Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Jeff Dawson – No Ordinary Killing – Extract – 4* Review

The Empire has a deadly secret…

1899, South Africa:  As the Boer War rages, Captain Ingo Finch of the Royal Army Medical Corps pieces together casualties at the front. Then, recovering in Cape Town, he is woken by local police. A British officer has been murdered, and an RAMC signature is required for the post-mortem.

Shocked by the identity of the victim, the bizarre nature of the crime and what appears a too-convenient resolution, Finch turns detective. He is soon thrust into a perilous maze of espionage and murder.

Along with an Australian nurse, Annie, and an escaped diamond miner, Mbutu, Finch finds he has stumbled on a terrifying secret, one that will shake the Empire to its core…

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Extract

Chapter Two

The black shape of the field hospital eventually hove into view. Outside, two Indian porters – Hindus, skinny, barefoot – were waiting with a stretcher.

Finch eased himself over the splintered tailboard.

“I’m afraid you wouldn’t pass muster at the officers’ mess,” boomed a voice behind him.

“What the hell, sir? We went out there under a truce,” Finch spluttered. “A medical mission. White flag—”

Major Cox gave a discreet cough and bade Finch follow, his immaculate brown boots crunching a path across the gravelly dirt.

The Afrikaner cattle ranch had been stranded the wrong side of the border, a few miles west of the Free State. Requisitioned by the Royal Army Medical Corps, it was serving well in its new guise – modest but solid, preferable to canvas.

Finch hobbled after his superior, making heavy weather of catching up. From the barn, with its corrugated iron roof, he could hear the lowing – not of beasts but of men, casualties from the afternoon assault, their pain a constant, ambient dirge.

Cox ducked after the major under a dewy awning. In a jerry-rigged ante-chamber, an adjutant sat at an upturned orange crate, prodding at a battered typewriter in the halo of a hurricane lamp, a Morse tapper set to one side.

In the outhouse behind it, Cox stooped through a doorway, lit his own lantern and hung it from a hook in the beam of the low ceiling. A worn green baize card table served as his desk. A canvas cot, with regulation blanket, neatly folded, ran under the window.

“Brandy?” he offered.

Finch shrugged, feigning nonchalance.

Cox set two enamel mugs on the table all the same and, from somewhere, produced a dusty bottle of Santhagens.

“Transvaal Armagnac.”

He uncorked it, poured two generous measures, and tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially as to its provenance.

In one letter home, Finch had recorded his first impression – that on civvy street Cox would have made a slick businessman. He looked the part – the belly, the shining leather, the sleek hair, the oiled moustache.

Cox was going to make him wait – the theatre of superiority. There were two canvas chairs. Cox took the one behind the desk and gestured for Finch to sit before it.

There was a low distant rumble, like far-off thunder – the Royal Navy guns wheeled up from the south. The biggest, ‘Joe Chamberlain’, could send a shell five miles, or so they said.

Cox’s cup vibrated against the bottle, a high-pitched rasp that sounded like a bumble bee.

“Spent a whole day pounding the hills only to discover the blighters have dug themselves into the ground.”

“I’m no strategist, sir, but sending neat squares of men to march at a heavily armed trench in the middle of the day does not appear the most prudent fighting tactic.”

Some of the Highlanders he’d tended in the field were still clutching lengths of knotted rope, tied off at 6ft intervals, the means by which they could maintain perfect formation, right up to the last.

“You’re right,” came the touché. “You’re not a strategist.”

Until recently, medical personnel had not been given leave to dress up in khaki, still less trusted with a corps formed in their honour. That Cox, a cavalryman, had been seconded to oversee a bunch of fey medics seemed a lingering source of resentment.

“What the hell was the brass thinking, sir? Us, the Boers. We were treating the wounded. Together. They were helping us for God’s sake. Then the bloody artillery starts shelling, right in the middle of it. We’re stuck out there. No provisions, no weapons, nothing. Sitting ducks.”

“It was unfortunate.”

“Unfortunate? I was there for five hours. Shot at for five hours …”

Finch slumped back. It was hard not to drift away. He ran his hands through his hair. It was thick for a man of 40, at least his Italian barber flattered him. He was in decent shape too, if maybe half a stone for the worse. But he was no soldier. That was for the kids; the obedient, unthinking kids – kids like Miles.

“The private … Lancashires. I’ll see that he gets commended. And you—”

“I’m not after a bloody medal.”

Cox shot Finch a look, then softened.

“Ingo,” he said. “I’m grateful.”

There followed a perfunctory raising of mugs, a clink and a silent, savouring sip.

Finch had never known tiredness like it. It gnawed at the muscles around his eyes and scrambled his thoughts such that the words that slurred out of his mouth did not necessarily correlate to the ones forming in his head.

“Your casualty … the lieutenant?” asked Cox.

“Bruised, battered. He’ll be okay.”

“Did he talk?” Cox added.

“Talk?”

“You know, say anything?”

Laid out on the sacking on the floor of the cart, the lieutenant had groaned periodically, then began muttering in a delirium.

“A day’s worth of African sun can do terrible things to a man.”

“Nothing coherent? No names, orders?”

Finch shrugged. Logic had ceased to have any place in war.

“If he does …” said Cox.

There was a knock on the door – the adjutant brandishing a chit. He handed it to Cox and took a pace back. Cox absorbed the information. He held up an apologetic palm while he did so.

“Right away. Right away,” he muttered, then gave the slip back to the adjutant and dismissed him.

The major rose. Finch had had his moment.

“Good work, Captain. That will be all … Staff will arrange for a hot drink and some grub.”

Finch was about to protest that he was required in surgery.

“They’ll send it over.”

And, with that, the major was gone.

Finch took a minute or two to finish his drink. The guns rumbled on. He stood up and stretched his aching body. His left knee, in particular, would need disinfecting, patching up.

Outside, feathers of sleet swirled in the air. On the wind came the poppoppop of small arms fire. The infantry assault was underway. At this distance, it sounded so ineffectual, so childish. He thought he heard the skirl of pipes.

The barefoot Indian stretcher bearers were congregating, hunched together. Very soon, the first of what would be an endless stream of ambulances would come rattling into the yard.

An RAMC sergeant with a clipboard and two staff nurses emerged and huddled under an overhang, ready to direct the wounded to the correct area – dressing, theatre or to be laid on the straw in the far end of the barn where the only attention they’d receive would come in the form of some trite ministrations from the chaplain.

Finch asked an orderly to fetch him the strongest mug of tea he could brew, with enough sugar in it to make a spoon stand up.

My Thoughts… 

A realistic historical crime drama set against the background of the Boer war.

Captain Finch, a doctor, becomes an unlikely detective as he investigates the death of his superior officer. Told primarily from Finch and Mbutu( An escaped diamond miner) points of view, they describe different events that are cleverly linked as the story progresses. Annie, a nurse, joins the story later and she becomes a vital source of strength for Finch as the conspiracy deepens and their lives are endangered.

The historical detail is vivid and absorbing and illustrates the horror of war for civilians, soldiers and animals caught up in the mayhem. The racial prejudice of the time is realistically depicted and demonstrates how poorly the indigent population were treated by both sides in the war.

The characters are well drawn and fit perfectly into this sinister murder mystery scenario created at the end of the 19th-century in war-torn Africa. Finch is a courageous man, but his trusting nature leads him to make some questionable choices, which make his and Annie’s survival precarious. The antagonist takes many forms, but ultimately the real evil is more potent than Finch could envisage.

The story is detailed and lengthy but full of action, historical interest and a well thought out whodunnit.

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

Jeff Dawson is a journalist and author. He has been a long-standing contributor to The Sunday Times Culture section, writing regular A-list interview-led arts features (interviewees including the likes of Robert De Niro, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Hugh Grant, Angelina Jolie, Jerry Seinfeld and Nicole Kidman). He is also a former US Editor of Empire magazine.

Jeff is the author of three non-fiction books — Tarantino/Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool, Back Home: England And The 1970 World Cup, which The Times rated “truly outstanding”, and Dead Reckoning: The Dunedin Star Disaster, the latter nominated for the Mountbatten Maritime Prize.

Twitter: @jeffdaw

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Posted in Book Review

5*Review: The Blood Road – Stuart MacBride

 Logan McRae’s personal history is hardly squeaky clean, but now that he works for Professional Standards he’s policing his fellow officers.

When Detective Inspector Bell turns up dead in the driver’s seat of a crashed car it’s a shock to everyone. Because Bell died two years ago, they buried him. Or they thought they did.

As an investigation is launched into Bell’s stabbing, Logan digs into his past. Where has he been all this time? Why did he disappear? And what’s so important that he felt the need to come back from the dead?

But the deeper Logan digs, the more bones he uncovers – and there are people out there who’ll kill to keep those skeletons buried. If Logan can’t stop them, DI Bell won’t be the only one to die…

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My Thoughts…

Starting a series at book eleven is probably not the best way to become acquainted with the characters, but despite this being my first Logan McRae book I found the characters delightfully quirky and wholly authentic.

‘The Blood Road’, as the name suggests has a dark theme, not revealed in the blurb I read. ‘The concept of a child auction’ is truly horrific and readers should be prepared to be appalled by some of the events in this story. The scenes with the children are sensitively written but its not for everyone.

The plot is very detailed and includes the remarkable and the mundane, while this adds to the story’s authenticity, it did make specific areas drag for me. The dialogue is what makes this a five-star book; it’s believable, informative, and sometimes amusing. The plot has subtle twists and a suspenseful, adrenaline-inducing ending.

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

Posted in Book Review

4*Review: Stalker – Lisa Stone

 

Someone is always watching…

Derek Flint is a loner. He lives with his mother and spends his
evenings watching his clients on the CCTV cameras he has installed inside their homes. He likes their companionship – even if it’s through a screen.

When a series of crimes hit Derek’s neighbourhood, DC Beth Mayes begins to suspect he’s involved. How does he know so much about the victims’ lives? Why won’t he let anyone into his office? And what is his mother hiding in that strange, lonely house?

As the crimes become more violent, Beth must race against the clock to find out who is behind the attacks. Will she uncover the truth in time? And is Derek more dangerous than even she has guessed? 

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

Reading the blurb to this techno-thriller, you would be forgiven for thinking you are about to read a 21st-Century ‘Psycho’ but don’t be fooled.

A convoluted plot takes you in one direction in an almost predictable way but then leads you down an even darker road before reaching an action-filled conclusion. Even with all the twists, it’s the characters rather than the plot’s complexity that make this a readable thriller.

Derek Flint, a loner, still living with his mother is a voyeur but does he do more than watch? Initially, it appears that Derek is not a good person, but as the story progresses, you discover he is more naive than evil, but he still has the key to the crime wave hitting his hometown. Detective Constables Beth and Matt have a good team dynamic, and they’re a credible police presence in the novel.

Well researched crime description with believable characters that develop within the plot’s sinister ethos, created by cleverly built suspense. An original  21st- century angle on the Stalker trope.

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

5* Review-Thirteen – Steve Cavanagh

 

 

 

They were Hollywood’s hottest power couple. They had the world at their feet. Now one of them is dead, and Hollywood star Robert Solomon is charged with the brutal murder of his beautiful wife.

This is the celebrity murder trial of the century, and the defence want one man on their team: con artist turned lawyer Eddie Flynn.

All the evidence points to Robert’s guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the courtroom start to raise doubts in Eddie’s mind.

What if there’s more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn’t on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?

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My Thoughts…

For once a thriller lives up to its blurb.

The twisty nature of this thriller made it a must-read for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.

A celebrity trial, an unusual lawyer and a serial killer but is he the man on the stand? Well, he’s undoubtedly in the courtroom.

Told from two points of view this predominately courtroom based story lets the reader into the psyche of Eddie Flynn, a con-man turned lawyer and Kane, the serial killer. A fast-paced plot faithfully traces court procedure with essential insights into the lawyer and killer’s personality cleverly entwined with the on-going trial.

The extensive cast of characters is slickly used to add depth and authenticity to the plot. It’s easy to follow, but there are plenty of surprises, well-crafted suspense and a great twisty ending. The killings are not overly graphic, but they give you a chill down your spine. The fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series but the first one I’ve read. There is enough backstory on Eddie and his friends to make this easy reading as a standalone story. 

A chilling, clever, courtroom thriller that enthrals the reader and gives you a definite adrenaline rush.

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

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Death Notice – 4* Review -Zhou HaoHui

For nearly two decades, an unsolved murder case has haunted Sergeant Zheng Haoming of the Chengdu Police Department. Eighteen years ago, two victims were murdered after being served with ‘death notices’. In refined calligraphy, their perceived crimes were itemised, and they were sentenced to death. The date of execution was declared, as was the name of their executioner: Eumenides.

Now, a user on an internet forum has asked the public to submit names for judgement – judgement for those the law cannot touch. Those found guilty will be punished, and there is only one sentence: death. The user’s handle? Eumenides.

Does Zheng have a lead? Has a long-dormant serial killer resurfaced? Perhaps modern police techniques – criminal profiling, online surveillance and SWAT quick response teams – can catch a killer who previously evaded justice? Or perhaps the killer is more than a match for whatever the Chengdu Police Department can muster?

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My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural set in China with well-written suspense elements and an authentic setting. Translated into English this book, reads well. ‘Death Notice’ is a mixture of cold case investigation and the present day pursuit of a serial killer.

The plot is complex as are the characters. The writing style isn’t descriptive, but there is sufficient information for the reader to understand what’s going on and try to solve the clues. The procedures are bureaucratic and appear dated but presumably are reflective of police procedures within China.

I enjoyed the writing style and the author’s ability to create suspense. There is an overriding mystery to solve, which will span the series but this first book ties up the immediate loose ends while leaving the detectives and the reader further mysteries to solve.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Saint Peter’s Plot – Derek Lambert – 4* Review

As the Russians and the Western Allies race towards Berlin, the Nazi hierarchy plots to escape the inevitable retribution facing them at the end of World War II.

Kurt Wolff is a handsome, blond SS Captain and a member of Hitler’s personal elitist bodyguard. Yet he still has to know the greatest honour of all. He has been chosen to implement Grey Fox – The Saint Peter’s Plot – the most daring and secret mission of the War.

As Germany stands on the edge of an abyss, the fate of this once great nation is in his hands.

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My Thoughts…

WW2 thriller set mainly in Italy and Germany, about the plot to save Hitler as Germany falls to the Allies. There are many threads to this plot and several characters, some of which crossover the storylines. All are absorbing, and the intrigue and horror of Europe in the grip of the Nazis is chilling.

Wolff is a believable character, as are the partisans and priests who help people to escape the wrath of war. The final twist makes the ending a foregone conclusion, but as with the rest of the story, it is action-packed and tense.

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

Posted in Book Review

Vendetta – Derek Lambert – 4* Review

For the beleaguered German and Russian armies, there is no war beyond the carnage in the city’s grim skeleton, and the terrible winter at their heels. Desperate men need heroes to boost their morale: orders come from the very top for a duel between champion snipers Antonov the Russian, and Meister the German – a contest each must win. For the two marksmen, there is now no war but the race to pin the other in their sights. And no other companion, either, than the stranger whose mind each must read. Dead heroes or living legends? Only time will tell.

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My Thoughts…

Not your usual WW2 story, it begins amid the devastation of the battle for Stalingrad, with the onset of Winter both the Russians and the Germans need a champion, and two young snipers, Antonov and Meister fit the bill.

The story follows their lives and gives a real insight into the ravages of war and the pressure on the young men and how they cope. It’s a poignant story, with an unexpected ending.

I received a copy of this book from Collins Crime Club – Harper Collins 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?

Links to Book:

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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

You Were Gone – 5* Review – Tim Weaver

 

Three days after Christmas, a woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper with the name of investigator David Raker on it. She tells officers that Raker is her husband.

SHE SAYS SHE’S MY WIFE.

When he turns up at the station, Raker is stunned. The woman looks exactly like his wife. She knows all about their marriage, their history, even private conversations the two of them had. There’s just one problem: Raker’s wife has been dead for eight years.

MY WIFE DIED . . . DIDN’T SHE?

The woman tells the police that Raker had a breakdown. A respected doctor backs up her account. Items are missing that prove Raker’s side of the story – and, worst of all, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a disappearance.

SHE’S EITHER A LIAR – OR I AM.

Could Raker have imagined their whole marriage? Is he delusional? Is this really the woman he loved and grieved for? Hunted by the police, Raker will have to find out the truth before it costs him everything – his memories, his sanity, his life . . .

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

‘You Were Gone’ is chilling, sinister and all the more terrifying because it’s believable. Raker doubts his sanity, and he’s not alone. Is the woman claiming to be his beloved wife her and how can she be when she died?
Raker still grieves his wife, and it’s this vulnerability that makes this thriller work. Circumstances conspire to make him doubt everything he has built his life on since Derryn’s death.

The story is told from Raker’s point of view with additional scenes from the antagonist’s point of view but is this Raker or someone else? Each chapter builds the suspense and tension, and as the plot starts to reveal the truth, more twists throw up additional questions and possible suspects.

The ending is surprising but ties up most of the loose ends, however, a problem looms on the horizon for Raker as his and other’s past actions return to haunt him, perhaps in the next instalment of this thrilling series.

Even though this is the first Raker thriller I’ve read, I warmed to his deep and troubled character and found the story a compelling but easy read.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Guest post

Blog Tour:The Wrong Man Guest Post -4*Review-Kate White

The Wrong Man Blog Tour Banner

Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip, and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment, she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.

Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.

Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?

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The Wrong Man

Guest Post-  Kate White

How to Finally Start Writing (After Weeks, Months or Years of Being Stuck).

Over the years, people have frequently asked me if the time I spent in the magazine business–I ran five U.S. magazines, including Cosmopolitan for 14 years–was good preparation for my career as a mystery and thriller writer. My guess is that being a former prosecutor, cop, or private eye would have served me better, but overall my background has had its advantages.

     For starters, it gave me great contacts in media, as well as a certain amount of name recognition, both of which came in handy when I had to promote my first book.

     But probably the best thing my magazine career did for me was teach me how to stop procrastinating. As a young magazine writer, I learned a technique that helped turn me from a wannabe fiction author into a real one.

      I’m not sure how or why I became such a procrastinator, but I do know it began after college, perhaps because the work world seemed so overwhelming at first. During my 20’s, as a feature writer for Glamour magazine, I’d put off my assignments until the very last minute, practically pulling all-nighters to finish them. I was also trying to write fiction then, and that proved to be hopeless. I’d vow to spend all Saturday working on my novel, and yet I’d end up wiling away the hours on stupid stuff like cleaning out my wallet.  I began to think that despite what I told people, I really didn’t long to be an author.

     To help combat the problem, I snagged an assignment at Glamour to write a short piece on time management, and I ended up interviewing some of the top experts in that field. One of them, Edwin Bliss, taught me the trick that changed everything for me. He called it “slice the salami,” and though it’s pretty simple, it was a miracle worker for me. 

     First, the reasoning behind the strategy: Bliss explained that we often avoid an important task not because our heart isn’t in it but because it’s too big and daunting. The key to success, he said, is to make the steps as small as possible.  

     He compared the process to slicing a salami. On its own, a hunk of salami can look fat and ugly, but once you slice it, you’ve got something that–to meat eaters at least–looks very appetizing.  

     If you’re putting off a project or activity, Bliss said, you need to study it and decide how thinly you can slice it down.

      The technique worked fantastically for me in my magazine work and then later in my 40’s when I started trying to write fiction again. I’d decided to attempt murder mystery, something I’d always fantasized about, and with the salami technique in mind,   I made the decision to write for only fifteen minutes a day. That didn’t seem too much for me to ask of myself and it wasn’t. I managed to work every day. And after three months I actually had a few chapters under my belt—and I started expanding the amount of time I wrote each day.  

     I don’t need the salami trick anymore (I’m on my fourteenth suspense novel), but I know it’s there if I fall back into bad habits.

     It also helps, of course, to love the idea you’re working on. Writing The Wrong Man was never a burden because the concept thrilled me, the idea that one small, wrong choice could upend your entire world. As the protagonist Kit Finn muses: Wasn’t the problem with a little danger that you had no guarantee it could be contained? It was light a match tossed on dry brush. Maybe things only smoldered for a while. But with the right conditions, those embers could begin to flare higher and higher in the darkness, until they torched everything you owned.

     That always kept me going!

Kate White is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker

Twitter: @katemwhite

My Thoughts…

‘ The Wrong Man’ has all the intrigue, menace and suspense of a psychological thriller but it’s the action rather than the main protagonist’s state of mind that is the real focus of this fast-paced novel.

Kit is at a crossroads in her life, she’s tired of playing safe and wants to take a few risks. A ‘one night stand’ fits the bill but unfortunately, it embroils her in a conspiracy that threatens everything she values. Kit’s dilemma of whether to trust her instincts or the evidence, fuels her often impetuous actions,  putting her in danger. As she finds the emotional strength she needs for survival she is increasingly easy to like.

Minor characters such as work colleagues and friends add additional interest to the story. Vividly portrayed they add authenticity to the plot which is suspenseful with often chilling twists. The New York setting is well described and complements the storyline perfectly.

An easy read, with a touch of glamour, edge of the seat suspense and a thrilling ending.

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