#BookReview: The Last Resort by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

the last resort.jpg“Done with a life of exploitation and violence, Lori Anderson is training to be a bounty hunter. Holed up in the Georgia Mountains with her reclusive mentor, JT, Lori is determined to put her new skills into practice. Behind JT’s back, she breaks his rules and grabs the chance she’s looking for. Will her gamble pay off, or will she have to learn the hard way?

The Last Resort is the first in the Rookie Bounty Hunter series of short stories, marking the nail-biting start to a high-octane series of thrillers featuring one of the most unforgettable and fearless female protagonists in crime fiction.”

Eeeeekkkk!!  Imagine my joy when early on Sunday morning I received a tweet telling me that a Lori Anderson short story had been published (thank you Christine!) and was mine for the taking, in exchange for 99p of course!  I was over the moon and a little giddy.  Actually, quite giddy because I ADORE Lori Anderson.  If you missed my review of Deep Down Dead earlier this year then click here.  And more recently, if you missed me shouting about my favourite Summer crime read over on Northern Crime, then click here (it’s Deep Down Dead by the way!).

I couldn’t wait to get my paws on The Last Resort and oh wow, if you want an introduction to the world of kick-ass bounty hunter Lori Anderson then this is the way to do it.  This is the first in the Rookie Bounty Hunter series of short stories and I cannot wait for the next instalment.  We meet Lori and her trainer JT as JT pummels and pounds her into the Georgia mountain soil.  With an increasing number of bruises on her butt, our girl just keeps getting up to take more of the same.  After all, training to be a bounty hunter means you’re going to get hurt.  If you haven’t met Lori before you will soon learn pretty much everything you need to know about this strong, determined, feisty young woman.

JT is out on a job leaving Lori alone in his cabin.  The phone rings and she is told about a bail skipper who needs to be caught; he’s missed his court date.  Lori decides it’s time. She’s had enough training, she can handle this on her own.  But can she…?

One of the things I love the most about the Lori Anderson books is how deliciously American they are.  Even in a short story Steph Broadribb is able to transport you effortlessly to the Georgia mountains; the heat, the dust, the isolation.  I flipping love it and despite only being a short story it was a wonderful thing to be united with one of my favourite characters in crime fiction, the magnificent Lori Anderson.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  Lori has quickly become a firm favourite and I can’t wait for more.  It’s a punchy, fast paced short story and I absolutely loved it. More please, Steph Broadribb, and soon.

Five out of five stars.

The Last Resort by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 1st August 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

steph broadribb.jpgSteph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep, Down, Dead is her debut novel.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Blog |

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: She Be Damned by M.J. Tjia (@mjtjia) @Legend_Press #HeloiseChancey

9781785079313.jpg“London, 1863: prostitutes in the Waterloo area are turning up dead, their sexual organs mutilated and removed. When another girl goes missing, fears grow that the killer may have claimed their latest victim.

The police are at a loss and so it falls to courtesan and professional detective, Heloise Chancey, to investigate.

With the assistance of her trusty Chinese maid, Amah Li Leen, Heloise inches closer to the truth. But when Amah is implicated in the brutal plot, Heloise must reconsider who she can trust, before the killer strikes again.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the She Be Damned blog tour.  She Be Damned is the first of the Heloise Chancey Mysteries, is written by M.J. Tjia and was published by Legend Press on 1st August 2017.

To celebrate this new release I have an intriguing extract in the form of the first chapter to share with you today.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Chapter One
The bedroom door closes softly behind him. I then hear the front door close. Thank Christ. I sit up in bed and rub at the crick in my neck. I’ve been lying in the same decorous pose for some time, pretending to be asleep, conscious of his admiring gaze. Two hours ago, while it was still dark and he’d snored and farted on his own side of the bed, I’d taken a pee and chewed on mint washed down with water so my breath was fresh when he woke. I’d reclined, eyes closed, amongst my silk pillows, one arm flung above my head, mouth gently clamped shut. I lay slightly to the side, so that the fullness of my cleavage was accentuated. My sheer night dress fell away to reveal one rosy nipple, which tautened in the crisp morning air and I’d wondered if he would take it into his warm mouth, willed him to, almost squirmed with the anticipation of it, a giggle spiralling up my chest. But I hadn’t initiated anything. I was the sleeping kitten, the sleeping beauty, after all. My night dress slips to the floor as I step out of bed and I look at my reflection in the dresser’s mirror, tilting my head from one side to the other. I pull my tousled dark hair forward, so that only the lower curve of my breasts are visible. Running my fingers over the small triangle of hair between my legs, I wish it was a shade lighter, so that I could colour it yellow or blue. That would amuse my lovers. I pose for a moment, a cross between the Greek nude I’d sneaked in to see at the Exhibition of ’51, and the girls ironically named Chastity and Faith in the photographs I keep in the bottom drawer of the nightstand. I pivot to see the reflection of my pale bottom. I hate it, I’m embarrassed by it. It’s small and firm. I will never be a Grande Odalisque. I want it to be rounded and heavy like the base of a vase. I want his fingers to be able to knead it like it’s biscuit dough. Taking a step closer to the mirror I scrutinise my face. I’m vain, and I am not vain. I know I’m beautiful, but I know my beauty is to be utilised, tended. The winged eyebrows, the high cheek bones, and the full bottom lip that I pout as I gaze at myself. The colour of my eyes are changeable, depending upon my mood, or maybe even upon how much wine I’d enjoyed the night before; sometimes they’re as smooth as a hazelnut, other times flecked with gold. They are perfectly set off by my heart-shaped face, so I’m told. ‘Shimmering pools of melancholy, making thy heart ache’. Isn’t that how that ridiculous poet had described my eyes? More like ‘shimmering pools of colic, making thy middles ache’. I grin, a deep dimple puckering my left cheek. I own my face, but so do others. I’m almost famous, infamous. When I think of this I feel a flutter of excitement in the pit of my stomach, but I also feel a little sick. I’ve worked towards this for a long time, even before I knew what could be achieved. And of course, now I have other strengths to work with besides this beauty. I have more to trade than just my body. I hurry into my dressing room and tug on the bell pull. Wrenching open the door I call for Amah to come and help me dress. We will have company soon. I’m already tying the ribbon on my silk underwear when Amah Li Leen enters. She’s a plump, middle-aged woman from the East. She’s wearing a plain, white blouse and black skirt, and her shiny black hair is coiled into a low bun. I never cease to be irritated by how she dresses. We’ve often argued about it. I want her to dress in colourful sarongs from Malaya or those heavy Chinese smocks with the mandarin collars. I want her to fit in with the Oriental décor of my house. Furniture and art from the Orient are very much in style at the moment, and many men, especially those in shipping and diplomatic work, admire how I’ve decorated my rooms. So she could at least look the part if my guests are to catch a glimpse of her. But she won’t. She says she doesn’t want to stand out, although it’s almost as if her sober apparel accentuates her almond-shaped eyes, her bronzed skin colour. “What is Sir Thomas visiting for, Heloise?” she asks as she helps me shrug into a sheer chemise. The faint cadence of a Liverpool accent is discernible in her speech. “His missive just said something about a number of suspicious deaths in the Waterloo area.” “Why does he think this would be of interest to you?” I gasp as she tightens my corset.
“I am hoping he wants me to investigate.”
“Ridiculous,” she mutters, helping me step into a voluminous, crinoline hoop. “Nearly as ridiculous as this contraption.” Amah’s skirt is far narrower than what’s fashionable.
“I would be mortified to be seen in your skirt, Amah.”
“Well, I’m used to it, aren’t I?” I laugh.
“That’s a lie. If it were not so cold here, you would wear much less.” I look for an answering smile from her but, not receiving one, I sit down at my dressing table. Tears smart in my eyes as Amah Li Leen brushes and pulls my hair into loops, tutting that there is no time to curl the ends.
“What will you wear today?” she asks, as she moves to the dressing room that houses my vast collection of gowns. Gone are the days of wearing the same gown until it’s stiff with grime and drudgery – that one I had of grey batiste, bought for a song from the Belgian girl grown too large in the belly, that hid stains yet showed sweat under the arms or, later, the blue silk, which was more expensive but acquired the shine of poverty and overuse. I don’t even want to think of the creased, brown sheathes of leather I wore as shoes. The sour reek that wafted from my feet, embarrassing, distracting, as I grimaced with feigned pleasure pressed against a brick wall.
“How about the new lilac one with the orange-blossom trim?”
“I think maybe the dove-grey would be better for a meeting with Sir Thomas,” says Amah. She comes back to the dressing table carrying the heavy gown across both her forearms and deposits it onto a plush armchair. I frown slightly.
“I suppose you’re right. But I will wear the crimson petticoat beneath it.” She pulls the petticoat, then the dress, over my body. Although it does not reveal my shoulders, it is gathered at the waist and cut low over my breasts. I dab perfumed powder across my neck and bosom.
“Maybe just a little lace at the front,” I say, smiling. “I don’t need to show so much flesh for the work Sir Thomas offers me.” I go to add something gay to my apparel, a flower or a feather, but there’s a hard rap on the door knocker and I can hear Bundle, my butler, on his way to answer it. I’m clasping down the sides of my gown to fit through the doorway when I notice the stiff expression on Amah’s face. I squeeze her arm and lean down to kiss her on the cheek.
“One day we’ll be back in the sunlight.” I’m surprised to find two men in my drawing room. Sir Thomas Avery I know well. He is a man of maybe forty-five years, a little shorter than me, with thick, frizzled mutton chop sideburns. He steps forward and takes my hand in greeting. He then introduces the stranger standing by one of the windows which overlooks the street below.
“This is Mr Priestly,” he says. The other man doesn’t approach me but bows his head.
“Pleased to meet you, Mrs Chancey,” he says. His lips widen a little, but he makes no real effort to smile. A thin frame and large ears preclude Mr Priestly from being a handsome man, but he is well, if soberly, dressed and gentlemanly. His eyes flick over my figure and then, with more leisure, he looks around my drawing room. His gaze follows the pattern of the Oriental rug, the scrollwork on the mahogany side board and the richly damasked sofas with intricately worked legs. He takes in the assortment of Chinese blue and white vases in the dark cabinets and the jade figurines on the mantelpiece. Finally his gaze rests on the large mural that adorns the furthest wall. A painting of a peacock, sat on a sparse tree branch, fills the space. The peacock, a fusion of azure, green and gold leaf with a regal crown of feathers, displays its resplendent train so that the golden eyes of its plumage can be admired. It might be a trick of the light and artistry, but the peacock’s tail feathers seem to quiver.
“How very… exotic,” he says. He moves towards the fireplace and studies the painting in the gilded frame above it. The portrait is of a young woman dressed in Javanese costume. Her hair is pulled into a low bun, silver earrings decorate her lobes, and she holds a white flower behind her back. Richly decorated batik is wrapped around her breasts, and a tight sarong swathes her lower body.
“Is that you?” he asks me, surprise in his voice.
“Yes.” I stand by him and look up at the portrait. “My friend Charles Cunningham lent me the fabric for the sitting. His father brought the lengths of silk and batik back from Java, after one of his assignments with Raffles. Such beautiful, earthy colours, aren’t they?” Mr Priestly steps a few feet away from me.
“I’m afraid I don’t follow this fashion for aping savages.” I feel a prick of resentment at the insult to my drawing room and portrait – the insult to me. But I learnt long ago to hold my temper in check, I have learnt to behave with decorum, for I no longer work in a Liverpool back-alley. Smiling sweetly as I lower myself and my wide skirts carefully onto the sofa, I say,
“Oh, don’t feel bad. Not everyone can be a la mode, can they?” Sir Thomas clears his throat loudly.
“Maybe we should discuss the purpose of our visit, Mrs Chancey.”
“Yes, let’s,” I answer, patting the sofa cushion next to mine. “Please have a seat.” Sir Thomas sits down and looks at Mr Priestly expectantly. However, rather than speak himself, Mr Priestly gestures for Sir Thomas to proceed.
“Well, Mrs Chancey,” says Sir Thomas. “I have come to ask you to do a spot of work for us again.”
“Wonderful. Who will I need to be this time?” Sir Thomas smiles.
“Certainly your prior experience as a stage actress has benefitted us, Mrs Chancey. And it is true. We do need you to do some covert investigating for us.” One of Sir Thomas’ many businesses includes a private detective agency. Although he has a surfeit of male detectives, he has found it very difficult to find females willing or able to sleuth. Having both the willingness and ability, I’ve worked on and off for Sir Thomas over the last eighteen months. I’ve posed as a sewing woman to gain access to a noble house, I’ve rouged and revealed myself as a street prostitute in order to spy on a group of young men and I have even performed as a harem dancer in order to reconnoitre at a foreign embassy. Sir Thomas clears his throat again.
“Yes. Well, maybe the task we ask of you this time will not be so enjoyable, I’m afraid.” He glances at Mr Priestly, who nods him on. “As you know, we are investigating the deaths of several women in the Waterloo area.”
“How did they die?” I ask. Sir Thomas waves his hand. He won’t go on. Mr Priestly stares hard at me for a few moments.
“Sir Thomas assures me I can broach any subject with you, Mrs Chancey.”
“Of course,” I smile. He means because I’m a whore, of course, but I won’t let him think his sting has broken skin. He turns and gazes out the window as he speaks.
“It seems that each of these women – well, really, they were prostitutes – had terminated a pregnancy and died soon after from blood loss and infection.”
“Well, unfortunately that happens far too frequently.”
“That is so, but luckily the body of the last prostitute who died in this manner was taken to the hospital to be used as a specimen, and they found that…” He glances over at me, his eyes appraising.
“What?” I ask.
“They found parts of her body missing.”
“What parts?”
“Her uterus was gone, but so were her other… feminine parts.” Revulsion curls through my body and I feel the pulse of an old wound between my legs. I glance at Sir Thomas whose eyes fall away from mine.
“What makes you think her death is connected to the other deaths in Waterloo?”
“It was the fourth body they had received in this condition in the last seven weeks.”
“What? And was it not reported to the police?” My voice rises in disbelief. Mr Priestly shrugs.
“Well, they were only prostitutes, after all. At first the hospital staff thought they were the victims of amateur hysterectomies, but when they found that each of the women was also missing…”
“Missing…?” I shake my head a little, hoping I’m not about to hear what I think is coming, although a part of me, tucked away beneath the horror, wonders how he’ll describe it. Mr Priestly straightens his collar.
“Apparently all their sexual organs were missing. Inside and out. I am positive you know to what I am referring, Mrs Chancey.” I can’t help but press my knees together. I nod. “Accordingly, it became apparent that there was a pattern to these deaths,” he continues.
“And what do the police think now?”
“Obviously someone in the area is butchering these unfortunate women, whether accidentally or in spite is uncertain. However – and it’s not surprising – the police don’t want to waste too much time investigating the deaths of prostitutes when the rights of decent, law-abiding Londoners need to be protected.” Indignation sharpens my thoughts, but I command my body to relax. After all, what else is to be expected? If I’m to mix in polite society I need to mimic their ways. I force a languid smile to my face, eyes narrowed, as I watch Mr Priestly.
“So, what on earth do you want to look into these deaths for? If the police are not interested, why should we be?”
“A friend of mine heard of these cases and has become immensely interested. It is on behalf of my friend that I have engaged Sir Thomas’ services.”
“And why has your friend become so interested?” Mr Priestly takes his time seating himself in an armchair, crossing one leg over the other. He scrutinises my face for a few moments before answering.
“My friend has a special concern. It is for this reason we ask for your assistance.”
“What is this special concern?”
“My friend is a respectable gentleman, well known to his peers. A short time ago he found out that his daughter was in an unhappy condition. She is not married.” Mr Priestly pauses to let the awful truth of his statement sink in.
“Ah, I see. And what did he do?” I ask. Mr Priestly frowns.
“Naturally he disowned her. He allowed her to pack some of her belongings and had her taken to a convent near Shropshire.”
“Naturally,” I repeat, my voice dry.
“Yes, but she did not make it to Shropshire. She bribed the coachman to take her to a hotel in Charing Cross, and from there she has disappeared.”
“Do you know why she wanted to be left at that hotel?”
“Apparently her… the other party… was staying there. He is a Frenchman.” He nods, as if this fact alone throws light on the cause of her predicament.
“But nobody knows where she is now?” Sir Thomas takes up the thread of the story.
“At first Mr Priestly required my men to look into her activities at the hotel, but upon questioning Monsieur Baudin, we learnt she had left his care most swiftly.”
“I suppose he did not want her now she was in trouble?”
“Something like that, it would seem. Since then he seems to have flown the coop,” says Sir Thomas. “My detectives have since found out that the young lady took a cab to Waterloo where she spent a little over three weeks in a boarding house before moving into another well-known establishment nearby.”
“What establishment?” Mr Priestly purses his lips for a moment.
“A house of illrepute, it would seem. She moved to an abode owned by one Madame Silvestre.”
“Ah yes, I’m aware of her services,” I reply, thinking of how it’s been many years since I have had the pleasure of the old cat’s acquaintance. “Do you need me to fetch her?”
“If only it were that easy. It seems she has since disappeared. Nobody knows where she has gone.” The sudden realisation dawns on me.
“Are you concerned that she too has been mutilated?”
“We are not sure what has become of her,” says Sir Thomas. “Madame Silvestre might just be hiding her, or maybe the young lady has moved on to another place.”
“Or maybe she is one of the butcher’s victims,” says Mr Priestly. He withdraws a card case from his pocket and carefully takes out a small photograph. He hands this to me. “Eleanor Carter.” The likeness is of a very fair, young woman. Her face is small and serious and the bodice of her gown is buttoned tightly to the base of her throat.
“How old is she?” I ask.
“She is only seventeen. She is quite small and pretty – this photograph does not do her justice,” says Mr Priestly. “My friend is worried for her safety.”
“He might have thought of that before he threw her out onto the street,” I say, before I can help myself. Mr Priestly’s brow lifts as he looks across at me coldly.
“Although it is out of the question for her to return to her familial home, naturally my friend is troubled. He would like to see her ensconced safely at the nunnery.” I glance from Sir Thomas to Mr Priestly.
“You want me to find her?” Sir Thomas sits back into the sofa and extends his legs out before himself. He studies his shoes as he says,
“Well, as you now know, I have already had my detectives scouting for information on Miss Carter, but they have failed to find her.”
“And you think my womanly touch might avail?” I ask, amused. Sir Thomas resettles himself again.
“As simple questioning has not sufficed, we wondered if you could possibly discover Miss Carter’s movements with more covert methods.”
“Such as…?” Mr Priestly makes an impatient motion with his hand.
“You seemed interested in picking up the mantle of another character again, Mrs Chancey, and that is what we are asking of you. I believe it won’t be too much of a stretch for you, for we would like you to pose as a…” he glances at Sir Thomas, “a ‘gay girl’, I think they’re called.” I stop breathing for a moment as annoyance flushes through my body. It’s true that I posed as a street prostitute for Sir Thomas, but that was just a lark, and it’s also true that in the dim past I’d worked in many places, both good and bad, but I choose not to think of that now. So, for this absolute pig of a man to refer to me as a mere gay girl makes me angry. I’m no longer a lowly grisette, willing to flatter or implore my way to a few more pennies or ribbons while I try to hide my desperation.  I lift my chin.
“You want me to pose as a prostitute?”
“Precisely.”
“At Madame Silvestre’s?”
“If they would have you, certainly,” says Mr Priestly, his voice even. “What better place for you to be situated in order to find out where Miss Carter is?” I heave myself up from the sofa and stride to the bay window. My skirt bumps a side-table causing a figurine of a Chinese goddess to totter. Go back to work in a brothel, for the sake of a little detection? I’m not so sure. Sir Thomas puts his hands out entreatingly.
“Mrs Chancey, not only can you investigate the disappearance of Miss Carter, you can also look into the other deaths. You can try to find more information about the monster who is harming these women.”
“Who knows?” interrupts Mr Priestly. “You could even pretend to be pregnant and see where that takes you.”
“Be your bait, you mean?” I ask, my voice flippant.
“Whatever it takes, Mrs Chancey, whatever it takes.” Mr Priestly slips his fingers into his gloves. “You may put it about that Miss Carter is a young relative of your own, but in no way must her name be connected back to my friend. Sir Thomas will take care of the case from now on. I am sure you will be remunerated…” he glances around my sumptuous drawing room, “as grandly as possible.” I turn from the window, the smile on my face fixed.
“I don’t work for Sir Thomas for the money, Mr Priestly. I have my own independent means. I follow inquiries for Sir Thomas purely for the pleasure of it, and in this I would find no pleasure. I’m afraid I will need to decline your kind offer.” He stops pulling on his remaining glove and eyes me for a few, long moments.
“I must assure you that I do not request you to take this case – I insist you take this case.”
“Insist? You cannot make me take this case, Mr Priestly.”
“Mrs Chancey, I know the local magistrate, Sir Herbert Brimm. I know for a fact that he and others are interested in your mysterious activities in the Limehouse area. One word from me and you will be examined by the local police and the doctor in their employ.” I can feel anger drain the colour from my cheeks and my fingers quiver with adrenalin. I’ve heard of this movement to examine prostitutes for contagious diseases. He would menace me with this detestable law that terrorises prostitutes and offends even righteous women? He would dare threaten me with a disgusting doctor probing my body for sickness?
“That will never eventuate, Mr Priestly. I know far more important and powerful people than you.”
“Ah, you must mean your protector,” replies Mr Priestly. “Tell me, how would he like an examination of your private life smeared in the newspapers for his wife and esteemed friends to see? Think of his poor children. Be sure, Mrs Chancey, the damage can be done before he is able to assist you.” I grip my waist, my fingertips digging into the unyielding corset. My popularity with patrons is closely tied to my discretion. It has always been so. But in this trembling moment of rage I have nothing to lose.
“Do it then, sir. Do your worst,” I say, struggling to keep my voice low. Sir Thomas steps between us, his hands raised.
“Please, Mr Priestly, there’s no need for these threats.” He turns to me. “Mrs Chancey, surely we can come to an agreement on how you can investigate this in a manner with which you are comfortable. We really do need your assistance.” I look into Sir Thomas’ flushed, kind face and then shrug one shoulder.
“Allow me to think it over. And if I do decide to proceed,” I glare at Mr Priestly, “I will only deal with Sir Thomas.”
“That suits me perfectly,” says Mr Priestly. He leaves the room without bidding farewell. Sir Thomas thanks me profusely and presses my hand goodbye between his clammy ones.
“I will be in touch.” He follows Mr Priestly to the front door as swiftly as his short legs will take him.  From the window I watch the men descend the few front steps down. I make sure to stand a little behind the silk drapes so that they can’t see me. Stopping on the last step Mr Priestly turns to Sir Thomas and says,
“What on earth do you think a little dollymop like her can achieve?”
“She’s done some very good work for us…” Sir Thomas protests. The rest of the conversation is drowned out by the arrival of their carriage. I stand very still for a few minutes, watching the carriage pull away, until I sense someone behind me.
“What are you thinking?” asks Amah. “Are you wondering how you will investigate this dreadful affair?” I turn my head slightly, and meet her eye.
“No. I am considering in what way I will repay the precious Mr Priestly for his insults.”

I hope that’s piqued your interest.  Mrs Heloise Chancey doesn’t sound like a lady to be messed with, does she?  And I absolutely love that cover.  This one will definitely be added to the TBR.

She Be Damned: A Heloise Chancey Mystery by M.J. Tjia was published in the UK by Legend Press on 1st August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

she be damned Blog Tour Banner jpeg.jpg

about the author3

Mirandi by Red Boots Photographic (46 of 136)web.jpgM.J. is a Brisbane-based writer. She has been shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary (UK), and longlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize and CWA (UK) dagger awards. Her work has appeared in RexPeril and Shibboleth and Other Stories.

She is the author of She Be Damned: A Heloise Chancey Mystery, (2017) with the sequel to follow in 2018.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

 

#BookReview: Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown (@IsabelAshdown) @TrapezeBooks

little sister.jpg“After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home.

Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?”

I’ve been wanting to read Little Sister since its release in eBook earlier this year.  Those clever PR types did a stonking job of ramping up my FOMO* by handing out sampler copies over on NetGalley.  Not the full book, you understand, just a short taster of what you could get if you were lucky enough to receive a copy.  And readers were buzzing!  A large proportion of the bloggers who I completely adore and (obviously) whose opinions I 100% trust, loved this book.  So I was rather pleased to get my mitts on a full, start to finish, prologue to epilogue copy.  Unfortunately, my blog tour reads have taken all of my spare time since then so I haven’t been able to make a start on this highly anticipated novel….until now!  Thankfully, due to the August holiday lull, I have managed to read Little Sister, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I always become a little more excited about a book if, after reading the prologue, I have a case of the chills.  The prologue of Little Sister gave me goosebumps and nearly broke my heart, all in one.

We are introduced to estranged sisters, Emily and Jessica, who meet for the first time in years at their mother’s funeral.  Jessica is the younger sister, sent away several years ago by her family for an unforgivable incident which brought shame upon her strict Catholic family.  Emily has since carved a wonderful home life for herself with a new baby, Daisy, a loving partner, James and a teenage stepdaughter, Chloe on the peaceful Isle of Wight. The reunion between the sisters is a positive one and before long Jess has moved in with Emily’s family as Daisy’s nanny, enabling Emily to return to work.  But on New Year’s Eve, whilst Emily and James are out enjoying themselves, Daisy is taken right from underneath Jess’s nose.  Slowly and surely the family begin to unravel, suspicions run high and secrets are the mainstay of this once-loving family.  Was Emily right to trust Jess?  And will Daisy be found before it’s too late…?

This is one of those novels where you can never be sure who to trust, who is keeping a monumental secret hidden within and exactly where the story will take you.  Pure fictional bliss, in other words!  I immediately disliked Jess and was incredibly wary of her.  I couldn’t understand why this sensible, practical new mum had decided her estranged sister was the right person to be in charge of her young baby.  Purely convinced of the fact by a simple, quick lie from Jessica about being a nanny in Canada whilst  travelling!  But as this twisty story progressed, my allegiance changed.  I began to dislike Emily and warm a lot more to Jessica.  Strange things were happening.  As the author laid out her character’s lives, new ‘clues’ became unearthed, points I hadn’t taken into consideration before suddenly became…well, significant.

The story is told from three POVs; Emily, Jess and a third narrator who shall remain nameless for the sake of this review (and to avoid spoilers).  There are glimpses into the past and the terrible incident which drove Jess away from her family, told from Jessica’s side and also from Emily’s.  These flashbacks give the reader a much clearer understanding of the shaky foundation this sisterly bond was built upon and provides the reader with a greater insight into these two women.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s twisty, emotional and a darn good tale of sisterly love gone ‘off track’.  I loved the uncovering of the secrets, the clues left along the way and the gradual unravelling of one of the key characters.  I enjoyed Ashdown’s writing style but at times was longing for a little more dialogue (but that’s just me!). Intricate, seamless and wonderfully intense.  A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Little Sister.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

*FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

 

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Author image and bio (c) isabelashdown.com

Isabel’s writing career was first launched when she won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition in 2008, with judges Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer describing her work as ‘magnificent.’  The completed novel, Glasshopper (Myriad Editions), went on to be named among the Best Books of 2009 by both the Observer and the London Evening Standard.  Her latest novel, Little Sister, is out with Trapeze (Orion Publishing) in 2017.

In 2017/18 she will be a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she previously studied as a mature student, gaining a first class BA in English and a masters in Creative Writing with distinction.  Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).

Isabel grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and their dogs Charlie and Leonard.  Together with Leonard the dachshund, she is a proud volunteer for the Pets as Therapy Read2Dogs scheme, an initiative aimed at nurturing confidence in young readers and promoting a lifelong love of books.

Isabel is a member of the Society of Authors.

Author Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com via @northernlass73

I am thrilled to be taking part in Christine’s ‘bloggers choose a Summer crime read’ feature today.

Want to know what summer read I recommend? Hint: it involves a kick ass protagonist and a trek across America!

My thanks to Christine for asking me to take part in her brilliant new feature. If you haven’t already discovered the fabulous http://www.northerncrime.wordpress.com then here’s your chance. You won’t regret it 😍😍.

Just click the link below 👇.

Source: Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com @damppebbles

#CoverReveal: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

I am delighted to be able to share a rather stonking cover reveal with you this evening. Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a HUGE fan of Caroline Mitchell’s Detective Ruby Preston series.  If you haven’t discovered this series yet then I urge to get hold of a copy and soon.  The first book in the series, Death Note blew my socks off. You can read my review by clicking here.  The second book in the series is a brilliant and twisty follow up.  Click here to read my review of Sleep Tight.  And now I am thrilled to share with you the cover and blurb of the third book in the series….MURDER GAME.

To catch a killer, you must first think like one …

A killer is playing a twisted game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead.

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die.

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby asks her gangster boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to set up a dangerous meeting to allow her to see into the twisted mind of a murderer.

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team becomes. Is he really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining her up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.

If the blurb hasn’t convinced you (pah! of course it has) then maybe the cover will…

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Isn’t that gorgeous?!  This series really is a must read for fans of crime fiction, police procedurals and serial killer thrillers.  It ticks all the boxes and I flipping love Ruby Preston (I may also have a soft spot for her rather dishy on/off fella, Nathan!).

Get over to Amazon and grab a copy of the first two books, then stick a pre-order in for this one.  You won’t regret it!  Murder Game will be released on 31st October 2017 and I cannot wait.

UK: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5
US: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp

about the author3

IMG_6478.pngUSA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

Sign up to join her Reader’s club for access to news, updates and exclusive competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/IxsTj

Connect with Caroline:
www.caroline-writes.com
https://plus.google.com/+CarolineMitchell/posts
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3076677.Caroline_Mitchell
Twitter: @Caroline_writes
www.pinterest.com/Writeparanormal

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Girls in the Water by Victoria Jenkins (@vicwritescrime) @bookouture

The Girls In The Water cover image.jpg“When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer. 

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls? 

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden. 

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late… 

Chilling and totally compelling with an utterly surprising twist, The Girls in the Water is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Sarah Hilary, and Patricia Gibney.”

I am absolutely delighted to be kicking off the The Girls in the Water blog tour today alongside Marina at licence2read.  The Girls in the Water is author Victoria Jenkins’ debut novel and is published by Bookouture in eBook format TODAY!  Happy book birthday to Victoria and the gorgeous folk at Bookouture.

I was immediately drawn to this book thanks to that stunning cover.  And then I read the blurb and knew it would be a match made in heaven (that’s me and the book, by the way!).  There’s nothing I like more than a gripping police procedural/serial killer thriller but when the two lead female protagonists are feisty, head-strong, kick-ass detectives then I know I’m in for a corker of a read.

As soon as you start reading you are hurled, by the well-constructed prologue, into a harrowing scene of mental child abuse.  Your heart goes out to the unknown boy who is being berated by his mother for something that, whilst distressing, is blown all out of proportion in order to serve the mother’s own needs.  The boy’s attempts to distance himself from the hurt were a tough read and I felt incredibly sad for this unnamed character.  I admired this debut author’s ability to create such a heart-wrenching and intriguing opening to her novel.

Before long you meet DI Alex King and DC Chloe Lane.  I wanted to fall head over heels in love with both characters but I’m afraid it didn’t happen immediately.  It was much more of a slow build over the course of the novel.  I initially warmed more to DC Lane as she felt more spontaneous, more outgoing and a lot more fun to be around than her superior.  However, as the story progressed I felt I had a lot more in common with DI King (plus she’s more my age, obv.!).  She felt like a safe and trusted pair of hands and she shone that little bit brighter for me.

DC Lane becomes quite distracted with an older case at an early stage in the story which creates an interesting discord between Chloe and her senior officers.  It’s clear to see there has been a lot of careful planning in creating the character’s back stories as these all add real value and link seamlessly as you approach the conclusion.  For a debut, this book is incredibly well plotted and the characters felt very credible.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I plan on pre-ordering the next book in the series as soon as it is available. There is one twist in this book that I really didn’t see coming and it knocked me sideways.  As an avid crime reader I will always appreciate the books that can do that!  A brilliant debut and I look forward to reading more from Victoria Jenkins in the near future.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Girls in the Water.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Kim, Noelle and the Bookouture team for asking me to join the blog tour.

The Girls in the Water by Victoria Jenkins was published in the UK by Bookouture on 3rd August 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Book Depository |

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Victoria Jenkins Author Pic.jpgVictoria Jenkins lives with her husband in South Wales, where she writes crime fiction and teaches English. The Girls in the Water is her debut novel, the first featuring Detective Inspector Alex King and Detective Constable Chloe Lane. The second book in the series will be published in late 2017.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Other Twin by L.V. Hay (@LucyVHayAuthor) @OrendaBooks

The Other Twin cover.jpg“A stunning, dark and sexy debut thriller set in the winding lanes and underbelly of Brighton, centring around the social media world, where resentments and accusations are played out, identities made and remade, and there is no such thing as the truth

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its wellheeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth…”

I am thrilled to be one of two stops today for The Other Twin blog tour.  The Other Twin is the debut novel from L.V. Hay and was published by Orenda Books on 3rd July 2017.  I was privileged to have L.V. Hay feature as one of the authors on my #damppebblestakeover last year. Hay wrote a fascinating piece on the ‘star rating system’ which still, to this day, has more views than most other posts on the blog.  If you missed it the first time then please click here.

I was excited when I heard Orenda Books were going to publish Hay’s debut novel, The Other Twin.  I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on a copy of this book.  And I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.  I was expecting something a little different to my usual reads and flipping heck, I got it!  This is a psychological thriller.  But this is also so much MORE than your standard psychological thriller.  It was a breath of fresh air.

The Other Twin focusses partly on the LGBTQIA scene in the vibrant seaside town of Brighton. Poppy’s younger sister, India has recently committed suicide but despite a lack of contact over the years, Poppy knows India would never take her own life.  As the story unfolds we follow Poppy as she attempts to discover exactly who wanted her sister dead and the twisted reasons why.  The only evidence to hand are coded blog posts written in the lead up to India’s death.  Poppy has to work out exactly who they refer to and what part, if any, they played in India’s demise.  What I wasn’t expecting but was (unusually for me) pleasantly surprised by was the romance aspect of this novel. Returning to the place she grew up Poppy has to confront old friends as well as her ex-lover. The end of the romance was particularly unpleasant which normally dictates the reunion should be equally as unpleasant, which it is.  But the chemistry between Poppy and Matthew just won’t go away.  I loved the friction between these two characters.  There was a sense of deceit, of wrong-doing oozing from Matthew which I loved.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I loved the nest of lies and deceit this story was built upon.  I really enjoyed Poppy’s determination to find the truth for her sister and the muddle of secrets she has to wade through to do so.  A great, brilliantly written, confident mystery and I can’t wait to read more from L.V. Hay.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Other Twin.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for asking me to join the tour.

The Other Twin by L.V. Hay was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 3rd July 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama ScreenplaysShe lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deadly Friendship by Tara Lyons (@taralyonsauthor) @Bloodhoundbook

Deadly Friendship 3 .jpgWho can you really trust?

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is dragged into a gruesome murder investigation, while on annual leave in Lake Windermere. A handwritten note, with a woman’s name, is found inside the corpse.

When a direct link to London is unidentified, Hamilton must race against the clock to make the connection before the body count rises.

Meanwhile, four friends with strained relationships, are reunited. What past event do they want to keep buried and is there something linking them to the murders?

Then, when a person from Hamilton’s past returns, he must ask himself: how well do we really know our friends?

London’s murder investigations team returns in this third novel from the bestselling author of In the Shadows and No Safe Home.

I am delighted to be closing down the Deadly Friendship blog tour today alongside Caroline over at Bits about Books.  Deadly Friendship is the third book in the DI Denis Hamilton series, is written by talented author Tara Lyons and was published by Bloodhound Books on Sunday 23rd July 2017.

I have read and reviewed both of the previous books in this series and absolutely loved them.  If you would like a quick refresher then please click here for my In the Shadows review (book #1) and here for my No Safe Home review (book #2).  So there was a significant amount of expectation and pressure in starting the third book in the series. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I have a real soft spot for DI Denis Hamilton.  The more we discover about this character, the more I like him.  He is different to my usual damaged detectives but that doesn’t mean that tragedy hasn’t touched his life.  There is a heartbreaking back story there but it is fully explained if you are new to this series.  I also enjoyed the way in which DI Hamilton was immediately thrown into the investigation despite being on holiday in the Lake District with his wife and mother.  Hamilton is a dedicated member of the force and a little bit of R&R won’t get in the way of an intriguing case.

The members of his team once again shone through, each one individual and with their own foibles.  I was desperate to know more about DS Kerry Fraser after the last book and Lyons has given a sneak preview into her home life which I hope will be expanded on in the next book.  DS Yasmine Dixon is a new addition to the team and I found myself feeling surprising cagey towards her.  I can’t quite explain why that is but I hope to warm to her over time (although at one point I thought she was one of the poor red jersey wearing ensigns in Star Trek!  If you’re a tragic nerd like me then you may get what I mean, lol).

I really enjoyed the plot of this book; it felt more ‘my thing’ than a number of other police procedurals I have read of late.  By that I mean there is a rather twisted serial killer out to exact revenge on a tight-knit group of friends.

One thing I will say about this author’s books is that she knows how to write a cracking prologue. I can clearly remember the early scenes set by the author in No Safe Home and I must have read that book over six months ago now.  Once again, Tara Lyons gave me chills with her dramatic opening scene and I flipping loved it!

Would I recommend this book?  I would but, as always with a series, try to start with the first book.  You won’t lose anything by diving straight in with book three (it works well as a standalone) but it really adds to the reading experience, and they’re brilliant books! Tara Lyons gets better with each book which makes Deadly Friendship my favourite of the series, so far.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Deadly Friendship.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Deadly Friendship by Tara Lyons was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 23rd July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

71yZzqlsnIL._UX250_.jpgTara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. In the Shadows is Tara’s debut solo novel published in March 2016. She co-wrote The Caller and Web of Deceit: A DI Sally Parker novella with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley.

In August 2016 Tara signed a two-book contract with Bloodhound Books. The second book in the DI Hamilton series, No Safe Home, was published in January 2017.

When she’s not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son.

Sign up to Tara’s monthly newsletter for exclusive news, previews and giveaways: http://eepurl.com/bN2KoH

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Website |

#AuthorInterview: Chris Carter, author of The Caller @simonschusterUK @JamieCriswell

the caller.jpg“Be careful before answering your next call. It could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.
   
Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.”

I love being a book blogger.  Absolutely flipping love it.  You’re reading your books, writing your reviews, then one day a lovely PR person drops you an email.  It happens on a fairly frequent basis and I always count myself lucky.  But when that PR person is from Simon & Schuster and they are asking you to interview CHRIS CARTER…..well!  Yup, that’s what I said, THE CHRIS CARTER.

To celebrate the paperback publication of the latest Robert Hunter novel, The Caller I was given the opportunity to ask Chris a few questions, which he has kindly answered for our delectation.  So, without further ado, let’s get this show on the road…

***

DP: I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have such a treat in store (it’s a treat for me too!).  Today I am thrilled (and a little bit giddy) to welcome Chris Carter to the blog!  Chris is by far my favourite author and his Robert Hunter series is always the first collection of books I recommend. 

First of all Chris, welcome and thank you very much for joining me today.  If you could please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Robert Hunter.

CC: My name is Chris Carter.  I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school at the early age of 16, I moved to the USA where I studied Psychology with specialization in Criminal Behavior. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a Criminal Behavior Psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of well-established artists.

I left the music business a few years ago to write full time.  I now live in London and have written eight novels – The Crucifix Killer, The Executioner, The Night Stalker, The Death Sculptor, One By One, An Evil Mind and I Am Death, The Caller.  My ninth novel – The Gallery of the Dead will be published in February 2018.

In a nutshell, Robert Hunter is a criminal behavior psychologist turned detective for the Robbery Homicide Division of the LAPD.  Though, inside the LAPD, Hunter has a much more specialized task.  He’s the head of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit.  A special unit that deals solely with homicides where the perpetrator has made a point of utilizing overwhelming sadism and brutality against his/her victims.

DP: Your books are known for being a little gorier than other crime fiction titles.  Have you ever been asked to tone down the amount of blood spilt and/or the suffering? Or vice versa, of course!

CC: No I’ve never been asked to tone it down.  Actually, I was the one who asked if I should tone it down.  None of my first five novels were picked up in the USA, and the reason I kept on being given was that my novels were too violent for the American market. (Yes, you read it right – too violent for the American market) .  My editors in the UK told me never to tone it down 🙂

DP: If the Hunter series had its own soundtrack, who would you choose to play the title track? And would you insist on joining in and playing guitar?

CC: Wow, great question.  If I could choose – Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle or Nine Inch Nails.  And yes, I would love to jam with any of them.

DP: Out of the eight books and one novella in the Hunter series, which is your favourite?  Who do you consider to be your best bad guy?

CC: I really don’t have a favourite novel out of the series. I put so much effort into all of them, but I do have the ones that I had a lot of fun writing.  Out of those, my first novel – The Crucifix Killer – I had a great time writing because there was no pressure and I was writing for fun.  I really had no ambitions of getting it published when I started writing it.  That alone makes writing fun, not a job.

The villain I had most fun writing was Lucien Folter from An Evil Mind.  I guess I went nuts on him.  And he’s coming back.

DP: I expect you’ve been asked this question before but can you tell us a little more about your writing process.  Where you get your ideas from, do you plan or are you a pantser? Do you have half-finished stories scattered around your writing space?

CC: I’m definitely not a plotter.  All of my stories are very organic. My main problem is that I never have a whole story in my head when I start writing.  I usually only have the basic idea for the main plot, so as I am starting a new novel I have no “how’s, why’s or who’s” really.  Most of that develops as I write.  Even Hunter, I did not have the entire character in my head when I finished The Crucifix Killer.  I discovered more and more things about him as I progressed through the series.

All the half finished stories I have are in my head.  I never write anything down, except when I start writing a novel.  I really do have zero notes.  Everything stays in my head.

DP: Which authors books do you like to read?  Is there one author who inspired you from an early age?

CC: The truth is that I don’t really have a favourite writer and I was not inspired to write by anyone.  I never even thought about being a writer until I had a dream about a story, which turned out to be The Crucifix Killer, my first novel.  I do respect every single author out there, because this is a tough job, I just don’t have a favourite one.

No author has inspired me to write.  The truth is that I had never planned on writing a book.  I never thought about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books – writing books that is – came out of a dream I had back in 2007.

I used to love reading Frederick Forsyth.

DP: I always enjoy the wonderful plot twists and inventive ways you have of killing victims, how do you make sure your books stay one step ahead of others in the same genre?

CC: I am always looking for different ideas.  Sometimes I will read something on a newspaper, or see something in a movie or on the streets, or hear something on the radio that will sparkle some new idea in my brain.  I then usually add to it to come up with something a little different.  I also do a lot of research, especially medieval torturing.  A lot of mad ideas can come from that.

DP: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

CC: Probably The Analyst by John Katzenbach

DP: Would it be a dream come true to have the series made into a movie (or televised) or something that you’re not really worried about? If they did make, Robert Hunter: The Movie who would play Hunter and who would play Garcia?

CC: I would love to have one of my novels made into a film, or even the whole series into a series, but unfortunately it’s not up to me.  A movie studio needs to have enough interest in one of my books to option it for a movie.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I do live in hope.

As to who would play Hunter and Garcia, I really have no idea.  I guess I will cross that bridge when and if I get there. 🙂

DP: What character traits do you share with Robert Hunter?  In other words, how much of Hunter is Chris Carter?

CC: I do share a few.  Being a loner, being into rock music, the debilitating insomnia, single malt Scotch whisky, ex-criminal psychologist, being quite a calm person, good listener, but he is definitely fictitious.  My outer ego, maybe.

DP: On the back of the previous question, what don’t you like about Robert Hunter?

CC: The fact that he is fictitious. He would’ve been a good friend and probably helped me out in a variety of scenarios.

DP: Does the Hunter series have an end date for you?

CC: There’s none planned.  Just like my agent keeps on telling me – as long as readers want to read Hunter stories, keep on writing them.

DP: And finally, what question do you wish I had asked, but didn’t (and what’s the answer?!)

CC: Actually there’s nothing else I can think of.  All of them, great questions.  Thank you so much. 🙂

***

My most heartfelt thanks to Chris Carter for joining me today and allowing me to have a total #fangirl moment.  I’m thrilled we got the heads up on The Gallery of the Dead being published in February 2018.  I can’t wait!!!  My thanks to Jamie Criswell at Simon & Schuster for making this interview possible.

The Caller by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter #8) was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 27th July 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

Author photo.jpgBiographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran (@Christi_Curran) @KillerReads

her deadly secret.jpg“A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past. 

A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my stop on Chris Curran’s Her Deadly Secret blog tour.  I was absolutely delighted when asked to feature on the tour for her latest release as Chris was one of the incredible authors who took part in my #damppebblestakeover last Summer.  (I can’t quite believe that was a year ago!) Back then, Chris wrote a fantastic piece on ‘Amnesia Noir’ which I urge you to read (click here).  Particularly if you are looking for a few book recommendations!

I couldn’t help myself and I HAD to read and review Her Deadly Secret.  We are first introduced to Joe, father of missing school girl, Lily and husband of Hannah. The news doesn’t appear to be good and the sorrow you feel for this one character is immense. But this is only the very tip of the iceberg in what proves to be a multi threaded and intricate tale of secrets and lies.

The story is divided into three POVs.  You have Joe, father of missing daughter Lily. Loretta, who is the Family Liaison Officer (FLO) for Joe and his wife, Hannah.  And finally, Rosie, whose sister Alice was murdered when she and Rosie were just children.  I loved Curran’s multi point narration but couldn’t for the life of me work out how Rosie fitted into the plot.  It’s only as you progress through the book do you discover exactly how detailed and intricate a tale the author is telling.  I confess, I did get a little muddled by the number of characters but once I’d written them all down, I was well away and had no further problems.  More to do with me and my ageing memory than anything else I think!

In a story about terrible things happening to normal people, I couldn’t understand why there was so much emphasis on the FLO, Loretta and her own fractured home life.  It WAS interesting and I enjoyed reading about her but it did feel a little like ‘filler’ in some scenes.  I understand that she was there as part of an ongoing investigation but she did feel a little superfluous at times (as the characters tend to make the big case breaking discoveries more than those that are employed to do it).  She’s a great character but at times I wanted her to step away from the limelight so I could focus more on Joe, Hannah, Rosie and her parents.

Would I recommend this book?  I certainly would.  It’s a tense tale about family secrets and not really knowing those we claim to love.  Great twists, one of which I didn’t see coming and it blew my socks off! I would pick up another book written by Chris Curran in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Her Deadly Secret.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran was published in the UK by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 21st July 2017 in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

BLOG TOUR- Her Deadly Secret (1).png

about the author3

DSCF1459.JPGChris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers.

She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award.

Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21st 2017 and a paperback in August.

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