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Andy Griffee – My Writing Journey @AndyGriffee @OrphansPublish #crimefiction #Guestpost #CanalNoir

I have a treat in store for you today, gentle reader. CANAL PUSHERS is the debut novel from Andy Griffee; the first in a series of Jumping Jack Flash crime novels set on the waterways of England.

Here’s what the blurb says about the book.

Jack Johnson is newly divorced, recently made redundant and in search of a fresh start. But when a young boy he meets on the canals turns up drowned, trouble seems determined to follow him. With the encouragement of Jack’s unlikely companion, Nina, who’s come aboard his narrowboat, Jumping Jack Flash, to help him navigate the waterways of the Midlands, Jack is soon tangled up in a police investigation that doesn’t quite add up. Is there a serial killer stalking the towpaths? Jack’s got more pressing problems too: can a canal boat outrun an organised crime syndicate and a media manhunt?

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I can tell you it’s a great read, but my review will come nearer to publication. In the meantime, I asked Andy, a former BBC journalist, what prompted him to explore the hidden underbelly of the country’s picturesque canals and waterways in his new thriller, CANAL PUSHERS?

It was a newspaper story that immediately caught my eye – not least because I had spent three happy years at Manchester University and even more happy years messing about on canal boats. It described an unusual spate of drownings in Manchester’s canals and speculated that a serial killer might be responsible. I was a senior manager and journalist at the BBC at the time and I followed the story closely as claim and counter-claim were made, academics commented and the bodies of more young men were found in Manchester’s dark and deep waterways. Of course, the police were keen to dispel any notion of a serial killer being at large, saying there was no evidence and that bereaved families were being needlessly distressed. 

The story came back to mind after I left the BBC and began to think about realising a lifelong ambition – to write and publish a novel. After a 30-year career in journalism, I was eager to escape its iron disciplines and simply make up a story. And so, Canal Pushers was born. I transferred the action to the canals of the Midlands, where I live, and came up with a story which interwove a burgeoning romance between two strangers, a network of drug pushers and a serial killer who drowned passers-by while masquerading as a fisherman. I knew how the three separate storylines would begin but I didn’t have a clue how they would intersect with each other or resolve themselves in a satisfactory way. I have subsequently learnt that this approach is that of the Pantser (i.e. writing by the seat of one’s pants!)

I have three dogs and I walk them for an hour each morning in the glorious Worcestershire countryside. These walks proved invaluable as I pondered how I would develop my characters and plot on the blank screen that waited for me. But back at my desk I was stuck: for six months nothing could or would be written and I despaired of bringing it all together. In the end, I decided to clock-in each day at 10 a.m. and stick at it until 4 p.m. — no matter what. Finally, it clicked. Jack Johnson, the divorced and penniless ex-journalist and Nina, the fragile and secretive woman he meets on the towpath next to his new home — a 64-foot narrowboat called Jumping Jack Flash — started to come to life.

This all makes it sound like something of an ordeal.  But I enjoyed the creative process for Canal Pushers more than almost anything else I have done in a full and happy life. I lost myself in the writing and was astonished to look up and see that hours had passed in a flash. But would anyone else like it? 

When my publishers, Orphans, read my manuscript I was summoned to a meeting where it was gratifyingly compared in tone to the work of Dick Francis. Brilliant! However, there was a catch. Was I a one-book wonder? They wanted to be sure that Jack Johnson could live on and fight another day. I had plenty of ideas to keep Jack and Nina occupied, and so I set to work again, moving Jumping Jack Flash onto the Kennet and Avon canal at Bath and outlining 30 chapters of a sequel in which Jack and Nina join a small community of boat owners and grapple with violent land developers.

Andy’s new plotting layout

This time, I couldn’t make it up as I went along, as my editor expected a coherent story with no hanging threads. I spent a happy fortnight plotting exactly what would happen with the aid of the snooker table in my study and lots of bits of paper. Orphans were sufficiently convinced by the outline of River Rats to give me a contract and it will now be book two in the Jumping Jack Flash series of crime thrillers.

And just like that, aged 57, I have embarked on my second career. The countdown has begun towards publication of Canal Pushers in May and I have been caught up in the excitement of final proofs, publicity shots and cover designs. River Rats is now written — much more quickly and less painfully than my debut novel — and as a brand-new member of the Crime Writers’ Association perhaps I am beginning to learn my new trade. Despite my excitement at all the details, my friends seem to be particularly interested in the launch party and so I may charge them extra for signed copies! 

Canal Pushers by Andy Griffee is published by Orphans Publishing on 2nd May 2019.

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Andy Griffee is a former BBC journalist and media consultant with a fascination for stories. He began his journalism career at the Bath Evening Chronicle, and then spent twenty-five years at the BBC, culminating in his role as Editorial Director of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House. Andy lives in Worcestershire and, when he isn’t writing, rears rare breed pigs, struggles to keep a 1964 Triumph Spitfire on the road and enjoys hiring narrowboats with his wife Helen.

#BookLaunch “The Stalker” by Alex Gray. @AlexinCrimeland @WaterstonesGla @LucyDauman @Soilfit @AgentJenny

A packed house in Waterstones Glasgow tonight for the launch of Alex Gray’s The Stalker, her 16th Lorimer novel.

This was a special venue for Alex, not least because the opening scene in the book is set in Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street. Alex’s publisher, Lucy Dauman from Little, Brown, paid tribute to Alex’s work and especially her ability to bring places vividly to life.

Interviewed by Jenny Brown, Alex told us that the focus of this book is on Maggie Lorimer, newly published children’s author, as foreshadowed at the end of Only The Dead Can Tell. Alex has even given Maggie Lucy Juckes from the Jenny Brown Agency as her agent.

Lorimer has a big case. Two women have been found murdered; one in Bellahouston Park and one in Queens Park. Both women bore a strong resemblance to Maggie. Solly Brightman thinks that, because of the ferocity of these murders, the killer must have been active prior to both these murders. So Lorimer starts looking at missing persons with the same similarity to the murdered women. And when he finds someone, he brings in Professor Lorna Dawson, CBE, the leading Soil scientist and Head of the Soil Forensics Group at the Hutton Institute.

Alex then introduced Professor Dawson to the audience. What a treat that was! She was utterly fascinating and talked about using her knowledge of soil strata and forensics in solving real cases, as well as giving professional guidance to writers like Alex, Ann Cleeves and advising on Silent Witness.

Professor Dawson talked about the importance of giving readers real forensic information. It’s important that crime novels are authentic, she says, because you never know when a reader might be called to serve on a jury. She talked about a team approach and great CO-operation and collaboration between geologists, botanists, forensic scientists, the Police and academics in working to get the best science possible in criminal cases.

Professor Dawson has worked on some well known cases. She had looked at the Ben Needham case, 20 years after the little boy disappeared and the World’s End case which they were able to solve because of the good integrity of the samples to which they were able to bring new techniques 37 years later.

Lorna says 5hat when she works on a case she only ever wants to know enough information to give her work context, so that she can remain completely objective and focus on the science. Afterwards, she says, it can really hit you, knowing what has been done, but the knowledge that the team are helping to bring closure and resolution to families really helps.

Alex and Lorna both took questions from the audience and Alex talked about her writing routine, which is pretty disciplined, though, she says, she does go a bit ‘bonkers’ when she is coming to the end of a book and she gets desperate to finish. She edits every day so her rewrites are not too onerous. She doesn’t always know how a book will end, though she did with The Stalker.

I am really looking forward to reading The Stalker and will read it with increased fascination now that I have heard Lorna Dawson speak.

The Stalker Is available now.

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Run Away by Harlan Coben @HarlanCoben @#RunAway #Bookreview

Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: 21st March 2019 from Cornerstone
PP: 384
ISBN-13: 978-1780894256

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. You haven’t seen her in six months.

Then you find her busking in New York’s Central Park.

But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is frail, filthy, terrified, and in more trouble than you ever imagined.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her. You beg her to come home.


You follow. What choice do you have? And as you descend into the dark, dangerous world she’s lost herself in, you quickly find yourself out of your depths. Down here, no-one is safe – and now both of you might never make it out alive…

Harlan Coben clearly loves to write about solid, middle class, comfortable American families and then make something pretty dreadful happen to them. It feels all the more terrible because his families have everything that should make them safe and comfortable, but once Coben gets his hands on them, secrets start to leech out; violence edges ever closer, and a family with no need to be resilient finds itself reaching down to its primal roots to find out what its really made of.

And so it is with Run Away, Coben’s latest book, published in the UK today.
Simon Greene works as a financial advisor on Wall Street and his wife Ingrid is a pediatrician in NYC. They have three children,
Sam, Anya and Paige. They have eschewed the move to Conneticut, preferring to live in the cool that is NYC with all its access to art and culture.

Their eldest daughter Paige used to be a model student, serious, academic but enjoying life. Now she is a junkie, living with Aaron, her dealer who is clearly abusive.

Simon is in Strawberry Fields one day when he spots Paige busking, but when he approaches her to beg her to come home, his world starts to crumble and it is not long before the family are sucked into the seedy underbelly of NYC’s drug world.

Another hallmark of Coben’s stand-alone writing is the way he loves to play six degrees of separation with his plots. So as we are introduced to two, seemingly unconnected hard boiled assassins and we watch them follow a trail of brutal murder, we are already wondering how this pair will inter-connect with our middle class New Yorkers and their fragile daughter.

This is, of course, where Coben works his magic. He gives us characters we identify and empathise with. Then he pulls their lives apart so that we can see what they are really made of. And once we know what’s going on, he throws us several curve balls so that what we thought we knew, is not really what we knew at all.

Coben’s story is well plotted, his language sharp, and his characters well drawn. His writing is as smooth as whipped butter and his misdirection is beautifully judged. Just as we grasp the plot, we find that Coben has deftly pulled the rug out from under our feet and left us gasping as we finally understand the whole picture.

Verdict: As ever, an entertaining, surprising tale with more twists than a pretzel.

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With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – and he has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. His novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into a hit French film of the same name. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

Runaway by Claire MacLeary @ClaireMacLeary @Sarabandbooks #bookreview #Runaway

Source: Review copy
Publication: 14th March 2019 from Contraband
PP: 304
ISBN-13: 978-1912235438

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes, her husband is frantic with worry and turns to local PIs Maggie Laird and Big Wilma Harcus.

Maggie is reluctant to take on a misper case, but Wilma cajoles her into a covert operation trawling women s refuges and homeless squats in search of a lead. But when a woman’s body is discovered in a skip, the unlikely investigators are dragged into a deeper mystery involving people-trafficking, gambling and prostitution and they’re in deadly danger.

With the police struggling to make headway and the clock ticking, the race is on for Harcus & Laird to find answers, further straining their already fraying relationship.

With Runaway, Claire MacLeary delivers the goods again creating a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wit of women of a certain age.

I’m a big fan of MacLeary’s Harcus and Laird series, of which Runaway is the 3rd. It’s not just that they are women ‘of a certain age’, though that helps. It’s not even that I identify in more ways than one with Big Wilma; mostly it is that this is as true a portrait of the relationship between two quite different women as you are likely to get.

Next door neighbours, working together through force of circumstance rather than positive desire, each is a wee bit wary of the other, but each also secretly wishes they were a wee bit more like the other, though neither would ever admit it.

Maggie is struggling. She is holding down two part time jobs as well as being a partner in the PI Agency and look after her children. She doesn’t feel as if she’s on top of anything and she’s thinking it’s time to call it quits with the agency.

Wilma disagrees. The agency has made her feel she’s doing something worthwhile, as well as earning money and she won’t give it up without a fight. So when Scott Milne asks them to find his missing wife, Wilma grabs the job with both hands and convinces Maggie to give the agency another chance.

What makes these books really come alive is the backchat between these two different women. Wilma has a fast mouth and ready wit; Maggie may be slower to rise, but her tongue can be caustic, though truth be told these women are genuinely fond of each other, it’s just not always easy to tell.

So Maggie and Wilma set out to trace Debbie Milne. There’s no obvious reason for her disappearance and her husband, Scott seems genuinely distressed that she has gone.

The Police don’t seem terribly interested either, until things begin to take a much darker turn and the case is escalated to CID. Now the protocol here is that at this point, the two women should back off, especially since they got into trouble in the last case for ailing to do exactly that, but Wilma is determined that the agency will solve this case – she needs that feather in their cap to convince Maggie to keep going.

Maggie’s loyalties are split. Her husband, now deceased, was accused of something he did not do and she really needs to see his name cleared. The new DI Allan Chisolm, can help her do that, but though he is appreciative of Maggie’s qualities, he expects her agency to play things by the book. And then there’s DS Brian Burnett; he also has a soft spot for Maggie, which makes getting information a wee bit easier than it might be, though Maggie doesn’t really want to encourage him too much.

There’s not a lot of glamour as Wilma and Maggie painstakingly trawl through the betting shops, refuges and homeless shelters of Aberdeen, but there’s something about their dogged determination and resilience that really fires up this investigation and makes it come alive. The descriptions of people and places are extremely well done; MacLeary is an author who knows that research makes for a credible sense of place and Aberdeen springs to life in her vivid settings adding yet another layer of authenticity to her writing.

Whether it’s Wilma heaving up her bosom to get a sleazy contact to talk or Maggie finding her way straight into trouble, these two keep the reader invested in the outcome of the missing persons investigation and their humour and repartee make sure we are rooting for them to succeed.

Verdict: Authentic, gritty, dark and dealing with difficult themes, the Harcus and Laird series goes from strength to strength. This is MacLeary’s best book yet.

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Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose, was  longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017.

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SOMEONE IS LYING by Jenny Blackhurst #someoneislying #coverreveal @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg

As promised, I have the fabulous cover of SOMEONE IS LYING for you, but first a short recap of the book.

The chilling new psychological thriller from Jenny Blackhurst, the #1 eBook bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU. Full of unexpected twists, this is perfect for fans of FRIEND REQUEST, CLOSE TO HOME, and THE GUILTY WIFE.

It’s been a year since Erica Spencer died in a tragic accident at a party, and the community where she lived has moved on with their lives. Everybody has secrets. But someone thinks it wasn’t an accident. Someone thinks it was murder. Some are worth killing for. And when an anonymous podcast names six local suspects, shockwaves ripple through the neighbourhood. Before the podcast is over, the police will be opening more than one murder enquiry. Because someone is lying… But who?

SOMEONE IS LYING will be out in ebook in September. In the meantime, why not catch up on Jenny’s other books?

And now……finally….the cover!

SOMEONE IS LYING is available to pre-order now from Amazon

Someone is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst #coverreveal @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg #someoneislying

I have a fabulous brand new, hot off the press cover reveal for you this morning!

Best selling thriller writer Jenny Blackhurst has a new novel,
SOMEONE IS LYING coming out later this year and I can’t wait!

In fact, this is such red hot news that we’re doing a cover strip tease to reveal the cover to you piece by piece, lest you get overheated!

Before I show you my piece of the fabulous cover, here’s a bit about

The chilling new psychological thriller from Jenny Blackhurst, the #1 eBook bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU. Full of unexpected twists, this is perfect for fans of FRIEND REQUEST, CLOSE TO HOME, and THE GUILTY WIFE.

It’s been a year since Erica Spencer died in a tragic accident at a party, and the community where she lived has moved on with their lives. Everybody has secrets. But someone thinks it wasn’t an accident. Someone thinks it was murder. Some are worth killing for. And when an anonymous podcast names six local suspects, shockwaves ripple through the neighbourhood. Before the podcast is over, the police will be opening more than one murder enquiry. Because someone is lying… But who?

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Before I reveal my piece of the cover, here’s a little bit about the author.

Jenny Blackhurst is the #1 eBook-bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU, BEFORE I LET YOU IN, THE FOSTER CHILD and THE NIGHT SHE DIED. Jenny grew up in Shropshire where she still lives with her husband and children. Growing up she spent hours reading and talking about crime novels – writing her own seemed like natural progression.

And so now to my piece of the cover……..drumroll…..

And here it is!

Follow the cover real trail here:

Don’t forget to check back at 12.30 to see the full cover – uncovered!

Interview and #Giveaway with Detective Sergeant Noah Jake from the Marnie Rome books by Sarah Hilary @Sarah_Hilary @JenniferLeech1 @HeadlinePG #NoahJake #NeverBeBroken

I have been a massive fan of D.I. Marnie Rome since she first featured in Someone Else’s Skin, the first book in Sarah Hilary’s award winning police procedural series.

Never Be Broken, the 6th in this outstanding series will be published on May 16th this year and I will be publishing my review nearer the time. If you haven’t read these books, I’d urge you to do so. They are tremendous and you will benefit from getting to know the characters in this series by starting from the beginning.

Whilst some may argue that Marnie, whilst compassionate, is also prickly and single-minded, everyone who knows these books will tell you how quickly they fell in love with the character of D.S. Noah Jake, Marnie’s partner.

I am really fortunate to have secured an exclusive interview with D.S. Jake, brokered through his author, Sarah Hilary. I hope this will take you some way into knowing his character a little better, and if you don’t know him already that this interview will whet your appetite for getting to know him.
So, let’s get on with the interview.

What was your life like growing up?

Looking back, I want to say lucky. I knew I was loved. Mum and Dad were around a lot, which is more than some of my friends had. But since Sol died, I’m having a real problem reconnecting to the good stuff. I’m remembering much more of the darkness in the house, growing up. Things like Mum’s illness, and Dad’s struggle to protect us from it. I wish I could catch hold of the good memories again, things like meals together, messing about in the garden with Dad, playing with Sol. It’s tough right now.

When did you come out to your mum and dad and how did they react?

I was nineteen, but I really wish I’d had the courage to come out when I was younger because that wasn’t the best time for us as a family. Sol had started hanging out with a local gang, we didn’t know how deep that would go, but it was making us all edgy. Mum and Dad were cool about it, about me, but Sol had a real problem. I was meant to be the good brother, the one who followed the rules. Being gay didn’t fit with that. Then I made it worse by joining the police. He didn’t speak to me for a long time after that. I’d betrayed him, was how he saw. One of my main regrets right now is how much time we wasted not talking back then.

What made you want to join the police force?

He’d hate to hear it, but Sol was a big part of the reason. And guilt, too. I’d been the look out for his gang, more than once. Told myself I was looking out for my kid brother but that’s no excuse, I know. I could see how it was headed, and it felt like I had two choices: go under like Sol, or go over to the other side. Try to make a difference, to make it better.  Safer. Like I said, Sol struggled to forgive me for choosing the other side.

How did you meet Dan and is he your first serious relationship?

We met at uni and, yes, my first serious relationship. It didn’t start out that way, but we got there pretty fast. You know how I first knew it was serious—for keeps? When we started arguing. Dan struggles with my career choice, the same as Sol. On a good day, he thinks the police are corrupt. But he understands why I need to do this job. Which’s just as well, since there are times when I doubt I could keep doing it without his understanding.

What’s it like, working with Marnie? Would you say you are friends?

I wanted to work with DI Rome, right from the start. Not just because her solve rate was through the roof, but because she had something you don’t see often enough in this job: real empathy for the people we’re trying to help. I didn’t know why at first, then I found out about her foster brother, Stephen, and what he’d done, and it clicked. I’ve seen her working crime scenes — really bad ones — and of course she’s thorough and careful, but it’s more than that. She’s not stopped caring. A lot of us have to stop caring, to stay sane.  This latest investigation, into knife crime and gangs, I knew it would feel personal for me but I didn’t expect it to feel that way for Marnie. But it does, because that’s who she is. She makes every part of this job feel personal, that’s how she gets it done. I’d call her a friend, yes. I hope she’d say the same about me.

I’m sorry for your loss. Now that Sol has gone, do you think you will ever stop blaming yourself?

Thanks. I don’t know, I’m not ready to think about that. I guess on a good day, I look at what’s happening right now with Marnie and Stephen — after all this time, six years since he killed her family — and I let myself hope I might get to a better place. But right now, it feels too raw. Blaming myself is part of grieving; it feels right.

You’ve not had an easy time of it from in the last year or so. Are you re-thinking your career? 

I’d be lying if I said no. Not just because of Sol but the whole atmosphere in London, post-referendum … No question this rise in knife crime is linked to that — you can taste the hostility in the city, especially if you’re black. But where would I go, if I left the police? I’d be scared of what I might do, the way I feel right now. Okay, that’s more than I admitted to Occupational Health and Welfare … But honesty is a good sign, right? Progress, of sorts. Hey, maybe I’m getting better.

My thanks to Sarah Hilary for facilitating this interview and for providing the opportunity for you to win a proof copy of Never Be Broken.

Here’s a bit about the book, which Mick Herron describes as: ‘Deeply contemporary, painfully real, heartbreakingly good’

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others
recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.

Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town.
And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

Details of how to win a signed proof copy of Never Be Broken are provided in this link:
Never Be Broken Giveaway. NB. UK only.

If you have enjoyed this interview, there’s an opportunity to hear from another character in the Marnie Rome series. On Thursday 21st March Steph’s Book blog ( ) is interviewing Marnie’s partner, Ed and there will be another giveaway opportunity – so why not double your chances of winning?

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