Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, Mystery, Suspense

Liar Liar (DS Grace Allendale) Mel Sherratt 5* #Review @writermels @AvonBooksUK #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Mystery #BlogTour #BookReview #LiarLiar #noir #psychological#suspense #MondayBlogs

The truth can be a dangerous thing…

When a young boy falls from a balcony in a block of flats, DS Grace Allendale witnesses the shocking aftermath of the tragic event. But strangely, no one will admit to seeing anything – and the parents will only tell the police that it was an accident.
 
Determined to sort the truth from the lies, Grace is thrown into a case that takes her to the darkest corners of the criminal world – and strikes closer to home than she could have ever imagined…

A gripping and pacey thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the moment you turn the first page.

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

My Thoughts…

A dynamic fusion of a variety of crime fiction sub-genres; Ganglit, police procedural and psychological suspense, give the third book in the DS Grace Allendale series, a gritty edge that resonates.

Something terrible has happened, on a small rundown estate, in Stoke on Trent, but even though there are witnesses, no one is talking, except to lie. Close by when the tragedy occurs, Grace is shocked, it feels personal and she determined to find out what happened.

The story focuses on the residents of the estate, in the present, giving their viewpoints and illuminating their motivations for lying. Ruby’s horrific story, is revealed in flashback chapters and even though you may not agree with her lies, you do empathise. There is an ethos of menace in this story and evil antagonists. The plot has enough twists to blur the truth, until the final chapters, and an adrenaline-inducing conclusion.

This book has less emphasis on the police procedural elements and more on the motivations and fears of the victims and antagonists. Which, gives the story an original angle and make for an easy to absorb fastpaced read. The setting in Stoke, an iconic city in The Potteries, adds authenticity and makes you realise gang crime is not only prevalent in the larger urban cities.

I haven’t read the previous two books in the series, and this one reads as a standalone, I am, however, intrigued about Grace’s past, and her associations with the Steel family alluded to in this book.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Noir, Novella, Science Fiction, Short stories

The Hidden Girl and other stories Ken Liu 4* #Review @kyliu99 @HoZ_Books #TheHiddenGirl #KenLiu #BookReview #BlogTour #HeadofZeus #shortstories #scfi #fantasy #folklore #MondayBlogs #MondayThoughts #MondayMorning

From a Tang Dynasty legend of a young girl trained as an assassin with the ability to skip between dimensions on a secluded mountain sanctuary to a space colony called Nova Pacifica that reflects on a post-apocalyptic world of the American Empire and ‘Moonwalker’ Neil Armstrong, award-winning author Ken Liu’s writings are laced with depictions of silkpunk fantasy, Sci-Fi and old Chinese folklore, wrapped up in a mesmerising genre-bending collection of short stories.

Ken Liu is one of the most lauded short story writers of our time. This much-anticipated collection includes a selection of his latest science fiction and fantasy stories over the last five years – sixteen of his best – plus a new novelette. In addition to these seventeen selections, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories also features an excerpt from book three in the Dandelion Dynasty series, The Veiled Throne.

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

My Thoughts…

Science-fiction and fantasy are not my favourite genres. Science-fiction is often too abstract and difficult for me to engage with. Fantasy, such a personal concept. If you don’t appreciate, what the author is trying to convey, it’s hard to enjoy.

Despite, this I was asked to review this book. I enjoy reading short stories, and I am always willing to read the work of authors I am unfamiliar with, so I agreed. I didn’t read this book cover to cover, it’s a book that you can dip into when you’re looking for something different to read.

Not surprisingly, I find some of the concepts in the science-fiction stories challenging, but the underlying themes of the dangers technology present for humanity, as well as its benefits, is something I understand. The idea that if technological advance continues at the rate it grew in the late twentieth century, and this century, to date, humanity, as we know it, may be lost. Which is disturbing for anyone who values the diversity and fallibility of humans. Many of the stories are dark, they offer little hope, but when you look around the world you live in, you can see where the inspiration for these stories comes from.

The fantasy stories, of which the title story is one, were easier for me to understand. They are strange and reminiscent of stories passed down through the generations in all cultures. I like these. The quality of the writing, the imagery and the detail are beautiful, as is the physical book and cover.

This is a book that can be read many times, and the reader will see something in the text that they missed before. An interesting experience, that I will enjoy again. Recommended for lovers of fantasy and science fiction, and those, like me who like to read something original and challenging.

Ken Liu

Ken Liu is an American speculative fiction writer and the winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, Sidewise, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards. The son of a pharmaceutical chemist and a computer engineer, Ken emigrated to the US with his mother and father at the age of 11. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in English Literature and Computer Science and later attended Harvard Law School.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Ken worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. His debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories have been published in more than a dozen language and his short story Good Hunting was adapted for an episode for Netflix’s science fiction web series Love, Death and Robots.

#TheHiddenGirl | TwitterWebsite

Posted in Crime, Mystery, Noir

Living Candles by Teodora Matei @TeoMatei2 @CorylusB @Lovebookgroup #Lovebookstours #CoverReveal

The discovery of a woman close to death in a city basement sends Bucharest police officers Anton Iordan and Sorin Matache on a complex chase through the city as they seek to identify the victim. As they try to track down the would-be murderer, they find a macabre trail of missing women and they realise that this isn’t the first time the killer has struck. Iordan and Matache hit one dead end after another, until they decide they’ll have to take a chance that could prove deadly.

Amazon UK

Teodora Matei

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

Posted in Cover Reveal, Crime, International Thriller, Noir

Zodiac by Anamaria Lonescu – Cover Reveal @ami2ro @CorylusB @Lovebookgroup #Lovebookstours #CoverReveal

When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation take them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.

AmazonUK

Corylus Books

Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.

It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.

The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.

There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.

And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Noir

When The Time Comes Adele O’Neill 4*#Review @Aria_Fiction @adelesbooks #family #crime #friendship #noir #mystery #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #Author

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…

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

My Thoughts…

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 O’Neill

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.

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

The Last Drop of Blood Graham Masterton 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @GrahamMasterton @GrahamMasterto1 #crimefiction #Detective #political #thriller #noir #Irish #suspense #Author #Interview #BookReview #BlogTour #KatieMaguire

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?

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#TheLastDropOfBlood

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

My Thoughts…

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

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.

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

The Beach House P.R.Black 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9 #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Holiday #Secrets #Lies #CrimeFiction #noir #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #MondayBlogs #MondayBlues

This vacation is about to turn deadly…

 Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…

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

My Thoughts…

From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.

Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.

The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.

Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.

Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.

Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.

An absorbing, addictive read.

Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black

The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.

When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.

I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”

Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.

So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.

Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.

Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?

It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.

I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.

One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”

All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.

Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Other You J.S. Monroe 5* #Review @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction @JSThrillers #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Police #Noir #Domestic #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost

Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.

At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.

Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.

Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?

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

My Thoughts…

This is a chilling, complex and curious thriller, with psychological and technological themes. Told from three points of view. The reader lives the complete story. Whilst, it keeps you turning the pages, it starts your mind thinking too, what if?

The story has many strands. The unusual skill of the female protagonist, as a super recogniser, which now lost, has left her unsure and vulnerable. The secret world of the new man in her life, and his attitude towards her that makes their interactions often claustrophobic. The themes of doppelgangers, and his apparent obsession with his.

The story is full of underlying detail, which sets the scene convincingly, and evidences the author’s copious research. There are many twists, and the ending is memorable.

If you’ve read this author’s psychological thrillers before, you may be waiting for something to happen that you don’t expect. It does, but its impact is more powerful than you may imagine.

Clever writing, intense suspense, and originality make this a must-read for those who like to explore the darkness and vastness of the human mind.

Guest Post – Super recognisers, by J.S.Monroe

There are some unlucky people in this world who cannot remember a face. Try as they might, they can’t recognise the most familiar people in their lives: relatives, friends, even their own reflection. The condition is known as facial blindness, or prosopagnosia, and it’s estimated that about two per cent of us are sufferers. In 2009, Richard Russell, a Harvard psychologist, wondered if these people were on a spectrum and, if they were, what happened at the other end? Were there those who cannot forget a face? Enter the “super recognisers”, a term coined by Russell for the one per cent of us who indeed have a preternatural gift for remembering the human face. A super recogniser might only have seen someone for a split second at a bus stop five years ago, but if he walked passed them again tomorrow, he would remember them.

In my new thriller, The Other You, my main female character, Kate, is a former super recogniser. She used to work as a civilian for the police, studying mug shots and then identifying criminals on CCTV footage, or working in the field at large public events, spotting known troublemakers in crowds. I spent a lot of time reading up on the subject, as I found it increasingly fascinating. The part of the brain where human faces are processed, for example, is called the fusiform gyrus and it appears to be a lot more active in super recognisers than the rest of us.

My research eventually took me to Essex, where I met a super recogniser called Emma. She only discovered her ability in her thirties, but she’d always had a good memory for faces, recognising someone in the swimming pool who had served her in Tesco’s years earlier, or spotting extras who kept on cropping up in different films. “It’s a bit embarrassing when you go up to someone familiar and smile and they look at you blankly because they don’t remember your face,” she says. Emma used to be in the Metropolitan Police but she now works a super recogniser for a private security firm. After a shift of spotting people, she’s mentally drained. “Your brain’s working overtime, taking screenshots all the time, scanning faces like a robot.”

Talking of robots, super recognisers are proving more than a match for facial recognition software, which is currently experiencing a global boom. The artificial intelligence algorithms deployed to identify faces, matching people in live situations to databases of criminals, are getting better, but it remains a far from exact science. When South Wales Police deployed facial recognition software at the Champions League Final in Cardiff in 2017, more than 2,000 people were wrongly identified as criminals – a failure rate of 92%.

Compare that with the success of super recognisers working for the Metropolitan Police. After the London riots in 2011, the Met amassed 200,000 hours of CCTV footage, but software managed to identify one criminal. One! The Met’s team of super recognisers, by contrast, identified more than 600. One extraordinary individual, PC Gary Collins, identified 180 alone, including a man who had concealed his face with a bandana and beanie. Collins recognised him from just his eyes – he’d last seen him two years ago.

“Algorithms will get better, but people change appearance and we as humans are primed to see through those changes,” says Josh Davis, professor of Applied Psychology at the University of Greenwich, who works closely with super recognisers and police forces around the world.

There’s something about the human face, it seems, that can’t be analysed solely by metrics. When we see someone, we imbue their face with meaning. He reminds me of my father; she looks like my old English teacher. The distance between our ears, or our mouth and nose, only tells half the story. Faces are uniquely human and humans – the super recognisers – remain, for the time being, the best at identifying them.

J.S.Monroe

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer. Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller, Find Me.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

#Payback Gemma Rogers 5* #Review @BoldwoodBooks @GemmaRogers79 #BoldwoodBloggers #CrimeFiction #thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Suspense #Revenge #Secrets #Lies #noir #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay

#Payback

A dark secret and a deadly score to settle…
In 1997 teenager Sophie White and her three girlfriends decide they want to lose their innocence before summer is over.
Roping in her childhood buddy Gareth and his mates, Sophie holds a party to get ‘the deed’ over and done with, but the night doesn’t end as planned.
Twenty years later, the group are brought back together when Gareth is killed in a car accident and Sophie begins receiving threatening messages. It seems the party wasn’t as innocent as everyone thought and now someone wants payback.

A gripping, highly addictive game of cat and mouse where the past comes back with vengeance. 

Amazon UK eBook

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

My Thoughts…

A teenage party starts to have repercussions, over twenty years later, with fatal, and sinister results. There is a steady build-up of drama, plenty of psychological suspense and an underlying ethos of menace, as Sophie’s life disintegrates, even though she tries to carry on as normal.

A dark. pacy thriller, with complex characters, who harbour lies and secrets, from their past. The seemingly innocent event that happened in their teenage life, has sinister echoes. Someone wants revenge, but for what?

The story is told from Sophie’s point of view, as a teenager in the past, and a present-day adult. A plot, full of twists reveals just enough clues, to the mystery and antagonist, as it progresses. The characters are authentic and relatable, and the ending packs a punch and doesn’t disappoint.

#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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Posted in Book Spotlight, Fantasy, Noir

Vile – Keith Crawford #BookSpotlight @keithcrawford77 @LoveBooksTours #LoveBooksTours #Fantasy #Noir @littlwonder

Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?

Amazon UK

Keith Crawford is a retired Navy Officer, a disabled veteran, a Doctor of Law & Economics, a barrister, a stay-at-home Dad, and a writer. He has written for collections of scholarly works, academic journals, and newspapers including The Economist. He has had more than thirty plays recorded or produced for stage, been listed in a variety of short story competitions (in spite of his hatred of short stories), and runs a radio production company, www.littlewonder.website, which regularly runs competitions promoted by the BBC to help find, develop and encourage new writers.

In 2014 he was lecturing at Sciences Po in Paris and negotiating a contract to write a book on banking regulation when he and his wife discovered to their delight that they were due to have their first child. Rather than writing more work that would only be read by his poor students, and then misquoted by politicians, he decided he would do his bit to stick his fingers up at the patriarchy and stay home to look after his own kids rather than the grown-up kids of rich people. Two more children swiftly followed. Keith has discovered that if you recite Stick Man backwards you get the lyrics to AD/DC’s Highway to Hell.

This (looking after the kids, not satanic rites with Stick Man) allowed him to support his wife’s career, which appears to be heading for the stratosphere, and also gave him the space to write about swordfights and explosions. And spaceships. All of which are more fun than banking regulation. As an extension to his work in radio production, he set up his own small press, and his first novel, Vile, is due to be published in December 2019. More novels will swiftly follow, like buses in countries that don’t privatise the bus companies.