They all have different personalities, problems and personal lives, but they are a team. They act, and think as one entity, each person in the team matters, they care, cover for, and criticise each other and this makes them believable.

The ending demonstrates the power of careful detective work, as the web of lies and secrets are exposed, and the antagonist is finally revealed. I did work it out but changed my mind several times because of the wide cast of suspects and the plot’s many twists.

A well thought out police procedural with a complex, dynamic detective team, and a clever twisty plot, which gives the reader a believable, emotional story.