#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 |

 

#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

 

isabel-ashdown-2016-2.jpg

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 |

#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 |

The Girls in the Water - Blog Tour graphic.jpg

about the author3

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 |

Other twin blog tour poster new.jpg

about the author3

Lucy Hay author photo.jpg

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 |

BLOG TOUR (2).png

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 |

#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.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Unforgivable by Mike Thomas (@ItDaFiveOh) @BonnierZaffre

Unforgivable.jpg“Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation. 
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside. 
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . . 

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . . 

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman. 

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as I’m kicking off the Unforgivable blog tour. Unforgivable is the second book in the DC Will MacReady series, is written by author Mike Thomas and will be published by Zaffre on 27th July 2017.  Oh, and it’s a corker of a crime thriller!

I am delighted to have a guest post from Mike Thomas to share with you today.  I also have my four and a half star review (which really does fade in comparison to this MEGA guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Mike…

Why Writing a Crime Novel is Like Prepping a Case File for the CPS

There’s a lot of paperwork in the police force. Endless forms and labels and booklets, most of it designed to collate data or appease the suits in HQ or the Home Office, and a lot of it simply to cover your own arse when, as they say in The Job if trouble begins, ‘the wheel comes off’. It’s tedious in the extreme, but there was one part of the written work that I always found enjoyable: assembling a case file for the Crown Prosecution Service.

What struck me, especially when I began juggling being a copper with writing novels, were the similarities between putting together an air-tight case file for the Crown Prosecution Service (or CPS) and constructing a readable novel. I believe that all those days and weeks and centuries – or so it seemed – spent writing reports and liaising with overworked solicitors and collating evidence and cobbling it all together (to use the technical term) into a presentable, cogent case against the defendant was excellent grounding for creating a book.

The, ahem, evidence for this:

The Build-Up

The Crime – As with a novel, your prosecution case file will begin with an offence that has taken place.  The crime is where it all begins, where the ‘story’ starts. It is the centre point, and everything spins out from this one act, be it a theft from a vehicle or the murder of a spouse during a drunken argument over borrowing a cigarette. The offence, whatever it is, will appear on the front cover of your case file, just as the crime in a fictional novel will appear in the jacket blurb and be alluded to in the strapline beneath the book title. And in the CPS paperwork, the offence will appear on the charge sheet – or MG4 – in all its statute-heavy glory when it is handed to the defendant once they have been formally charged with the matter in the custody suite.

What Do We Believe Happened? – did we mention the jacket blurb? Oh good. Because this is where its equivalent can be found in a CPS case file: towards the front of the paperwork on the ‘MG5 Summary of Evidence’ form. This is where you sell your case, much as you’d try to flog your novel with an oh-so-intriguing handful of paragraphs on the back cover, designed to draw your reader in to the world you’ve created. There’s not as much hyperbole – it can be a very dry affair – but it is essentially the same: you are, as concisely yet – cough – arrestingly as possible, telling the solicitor (your ‘reader’) exactly what you have served up for them. And you hope they bite. You hope they proceed with your case. You hope they enter your world.

Introducing the Characters – your cast list in the case will appear on what the fuzz call the ‘MG9’ form, or the ‘Witness List’. It will start with the major players – the defendant, the IP (or Injured Party) – and continue onwards to include even the smallest bit-part character who may or may not have been at the scene (we don’t know if he’s lying) and is prone to making stuff up just so he can have some attention from the Old Bill so we’ve got to include him anyway or someone will complain. Possibly the guy’s mother. But this is where your ‘thespians’ start to bring your case file to life, with their names and relationships and a hint at what part they are about to play as you read what they have done and what they have to say…

The Investigation

Witness Statements – characters in a crime novel can be open and honest or harbouring myriad secrets; you can never tell which at first, and it is only as the story progresses do you unravel what can often be a complex web of truths, half-truths and downright lies. The same goes for real people in real cases. Witness statements make for absorbing reading. For whatever reason – protecting family and friends, not wanting to get involved, hating the police so deliberately misleading them – human beings can be as helpful or unhelpful as their fictional counterparts. It is down to you, as the investigating officer – the protagonist – to work out what really happened and ‘whodunit’, much as your heroine DI or maverick, heavy drinking (if you must) DS will do in your favourite series of crime novels. People are fascinating, and flawed, and often bloody infuriating, and it is through their statements you will – hopefully – piece together what really happened, and your solicitor counterpart will see it also, and will be able to convince a magistrate or jury that what you have found is the truth.

The Good Evidence – it’s all well and good having three witnesses who can place your defendant at the scene of a street robbery, but a seasoned defence barrister will always muddy the waters so hard forensics is where it’s at. Fingerprints, footprints, blood splatter? Just like your protagonist would, get it if you can. Any CCTV cameras on nearby shops and houses? Your heroine would seize them all, review the video, find the bad guy. Did the defendant grab the IP? Your fictional DI would always remember Locard’s exchange principle and seize the IP’s clothes for examination because he might find the defendant’s DNA all over them, proving he was at the scene of the crime. You, as the SIO (Senior Investigating Officer), will collate the witness statements and write your own to tie everything together but the clincher – the evidence that solves the case, that sells it to your ‘reader’ as authentic and convincing – will be forensics, and as much of it as you can muster.

Your Statement – this should be the icing on the cake. This is where you, the protagonist in this little tale, deftly tie it all together in a professional, objective, authoritative manner: what you saw, what you heard, what the defendant said to you after you arrested and cautioned him. How he behaved, any unsolicited comments he made while under caution that you immediately noted in your pocket notebook. What he said during the recorded suspect interview, and what he disclosed. What he said once you’d formally charged him and handed him the MG4 and a court date and turfed him out of custody with his plastic bag of personal belongings. This is the point where you box it all up so it’s neat and squared away and the file can be sent to the CPS for review. And where you start counting the hours before it comes back to you asking for further investigation…

Proving Your Case and The Resolution

Defendant Interview – this is where you sit in a bright, windowless and well-ventilated room with hi-tech recording equipment and politely interview – sorry, Detective Inspector Gene Hunt fans – your suspect, offering them frequent ‘comfort breaks’ and opportunities to make shit up confer with their solicitor. This, much like the denouement of a novel, is where all the evidence comes together and is put to the defendant, albeit in a less-exciting-than-a-climactic-car-chase kinda way. You question, and question, and question, and show them the CCTV images of them hitting that guy, and the blood splatters on their shirt, and their DNA found under the IP’s fingernail where they tried to push you away, you naughty man. This is the climax, the end, the part where chummy throws his hands in the air and says how he would have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and your dog. Sorry, I meant the police.

Fine-tuning – anyone who’s published a novel will tell you about editing. Editing your first draft. The second, fifth, twelfth. Editing it until you can’t look at it ever again, until the mere mention of the book’s title sends you into a murderous, climb-a-clocktower-with-a-rifle rage. Then sending it off, utterly relieved at it finally being over, only for your publisher to email you with Great! We’ll be back in touch with edits ASAP! It is no different with the CPS. They will want another witness. They will want an old witness re-interviewed. Again. They will want to ‘cut’ a witness who does not help the ‘story’. The forensic evidence needs more forensic evidence. They have misplaced the defendant’s interview recording DVD, can we have another copy by yesterday please? As with a novel, there’s a lot of toing and froing, a lot of haggling and cutting and moving stuff around, some of which can take the better part of a year. There’s a reason novels can take a few years to see the light of day, and that same reason applies to court cases and why they drag on for so long…

In short, what you’re doing with both a CPS case file and a novel is creating a storyline that hopefully sustains reader interest and propels them towards a suitably rewarding climax. But after all your work is done, what does ‘the jury’ decide? Does your case/novel get the defendant convicted in court/get your book onto the bestseller lists? Or does the CPS discontinue the case/does your book sink without trace?

In reality, it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked on either, the end result is out of your hands…

Quite possibly my favourite guest post, EVER!  Seriously, how good was that?  I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Mike.  My thanks for such an interesting true crime/crime fiction focused piece!

my review2

I have had the first book in the DC Will MacReady series, Ash and Bones on my TBR since it was published.  I remember thinking at the time how drawn I was to the book, how gritty and real the blurb felt. Unfortunately time has not been on my side and I have (so far) completely failed to read it.  So when I was given the opportunity to read the second book, Unforgivable it was a no-brainer for me.  It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the first in the series, I wanted to be a part of the launch tour.  And oh wow, I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.

This book opens with a catastrophic bang and I was immediately hooked.  The scenes of chaos, the terror…my heart ached for the families, the normal everyday people caught up in a cataclysmic event.  The author has expertly created an incredibly tense opening to what proves to be a terrifying yet realistic story, one I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’m still unsure exactly how I feel about DC Will MacReady.  I do like him, but there are certain aspects that left me feeling cold.  I loved his determination, his work ethic, his budding relationship with his newborn son and his utter distaste towards his thuggish, wife-beating brother.  What left me feeling was cold was his extra-marital affair with a television journalist and his frostiness towards his wife.  However (and it’s a big however) MacReady has been through some emotionally traumatic times, that’s clear for the reader to see.  But whether these painful incidents permit him to pursue his affair…well, I don’t know.  The author has put MacReady in a marital situation that would test the most devoted of couples.  And it’s an interesting one.  Really, really interesting.

There were several mentions of an event which occurred in the first book.  At certain points, I wish I had been able to read Ash and Bones before Unforgivable so I could find out the intricacies of the previous investigation and exactly how it had played out, as it spills over ever so slightly into Unforgivable.  Saying that, the author has done a great job of ensuring you have just enough of the back story for the book to make perfect sense.  I would say, if anything, I now want to read the first book in the series more than ever!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  You can tell from early on that the author is ex-police.  There is no messing around in Unforgivable, you’re thrown head first into the melee and it is BRILLIANT!  A terrifying tale of revenge and bitterness expertly narrated by an author who has lived life on the front line.  A must read for crime thriller fans!

Four and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Unforgivable.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Unforgivable by Mike Thomas was published in the UK by Zaffre on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Goodreads |

Unforgivable_Blog Tour_Twitter cards_One.jpg

about the author3

mike thomas.jpg

Author image and bio taken from https://mikethomasauthor.co.uk/ with thanks.

His teenage years were spent breakdancing, spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks and just about staying on the right side of the law, until his early twenties when, inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks.

“…inexplicably, he joined the local constabulary and began locking people up for spraying graffiti around the town’s walls and office blocks…”

While working as a plod in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff, Thomas continued with his childhood passion: writing. As a freelance he produced articles for local newspapers, various websites and national travel magazines, while in 2007 he was one of the winners in the annual Rhys Davies Short Story Competition organised by Literature Wales. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Wales between 2007 and 2009, Thomas published his debut novel, Pocket Notebook, in 2010 with William Heinemann/Penguin Random House.

The author was on the prestigious list of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for that year, while Pocket Notebook was longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year and optioned for television by Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey. His second novel, Ugly Bus, was released by Heinemann in 2014 and is currently in development as a six part television series with the BBC. Both novels deal with the uglier side of policing.

“…He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children…”

Thomas left the police in the spring of 2015 and grew his hair and a pathetic attempt at a beard. He currently lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife and children. Alongside chopping wood, cementing crumbling house walls and trying to find somewhere that sells his beloved Marmite, he continues to write articles and web pieces for a variety of sites and publications, and is contracted to London’s Bonnier Publishing for three new novels, the first of which – Ash and Bones – was released August 2016. The second in the series, Unforgivable, is due for publication in the summer of 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan (@johnlenahan) @KillerReads

ice lake.jpg“…WHERE EVERYBODY LIES. AND SOME PEOPLE KILL…

An electrifying debut crime novel and the first in a new series featuring psychologist Harry Cull. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Peter May.

AN ABANDONED BODY
Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A HAUNTED PSYCHOLOGIST
Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A DESPERATE KILLER
It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn to host the Ice Lake blog tour.  Alongside me are two fabulous bloggers, Helen at Life of a Nerdish Mum and Alison at Ali the Dragon Slayer.  Both blogs are brilliant so please make sure you pop over and say hello!  Ice Lake is author, John A Lenahan’s debut crime thriller and was published by Killer Reads on 7th July.

And what a cracking crime debut! I really liked Lenahan’s lead protagonist, ex-cop turned psychologist, Harry Cull.  I’ve always been interested in the study of body language and what your subconscious is revealing about you, the secrets it discloses. Those little ‘tells’ that indicate to a professional that you’re lying.  And that’s exactly what Harry does. Having experienced Harry’s ‘powers’ at a conference, he is drafted in by Trooper Ed Cirba to assist in a murder investigation which has rocked the picturesque town of Ice Lake.  Harry and Trooper Cirba are at a loss.  Then another body is discovered, this time a lawyer left for dead in his car.  Will Trooper Cirba and Harry be able to discover who is lying and who the murderer is before a third victim is found…?

There is a lovely level of humour in this book and the banter between Cirba and Cull really adds to the story.  As regular readers of the blog will know, I’m one for the characters in a story and Ice Lake is chock full of some really interesting people.  I particularly liked Todd, the miserable local gossip who also happens to own the local shop.  Todd to his face, Toad behind his back!  And then there’s MK, the love interest.  I don’t tend to enjoy reading about budding relationships in my crime novels but I warmed to MK so much that their smoochy moments didn’t really bother me.  I appreciated that the author stopped narrating the action as soon as it became a bit frisky too.

Would I recommend this book?  I would and I can’t wait to read the next in the Harry Cull series.  This is a really promising start to what could become one of my future favourite crime series.  Great pacing, lots of wonderful dialogue between this cast of appealing characters and a great ‘didn’t see that coming’ twist.  I really liked Ice Lake.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Ice Lake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Ice Lake by John A. Lenahan was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 7th July 2017 and is available in eBook format (with the paperback to follow in August 2017) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads | Book Depository | Foyles |

ICE LAKE Blog Tour Poster (1).png

about the author3

John Lenahan came to Britain from his native Philadelphia for a short trip and has never quite made it back.

 John originally grabbed the headlines as the first person in 85 years to be expelled from the Magic Circle. The 3-card trick he exposed on How Do They Do That? is no more than a gambling con, but John took the rap and enjoyed the publicity.

 2004 saw him staring in a new primetime BBC1 show, Secrets of Magic. His own BBC2 series, Stuff The White Rabbit, achieved record ratings for the slot. Other TV credits include presenting the travelogue Open Road, playing the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf, and guest appearances on everything from TFI Friday to Celebrity Squares. He also fronted HoaxBusters, an ITV network show lifting the lid on scams and hoaxes.

John has performed onstage all over the world, from Beijing and Dubai to Dublin. He has toured alongside Jack Dee, Victoria Wood, Lenny Henry and Michael Ball.

Besides all this, Lenahan is one of the most successful corporate entertainers in the country. Apart from his show-stealing cabaret, he has made kitchens appear, taught Bank of England staff to juggle, read thousands of minds and levitated a 20-pound Toblerone bar. He was the first person on record to perform magic live over the Internet, for BT.

John has been described by The Guardian as ‘the mascot of a magical renaissance’ – and by Jackie Collins as ‘extremely good looking’.

John Lenahan lives in Cricklewood, London. In a world dominated by awards, he is proud to have once been voted Time Out Street Magician of the Year.

John’s novels: Shadowmagic , The Prince of Hazel & Oak and Sons of Macha are now available in one omnibus –The Shadowmagic Trilogy – published by Harper Collins and is out in paperback iBook, Nook and Kindle formats.

The Magic Circle has finally  recognised their mistake and reinstated John.

Author bio from http://podlit.wixsite.com/site-4

Author Links: | Facebook | Website | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill (@SophieJonasHill) @urbanepub

nemesister.jpg“An American Gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana. 

It’s a psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants. 

Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her. 

Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Nemesister blog tour.  Nemesister is written by debut author, Sophie Jonas-Hill and was published by Urbane Publications earlier this week.

That blurb!  It was the blurb which initially drew me to this book.  An American gothic thriller set in the sweaty swamps of Louisiana?  Here, take my (measly) life savings because I am well and truly sold!  As you can imagine, I started reading Nemesister full of nervous excitement.  And I’m sorry to say that it didn’t quite have the oomph I was hoping for.  Now, it may just be me but I found the first half of the book slower going than I had hoped.  I had built this book up in my own mind so the blame for that rests totally at my door.  However.  And it’s a big ‘however’ so prepare yourself.  The second half of this book totally blew my socks off.  Wonderfully twisted and dark, it felt like a real indulgence.  Our main protagonist, we’ll call her Margarita – that’s not her name but it’s easier that way – is sassy, fiery and a bit of a badass.  Having lost her memory and stumbled on a secluded shack, Margarita comes to with a gun in her hand and a stranger trying to coax her down.  Locked in the shack overnight with the mysterious stranger, Margarita decides to search for clues, as well as a key to open the padlocked door.  What she thought she knew and what she actually know turn out to be two very different things…

There isn’t a lot else I can say without dishing out some rather large spoilers.  Nothing is as it seems and I love it when an author can trick me into thinking the story is heading one way, only to take a massive about-turn and take me somewhere completely unexpected.  I’ve heard a rumour that this may be the start of a series and if that’s the case then please consider this my pre-order for book 2!  I loved the language, with the ain’ts and darlin’s and that distinctive Louisiana feel which the author writes so well.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but I can’t get away from the fact that I found the first half such slow going.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Jonas-Hill is setting the scene exactly as she should.  Without that first half nothing else would make sense!  But oh, that second half is SUBLIME!  If there had been a touch more oomph in the first part I would have given this book five stars.  I can’t help thinking the problem was more down to me than the actual story telling so I’m going to give it four and a half stars out of five.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 6th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

blogtournemesister (1).jpg

about the author3

Sophie-Jonas-HillBW-200x300.jpg

Author Image and Bio from Urbane Publications with thanks.

I’ve always written and told stories, for as long as I can remember. My first self published work at the age of seven, fully illustrated in felt pen and crayon. I continued with a series of insightful ‘When I grow up I want to be an author’, essays, and an attempt at a ‘Bonk-buster’ series of supernatural thrillers written from a position of utter ignorance on all topics, until I was distracted by Art college. A never ending, or never finished, fantasy epic kept me going through my twenties, but it was motherhood in my thirties which concentrated my mind enough to actually finish a novel. It’s amazing what a bit of life experience and the sudden curtailing of your free time can do to concentrate the mind.

After that I began giving myself permission to take my writing seriously enough to spend time on it and actually listen to critiques. The writing festival in York proved invaluable, and time and disappointment got me to the point of producing something readable, which I was lucky enough to have read by Urbane publications.

If you make or write anything, the number one question you get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ In answer to that question, it’s an easy process which combines working on your craft every hour you can for as long as possible – hard graft – reading as much as you can of everyone else’s work – stealing – and inspiration, which is just one of those things that just happens. The inspiration for ‘Nemesister’ comes from a dark episode of family history, and a moment from a dream; an image of a man standing in the doorway of what I knew was an abandoned shack, which was gone as soon as it came and yet lingered, the way some dreams do.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hunting Angels Diaries by Conrad Jones (@ConradJones) @EmmaMitchellFPR

“When an author is asked to help the police with the investigation into a double murder by identifying occult symbols, which had been carved into the victims, he is plunged into nightmare and forced to go on the run. Hunted by law and a powerful cult, he has to stay one step ahead to survive.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Hunting Angels Diaries blog tour.  I had the pleasure of reading Brick, one of Conrad Jones’s crime thrillers last year (and if you click here you can read my review).  I discovered whilst prepping that post that Conrad Jones is also the author of a number of horror thrillers and you know me, I can’t resist a horror novel!  So when the opportunity to read the Hunting Angels Box Set arose, well….I would have been a fool to pass it up.

Now before I go any further, I should add that this is part one of my review.  Somehow, time has gotten away from me and I’ve only managed to read the first book in the box set, A Child for the Devil.  So look out for part two which will feature the second book, Dark Angel coming your way very very soon.

I enjoyed reading A Child for the Devil.  I can’t compare it to any of the my previous reads as I don’t think there is anything even vaguely similar.  What struck me as ‘standout different’ is that the author mentioned in the blurb is, well, the author.  This is the story of Conrad Jones’s dealings with the devil.  Or to be more specific, his encounter with an occult loving group of satanists.  And they are everywhere; your local councillor, the headteacher of the primary school, your librarian, your parents….  Having previously referred to this particular group in one of his crime novels, they now know exactly who Conrad is and he is the skurge of their lives, the stain to be removed.  He is a writer and all writers must be destroyed.  At points throughout the book you are advised to Google the cult if you don’t believe what you’re reading.  I couldn’t do it.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I was too scared to look!  And I think that says a lot.

It is gory and it is violent but I got the feeling the author knew where the limits were and made sure the explicit content was pulled back.  In all honestly, I probably would have liked a little more gore but then I’m strange!

I didn’t really feel anything for the characters.  Although I do not know Conrad Jones personally, I know of him and see him interacting in several bookish Facebook groups. Having pondered on it I’m pretty sure that is why I felt no connection to the characters, I had trouble separating the real person from the fictional account.  I guess I invest more in characters that are new and I can shape them in my mind as I wish.  Although I would like to know exactly how much of this book is autobiographical (and I don’t mean the toting of the sawn-off shotgun*!).  Other readers may not have this problem.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I can’t wait to make a start on the second book in the box set and find out what is going to happen next.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of A Child for the Devil (Hunting Angels Diaries). The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

*I can’t recall if the shotgun was sawn-off or not but it sounds so much better when it is!  Apologies if the shotguns mentioned in this book are not sawn-off.

Hunting Angels Diaries by Conrad Jones was published in the UK by GerriCon Books on 28th November 2013 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | #1 amazon.com | #2 amazon.com | Goodreads |

Hunting Angels - Banner.jpg

about the author3

conrad jones.jpgConrad is the author of seventeen novels, eight author guides and two biographies. He has three series;
* The Detective Alec Ramsay Series; seven books Gritty Crime Thrillers
* The Soft Target Series; Gritty Thrillers six books (Reacher Style)
* The Hunting Angels Diaries; three books Horror Thrillers
You can find out more; http://www.conradjonesauthor.com | jonesconrad5@aol.com

I am Conrad Jones, a fifty-year-old author, originally from a sleepy green-belt called Tarbock Green, which is situated on the outskirts of Liverpool. I spent a number of years living in Holyhead, Anglesey, which I class as my home, before starting a career as a trainee manger with McDonalds Restaurants in 1989. I worked in management at McDonalds Restaurants Ltd from 1989-2002, working my way up to Business Consultant (area manager) working in the corporate and franchised departments.
On March 20th, 1993, I was managing the restaurant in Warrington`s Bridge St when two Irish Republican Army bombs exploded directly outside the store, resulting in the death of two young boys and many casualties. Along with hundreds of other people there that day I was deeply affected by the attack, which led to a long-term interest in the motivation and mind set of criminal gangs. I began to read anything crime related that I could get my hands on.

I link this experience with the desire to write books on the subject, which came much later on due to an unusual set of circumstances. Because of that experience my early novels follow the adventures of an elite counter terrorist unit, The Terrorist Task Force, and their enigmatic leader, John Tankersley, or `Tank` and they are the Soft Target Series, which have been described by a reviewer as ‘Reacher on steroids’; You can see them here;

I had no intentions of writing until 2007, when I set off on an eleven-week tour of the USA. The Day before I boarded the plane, Madeleine McCann disappeared and all through the holiday I followed the American news reports which had little or no information about her. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the terrible kidnap would inspire my book, The Child Taker years later. During that trip, I received news that my house had been burgled and my work van and equipment were stolen. That summer was the year when York and Tewksbury were flooded by a deluge and insurance companies were swamped with claims. They informed me that they couldn’t do anything for weeks and that returning home would be a wasted journey. Rendered unemployed on a beach in Clearwater, Florida, I decided to begin my first book, Soft Target. I have never stopped writing since. I have recently completed my fifteenth novel, ‘Brick’, something that never would have happened but for that burglary and my experiences in Warrington.
The Child Taker was the 6th book in the Soft Target Series but it also became the first book in the Detective Alec Ramsay Series when I signed a three-book deal with London based publishers, Thames River Press. The series is now seven books long with an average of 4.8 stars from over 2000 reviews. The first two books are always free with over 1100 5-star reviews. You can see them here;

As far as my favourite series ever, it has to be James Herbert’s, The Rats trilogy. The first book did for me what school books couldn’t. It fascinated me, triggered my imagination and gave me the hunger to want to read more. I waited years for the second book, The Lair, and Domain, the third book to come out and they were amazing. Domain is one of the best books I have ever read. In later years, Lee Child, especially the early books, has kept me hypnotised on my sunbed on holiday as has Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch Series.