Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Suspense, Thriller

The Keeper Diane Saxon 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @Diane_Saxon #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #DSJennaMorgan #BlogTour #PublicationDay #BookReview

#TheKeeper

Responding to reports of deadly screams in the Ironbridge Gorge, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is first on the scene to investigate.

As the search intensifies, Jenna soon discovers her sister Fliss’s severely injured Dalmatian, Domino and the naked, tortured body of an unknown woman.

Who is the dead woman and where is her sister Fliss?

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

My Thoughts…

This story begins so quietly, but the subtle suspense builds very quickly. A dramatic twist leaves the reader reeling. Totally addicted, you have to find out what happens next.

There is a psychological element to this story, but not in the traditional sense., as there is no clear, unreliable protagonist. Rather, this is a fast-paced crime thriller, with a well-thought-out police procedural, and a disturbing, menacing ethos. The crimes are not graphically depicted, but are harrowing and resonate.

Jenna Morgan is a likeable detective, who engages with the reader. This crime is personal, you see her flaws and vulnerability seeping through her professional exterior. She’s easy to empathise you want her to have the outcome she seeks.

With an interesting team of detectives, that all have their own stories, this promises to be an absorbing series. The detective team is male-dominated, which may be authentic, but it would be good to see more women on the team in future stories.

The clues to finding the killer are hidden in plain sight, but knowing who increases the intensity. The ending is a pure adrenaline rush.

#DianeSaxon

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Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan.  It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

extract from The Keeper – Diane saxon

Chapter One

Friday 26 October, 15:45 hrs

Felicity Morgan jammed her car into third gear and took the tight bend down the hill to Coalbrookdale with fierce relish. ‘It’s not right! It’s just not right. I’m twenty-four years old, for God’s sake, and still being told what to do!’ She pounded the palm of her hand on the steering wheel and whipped around another curve. ‘

‘Not even told.’ She glanced in the mirror, her gaze clashing with Domino’s. ‘Nope, she didn’t even have the decency to speak to me.’ She floored the accelerator and snapped out a feral grin as the car skimmed over the humps in the narrow road.

‘She texted me. A freakin’ text!’ She shot Domino another quick glance and took her foot from the accelerator as the car flew under the disused railway bridge, past the entrance to Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Guilt nudged at her. ‘I know. I know, Domino. We’ve barely seen each other since I moved in because of her shifts and my workday, but for God’s sake. A text? Really? She must have been so peed off to send me a text. It’s her version of not talking to me. She’s done it all our lives.’ Fliss blew out a disgusted snort. ‘What the hell did you eat this time? Her bloody precious steak? One of her fluffy pink slippers? Hah!’

She appealed in the mirror to her silent companion. ‘She said, “Don’t forget to walk the dog.”’ She pressed her foot on the brake and came to a halt, sliding the gears into neutral as the traffic lights halfway down the hill changed to red. They always did for her. Every bloody time. With a rebellious kick on the accelerator, Fliss revved the engine.

‘She called you a dog, Domino. She couldn’t even be bothered to write your name.’ She stared at the big, gorgeous and demanding Dalmatian in her rear view mirror. Her lips kicked up as a smile softened her voice. ‘How could I possibly forget to walk you?’

An ancient Austin Allegro puttered through the narrow track towards her just as the traffic lights turned to green on her side. ‘Bloody typical.’

Domino raised his head to stare with aloof disdain at the passing Allegro and Fliss sighed as the driver’s wrinkled face, as ancient as the car, barely emerged above the steering wheel. ‘There was only once, a few weeks ago, I forgot to walk you. You’d have thought Jenna would have understood. I was hung-over from my break-up drinking bout. You, my darling, were suffering the consequences of a broken home.’ She let out a derisive snort as she put the car into first gear and glided through the lights, back in control of both her temper and her vehicle.

‘Not that you ever really liked Ed. You were just being empathetic. You sensed my…’ she drew in a long breath through her nose, ‘… devastation. You sympathised with me. How was I to know you’d eat your Aunty Jenna’s kitchen cupboard doors off while I was sleeping?’ They still bore the deep gouged teeth marks. ‘We didn’t have any choice but to move in with Jenna. We couldn’t stay with him. He was too mean. He wanted me to get rid of you. Said it was him or you.’

She flopped her head back on the headrest. Ed. The perfect gentleman, tender, gentle, an absolute charmer. To the outside world. Insidious, controlling arse to her. It had taken so long to realise his subtle intention to separate her from her mother, her sister, eventually Domino. The slick manoeuvres to keep her to himself. Unnoticed until her mother fell ill, when, in a flash, it all became clear.

‘Poor Domino.’ She glanced in her mirror to share the sympathy between herself and her dog as she slowed down to pass the stunning Edwardian building she worked in on her right. Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge School dated back more than two hundred years and had firmly entrenched roots at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. With the imposing cooling towers of the Ironbridge power station behind, they shared domination of the skyline from that angle.

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Thriller

The Quiet Ones – Theresa Talbot 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @Theresa_Talbot #Crime #InvestigativeJournalist #OonaghONeil #Thriller#BlogTour #bookreview #author #interview

If only someone had listened…

When the supposed suicide of famous Scottish football coach Harry Nugent hits the headlines, the tabloids are filled with tributes to a charitable pillar of the community that gave so much back to sport and to those less fortunate.

But something isn’t right. Normally celebrities are queuing up to claim to have had a very special relationship with the deceased, but investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil is getting the distinct impression that people are trying to distance themselves from Harry.

Oonagh’s investigation leads her to uncover a heartbreakingly haunting cover-up that chills her to the core… and places her in mortal danger from those willing to protect their sadistic and dark secrets at any cost…

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

My Thoughts…

The third in the series of the investigative journalist, Oonagh O’Neil, novels, once again tackles a heinous crime that is currently topical. The grisly death of a high-profile football coach opens a dark and powerful web of lies and secrets that exist in plain sight, yet no one appears to care.

The appeal of this story is its authenticity and topicality. There is no gratuitous description in this story, but the themes are dark and hard to read about. The story follows Oonagh’s investigation into the football coach’s death, and what lies behind it. It leads her into some dark places, with frightened victims, and powerful culprits, who will stop at nothing to save themselves.

Oonagh is a clever and tenacious investigator, who uses her contacts ruthlessly, and her personal experiences to get to the truth. Her flaws and overuse of alcohol, make her relatable, and real, Given what she sees and experiences in the course of her investigations, it isn’t surprising she needs to forget sometimes.

The language and behaviour give the novel’s setting authenticity and the plot is cleverly twisted and layered with menace and suspense. The ending ties up the investigation well and concludes this disturbingly poignant story convincingly.

Author Interview -Theresa Talbot – The Quiet Ones

Interview Questions – Theresa Talbot

What are the inspirations behind your Oonagh O’Neil series, and this story in particular?

All three of my Oonagh O’Neil books have been inspired by real-life events. As a journalist, I’m particularly interested in those crimes committed in plain sight – institutionalised crimes and injustices where often no-one will ever be convicted. The Lost Children was the first in the series and came about after research I was doing on the Magdalene Intuition – for those readers unfamiliar with the Magdalenes, there’s a wealth of information online. But they effectively were asylums to house so-called ‘fallen women’. I’d discovered there had been one in Glasgow and once I started digging, I was hooked and formed a crime novel around the circumstances surrounding its closure. Keeping Her Silent was inspired by the tainted blood scandal – again a google search will lead you down a wormhole which will shock you. I interviewed one of the victims and the story was the perfect backdrop for a crime novel. This latest, The Quiet Ones, came about after a chance meeting with a Glasgow Taxi driver who had been instrumental in the conviction of a football coach who had been abusing boys in his care. There’s nothing graphic in the novel – we all know how horrific such cases are – rather the story focuses on how a public figure can evade justice for so long. We only have to look at the likes of Jimmy Saville & Jeffrey Epstein to know that this is sadly a reality. 

How did you create your Oonagh O’ Neil, investigative journalist character? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?

I’ve grown so fond of Oonagh. Given my background (I’m a freelance journalist with BBC Scotland) it was easy for me to create the character. She’s not based on me, but some people recognise certain traits and characteristics. I wanted to make her a real, flesh and blood character. She’s flawed, she gets things wrong, she’s a bit of a mess at times – but she has integrity and always fights for the underdog. Professionally she’s top of her game – personally, she’s a train-wreck. Too often we shy away from flawed female characters – but they exist in real life, and should exist on the page too. I named her after Charlie Chaplin’s last wife – the love of his life. He’s a hero of mine, so I stole her name and changed the spelling. 

How do you make your characters believable?

I teach creative writing workshops and this is my favourite topic. Characters have to be allowed to have flaws and make mistakes. Also, they need to be on a journey, developing as the storyline progresses. How they deal with conflict is crucial – what’s their motivation? What’s the story BEHIND their motivation? And finally, give them a voice. Each character has to have a unique way of speaking. Read the dialogue aloud. Does it drive the story forward, does it fit with the character’s motivation? All of this will help shape your characters. I know some of the advice suggests know everything about your character – birthday, favourite colour, child-hood pet etc… I make it up as I go along.. but I know what drives Oonagh. I know what makes her tick. I know why she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, I know why she drinks too much and pushes the self-destruct button now and again. She has dark hair – I put that in the first novel, but other than that it doesn’t really matter what she looks like. The reader can decide that – that’s a personal thing between the reader and the character – it’s really none of my business.  

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

For my first book, the character and the plot became intertwined very quickly. Initially, I suppose it was the seed of an idea surrounding a riot that closed the Magdalene asylum in Glasgow – then I had a female journalist investigate the story behind it. But the end story is nothing like what I imagined it to be. Now it’s the character – Once I had Oonagh as a fully formed character I had to find stories for her to investigate.

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since my late teens. I came from a family of storytellers, and I love listening to stories and reading of course. As a journalist, I’ve written every day of my professional life for the past 25 years so moving into fiction was the best stage for me. Crime genre was I suppose the obvious one – most journalists turn to crime eventually!

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I love crime books, especially Scottish crime fiction – but they have to have well-developed characters and gripping storylines and be devoid of sexualised violence. I know sexual violence exists, but I abhor when violence is sexualised.   I also love black humour, slice of life and uplit. Anne Tyler is an old favourite that I need to revisit. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is simply wonderful, and anything by George Orwell. I recently read Anne Griffin ‘When All Is Said.’ It’s her debut novel and beautifully written. I think my taste can be described as eclectic.  

 What are you currently writing?

I’m mortified to say I started three new books in one month – despite advice from other author friends not to!  I still embarked on this utter madness until I realised I had to narrow it down. The other 2 have been put on ice for now, and I’m working on a standalone about a woman who was involved in a terrible accident and suffers from the most horrific survivor’s guilt. By the time you read this, I may have ditched that idea and resurrected the other 2 from the drawer!

Theresa Talbot is a freelance writer, journalist and radio presenter, perhaps best known as the voice of Traffic and Travel on BBC Radio Scotland and as the host of The Beechgrove Potting Shed. Prior to working with the BBC, she was with Radio Clyde and the AA Roadwatch team. Theresa worked in various roles before entering the media as an assistant in children’s homes, a Pepsi Challenge girl and a library assistant. She ended up at the BBC because of an eavesdropped conversation on a no.66 bus in Glasgow. Her passions include rescuing chickens, gardening, music and yoga. Twitter Facebook

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

Love’s Long Road G.D.Harper 4*#Review @harper_author @rararesources #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #noir #crime #Glasgow #1970s #Guilt

Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you?

WhenBobbie Sinclair’s boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead, she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape.

Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970s Glasgow backdrop, Love’s Long Road plots Bobbie’s desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love.

Love’s Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s. 

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

My Thoughts…

Whilst this type of story is not new, it is given a unique interpretation by the author, told from Bobbie’s point of view in the first person. The reader sees the world, and the decisions she makes, through her eyes. This gives this story undeniable originality.

Bobbie is a young, naive woman, riddled with guilt when her boyfriend who she recently broke up with kills himself. She attends his funeral out of respect but feels so responsible for his death that she feels she shouldn’t be there.

What follows, is a painful journey of self-recrimination and ultimately, self-awareness. Her indiscriminate one-night stands, lead her a dangerous path, where she meets Michael, he is dangerous, but she is too naive to appreciate this until her life is irrecoverably altered.

The pacing is fast, and the story follows Bobbie’s experiences as she tries to build a new life, there are sacrifices and victories, but constant running, until a final twist, means running is not an option. At this moral crossroads, Bobbie has to decide what to do, and it here the reader witnesses her character’s maturity and you want her life to be something worthwhile.

The setting is Glasgow and London in the mid to late 1970s, the culture and ethos of the period are faithfully recreated, and gives the story its authenticity and depth.

Overall this is a well-paced journey of self-discovery, with many intense and suspenseful moments and a believable, yet hopeful conclusion,

#LovesLongRoad

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Love’s Long Road.


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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama

Take It Back Kia Abdullah 4*#Review @HQStories @KiaAbdullah #CrimeFiction #LegalDrama #CourtroomDrama #FamilyDrama #Prejudice #Secrets #Lies

IT’S TIME TO TAKE YOUR PLACE ON THE JURY.

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories. WHOSE SIDE WOULD YOU TAKE?

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

My Thoughts…

An intense legal drama that explores ethical and moral issues. When a young disabled girl accuses four young boys of rape. Contemporary issues of race, religion, prejudice and social divisiveness are all in evidence in this authentically plotted crime fiction novel.

The first half of the story begins with the rape accusation and the police procedural that follows on from this. Jodie makes her accusation at a rape crisis centre, which brings her into contact to Zara, an ex-barrister, now reinvented as a rape crisis caseworker. Jodie accuses four boys at her school, she is white and suffers from a disfiguring disability to her face, which has laid her open to bullying throughout her young life. The boys are all Muslim, Zara is also Muslim, and so from the outset, there is inevitable tension, between individuals, families and the community.

There is a strong element of family drama in this first part of the story, as we learn more about the victim, her advocate and the four accused boys. The family reactions and the power of social media are all well documented here. Trial by the press and social media are recurrent themes, and everyone is tainted by them.

The second part of the story is the trial. The courtroom drama is portrayed believably. The drama outside the courtroom is disturbing and powerful. The penultimate twist is harrowing, but don’t breathe out too soon, there is more, and this is what makes this story resonate.

Complex, contemporary characters, realistic social issues, and a good understanding of the communities and the issues that they face, make this story read like ‘true crime’ rather than fiction. It is worth reading, even though, sometimes, it’s painful to do so.

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, 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.