#BookReview: The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler @CaneloCrime #TheLuckyEight #damppebbles

“When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now someone is killing off the survivors.

Five years ago, a horrific airline disaster made headlines around the world. On the anniversary of the fatal crash, a number of those who were spared gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.

Clodagh Kinsella recovered from the injuries she sustained in the crash, but lost her sister that day. The bereavement shared by Clodagh and her sister’s husband led them to a romance of their own. Yet lately, Clodagh knows something isn’t right. As the noose tightens on the group and Rachel comes across more questions than answers, it’s only a matter of time before Clodagh will have to face the consequences of a mistake she made before the plane went down…

A tense and gripping crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lesley Kara and Mari Hannah.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler. The Lucky Eight will be published in paperback and digital format by Canelo Crime on Thursday (that’s 22nd July 2021). I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Lucky Eight but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love disaster thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a plane crash/disappearance/hijack. If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles you may have noticed a teeny tiny increase in the number of books I’ve read recently featuring aircraft. I can’t help it, I love them! But what I’ve really enjoyed about all of these books is that they all take a slightly different approach. And that’s certainly the case with The Lucky Eight. Because, at heart, I’m a crime fiction nut and I adore police procedurals and mysteries. And that’s where The Lucky Eight absolutely shines.

Five years ago Air Euro Flight 975 crashed on landing at Gatwick airport killing all onboard except for eight ‘lucky’ survivors. Every year, on the anniversary of the crash, the survivors meet in remembrance of those they lost. But by the following morning, one of the group, a notorious celebrity chef, is dead. Detective Inspector Rachel Lewis of the Surrey and Suffolk Major Crime Team is tasked with investigating what happened to Nick Gilbert. Tensions run high amongst the group and Rachel has her work cut out. Before long, another of the survivors is found stabbed to death. The pressure is on. Can Rachel and her team discover who wants the lucky eight dead before it’s too late…

The Lucky Eight is a well-written crime thriller with an intriguing mystery at its heart. DI Rachel Lewis and DC Ade Benjamin are thrown into the deep end and have to pick apart a group which, although not the best of friends, have a strong bond and secrets they would prefer to keep. I found the character of Clodagh absolutely fascinating. Her sister, actress Vivienne Kinsella, died when the plane crashed. Clodagh, also on the plane at the time of the incident, has had memory problems ever since. She knows deep down that something happened, something she did contributed to the accident but her memory refuses to recall what it was.

I really liked DI Rachel Lewis but I loved her colleague, DC Ade Benjamin, who I felt had a bit more grit to her. Rachel, being the boss, does everything by the book. Whereas Ade felt a little less formal in her approach. I do hope this isn’t the last we see of these two characters as they make quite a formidable team and I would really like to spend some more time with them, Ade in particular. There were also plenty of characters to dislike including career obsessed Adam and creepy Simon.

Speaking of the characters, I felt a smidge confused at times because there are quite a few characters and they are all connected in different ways (lovers, ex-lovers, siblings). But as soon as I got into the rhythm of the book it all clicked into place, so I put full blame for the confusion on my own shoulders. I would also say it’s a little slow at the start as it felt like it took a while for the chef’s death to be confirmed as murder. But as soon as Rachel is made SIO, the investigation really picks up the pace.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I enjoyed The Lucky Eight and would happily read more by this author. It’s an intriguing mystery which had me glued to my Kindle. I did have an inkling as to who was behind the murders but the reasons why came as a complete surprise, and I loved that.  All in all, an entertaining read which I recommend.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Lucky Eight. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler was published in the UK by Canelo Crime on 22nd July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sheila BuglerI’m the author of the Ellen Kelly and Dee Doran crime novels. My first stand alone novel, The Lucky Eight, is published in July 2021.

I grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway, I left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, Argentina and London before finally settling in Eastbourne, where I now live with my husband, Sean, and our two children.

#GuestReview: Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis (@alex_gerlis) @canelo_co @cobaltdinosaur #RingOfSpies #ARichardPrinceThriller #damppebbles

Ring of Spies Cover“As the war approaches its end, Prince once more has to risk everything.

Berlin, 1939: A German intelligence officer learns a top agent is quickly moving up the British Army ranks. He bides his time.

Arnhem, 1944: British paratroopers have been slaughtered in one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War. A shell shocked officer is convinced: the Germans knew they were coming.

But who betrayed them?

Back in London, Richard Prince, detective and spy, is approached by MI5 about a counterintelligence operation. Information is leaking and British troops are dying. Prince has to stop it, and crack the suspected spy ring at all costs. But in the world of espionage nothing is as it seems…

The latest WWII espionage thriller from Alex Gerlis is perfect for readers of Robert Harris, John le Carré and Alan Furst.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am handing the keys over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his thoughts on Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis. Ring of Spies is the third book in the Richard Prince Thriller Series and was published by Canelo on 15th October 2020. Ryan chose to read and review a free eARC of Ring of Spies but that has in no way influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

Ring of Spies is the first book I have read by Alex Gerlis, it is the third book in the Richard Prince series and it is wonderful! Ring of Spies pulls you straight into the second half of the Second World War. The mission to take Arnhem is a difficult one for the Allies, a successful mission would likely bring forward the end of the war, but when the Allies attack the German’s defence is much stronger than expected. Had the Germans been pre-warned or was it just a coincidence?

Richard Prince is a wonderful character. He starts the book as a detective in Lincolnshire – a much more relaxed existence than his previous work as a spy behind enemy lines. When MI5 need an outsider to find the German Spy in their midst, then Prince is soon pulled back into espionage and the murky world of the different Military Intelligence Sections. I was impressed by how quickly I felt I knew the characters. Despite being the third book in the series, Ring of Spies can easily be read as a standalone. 

Alex Gerlis has clearly done his research for this book. He cleverly interweaves historic facts from the war with the story to lend it a credibility and depth that made this book standout from others in the genre. 

The story is told from multiple perspectives, following Richard Prince as he searches for the German agent, the German Spy “handler” in Berlin, and the unidentified agent in central London. The different perspectives provided a clear ebb and flow to the story, allowing the reader to understand the decisions made and the consequences of those decisions. The investigation isn’t an easy one and the author makes the characters work hard for clues, follow red herrings and suffer misfortune. But do they find their spy before the war ends?  That would be telling 😉

Ring of Spies is a fantastic historic detective/spy thriller that will be well appreciated by many and is a must read if you have an interest in the Second World War period. Wonderful writing, excellent characters and a storyline that will pull you into the immersive world of espionage.

Ryan chose to read and review a free eARC of Ring of Spies. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis was published in the UK by Canelo on 15th October and is available in digital formats with the paperback to follow next year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Kobo | Goodreads |

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Alex_Gerlis (c) Ealing GazetteAlex Gerlis is the author of the acclaimed Spies series of four Second World War espionage thrillers which are noted for their detailed research and intricate plots and feature two great adversaries: the British spymaster Edgar and his Soviet counterpart Viktor. The television/film rights for The Best of Our Spies have been bought by a major production company.

Born in Lincolnshire, Alex was a BBC journalist for nearly 30 years. He lives in west London with his wife and family and three black cats, a breed which makes cameo appearances in his books. He’s a lifelong supporter of Grimsby Town, which has provided some preparation for the highs and lows of writing novels. When asked if he has worked in the field of espionage he declines to answer in the hope some people may think he has.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @canelo_co #TheCloserYouGet #damppebbles

the closer you get“Is a marriage worth saving – whatever the cost?

Ruby didn’t plan to have an affair. She doesn’t love her husband, but wouldn’t set out to steal someone else’s. Yet when she met Harry they simply couldn’t keep apart. Now, she’s brave enough to leave her marital home and start again, and so is Harry. Or so she thinks.

Waiting at a hotel for her lover to arrive, Ruby realises she has made a mistake. Harry won’t come. He will never leave his wife.

What Ruby hasn’t worked out is that someone else knows all about the affair. They have been watching Ruby’s every move. They are determined to punish her. And they are even closer than she thinks…

Don’t miss this taut and gripping novel packed with edge-of-your-seat tension and a tale of love that goes badly wrong, perfect for fans of Shalini Boland and Lisa Hall.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen as part of the blog tour. The Closer You Get was published in digital format on 21st April 2020 by Canelo. I received a free digital eARC which has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re looking for a character-driven domestic suspense novel to get your teeth into, then look no further, dear reader. You have found it. What a cracking book this is! I have to be honest and confess to not reading many domestic thrillers of late. I seem to be leaning back towards my first love, crime and serial killer fiction, so reading The Closer You Get reminded me exactly how good the genre is, how devilish and despicable the characters can be and how I should really be reading A LOT more.

Ruby is a very relatable character and I warmed to her almost immediately. Despite the fact she’s out the door, with her bags packed, when we first meet her. Leaving her husband of ten-plus years for another man. It’s quite clear to the reader though that there’s something else going on here. Something which we haven’t yet been made party to. After, very decently I think, waiting for Tom to return home, explaining that she’s been unhappy for a while now, and departing the marital home, she heads to a local hotel to wait for her new love, Harry, to join her. But he doesn’t show. So she waits some more. And he still doesn’t show. Your heart sinks for Ruby. You can imagine the anguish she’s going through, the realisation as it dawns on her that something isn’t right. Ruby is alone, heart-broken and homeless. But then strange things start happening to her. It seems someone else knows her secret and is going to make her pay…

It’s not often I write an expletive in my notes whilst reading a book. But I did as I read The Closer You Get. I’m not going to reveal the word but looking back at my notes now, I wouldn’t change a thing! There are some characters in this book who will really get under your skin and make you want to scream. Manipulative, controlling and detestable people who the author has written so very well. You can’t help but hate them! They made the book for me. I  couldn’t wait to see what terrible event was going to befall poor Ruby next.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a gripping domestic suspense thriller and I was hooked from the first page. The ending is very satisfying and exactly what I hoped for. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and I will definitely be reading more from Mary Torjussen in the future.

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

The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen was published in the UK by Canelo on 21st April 2020 and is available in digital format (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Goodreads |

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Mary_Torjussen_Author_PhotoMary Torjussen has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher. She is the author of two novels, Gone Without a Trace and The Girl I Used to Be, and her new novel will be published in 2020. She writes dark, gripping thrillers and her debut novel, published in several international territories, has been optioned for television by Ecosse Productions.

 

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Dead Embers by Matt Brolly (@MatthewBrolly) @canelo_co

“An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.”

I am delighted to be one of two blogs hosting the Dead Embers blog tour today.  Dead Embers is written by author Matt Brolly and is the third book in the DCI Michael Lambert series.  I haven’t had the chance to read Matt’s books yet but I do have book one in the DCI Lambert series, Dead Eyed on my #terrifyingTBR.  So watch this space for a review!

To celebrate the release of Dead Embers I have a rather brilliant guest post from Matt to share with you today.  Over to Matt..

How to Write to a Deadline.

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ Douglas Adams.

First of all, a big thank you to Emma from the wonderful damppebbles book blog for hosting me today on day two of the Dead Embers tour. With every release I’m continually amazed and humbled by the terrific response from bloggers and readers and it is hugely appreciated. Now to the matter at end, how to write to a deadline. First a cup of coffee….

Okay, I’m back! Some writers are rather good at procrastination. I’m seventy-eight words into this article already and I’m yet to address the question. How to write to a deadline? Hmmm. Tricky. More coffee, I think.

The simple answer would be to plan months ahead. To make mini deadlines for the first draft, second draft, twentieth draft, structural edits, line edits, proofread etc… but unfortunately a writer’s life is not so simple. It’s easy to say I’m going to write 2,000 words a day over a fifty-day period – I know it is because I say it to myself every time I start a new novel, yet fifty days later I’m rarely more than a quarter way through a first draft. Try as I might, life gets in the way. As does the complications of writing a novel.  Plan as I might, a novel has a way of taking its own direction. I find I have to rewrite the draft plan every two or three chapters, and the finished book is never as I initially envisaged.

And did I mention the procrastination? It is so easy to do anything but write. Make coffee, surf the internet (for research, obviously), tidy the house (though my wife would argue there is not much evidence for this), sleep. Working alone means there is no boss watching you’re every move. You have to be disciplined, manage your time, make sure you hit those word count deadlines every day… but there is a big television downstairs with a film you recorded last night waiting for you…

Good film.

I’m not complaining, you understand. It is a privilege to be a writer. It’s hard work, but then all jobs are. Citing procrastination is cop-out, obviously. It’s a hurdle you have to overcome. My advice: if Facebook or Twitter keeps calling, switch off the internet. If the television, or your bed, is too much of a lure, work in a library or coffee shop. If you’re deadline is fast approaching – work harder!

As I write the last words of this article (which needs to be sent over to Emma by yesterday) I have to admit there is no hard or fast rules for writing to a deadline. All I can say is that after writing for nearly twenty years with no deadline in sight, having a deadline is the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced in my writing life. And if my publishers (past or present) or agent is reading this, then I apologise for every time (only a handful, I’m sure) I’ve asked for a tiny extension!

***

Absolutely love it, thank you Matt.  And it’s true, it was a close call with the delivery of this post.  No harm done though.  It’s up and on the blog at exactly the right time.  All deadlines met!

Dead Embers by Matt Brolly was published in the UK by Canelo on 6th March 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres, and is currently working on the third in his Michael Lambert thriller series. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: City of Drowned Souls by Chris Lloyd (@chrislloydbcn) @canelo_co

Welcome to my stop on the City of Drowned Souls blog tour.  City of Drowned Souls is the third book in the Elisenda Domènech Investigates series and is written by author, Chris Lloyd. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed book one in the series, City of Good Death.  To celebrate the release of City of Drowned Souls I am thrilled to republish my review, along with a spotlight on book two, City of Buried Ghosts and book three, City of Drowned Souls.

Here are my thoughts on City of Good Death which I originally published in April 2016:

610MGIbNfML._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_“A serial killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs – leaving grisly clues about his next victim. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom.

Elisenda Domènech, the solitary and haunted head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced.

Battling against the increasing sympathy towards the killer displayed by the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself questioning her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop the killer at all costs.

The question is: how?”

I found this crime debut a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting read.  When you finish a book and feel like you’ve been on holiday, well, surely that’s a very good thing indeed.

There is a murderer on the loose in Girona.  The killer is using Girona’s rich history of myths and legends to rid the city of its most despised residents; a loan shark, a corrupt priest, a group of thugs.  Sotsinspectora Elisenda Domènech and the new Serious Crime Unit are tasked with catching the killer.  Then the killer turns their attention to less deserving victims….

You know how much I appreciate a strong-willed female detective and Elisenda is a new favourite of mine.  She’s gutsy and smart.  Seemingly the only female detective in Girona so there’s a need for that determination.  Especially as some of her male colleagues don’t think she can hack it.

There are some great twists in this book.  The reveal of the killer had my heart pounding. The big question is, did I see ‘whodunnit’?  Was my guess right?  Well…..yes, sort of and sort of not at the same time.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

You can tell that Chris Lloyd has spent time in Girona. His written representation of the city made me feel like I know the city having never actually visited; a real skill.  I hope there will be more to come from Sotsinspectora Domènech.

Four out of five stars.

So there we have it.  City of Good Death is one of the few books I can remember exactly where I was and what was happening whilst I read it (we were having the living room in our old house painted and I was hiding in the kitchen and staying out of the decorators way, if anyone is interested.  No….thought not!)

Here’s all you need to know about City of Buried Ghosts:

City of Buried Ghosts.jpgBe careful what you dig up… 

Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the base of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.

Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.

Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?

The atmospheric second crime thriller featuring Catalan detective Elisenda Domènech, for readers of Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves

 Information about the Book
Title: City of Buried Ghosts (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #2)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 30th May 2016
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30288458-city-of-buried-ghosts
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Buried-Ghosts-Inspector-Domènech-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01FDKKTBG

And now for the latest book in the series, City of Drowned Souls:

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When a child disappears, the clock starts ticking
Detective Elisenda Domènech has had a tough few years. The loss of her daughter and a team member; the constant battles against colleagues and judges; the harrowing murder investigations… But it’s about to get much worse.

When the son of a controversial local politician goes missing at election time, Elisenda is put on the case. They simply must solve it. Only the team also have to deal with a spate of horrifically violent break-ins. People are being brutalised in their own homes and the public demands answers.

Could there be a connection? Why is nobody giving a straight answer? And where is Elisenda’s key informant, apparently vanished off the face of the earth? With the body count threatening to increase and her place in the force on the line, the waters are rising…

Be careful not to drown.

The stunning new instalment of the gripping Elisenda Domènech crime thrillers for readers of Ian Rankin, Henning Mankell and Andrea Camilleri.

 Information about the Book
Title: City of Drowned Souls (Elisenda Domènech Investigations #3)
Author: Chris Lloyd
Release Date: 6th February 2017
Genre: Crime Thriller
Publisher: Canelo
Format: ebook
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34106761-city-of-drowned-souls
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N7Y2NDN

I have City of Buried Ghosts on the TBR which I can’t wait to read.  City of Good Death has very much stayed with over the last year and writing this post has reminded me exactly how fond of it I am.

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Chris was born in an ambulance racing through a town he’s only returned to once and that’s probably what did it. Soon after that, when he was about two months old, he moved with his family to West Africa, which pretty much sealed his expectation that life was one big exotic setting. He later studied Spanish and French at university, and straight after graduating, he hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia where he stayed for the next twenty-four years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in Grenoble, the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a writer and a Catalan and Spanish translator, returning to Catalonia as often as he can.

He writes the Elisenda Domènech series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona. The third book in the series, City of Drowned Souls, is published on 6 February 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

*Blog Tour: Guest Post* Ghost Target by Will Jordan (@WillJordan83)

Ghost Target crop small“From Marseille to Islamabad at breakneck pace… it’s kill or be killed for Ryan Drake and his team

Ryan Drake, once a decorated field operative, is now wanted for treason. On the run from the CIA’s corrupt Deputy Director Marcus Cain, he has spent the past six months in a remote French safehouse. Drake’s former life seems to be behind him, but the uneasy peace is shattered when Cain moves against him with startling force.

Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan is faltering in the wake of a devastating suicide attack. Cain though has a plan to find and destroy al-Qaeda’s top commanders. And nobody will stand in his way.

Backed into a corner, Drake turns to the deadly but unpredictable Anya – once Cain’s most promising agent, now his most bitter enemy. With tensions running high and their uneasy alliance threatening to tear itself apart, Drake’s hastily assembled team travels to Pakistan to intercept Cain.

With the fate of the War on Terror hanging in the balance, loyalties are tested and scores settled, as Drake embarks on the fight of his life. Only one side will survive…

From the bestselling author of Black List and Deception Game, Ghost Target is the sixth Ryan Drake thriller, and an incredible tale of deception, desperation, and ultimate betrayal.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Ghost Target blog tour.  Ghost Target, written by Will Jordan, is book six in the Ryan Drake series of novels and was published by Canelo last month (July 2016).  I haven’t come across Will’s main protagonist, Ryan Drake, before but I’m thrilled to have a copy of Ghost Target on my mountainous TBR so look out for a review in the near future.

Will has very kindly written a guest post for us today.  So, without further ado, I will hand you to over to Will:

Writing an ‘Espionage Epic’

I was on my Goodreads author page a couple of months ago, answering a reader’s question about my Ryan Drake series, when something rather interesting happened. He made an astute and, to me, quite startling observation:

“It helps that you’ve constructed what could be called an “espionage epic” of sorts, only instead of Gods and legendary warriors, you’ve got spies, killers and large intelligence services “

I’d never quite thought about it in those terms before, but the more I mulled over that comment the more sense it made. I had, in effect, taken an epic fantasy series structure and transported it into the present day thriller genre.

So how (and why) on earth did I end up doing such a thing? Well, even though I’d committed to writing a series of thrillers about covert operations, conspiracies and hidden conflicts, there were certain things that had come to bug me about this genre – the biggest of which was the reset button effect, where characters basically don’t change from book to book. Their experiences – good and bad – don’t affect them in a meaningful way. They just continue as they always have, bounding from one adventure to another.

This wasn’t for me at all, because it’s not how real people act. Real people are constantly changing and developing, growing and learning from the things they’ve seen and done. Traumatic experiences often leave deep marks that go far deeper than physical scars, while important lessons can inform the way they respond to future situations.

In short, I wanted a series based around real people.

A human hero
One of the things many reviewers have picked up about my main character Ryan Drake is that he’s surprisingly human and vulnerable compared to many heroes in the genre. He doesn’t have the brute strength and unflinching machismo of Jack Reacher, the fearless bravado of Dirk Pitt, the deadly skills of Jason Bourne. He can make mistakes, he can be misled, he doesn’t always have all the answers or know how to prevail in every situation.

Why did I make him this way? Because I knew his development as a character was going to unfold gradually over a series of many books. If I made him near perfect right from the start, where did I have left to take him? How could he change and grow and improve?

No, I wanted to take a different approach with my protagonist. In fact, I wanted to do the same with all of my recurring characters. Why? Because for me, that’s the joy of writing a series – depicting not just the action, but the effects of that action on those involved.

A tiny example is that during my first novel Redemption, Drake is disarmed and threatened by another series regular Anya (an older and more experienced operative). On the face of it, this seems to be nothing more than a brief, violent encounter between these two characters. However, two books later Drake is able to use exactly the same technique to overpower an opponent who’s got the drop on him. He’s learned from his experience, and is able to put those lessons to good use, gradually becoming stronger and more capable as a result.

By the time of Ghost Target, my sixth book, Drake has become tougher, more jaded and cynical than ever before. He’s more of a threat to his enemies than he’s ever been, but his experiences have left him questioning what he’s actually fighting for, what he and his companions have risked and sacrificed so much to achieve. It isn’t until the war comes very suddenly and violently back into his life that he realises there can be no walking away from the life he’s chosen.

Getting the balance right
“As someone who despairs at the fact the complex ‘serialized arc’ format is under attack by readers, I commend you for being an author not afraid to have a grander vision than just making stand-alone closed loop plots for your novels, and instead, make a sweeping tale with a unifying arc.”

The quote above pretty much sums up my entire thoughts on the Ryan Drake series.

For me, any story has to constantly feel like it’s building towards something. This applies both to individual novels, and also to the series they’re part of. Every book is a stepping stone on the path to the ultimate end of the series, the pieces of a larger puzzle coming together. Not only is there an overarching storyline to my books, but a complex backstory involving most of the major characters whose details are gradually expanded and fleshed out. Again, it’s important for me to show that every character isn’t just influenced by events in the present, but also that they have a life and a history all of their own.

Of course these books need to be able to stand on their own merits, to tell their own stories, and I always try to include enough background to put their events into context for first-time readers, but I believe the Ryan Drake series is a far more rewarding experience for those able to enjoy it in its entirety.

And when it’s finally over, well, I hope I can look back on it as something truly unique.

***

Thank you, Will. You’ve made me look forward to reading Ghost Target even more thanks to this fascinating post.  I may also need to add the first five Ryan Drake books to my wish list (just don’t tell my other half!).

Ghost Target by Will Jordan was published in the UK by Canelo on 4th July 2016 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)

unnamedWill Jordan is a British thriller writer, born in Fife, Scotland in 1983. His works to date include:

Redemption (Ryan Drake 1) – 2012
Sacrifice (Ryan Drake 2) – 2013
Betrayal (Ryan Drake 3) – 2014
Black List (Ryan Drake 4) – 2015
Deception Game (Ryan Drake 5) – 2015

After graduating high school he moved on to university, gaining an Honors Degree in Information Technology. To support himself during his degree he worked a number of part time jobs, one of which was as an extra in television and feature films. Cast in several action/war movies, he was put through military boot camp and weapons training in preparation.

Having always enjoyed writing, he used this experience as the basis for his first thriller, REDEMPTION. He was able to supplement this with visits to weapon ranges in America and Eastern Europe, as well as research trips to Washington DC, London and New York.

For his second thriller SACRIFICE, he was able to interview members of the British armed forces who had served tours in Afghanistan. His fifth novel in the Ryan Drake series, DECEPTION GAME, was released in November 2015.

He lives in Fife with his wife and two sons.

For more information on Will and the Ryan Drake series, go to www.willjordanbooks.com or follow him on Twitter at @WillJordan83

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