DI Kelly Porter is about to discover just how dark things can get in the Lake District.
When a young woman is found unclothed, unspeaking at an ancient stone circle it’s not clear if any crime has been committed. DI Kelly Porter and her team start looking into the circumstances, but the mystery girl disappears.
Soon after, a brutal murder is committed and sinister markings at the scene indicate that the killer had a message. The investigation reveals that in the beautiful Lake District there are those who believe in ancient ways, and within those circles, old resentments are spilling over into terrible violence.
Kelly has all the pieces to solve the puzzle, but to put them together she must confront a figure from her past: one who nearly destroyed all that she holds dear. Will she avoid the same fate this time, or can the killer stay one step ahead of her to the bitter end?
I always enjoy reading the DI Kelly Porter series. There’s a great balance of human interest and police investigation. Kelly is a conscientious, driven detective, who wants justice for the victims and tempers her investigative skills with humanity. The English Lake District’s raw beauty is a perfect setting. A varied and pacy plot features ancient beliefs, abuse, cold cases and an intriguing mystical element. There’s a shocking murder, a puzzle to solve and a sinister connection with the past.
When police are called to a murder scene at the home of Aberdeen socialite Annabel Imray, they find themselves under pressure to get a conviction, and fast. Meanwhile, local PIs Wilma Harcus and Maggie Laird are at rock bottom, desperate for income. As Maggie contemplates replacing Wilma with an unpaid intern, an eccentric widow appoints them to search for her lost cat – and Wilma goes off-piste to negotiate a loan, with terrifying terms. As the fear caused by a series of sinister break-ins escalates, Maggie blames the aggressive language in public discourse for inciting violent crime. But before long, she finds she is in the danger zone herself.
I received a copy of this book from Saraband in return for an honest review.
Wilma Harcus and Maggie Laird are a private investigation team. As different, as it’s possible to be, the two women look out for each other, have a strong friendship and success rate. Despite, all of this the business is struggling and money is needed urgently. Maggie (the cautious, sensible one), thinks about selling her assets to keep meet the bills. Wilma, (the free spirit), goes for a less conventional and ultimately dangerous alternative, which has consequences for her friend.
This is the fourth book, in the Harcus and Laird series. It’s my first encounter, with the team and I find it, full of action, humour and solid investigation. Although the characters have history and previous cases are alluded to, it doesn’t detract from this story.
The characters are engaging and realistic. The story is cleverly plotted and the divergent investigations interweave to produce a strong ending.
Payback is enjoyable crime fiction, with a strong sense of place, humour and team dynamic.
Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel,Cross Purpose, was longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017, and Burnout was longlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award 2018.Runaway is her third novel and continues the Harcus & Laird series.
Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.
Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.
One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.
Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.
As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Emotive, intense, thought-provoking family drama, draws Detective Kennedy and Private Investigator Kelly into another dark investigation. Jenny, a terminally ill patient dies suddenly. Was it assisted suicide? Murder? Or suicide? How far is her estranged husband Liam, just returned to the family home, implicated?
Told from multi-points of view, in the past and present, the story unfolds, revealing clues and unexpected events. Sharing the emotional journey of the children, ex-husband, and others connected to Jenny. The emotional damage terminal illness causes to the family, friends and wider network is explored.
The sense of confusion is reiterated by the differing viewpoints and the dual time perspectives. The investigation is not the main focus of the story, but Kennedy and Kelly are intrinsic to the mystery’s resolution.
The ending is realistic, and the epilogue demonstrates human resilience and optimism.
Guest Post – Adele o’Neill -Bringing Emotion to the Page
For me, the measure of a good story is how much it makes me feel and as most writers will agree, a character that evokes an empathetic response is a character that a reader will invest in. As a writer of issue-based fiction, it’s heart-warming to hear that a reader was crying at a scene that made you cry when you wrote it and while scene-setting and plot progression are important it’s in finding the correct balance of emotion in a sub-text that can make all the difference in an authentic character and how they carry the story to a satisfying conclusion.
How do you do that, you say when you couldn’t possibly have experienced everything that your characters have experienced, or have you?
The short answer is no… but like any short answer, it doesn’t really reflect the reality. I have and I haven’t. Let me explain…
The first idea for a novel or the story concept begins very simply for me. Its usually with an issue that piques my curiosity, either professionally or personally, and has potential for layers and layers of complexity to be added in at a later date. In ‘When the Time Comes’, it was the issue of assisted suicide that pulled me into exploring the impossible choices that someone with a terminal illness is faced with. It is another character-driven story of survival, dark secrets and love, just like life and the consequences of that complexity posed many more questions than I could answer and presented an inherent sense of conflict that I wanted to explore and that’s where the concept for the story came from.
Having written three novels, I’d come to understand that simple plot mechanics are important but not nearly enough to truly engage readers and I’m a firm believer that the best stories, the stories that stay with you long after the last page is turned, are not just about the issue that they say they’re about. They are about so much more; the character’s inner conflict, the human experience, the inherent dilemma, the psychological and emotional fallout of choices and the way in which the characters’ circumstances resonate with the reader. So the question still stands, can I, if I haven’t experienced the situation in real life, write my character’s emotions authentically?
The short answer is, yes, because I do know what it feels like. We all do. Let me explain…
I know what pain feels like, what it looks like, what it smells like. I can tell you how emotion overwhelms you when you stand in triumph, conversely too when you cower in fear. I can describe the temperature of tears on my face or the blush of my cheeks and I can tell you the depth of lines around my eyes. Some of them carved from happiness some etched from worry, the deep ones excavated through a deep sorrow that will never leave me. I know what it feels like to laugh contentedly but equally, I know what it feels like to cry in desperation. I can recall all my moments of grace and wisdom and likewise, I can remember what it feels like to be ridiculous (these occasions are more frequent than I would like).
This is what life is for all of us, a series of emotional responses to human experiences that are riddled with happiness, joy, grief, sorrow and fear. And while everyone experiences emotions in their own inimitable way, this collection of personal life experiences and human stories allow me as a writer, to inform the emotional reaction of a character in an authentic way to the set of circumstances that has been written into the scene. Without this realness, the reader wouldn’t engage emotionally so, the next time you come across that common assumption that writers write from personal experience, it’s not the circumstances of the scene or the event that has a biographical element but the emotions and empathy that are represented in our characters. (Otherwise I think a few writers in the crime writing ranks have a few questions to answer!)
Adele is a writer from Co. Wicklow who lives with her husband Alan and her two teenage daughters. Influenced by writers across all genres she has a particular fondness for fiction that is relatable and realistic. Her debut novel was awarded The Annie McHale Debut Novel Award for 2017 and is a character driven story of survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, just like life. Her second novel Behind A Closed Door is another emotionally harrowing tale of impossible choices, loyalty and friendship. Adele writes overlooking the Irish Sea, which she credits for the tumultuous dynamics in the relationships and lives of her unsuspecting characters in her third novel, When The Time Comes, another dark tale that tests the lengths we go to protect the ones we love.
The final thriller in the million-copy-selling Katie Maguire series.
In the driver’s seat of a Jaguar, on a country road, a good man burns.
Justice Garrett Quinn should have been at a sentencing. He was one of the good ones, fighting for order in a lawless world. In a burned-out car, on the outskirts of Cork, DS Katie Maguire finds what’s left of him.
But this is only the beginning. The judge’s death sparks a gang war fought with bullets and bombs, and civilians are caught in the crossfire. As the city spirals deeper into violence, Ireland’s most fearless detective must find the courage to fight for her hometown one last time.
Katie Maguire is no stranger to sacrifice – but she has lost so much already. Facing new horrors each day, Katie must decide: can she do her duty when she has nothing left to give?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An action-orientated, crime thriller set in Cork. ‘The Last Drop of Blood is a mix of ganglit, police procedural and political thriller with a distinctive Irish ethos.
Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire battles against establishment misogyny, warring crime gangs and an indiscriminate murderer. Recently bereaved, her personal and professional lives clash. Despite this, her survival instinct keeps her moving forward, steadily solving the complex web of crimes and outwitting those who would prefer her to fail.
It’s addictive reading and leaves you in no doubt about the evil lurking on the streets of Cork. The dialogue draws you into an Irish world, and gives the story it’s engaging authenticity. The characters are complex and easy to visualise. You see the world as they see it, and sometimes it’s a scary place to be. The violence is vividly portrayed as are the episodes of domestic abuse. Sex is shown to be both a weapon and a solace for the characters in this story.
This is reputed to be the last in the series, but it is the first Katie Maguire crime thriller, I’ve read. There are many characters, but the story focuses on Katie’s point of view for the most part, with other characters offering theirs at pertinent moments. There is sufficient backstory to read this as a standalone, I was hooked from the beginning and the plot layers and reveals kept me turning the pages.
The crime detection is believable, and the clues are commensurate with the progression of the police investigation. The ending is powerful and leaves the door open.
Author Interview with Graham Masterton – ‘The Last Drop of Blood’ Blog Tour
What inspired you to write the Katie Maguire thrillers?
In 1999, my late wife Wiescka and I moved to Cork for a while, attracted (a) by a change of scenery since our three sons had all grown up and left home; and (b) by the fact that the Republic of Ireland does not charge authors income tax. We found a huge old Victorian house to rent in Montenotte, high above the River Lee, so that we could see the tankers and the pleasure boats passing to and fro from our upstairs windows.
Cork is an extraordinary and interesting city, with a very varied and colourful history because it is the second deepest harbour in the world after Sydney and over the centuries has seen the arrival of Vikings, Spaniards, as well as Sir Francis Drake and his fleet. It was the last port of call for the Titanic before she set sail across the Atlantic. Because of that, it has a slang all its own and an accent quite distinct from the smooth Dublin Irish. People still say ‘take a sconce to that’ when they mean ‘take a look at it’ — in other words, hold up a candle to it. Shopping is ‘the messages’ and ‘benjy’ means a bad smell like BO, and ‘langered’ means drunk.
I was fascinated by the city and its heritage…especially as the centre of the Irish struggle for independence in the 1920s. The British Army burned down the shopping centre of St Patrick Street in December of 1920 in revenge for an ambush of British Auxiliary Forces, and Cork is still known as the ‘Rebel County.’ I realised that very few thrillers had been set in Cork, if any, and that’s what inspired me to write the first novel about Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire.
I also wanted to write about a woman who has been promoted to a high position in a male-dominated environment, and how she copes with resentment and misogyny from her male colleagues…as well as solving crimes and having a very tangled love life. My closest friends have always been women and even though a man will never be able to think like a woman 100 per cent, those friends have given me understanding and empathy with female thinking.
At the moment one of those close friends Dawn G Harris and I are writing short horror stories together and I have never known two creative minds click together like ours.
‘The Last Drop of Blood’, is the last in the series, are you sad to say goodbye to the character? How did you know the series was at an end?
To be honest, it was my publishers who suggested that after 11 Katie Maguire novels it might be time to take a break. They say it’s the last and maybe it will be, but it won’t be a spoiler to tell you that Katie survives and may live to fight crime another day.
How do you create your characters? Are your characters, based partly on real-life individuals?
My characters seem to come to life spontaneously! Of course, they are based on close observation of real people, particularly the way they talk and dress and react to stressful situations. But it’s amazing how they seem to be born fully-fleshed and with a personal history and a personality of their own…sometimes a personality that I wasn’t expecting and which causes problems in developing the story. I was trained as a newspaper reporter and so I was taught to notice everything about the way in which people behave, and this is tremendously useful in developing fictional characters.
How do you create authentic-sounding dialogue in your novels?
If you were to write dialogue verbatim, in the way that people really speak, it would be either boring or incomprehensible (especially in the case of Corkinese) or both. So I have to write dialogue that ‘sounds’ real, even though it is more like film dialogue. I studied Cork slang and use quite a lot of it in the Katie Maguire thrillers to make them sound realistic, but if I had quoted it in the way that it is actually spoken, none of my readers would have been able to understand a word of it. Such as ‘he’s the bulb off your man in that thing’ = ‘he looks exactly like the actor in that other film that I can’t remember the name of’.’ and ‘the place was jointed’ = the club was so crowded it was difficult to push your way through and ‘that 3-in-1 gave me the gawks’ = that curry rice and chips made me puke. Every sentence has the word ‘like’ in it somewhere, and almost every sentence ends with ‘d’ya know what I mean, like?’
Do you enjoy reading crime fiction? If so, what attracts you to this genre? Or, do you prefer to read other genres?
I read almost no fiction at all of any genre. When you have been writing fiction all day it would be like being a chef and spending the evening cooking. Also I am highly critical of my own writing and just as critical of other writers and if I come across a poorly-developed plot or an awkward sentence, it totally suspends my disbelief. Almost all of my reading is non-fiction, especially historical books, for research.
Are writing another crime fiction series? If so, can you share a little about it here?
In parallel to Katie Maguire I have written two crime novels set in the 1750s in both London and America – SCARLET WIDOW and THE COVEN. The heroine is Beatrice Scarlet, who is the daughter of an apothecary. Her childhood training from her father in chemicals gives her the qualifications to be something of an 18th-century CSI. I am planning to write more about Beatrice but I also have ideas for another major crime series, but it is a little too early in its development to share it at the moment. I promise you, though, it will be very unusual. And of course I continue to write horror fiction….the Horror Writers Association gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award last year so it would be churlish not to!
Graham Masterton trained as a newspaper reporter before beginning a career as an author. After twenty-five years writing horror and thrillers, Graham turned his talent to crime writing.
The first book in the Katie Maguire series, ‘White Bones’, was published by Head of Zeus in 2012 and became a top-ten bestseller. The series was inspired by Graham’s five-year stay in County Cork.
When Rosemary Sherwood overhears a disturbing conversation between her husband, Harry Sherwood and an unknown caller, she has no idea that her life’s about to change forever. Fleeing to France for fear of her own safety, Harry threatens to kill their son if she ever dares to breathe a word of anything she overheard.
Torn between hiding out in France and re-connecting with her estranged son, Rosemary returns to England twelve years later believing that she and her son are now out of danger…
A web of deceit and lies has been woven over the years to cover up the antics of Harry and his friends, who are no strangers to violence and murder and who will stop at nothing to ensure they aren’t exposed.
Private Detective Daniel Appleman takes on the case, but can he track down these men before they wreak havoc on the Sherwood family?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a story for those who like noir crime. The ethos of the story is dark, fueled with tales of abuse, depravity and disregard for life.
Told from multi-points of view, the plot is complex, it requires concentration, especially in the early chapters, as you get to know the cast of characters and their motivations. There is an element of family drama in this story, Rosemary overhears her husband’s telephone conversation, what she hears is life-changing, and puts her and her son in imminent danger.
Told in different time scales, you begin to get the complete picture of what Harry and his consorts do, and it’s not good.
The investigation part of the story, brings Daniel Appleman into the plot, as he embarks on, at times, a desperate journey to uncover the web of dark secrets and lies and keep Rosemary and her son safe. The investigation is intense and interesting, as different lines of enquiry and various leads and suspects are pursued.
There are lighter scenes to counter the darkness, and the comparison of the detective’s family life and Rosemary’s is marked.
The suspense building and underlying menace increases as the story progresses, and leads to a realistic and satisfying conclusion.
Overall this a good crime story. It will appeal, to those that like their thrillers full of dark deeds and depraved antagonists.
Michael Pakenham is part of a well-known Irish literary family. Generations of his family lived at Langford Lodge on Loch Neagh outside Belfast. His father was killed in the Second World War and the estate was sold. His mother then took Michael and his sister to Tucson Arizona until the end of the war. On returning to England, his mother bought a farm in Hampshire and Michael has lived in the county ever since. Having served in the Grenadier Guards – the fourth generation to do so – Michael returned to take over his mother’s farming enterprises until he sold his farming interests in 1990 and started his writing career. This will be his eighth book and the second in the Daniel Appleman series. He lives outside Winchester with his wife. He has three children and a string of grandchildren.
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When a young woman comes forward saying she’s the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji, however, is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours?
Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming cozy mystery, set in India, with a charismatic detective, whose life is constantly invaded by his Mummy-ji, who knows her son well. She is happy to manipulate him for her ends. A clever woman, observant, well-connected and a natural investigator, she is effectively a silent partner in the private detective firm.
Indian customs and society are integral to the story, and historic events are also included, which add interest to the plot.The cast of characters is eclectic and enigmatic and gives this story its quirky appeal. There are several cases to be investigated, but it is the one Puri wants to ignore that proves the most absorbing and challenging.
This is the fifth book in the series, but it is possible to read as a standalone, as I did. However, series like these are always worth reading from the beginning.
At times humorous and often poignant, this is a well-written mystery with a memorable detective, a diverse set of cases and a distinctive cultural ethos.
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries and The Delhi Detective’s Handbook. Twitter.
The charred remains of a child are discovered – a child no one seems to have missed…
It’s high summer, and the lakes are in the midst of an unrelenting heat wave. Uncontrollable fell fires are breaking out across the moors faster than they can be extinguished. When firefighters uncover the body of a dead child at the heart of the latest blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite’s arson investigation turns to one of murder.
Jude was born and bred in the Lake District. He
knows everyone…and everyone knows him. Except his intriguing new Detective
Sergeant, Ashleigh O’Halloran, who is running from a dangerous past and has
secrets of her own to hide…
Temperatures – and tension – in the village are rising, and with the body, count rising Jude and his team race against the clock to catch the killer before it’s too late…
The first in the gripping, Lake District set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.
Guest Post – Jo Allen – Death By Dark Waters – Turning to Crime
I used to be a romantic novelist. I suppose I
still am. But I’ve always loved reading crime.
When I was younger I read Agatha Christie
(possibly not that well-characterised but fantastic, page-turning plots);
Dorothy Sayers (wonderful characters, superb writing but possibly a little
dense); Ngaio Marsh (so dated now, but I did become engaged with her
detective). I marvelled at the complicated plots and the twists in the tale. I
really, really wanted to write that sort of thing, but it was just…too
I fell into a trap, I think, of believing that some genres were easier than others — romance was “easy” because it doesn’t need so many fiendish red herrings, for example — but I was wrong. Romance is just as difficult because although it appears formulaic you still have to create characters who keep the reader interested and you have a plot that depends not on what happens in the end (spoiler: it’s happy) but on how you get there.
My first novels, if you can call them that, were ‘crime’. There was a mystery about a stolen ruby and a less-than-probable tale about a Cold War plot in the skiing world cup. (There was also a one-act play about match-fixing in international cricket which eventually proved prescient.)
But these were all rubbish, truly poor, no
research, terrible plotting…every mistake in the book. I moved on to things
that didn’t really require research, or not in the same way. In 2014, after
many rejections, I finally had my first novel, a romance, published. But even
as I practised writing I was still reading crime and thrillers.
It was in 2017, in September as I recall, that I
was wandering about in the Lake District musing on what to write next when it
suddenly dawned on me. The tools for a successful book are the same whatever
genre you write in. You need to be able to structure a plot, create a location
and (probably most importantly) develop your characters. And on that walk, Death
in Dark Waters was born, and I realised that, after all, I could write
So now I can introduce you to DCI Jude Satterthwaite and his cases. The first of them, in Death by Dark Waters, begins with an unidentified dead body in a burning barn. Whodunnit? Read the book to find out…
Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy, she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. TwitterFacebook
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set in the Cumbrian Lake District ‘Death By Dark Waters’ features a troubled Detective Chief Inspector – Jude Satterthwaite and his team as they investigate a death on the hills close to Haweswater. Forensically there is little to go on and the team have to rely on their detection skills to solve the crime.
Jude’s personal life is challenging, he is driven and seeks the control he needs, through his career, which is so lacking in his emotional life. Ashleigh O’Halloran, newly transferred from Cheshire, presents as a confident professional, not afraid to challenge her colleagues. She is a distraction for Jude who shies away from emotional ties.
There is a considerable amount of introspection and emotional angst, in this story, it is an unusual style for a crime novel but does give the story an original angle. The police procedural is believable and, the plot has enough suspects and twists to hold your attention. The pacing is slow but this is to be expected in a new series when characters have to be introduced and their motivations and flaws explored. The crime is grizzly but the descriptions aren’t overly explicit. Instead, the reader is allowed to imagine the scene.
The action really takes off halfway through the story, when a significant plot twist occurs. I thought I’d solved it, and I did guess who, but the motivation for the crime is sinister and twisted and not revealed until the end.
On balance, I empathise with the troubled detective and look forward to more crime solving.
WHAT DOES HE KNOW? Threatening phone calls, smashed windows, physical intimidation. Eric Pearson and his family have only just moved into a new home in a sleepy cul-de-sac, but they already have dangerous enemies.
How could a respectable family become the focus of such hatred? Detective Inspector Mike Croft knows the Pearson family well. Eric Pearson claims to own a journal which gives evidence of a horrifying ring of abusers. If true, it would be a high stakes case for DI Croft and expose awful secrets that the town has buried deep. But no one wants to believe the dark conspiracies of this friendless and bitter man. Then a body is found on the edge of Bright’s Wood, wrapped in a black bag. DI Croft must confront evil which threatens to rip apart everyone in the community.
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
DI Mike Croft is a dedicated, likeable detective, with a tragic past, which makes him empathise with the crime victims he comes into contact with. Croft works with the other characters in his unofficial team to solve his latest investigation into a child abuse ring. This is a sensitive subject but handled well by the author. Corruption and a cover-up are suspected, but difficult to prove.
The plot is well written, with suspense and police procedural details. Set in the late 1990s, the retro element gives it another layer of authenticity and interest. There are many strands to the investigation, which all become connected as the story progresses, It deals with issues prevalent in the nineties, as they are today. The pacing is good and the story flows well, making it easy to read.
Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .
Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.
When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.
Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?
Little Darlings – Blog Tour – Interview Questions – Melanie
What inspired you to write this story?
I began with a re-telling of an obscure folktale which features in the book, A Brewery of Eggshells. After a while, I started thinking about who thought it up in the first place and why. I thought maybe it was actually about postpartum depression and psychosis. Either that or fairies were real….
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
Characters begin as amalgamations of people I know; maybe they have one or two opinions in common with someone in real life. After a while, they become real people that live in my head, with no connection to anyone outside of it apart from the few seeds I might have used to create them. Often they are or contain aspects of myself, extrapolated.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
The story comes first, and the characters are part of that; the story wouldn’t be happening to anyone else, it’s always because of something the characters are or are involved in. The setting is very important, but it tends to grow up around the story.
What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?
I think writing for many people is unavoidable. However, I did make a conscious choice to switch from writing lyrics and music to writing novels, as performing never seemed to fit around my personal life. I’m so glad I did because it turns out I’m a lot more successful, for whatever reason, at writing novels than being a singer/songwriter.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
All books! I will read anything, everything, always. If there is text in front of my eyes it gets read. In the shower, I have to turn the shampoo bottle away or I’ll keep reading the back of it, over and over.
What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?
Best thing: solitude
Worst thing: loneliness
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review
Where to start with this unusual thriller. It is a curious mix of folklore and medicine, seen from Lauren’s point of view, she is acting sanely to ensure her babies are safe. Seen from a medical perspective she has mental health issues, most likely puerperal psychosis. The question is what do you believe, and even at the end of the story, I’m not sure.
This story resonates. In Victorian times any non-conformist behaviour was considered a mental aberration, many young women incarcerated in mental institutions, just because they had children out of wedlock, So perhaps, in this case, the truth lies somewhere in between the folklore and the medicine?
Intense and suspenseful, you are torn between Lauren’s anxiety and need to find her children, and the prospect that if she isn’t stopped innocents will suffer. It’s an intelligent thriller, with many layers and possibilities and a poignant ending that makes you wonder what if.
Lauren is an unreliable protagonist, but she is easy to empathise, even though part of you believes she may be dangerous. Harper is a complex character, a police detective, who is drawn to the case by her own history, and even though she finds answers she is still not sure she’s discovered the truth. The cast of supporting characters are essential and give the story depth and diversion.
Prefacing each chapter with folklore concerning Changelings, .the reader compare them with what is happening in the story, adding to its complexity.
This is a creepy, unsettling thriller, exploring the grey areas of mental health and the power of folklore, why did it originate, was it to explain why some mothers seemed to endanger their children, or is there a twisted truth, we don’t understand?
Do you love mysteries with intricate plots and new locations? Meet Detective Rebecca Bradley as she faces an escaped serial killer whose next target is the policewoman herself.
Rebecca Bradley put serial killer Jackie Caldwell in prison. She had the assistance of Hound, a giant young man who’s in love with Rebecca. But then Jackie murders a prison guard and escapes. She heads north to her home town of Conroy, where she hides out in the forest to evade a massive police search. She’s burning with hatred for Rebecca and wants revenge for the financial ruin of her family twenty years ago in a gold mining scam by Rebecca’s villainous grandfather.
Jackie also hates Rebecca’s wealthy father, who betrayed and then helped the police apprehend Jackie’s sleazebag lover, Kingsley McBride. Hound pursues Jackie in a bone-chilling chase through the eastern Georgian Bay forest. He faces a race against time to save the woman he loves.
I received acopy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I like quirky characters and plots, but even though I like Hound and Rebecca, the main protagonists in this crime based mystery thriller, and the plot is complex, I couldn’t get into the story.
Set in Canada, the story is full of local dialect and expressions, but it is the writing style rather than the content that fails to resonate. There seems to be a narrator present, telling the story rather than letting the reader learn what’s happening through the main protagonist’s thoughts and experiences.
Despite the action-packed storyline, and the unreliability of the main protagonist, there is something missing for me and the story doesn’t realise its initial potential.