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

Death By Dark Waters – Jo Allen #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @JoAllenAuthor #Crime #LakeDistrict #Cumbria #Detective #Guest Post -4 * #Review

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.

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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 difficult.

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 crime…

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. Twitter Facebook

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


My Thoughts…

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.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Thriller

Bitter Edge – Rachel Lynch – 5* #Review – #BlogTour #Guest Post @canelo_co @r_lynchcrime

DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…

When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.

Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.

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Guest Post – Rachel Lynch
Will DI Kelly Porter always stay in the Lake District?

With Kelly’s experience, it’s always possible that someone like her would be seconded or invited to join or help out elsewhere. Constabularies regularly share resources, and of course, crime is often national and even international (like in Dark Game). I can see Kelly going back to London, and I can also picture her further afield. Her reputation has grown over four books and continues to do so.

The settings so far have created a credible, dark and mysterious world of crime that is different to that found in cities, but Kelly will find herself in demand elsewhere in the future, that is certain. She is eminently capable of helping other agencies too, such as government departments and the military. Police procedural theory is always developing, as crime- and criminals- become more daring and complex to evade ever tightening laws and methods to catch them. Kelly loves catching criminals, who invariably think themselves cleverer than the system. She also champions the families of the victims, who suffer much longer after a crime has been solved.

The crime genre is a fluid one, and the illegal activity contained within doesn’t have to always be the most shocking and depraved acts- it can be about issues such as domestic abuse, school bullying, drug taking, theft, embezzlement or arson. It’s the interplay between the protagonist and the antagonists that is important to me. The criminal always sees themselves as one step ahead of Kelly, but their confidence always quickly unravels as she identifies even the smallest of mistakes. Like any human undertaking: crime isn’t an exact science, and there are too many variables to go wrong: technology, forensics, traitors, money trails, accidents and witnesses.

As long as Kelly Porter investigates serious crime, she’ll take on cases large and small, because that’s what stokes the fire in her belly. She’s seen too many devastated relatives, friends, brothers, mothers and children to let any criminal get the better of her.

And she can do it anywhere!

Thank you for reading

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

My Thoughts…

Starting with a tragic event, the reader is still reeling, when a young child faces danger at a fairground. This story deals with every parent’s worst nightmares.

The Lake District setting and weather is an important part of the story as three seemingly unconnected events, form part of the puzzle Kelly Porter has to solve.

The police and forensic procedure is an interesting part of the fast-paced plot, which is full of twists, clues, action, and emotional angst. The crime is contemporary and demonstrates the worrying infiltration of organised crime into rural areas.

Kelly Porter continues to be a great character, clever, and finally coming to terms with her personal demons. The police team and her family provide believable supporting roles and the antagonists are convincingly immoral and driven by money at the expense of human life.

I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.
Twitter: @r_lynchcrime


Posted in Book Review

5* Review Kathleen McGurl- The Drowned Village –

A village destroyed
It’s the summer of 1935, and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.

An uncovered secret
Present day and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.

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My Thoughts…

Laura turns to her grandmother Stella when her boyfriend and best friend betray her. Life with Stella is quiet and safe, but her grandmother worries Laura is missing out. A TV news item brings Stella’s secret past to the present and Laura is easily persuaded to help her Grandmother solve past secrets and enjoy an escape to the beautiful English Lake District.

The destruction of villages through the creation of reservoirs must leave its community with latent resentment. Even though the villagers are usually financially compensated this doesn’t negate the sense of loss and destruction of a community. Stella village is resurrected after an exceptional drought and with it the chance to right a wrong and find the answers to some family secrets buried by the water.

The timeslip between the present day and the thirties is well written and adds depth to the story. The characters are complex and flawed but believable, and it’s easy to empathise with the choices most of them are forced to make. The gentle romance between Laura and Tom is lovely and the ending when family secrets are revealed poignant and satisfying.

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

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour: Deep Fear – Rachel Lynch – Guest Post – Researching Forensics – 5* Review

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

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Guest Post

Researching Forensics

By Rachel Lynch

 

Today, forensic evidence is essential to get a conviction. Circumstantial evidence can be argued away by skilful barristers and so-called experts. Science is rarely disputed, and so any Police Procedural, in my belief, has to have plenty of forensic procedure. I love reading about it and I love writing about it, and I hope my readers do too.

I created Ted Wallis, the Senior Coroner for the North West of England, purely by chance, but I liked his character so much that he’s now a permanent fixture. He’s becoming Kelly’s go-to for all things scientific and he’s also quite a father figure to her. She loves bouncing ideas off him and they enjoy each other’s company. He’s experienced, deliberate, trustworthy and reliable.

I research forensic procedure and technique a lot. One, because I enjoy it, but also because I can’t imagine an investigation without it. All forces in the UK used to be able to use the Forensic Science Service (FSS), but sadly it went way over budget (not that there ever was one set), and created quite a scandal when it emerged how much it cost the taxpayer for the privileged use of up to date technology (how dare they). It’s quite a bone of contention still, as it means that now each force has to pay private labs to chase results and process items and it’s astronomically expensive. One investigation could involve the processing of hundreds of items, then they need to be stored, often retested and compared against other tests. It’s a sad loss to the police force, but the price of budget cutting.

For the purposes of tension and pace, Kelly needs to have access to state of the art lab technology, otherwise, my novels would be tomes of ethical debate surrounded by dilemmas of whether or not to pay for speed DNA profiling or expert fibre analysis, not both. Crime readers don’t want to read about budgets, and so Ted has access to what he needs, and he can pull strings with several labs in Carlisle on Kelly’s behalf.

I’m also keen to avoid repetition, so each autopsy needs to bring something new to the table (forgive the pun). Ted himself needs to be surprised by the depravity of the lengths that some killers will go to and I think it does him good to have a few unconventional cases in the twilight of his career. I have studied anatomy and physiology as part of my sports training and massage courses and, although it’s not essential, it certainly helps. Gore will always divide readers but I hope to achieve the right balance to keep fans interested but at the same time not be gratuitous, which I hope I’m not.

Police work isn’t pretty, and it isn’t for the feint hearted, neither should crime novels be so. We’re dealing with the scum of society and the most sick and twisted minds. It’s bound to get ugly once in a while.

The most important aspect for me is that the facts exposed by the scientific research are always made relevant to the story. Everything that Ted discovers is relayed to Kelly, and each piece is processed so that it contributes to the final conclusion; this is my absolute priority where forensic investigation is used. No piece of evidence is ever thrown in by chance.

So where do I get all the information? The internet mainly. I Google some scary stuff. I also use personal testimony, books and my imagination. I go by the loose guide that, if someone has thought it, it’s probably been done, and nothing much surprises me about the lengths that serious criminals will go to snuff out a human being. After all, crime fiction is about the good guys (or girls) beating the bad guys (or girls). And the stakes are always higher when the baddies are particularly nasty.  

My Thoughts…

I read and reviewed the first book in the DI Kelly Porter series – Dark Game, and while I enjoyed it, for me, it was overly graphic and too factual, in parts. Deep Fear, the second book in the series has retained the action, pace and suspense of the first, while losing some of the gore and facts, making it a perfect 5* read.

Kelly Porter is a dedicated police detective, it is part of her life, and she often sacrifices personal matters for the job. Kelly’s complicated relationship with her sister Nikki continues in this sequel as does her on, off relationship with ex-serviceman Johnny, both give an insight into Kelly’s emotional side and are integral to the plot.

The dark and twisty plot makes compelling reading and something you have to finish. The Lake District and Cumbria is an exciting setting, which gives the perfect cover for heinous crimes. The stark contrast of the beautiful lakes and hills with the dark, horror of the murderous crimes adds to the suspense.

The authentic and well-researched plot and the realistic characters make this story come to life, with a well disguised serial killer. The final chapters are adrenaline-fueled with a heart-stopping ending. All the questions thrown up by the story are dealt with believably, although there is one loose end about a person of interest, which could be part of another investigation?

Readable as a standalone but if you want the full impact of DI Kelly Porter and her team, read Dark Game first.

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

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but the writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Twitter: @r_lynchcrime

 

 

Posted in Book Review

4*Review Dark Game (DI Kelly Porter#1) Rachel Lynch

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‘Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.’

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

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My Thoughts…

Kelly Porter is a career-driven female detective, committed to giving the best to her job, regardless of the personal cost. After a spell in the Metropolitan Police force, she returns ‘under a cloud’, to her birthplace to regroup and heal, expecting the quiet life. She finds a professional team who are willing to give her a chance and more serious crime than she ever imagined possible in such a seemingly peaceful, picturesque setting.
I have spent many happy hours in Cumbria and the Lakes, and it was pleasant to revisit some of these in the well-described settings. The plot of this novel and many of the characters are in sharp contrast to the beauty of the surroundings.
I loved the female protagonist, Kelly Porter. Living in a competitive world hasn’t made her bitter, she’s just made sure she’s better than the rest. This positive trait is easy to empathise. She cares about her mother, her friends and the victims of crime and this compassionate quality is both a plus and a risk in her job.This story has many antagonists, some you don’t expect, and they are believable and complex.
There are many explicitly written gruesome events. For me, the violence was excessive and spoilt my enjoyment of the story. I appreciate these were hardened criminals, but I’m sure most readers could imagine the outcome, without having it so graphically described.
This story is full of detail, again I think a little less would have made it more readable but I’m sure some readers will enjoy this fact-packed read, which seems well researched. The story’s pacing is excellent and the short chapters, build the suspense.
In conclusion, this a good story with an interesting female lead and I look forward to reading what DI Kelly Porter does next. I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Author Blog Challenge

The Best Holiday I Ever Had… Author Blog Challenge – #LifeBooksWriting

This weeks Author Blog Challenge  is ‘The Best Holiday I Ever Had’. I’ve been thinking about this and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one holiday. So  I’ve decided to  highlight my favourite holidays and why, from childhood to my first holiday as a gran.

Childhood

Holidays weren’t a big  feature of my childhood but one that stands out is a holiday in Cornwall in the late sixties, when we stayed in St Agnes Bay and Penzance. I remember making a friend at the holiday camp we stayed at and eating butterscotch, we had a photo at Lands End and my parents bought me the cute cat ornament, which I still have today. Other holidays were in Bournemouth and there were always day trips to Mablethorpe on the east coast of England.

Teenage

Camping holidays with youth club are the standout memories from my teenage holidays. Camping is not really me, the ground is too hard and I always get cold and dislike sharing my tent with a variety of insects. Nevertheless I always enjoyed these trips, especially  the one where I got to know my future husband, we celebrate thirty three years of marriage today, so that was definitely a holiday worth going on.

Twenties

My honeymoon  should be my standout holiday of  my twenties and it was lovely. Cornwall again, we went to Newquay, sun sea and  lots of lovely memories. I visited a vintage kitchen shop in Penzance and bought some glass storage jars with cork lids and I still have them thirty three years later obviously a good buy!

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I was first introduced to The English Lake District in my mid twenties and the scenery and beautiful lakes are still a favourite holiday destination of mine. So much so there are the inspiration for my first book The Dragon Legacy.

The Dragon Legacy Cover
My first book inspired by the Lakes

Brighton was the destination of my last twenties holiday with my lovely daughter 8 months old – Such a lovely time .

Holidays with my children

These were certainly fun. Bournemouth  and Devon were favourite destinations. We even stayed in the prestigious Sandbanks. Woolacombe was another favourite, great for kids and dogs.

 We also had a few holidays in Europe during this time.  A camping trip to France’s Verdun region , turned out to be short-lived , after only four days we had to home  as my mother was seriously ill. Holidays in The Costa Dorada in Spain and Lake Garde in Italy were more successful, although we did manage to get lost both times driving from the airport, not the best start to a holiday but the rest of it was full of great memories, as you can see from the photos. My trip to Lake Garde inspired the setting for my second book ‘The Revenge Masquerade’.

The Revenge Masquerade Cover  October 26 14

 

Discovering Northumberland

Regular blog readers will know I love Northumberland, I first visited in 2014 and went again this year with my new grandson Arthur. The weather wasn’t fantastic but we still had a good time.

 

Next Holiday

I’m hoping my next holiday in Woolacombe in September will be  full of good memories too. I’m really looking forward to holidaying with my kids and little grandson and Jazz and Oby of course. We’re staying close to the wonderful child  and dog friendly beach so look out for more blogs on this in September.

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So that’s a whistle stop tour of my holiday memories. Share your holiday memories with me in the comments below or on #LifeBooksWriting

#HappyHolidays

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