#BookReview: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @1stMondayCrime

Sweet Little Lies“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub. 
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?”

Hello, my favourite crime fiction people!  I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as I have another First Monday Crime review to tempt you with.  Today I am thrilled to feature my review of Caz Frear‘s awesome Sweet Little Lies.

Caz will be appearing alongside Mark Edwards, Ann Cleeves and Lilja Sigurðardóttir, not forgetting the lovely Rod Reynolds as moderator.  Make sure you reserve your FREE place at October’s event which takes place on Monday 2nd October at 6.30pm in Room AG21, College Building, London EC1V 4BP. Click HERE to book your ticket.  Only four sleeps to go….

my review2

Whilst on holiday in Ireland with her family, eight-year-old Catrina is unwittingly drawn into a missing persons investigation.  Teenager, Maryanne Doyle; loud, brash and very much in your face, goes missing.  Catrina doesn’t know what happened to Maryanne but she is sure of one thing.  Her father lied to the police.  He claimed to not have known the teenager but Catrina vividly remembers Maryanne hitchhiking and her dad picking her up.  After all, Catrina was in the car as well.  Fast forward 18 years and Catrina is now DC Cat Kinsella with the Met’s Murder team.  Called to investigate the brutal murder of Alice Lapaine, the team find nothing but a secretive husband and a lot of dead ends.  Can Cat find out what happened to Maryanne all those years ago, exactly what part her father played in her disappearance AND solve a motiveless murder at the same time…?

So many delicious secrets!  This is a wonderfully intricate tale which I found hard to put down.  I was immediately drawn to the feisty Cat Kinsella.  She absolutely made the book for me and I couldn’t tear myself away from reading about her exploits.  How I loved her dry wit, her gutsy determination and her adorable relationship with Acting DI Luigi Parnell.  I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Cat, whether she would discover the truth and whether it would be the truth she actually wanted to hear.

For me, the characters in a book are one of the most important factors.  I feel Caz Frear deserves high praise for the cast of characters she has created in this novel.  After finishing the book I can still bring to mind certain scenarios, conversations and interactions between her creations.  They all stand tall, each one an individual.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an excellent debut and I’m excited to see what Caz Frear has in store for us in the future.  It’s a gripping read, full of suspense and intrigue, chock full of lies and deceit from a sometimes dubious cast of characters.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 29th June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

about the author3

Caz FrearCaz Frear grew up in Coventry and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true.
She has a first-class degree in History & Politics, which she’s put to enormous use over the years by working as a waitress, shop assistant, retail merchandiser and, for the past twelve years, a headhunter.
When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at the TV when Arsenal are playing or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hope to Die by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre

hope to die.jpg“On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity.

And then the killer strikes again . . .”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the Hope to Die blog tour.  Hope to Die is the second book in the DS Nathan Cody series and one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  I read the first in the series, A Tapping at My Door last year when it was first released and WOW, I absolutely loved it.  Click here to read my five-star review.  So much so it made it to my books of 2016 list.  I had incredibly high hopes for this second instalment.

And having read (read = devoured) Hope to Die I can confirm that I am not the slightest bit disappointed; this book was well and truly worth the wait!  Dare I even go as far as to say that I preferred it ever so slightly to the first book?  Hmmm……

DS Nathan Cody is one damaged copper.  Having been involved in an undercover mission which went dreadfully wrong several years ago, Cody has yet to shake the guilt and the terrors viciously pummelled into him that night.  A word to the wise, if you feel any sort of unease when it comes to evil clowns then this may not be the book for you.  I am terrified of the blighters but found some strange, perverse enjoyment in reading about Cody’s association with the malicious monsters.  Who knows, you may feel the same way I do!

The incredibly intense first chapter drew me immediately into the book and I consumed the whole thing, from start to finish, in less than 24 hours (which for me is really very quick).  That old cliche, I couldn’t put it down…?  Well, I couldn’t. Nor did I want to.  It was a delight to be back in the Major Incident Team alongside Cody, the formidable DCI Stella Blunt, the kind-hearted yet newly bolshy DC Webley. What an awesome team and yes, I may be a little bit in love with them all.

Called to the scene of a vicious murder in the grounds of a cathedral, the team are left stumped.  Their victim is a single middle aged woman, a teacher of religious studies at the local girls’ school with no skeletons in her closet, no one close enough to bear a grudge. They are left floundering.  Then a second body turns up, this one not so innocent but associated with the Catholic cathedral.  Could the link between these two victims be their beliefs?  Will Cody and the team discover who their twisted killer is before a third victim meets their maker…?

I absolutely loved it.  One of my favourite reads of the year.  It may be that the murders have a religious connotation, which has always appealed to me.  It may be the subtle humour Jackson writes into his character’s narrative or it may just be that it’s an absolutely stonking crime thriller series that I insist you check out.  As I approached the end of the book I had a fair idea of ‘whodunit’ but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all.  (I was right by the way.)

Would I recommend this book?  You have to ask?  Absolutely.  This one is definitely on the list of my top reads for 2017.  Cody and Megan have the most wonderful chemistry and I have high hopes for their future (I can hope, anyway!).  A stellar piece of crime fiction which I want all fans of the genre to read and enjoy.  It works perfectly well as a standalone but why bother when you can read the stunning A Tapping at My Door as well.  Brilliant work, well done Mr Jackson.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hope to Die.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

Hope to Die by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

 

David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

 

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Good Friday by Lynda La Plante (@LaPlanteLynda) @BonnierZaffre @ed_pr

good friday.jpg“Every legend has a beginning . . . 

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the Good Friday blog tour.  Good Friday is the third book in the Tennison series written by the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante and was published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017.  The Tennison series focusses on the early career of the incredibly popular television character, Jane Tennison and is a must read for fans of the acclaimed drama.

To celebrate the release of this third book in the series, I have an extract to share with you.  So make yourself a cuppa, sit back and put your feet up…

Jane took the Circle line from Baker Street and changed at King’s Cross St Pancras to take the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. From there it was just a short walk to the Bow Street station.  It was eight thirty when Jane arrived at Covent Garden station, right at the peak of the early morning rush hour. There were groans from the other passengers when they saw that the lift wasn’t working, but Jane didn’t mind as she wasn’t in any great hurry. She followed the throng of people walking up the 193 steps of the spiral staircase, trying her best not to bump into the people heading down the stairs in the opposite direction. Behind her was a woman with a pushchair and a baby in her arms.
‘Can I help you?’ Jane asked.
‘Oh, yes please, thank you, love. These lifts here are always out of order.’
Jane carried the pushchair, and as there were so many people up ahead of her, they moved very slowly. On reaching the top stair she unfolded the pushchair so the woman could put her baby in the seat. Jane paused at the ticket barriers to search her handbag for her warrant card. The area surrounding the faulty lift was heaving with people moving in both directions, and a guard was on duty checking and taking tickets. Behind Jane were queues of passengers waiting impatiently to show their tickets so they could leave the station, and she found herself being pushed forward.
The guard shouted, ‘Please do NOT push! We apologise for the lifts being out of order and ask for your patience. Please proceed in an orderly manner through the ticket barriers!’
Jane made her way through the ticket barrier and out into the packed foyer.
‘Excuse me, sir, you forgot your bag.’
Jane turned to see an elderly woman pointing to a rucksack that had been left on the floor next to the ticket box.
‘Hey, you left your bag!’ the woman repeated. Jane followed her gaze and caught sight of a man wearing a hooded winter coat, walking away with his head down. Instead of turning to acknowledge the old lady he pushed people out of his way as he hurried
towards the Long Lane exit.
‘I just saw him put it down!’ the woman said loudly. Jane hesitated. Was it just a mistake, and the man had simply not heard the woman calling out to him? She hurried after him, in the hope of stopping him and reuniting him with his bag.
‘Excuse me, sir! I’m a police officer and . . .’
The man kept on moving quickly through the throng of people and Jane picked up her pace as she called out for him to stop. Just as he reached the exit, Jane managed to grab hold of his sleeve. He half turned towards her and she had a momentary glimpse of his
profile, but he twisted out of her grasp, batting her away. He pushed people aside as he ran out of the station. Jane stumbled backwards, and then turned to look for the abandoned rucksack. She could feel the panic rising as she realised it had gone, but then calmed down as she reassured herself that the old lady must have been mistaken and the real owner had picked it up. Jane turned around in a circle, searching for anyone carrying the rucksack. Then she saw the ticket barrier guard holding it against his chest, heading towards the guards’ office. She immediately sensed that something was very wrong. For a second she was paralysed with fear, but then she started pushing people aside and screamed at the guard to put the rucksack down, shouting for everyone to evacuate the area. Some people began to run. But it was too late.

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante is out now, published by Bonnier Zaffre in hardback. RRP £18.99.

Oh-my-flipping-goodness!  I don’t know about you but my heart is pounding.  How good was that?  I NEED to read more so will be making a start on my copy sooner rather than later.  I hope the extract has piqued your interest too.  WOW!

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback due for release in 2018 | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Lynda la Plante.jpgLynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS.

Her novels have all been international bestsellers. Her original script for the much-acclaimed PRIME SUSPECT won awards from BAFTA, Emmys, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Writer’s Award.

Since 1993 Lynda has spearheaded La Plante Productions. In that time the company has produced a stunning slate of innovative dramas with proven success and enduring international appeal.

Based on Lynda’s best selling series of Anna Travis novels, Above Suspicion, Silent Scream, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream have all adapted into TV scripts and received impressive viewing figures.

Lynda has been made honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writer’s Award 2000.

On 14th June 2008 Lynda was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List (Writer and Producer for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity).

On 3rd October 2009, Lynda was honoured at the Cologne Conference International Film and Television Festival with the prestigious TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel, Above Suspicion.

Books penned by Lynda La Plante include: The Legacy, The Talisman, Bella Mafia, Entwined, Cold Shoulder, Cold Blood, Cold Heart, Sleeping Cruelty, Royal Flush, Above Suspicion, The Red Dahlia, Clean Cut, Deadly Intent and Silent Scream, Blind Fury (this entered the UK Sunday Times Bestsellers List at number 1 having sold 9,500 copies in its first two weeks), Blood Line, Backlash, Wrongful Death, and Twisted, which have all been international best-sellers.

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 |

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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 | #GuestPost: Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre

Sweet Little Lies.jpg“WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour.  Sweet Little Lies is written by debut author, Caz Frear and was named the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in conjunction with retailer WHSmith.  To celebrate the release of this engrossing crime thriller not only do I have my four and a half star review, I also have a fantastic guest post (yay! I do love a guest post!) on a subject close to my heart.  Well, sort of anyway!  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Caz…

Do female protagonists in crime fiction always have to have a ‘love interest’?

‘A love interest nearly always weakens a mystery because it introduces a type of suspense that is antagonistic to the detective’s struggle to solve the problem.  The only effective love interest is that which creates a personal hazard for the detective….’

“Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel” (essay, 1949), first published in Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962)

I’ll be honest, I’m with Raymond on this one.  But as nearly seven decades have passed since he first offered his thoughts, I thought, what the hell, maybe it’s time to play devil’s advocate and see if I can make a case for the ‘love interest’ in female-led crime fiction.  After all, women, more than ever, are the primary readers of crime fiction and they also remain the primary readers of romance fiction, so what harm in combining the two, right?  A twisty, disturbing crime thriller and a romance sub-plot all under the same roof.  What more could we ask for, eh?

Er, no. 

Although I’d kind-of-just-about-maybe agree with this if we could at least change the profile of the ‘love interest’ for a start.

In fairness, the injection of a ‘love interest’ isn’t just peculiar to female-led crime fiction.  Morse was always mooning over someone – trying, and usually failing, to seduce some posh lady with his Mark II Jag and mournful eyes. DCI Banks always has a girlfriend – usually they’re significantly younger and significantly hotter than he is, but somehow they’re always completely gaga over the wiry, aging jazz fan.  Even DI Frost, with his prickly manner, even pricklier moustache and decades-old grey coat, is never without an attractive (and usually younger) woman trying to bed him, and more-often-than-not, domesticate him.

But therein lie some crucial differences – the‘love interest’ in female-led crime is almost always…

  • Older, or at least of a similar age – for example, how many 40-something female protagonists have a twenty-something male model-type go completely nuts about them, all on the strength of their charismatic personality? NEVER. HAPPENS (but regularly happens the other way round)
  • Their boss or superior colleague (again, very rarely happens the other way round)
  • More, or at the very least as successful as the female protagonist, in their chosen field.
  • Aesthetically anonymous – much less focus on how gorgeous they are, and when their physical characteristics are described, they quite often aren’t gorgeous at all – our female protagonist simply loves them for their wrinkles/soft paunch/balding head etc, (I’ll say it again, very rarely happens the other way round.)

But in the interests of challenging Raymond Chandler (!) I’ll step down from my soapbox for a minute and share a few thoughts about why it’s sometimes good for our female protagonist to have a ‘love interest.’

  • No woman is an island. Very few are a Billy-no-Mates.  Realistically, everyone has someone they can turn to, and arguably an intimate romantic relationship has more dramatic potential than the ‘chatting-with-a-best-friend-over-a-bottle-of-wine’ scenario, within the context of a crime novel.
  • In a genre where men don’t always get the best press – a lot of crime fiction focuses on male violence against women – a well-characterised male love interest serves as a reminder of the Good Men around.
  • Romantic relationships showcase a character’s vulnerability – you often open up to a lover in ways you don’t with other people.
  • Most women want/need sex from time to time, even if they don’t want steady romance, and therefore if you’re not comfortable creating a female lead who has quite a casual approach to hook-ups, you’re going to have to give her some sort of formal ‘love interest.’ It’s just not realistic for our female protagonist to live like a nun.
  • Sexual tension is fun. It’s interesting.  It’s delightful to write.  The will-they-won’t-they has never lost its appeal and when it simmers just beneath the surface, it can add a new level of tension to a crime novel (I’m thinking here of the brilliant dynamic between Derwent and Kerrigan in Jane Casey’s fantastic series – I actually enjoy this aspect more than the Maeve-and-Rob romance.)

Finally, just to say that despite my earlier talk about not loving the ‘love interest’, there is one in Sweet Little Lies, in the form of dishy Aiden Doyle (I know, I know….hypocrite…)  However, in my defence I will add (with a cryptic smile) that only time will tell how much of a “personal hazard for the detective” Aiden becomes…….

Let’s just say Raymond Chandler wouldn’t judge me too harshly….

Brilliant post, thank you Caz.  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m not a fan of slushy mushy romance in my crime thrillers so I found your arguments for a love interest fascinating.  Have I changed my stance?  Not quite, but the rather lovely Aiden Doyle COULD change my mind…. 😉

my review2

Whilst on holiday in Ireland with her family, eight year old Catrina is unwittingly drawn into a missing persons investigation.  Teenager, Maryanne Doyle; loud, brash and very much in your face, goes missing.  Catrina doesn’t know what happened to Maryanne but she is sure of one thing.  Her father lied to the police.  He claimed to not have known the teenager but Catrina vividly remembers Maryanne hitch hiking and her dad picking her up.  After all, Catrina was in the car as well.  Fast forward 18 years and Catrina is now DC Cat Kinsella with the Met’s Murder team.  Called to investigate the brutal murder of Alice Lapaine, the team find nothing but a secretive husband and a lot of dead ends.  Can Cat find out what happened to Maryanne all those years ago, exactly what part her father played in her disappearance AND solve a motiveless murder at the same time…?

So many delicious secrets!  This is a wonderfully intricate tale which I found hard to put down.  I was immediately drawn to the feisty Cat Kinsella.  She absolutely made the book for me and I couldn’t tear myself away from reading about her exploits.  How I loved her dry wit, her gutsy determination and her adorable relationship with Acting DI Luigi Parnell.  I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Cat, whether she would discover the truth and whether it would be the truth she actually wanted to hear.

For me, the characters in a book are one of the most important factors.  I feel Caz Frear deserves high praise for the cast of characters she has created in this novel.  After finishing the book I can still bring to mind certain scenarios, conversations and interactions between her creations.  They all stand tall, each one an individual.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an excellent debut and I’m excited to see what Caz Frear has in store for us in the future.  It’s a gripping read, full of suspense and intrigue, chock full of lies and deceit from a sometimes dubious cast of characters.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 29th June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Foyles | Book Depository |

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