#BookReview: Little Bones by Sam Blake (@samblakebooks) @BonnierZaffre

little bones.jpg“Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know how dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become…”

That blurb!  I love that blurb.  When I was offered the chance to read Little Bones there was no way I was going to say no.  I also remembered a number of influential bloggers being totally smitten with this book when it was first published last year as an eBook.  So I just had to see for myself.

And the verdict?  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It has a good, strong story-line with believable and maybe more importantly, likeable characters.  The opening chapters with the discovery of the bones grab your attention and you’re not released from the story until the very end.  Probably muttering the words…’woah’ or ‘…seriously?…’ under your breath.

Cathy Connolly is a very likeable lead protagonist who is only made more human by the situation she finds herself in.  I instantly warmed to Cathy and was cheering her on from start to finish (for those who have read the book, particularly at the end….!).  When Cathy is called to what seems like a run-of-the-mill burglary, she is shocked to discover what appears to be small bones sewn into the hem of a wedding dress.  But it’s not the only case Cathy and her boss, DI Dawson O’Rourke are tasked with investigating.  They are also on the hunt for a cold blooded killer from overseas who has reportedly landed in County Dublin.  I really enjoyed the relationship between Cathy and O’Rourke.  There’s a deep understanding between these two characters which I found very appealing.  I’m keen to see where Sam Blake will take this particular relationship.

The author has managed to spin several seemingly unconnected threads throughout the story and I couldn’t work out how they were all going to tie together.  But they do, and the bringing together and the rounding up of the these sub-plots is done with great style.  I want more Cathy Connolly and I’m excited to see that book two in the series is due for release later in the Spring.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  It’s a dark, chilling read and I really enjoyed it.  Cathy Connolly is instantly likeable and I can’t wait to read more from Sam Blake soon.  Definitely a debut writer to watch out for.

Four out of five stars.

Little Bones by Sam Blake was published in the UK by Twenty7 | Bonnier Zaffre on 23rd February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. Married to a retired member of An Garda Siochana she has two children, three cats and a fish, and runs the world’s only national writing resources website, as well as a publishing consultancy – she is Ireland’s leading literary scout.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

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#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell (@Caimh) @McFori_Ink

The Day That Never Comes cover.jpg“Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy. 

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence? 

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?”

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Caimh McDonnell back to damppebbles as part of the blog tour for his second book in the Dublin trilogy, The Day That Never Comes.  Caimh McDonnell is no stranger to damppebbles.  He first popped by the blog back in September 2016 when A Man With One of Those Faces was released, with a brilliant guest post about comedic crime.  Then, as we were approaching the end of the year, I took a break from my blog tour reading and read A Man With One of Those Faces which I LOVED.  Click here to read my five star review if you missed it.  If my review piqued your interest then it’s only fair to mention that A Man With One of Those Faces is currently on offer at 99p/99c until Monday 30th January (Amazon UK | Amazon US) so what are you waiting for…?

So today I have another brilliant guest post from Caimh McDonnell to share with you. Without further ado, I’ll hand over to man himself…

Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love?
Caimh McDonnell

Someone asked me recently if, as an author, you start to feel about your characters how parents feel about their kids.

My answer to that is very definitely not. Through two books, I’ve dreamt up numerous colourful and brutal ways to put my trio of central characters in harm’s way. I’ve no children myself, but if you’re doing that, I strongly suggest having a cup of tea and a very stern word with yourself.

That’s not to say you don’t develop affection for your characters, of course you do. It’s like on every author’s shoulder there’s an angel and a devil, with the devil placing these poor souls in danger and the angel hoping they pull through.

I do most of my ‘thinking stuff through’ while out on my daily walks, it is a great way to clear the head by getting away from that dreaded keyboard. It is on these epic sojourns that I’ve worked out, not just the plot of those two books, but a whole intricate backstory that might not ever make its way onto the page but is never-the-less, valuable stuff. Characters need to feel real, and every real person has defining incidents, both good and bad, lurking somewhere in their past.

For example, one of my characters is called DS Bunny McGarry. He is a fast-talking and foul-mouthed bundle of violent malevolence mixed with an inexplicably appealing level of uncouth charm. I have spent a great deal of time thinking through his history. At this point, I have such a depth of knowledge about his upbringing and the things that happened earlier in his career that if I ever need to assume a new identity to go into hiding, I’ll just become him. (Note to self: Probably shouldn’t have revealed that on a blog, Mafia hitmen might be able to Google.)

In the middle of one of my walks earlier this year, that little devil on my shoulder informed me of an incident that happened to Bunny eighteen years ago. I was so shocked that I stopped in the middle of the road and swore loudly, as did the bus driver whose way I was blocking. These days I try and keep my thinking to the part of the walk in the park, it is a lot safer.

The little red so’n’so on my shoulder got that pitchfork right under my skin that day. I must have looked like an absolute lunatic. In fact, keep that in mind next time you’re on public transport. The apparent crazy person sitting beside you talking to themselves, might just be a novelist running through how their main character spent the 1980s.

One of the biggest things I’m learning is that as a writer is that I need to always be digging to find those moments that shock and excite me, in the hope that they’ll have a similar effect on the reader. The risk of getting run over by a bus is a small price to pay. Besides, I live in Manchester – I’ve never seen one of our buses moving fast enough that it could bruise you, never mind kill you.

***

Absolutely brilliant, thanks again Caimh for writing such an interesting piece for damppebbles.  It must be strange for authors when a random reader declares their undying love for one of the their characters.  I haven’t quite got to that point yet but I do tend to get a little overexcited when writing my reviews.  As readers we all enjoy different elements of a book.  For me it’s always about the characters, closely followed by excessive amounts of blood, guts and gore!

The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell was published in the UK by McFori Ink on 23rd January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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caimh_press_pic2-1Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh

#GuestPost: Caimh McDonnell, author of A Man With One of Those Faces (@Caimh)

51wI8sVmPFL._SY346_“The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident.

The second time was deliberate.

Now Paul Muchrone finds himself on the run with nobody to turn to except a nurse who has read one-too-many crime novels and a renegade copper with a penchant for violence. Together they must solve one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history . . .

. . . or else they’ll be history.”

You know how I love a guest post (if not, I love a guest post!) so I was delighted to be asked to host a post from debut author, Caimh McDonnell.  When I found out it was a ‘darkly comic Irish crime thriller’ there was no way I was going to refuse.  I have willingly dipped my toe into this sub-genre on a couple of occasions and have always emerged with a smile on my face.  It’s not a genre I thought I would enjoy as I like blood, guts and gore in my books but it seems among the blood, guts and gore you can squeeze a giggle in there too!

Anyway, enough from me.  Over to Caimh…

The Problem with Comedic Crime

Here are two things you should know about me:

  1. I write ‘comedic crime’
  2. I hate ‘comedic crime’

To be clear, I mean the phrase and not the unfairly-maligned sub-genre.

‘Comedic crime’ is just an awful name. It doesn’t bring to mind the genius of someone like Christopher Brookmyre or Carl Hiassen does it? No, instead it inspires the image of three clowns trying to break into a pie factory with a ladder they are very bad at carrying. As stomach-churning two-word combos go, it ranks right up there with ‘improvisational dance’ and ‘experimental cooking’.

My wife and I have spent more time than I’d care to admit debating alternatives ways to describe my debut novel A Man with One of Those Faces. For a while there, she was very keen on ‘crime with a twist’ but I couldn’t get on board. I’m first and foremost an avid reader of crime fiction, as I’m guessing you are too. As we both know, all crime has a twist – or if it doesn’t, we as readers are going to get very annoyed. We love a whodunit, a howdunit or a whydunit, but none of us are big fans of a yep-as-stated-in-the-opening-chapter-that-fella-dun-it-in-the-method-determined-for-the-motives-predicted.

Intent is key – both for characters and indeed for an author. Looking back on all my obsessive consumption of the many flavours of humorous crime over the years, I think that’s the one big lesson I learnt. Crime fiction of all ilks is primarily driven by plot. Things happen, they have consequences, characters make big decisions. As an author, you have to always make sure that your plot is driving your story forward. If you allow your characters to wander away from it in order for you to just squeeze in that punchline you’ve thought up, the reader will sense it. If you aren’t taking your story seriously, why should anyone else?

The odd thing about the aversion to comedic crime amongst some readers, is that it doesn’t extend to other areas. The Sherlock TV series is brilliant but it does mix in a fair dollop of comedy with the action. Many of the works of Quentin Tarantino could be most accurately described as ‘comedic crime’ too. Nobody does that though, do they? No, in fact, come to think of it, isn’t it amazing how early in his career ‘Tarantinoesque’ became a thing? Forget awards, forget box office receipts, you know you’ve really made it when you’re an adjective. (side note: I don’t suppose anyone would fancy trying to make Caimhian a thing? No, thought not.)

So, to come back to my original point, I guess ‘comedic crime’ has an image problem, in my head at least. The next time you hear it though, do me a favour; don’t think of those three clowns trying to break into a pie factory with a ladder they’re very bad of carrying. Instead, try and picture two clowns tied up in the backseat of a car being driven at breakneck speed towards a cliff by a gun-totting madman. Where’s the third clown you ask? He’s already dead in the boot. Actions have consequences and comedy, like crime, is a very serious business.

***

Brilliant, thank you Caimh.  I am delighted to have a review copy of A Man With One of Those Faces on the #terrifyingTBR so look out for a review soon(ish)!

A Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh McDonnell was published in the UK by McFori Ink on 5th September 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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caimh_press_pic2Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces, a pacy crime thriller set in Dublin, is out now. Connect with Caimh via Twitter @Caimh or his Facebook page.