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The Cabin by Jørn Lier Horst trs Anne Bruce (Cold Case Quartet #2) @LierHorst @annembruce @PenguinUKBooks

Source: Review copy
Publication: 12th December from Penguin
PP: 416
ISBN-13: 978-1405941617

It’s been fifteen years since Simon Meier walked out of his house, never to be seen again.

And just one day since politician Bernard Clausen was found dead at his cabin on the Norwegian coast.

When Chief Inspector William Wisting is asked to investigate, he soon discovers he may have found the key to solving Meier’s disappearance.

But doing so means he must work with an old adversary to piece together what really happened all those years ago.

It’s a puzzle that leads them into a dark underworld on the trail of Clausen’s interests and vices. A shady place from which they may never emerge – especially when he finds it leads closer to home than he ever could have imagined.

I like the William Wisting books. They are solid police procedurals in which the evidence is sifted and examined and proportionate weight given to each piece. Wisting is Chief Inspector in Larvik’s CID and his daughter Line, who lives just down the road with her young daughter Amalie, is now a freelance journalist. Wisting commissions her to work on his latest cold case which is very hush hush and involves the discovery of a very large sum of money at the cabin of a deceased senior politician, Bernard Clausen.

The money is around 15 years old. And 15 years ago a man disappeared and was presumed drowned. These two things seem unrelated, except that the missing man was a friend of Clausen’s son, Lennart, who died in a motorcycle accident around the same time. Wisting is tasked with discreetly finding out where this money came from without it becoming a political scandal. While Line investigates the personal life of Clausen and talks to his party colleagues, Wisting and his investigators trace the origins of the money.

Wisting himself is that strangest of all fictional police detectives and it’s no accident that Lier Horst’s own police experience has played into the creation of this detective. He has no obvious character defects. He neither drinks nor smokes too much. He loves his daughter and volunteers to look after his granddaughter. He is meticulous, softly spoken and not given to melancholia. In short, he is thorough and very competent and his cases are solved by good, old fashioned police work. I’ve said it before, but he is exactly the kind of detective I’d want investigating any case that I had to report.

The story is interesting and the inter-connectedness of the stories plays out at a decent pace. The narrative works well and there’s no hint of this being a translated work, which is how you’d expect it to be in a collaboration that has worked well between author and translator for a number of books.

The dialogue is convincing and the tension comes from an element of danger and violence that threatens Wisting’s family as their investigation gets closer to the truth.

Verdict: The joy of this book is in the slow burning, understated process and the nicely crafted plotting rather than a hugely surprising or climactic denouement, but it is a satisfying conclusion to a layered and fascinating mystery nicely topped off with a dash of political intrigue.

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Bestselling author Jørn Lier Horst is a Former Senior Investigating Officer from Norway and recently winner of the Glass Key Award for the best Nordic Crime Novel and the prestigious Martin Beck Award. He made his debut in 2004 with the crime novel Key Witness, based on a true murder story. His crime novels have been extremely successful in Europe and are characterised by political and social commentary subtext.

His Wisting series has been bought by the BBC in the UK and will be screened by BBC Four next year. Jørn has also co-written a book with Thomas Enger, Death Deserved, which will be published in February by Orenda Books

Black Summer by M.W.Craven @MWCraven @bethwright26 @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #blogtour #BlackSummer #TeamTilly

Source: Review copy
Publication: 12 Dec. 2019 from Constable
PP: 416
ISBN-13: 978-1472127495

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Last year I reviewed Mike Craven’s The Puppet Show and loved it so much that I was determined to get my hands on the sequel. Now Black Summer is out in paperback and I am shouting about it again on the blog tour because this book is everything I look for in a crime novel.

Craven has smashed this one out of the park. Washington Poe and his ‘on the spectrum’ assistant, Tilly Bradshaw, are back and this novel puts them through their paces in an expertly plotted, beautifully written and thrilling crime novel that has instantly leapt into my top books of the year list.

Poe is still getting used to the revelations of The Puppet Show, but there is to be no respite for him. An old case rises from the ashes, pausing only to put a noose over his neck and pull it tight as he becomes the hunted in a police investigation that threatens everything he holds dear.

Like MasterChef on acid, Black Summer is a five star tale of murder in a three Michelin starred celebrity kitchen.  Craven has conceived a well-researched, chilling and wholly enthralling story that grabs the attention and is utterly mesmerising.

Years ago, Poe put celebrity chef Jared Keaton in prison for the murder of his daughter, Elizabeth.  Without a body, it was forensic evidence that convicted Keaton; that and a compelling case crafted by Poe.

Now Elizabeth has reappeared and suddenly it is Poe who is in the spotlight, and not in a good way.

I picked up Black Summer meaning to read a few chapters and was so engrossed I couldn’t stop binge reading. Craven has given us a menu of options fit for a crime gourmand and the individual dishes are rich, complex, well spiced and deeply flavoured.

With Poe and the truly genius Tilly Bradshaw, who puts the real science into this clever forensic concoction, Craven sweetens a rich dark chocolate pot of complex undernotes with the warmth of chilli and a surprising  layered finish that nourishes the soul and lingers in the mind. This is a dish you won’t easily forget and there’s no doubt that I’ll be back for more

Craven’s characterisation is strong; each of Poe’s colleagues stands out as a recognisable individual and some, like forensic pathologist Esther Doyle, you know you want to meet again. Jared Keaton is the epitome of a cruel psychopath; clever, charming and utterly ruthless.

But the stars of this book are Poe himself and the wonderful Tilly Bradshaw. Theirs is a relationship that is based on mutual admiration. Poe is a loner; irascible, dark and cynical. Bradshaw is intensely forensic, a brilliant technologist with endless academic qualifications who can’t boil an egg. Slow to trust, she is devoted to Poe.

The wild Cumbrian landscape adds richness and texture to this dark and atmospheric crime brew, leavened with a sprinkling of dry humour and rich wit.

You can read this as a stand-alone, but I would seriously recommend reading The Puppet Show first. This series is so good, you don’t want to miss anything.

Verdict: A banquet of delights that leaves a lasting taste of satisfied pleasure and yet a longing for more. Craven has smashed this one out of the park and if it doesn’t top the crime fiction charts there’s no justice in this world. Outstanding.

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M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback last year. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, is out this month.

Website:   mwcraven.com

Twitter:     @MWCravenUK

The Home by Sarah Stovell @sarahlovescrime @orendaBooks #TheHome #mustread

Source: Review copy
Publication: Out in e-book now and in paperback on 23 January 2020 from Orenda Books
PP: 276
ISBN-13: 978-1912374731

One more little secret

One more little lie…

When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For she lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and harrowing psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live… if they are allowed to live at all…

I’m wrung out after reading Sarah Stovell’s stunning new book, The Home. After the excellent Exquisite, I knew she could write beautifully but this is another step up in her writing prowess.

If ever there was a case for a book that should include emergency puppies with every copy, this is it. Sarah’s writing though is spot on; sharp, beautifully intense and very dark. I sat down to begin this book after lunch one day and at 7pm I was still reading, unable to give it up, such is the grip it extended on my heart.

The Home is a finely crafted, beautifully wrought story of three young girls, hell no, three young children. Each has come from a very difficult background. Each has been unable to root in the foster system and now these three children are in a Home; the only occupants of Hillfoot House, out in the rural Lake District where there is less opportunity for trouble making. There may be one adult for every child, but the staff are underpaid and demoralised and the children themselves are lost and hurting in a world that has never, ever been kind to them and their behaviour is always designed to challenge their keepers, for that is what they feel like – animals in a small zoo.

These are characters who stay with you; characters who burrow their way into your heart until it aches for them; people whose hurt you want to take away, knowing that is never possible. A short opening prologue sets a devastating tone of bleakness that never disappears; preparing the reader for some very tough times ahead.

It is Christmas Eve and the manager of Hillfoot House, Helen, is preparing Christmas dinner for her own children when she receives news that one of her charges at the home has been found dead. Another lies beside her, frantic with grief.

Annie and Hope are 15 year old residents of the home who formed a bond they thought was unbreakable. Both had deeply traumatic upbringings with parents who for one reason or another were unable to take responsibility for their own lives, never mind those of the children they brought into the world. Together they have found love in each other.

The third resident is 12 year old Lara. Her background is no different, but she is younger and so completely traumatised that she no longer speaks at all, but is introverted and simply curls up as small as she can, watching and listening to everything that goes on in the home.

The story of these vulnerable children is told in three voices. Annie, Hope and Helen. Annie and Hope’s stories are grim. Theirs was no rosy cheeked childhood full of laughter and joy; rather they have tales of a darker and more sordid kind; of drugs and abuse, alcohol and harm. They tell their stories with such honesty and clarity that it is difficult not to flinch away from what they have endured.

Helen, as manager, tries her best to bring warmth and kindness into their lives, but has no resources and is overwhelmed by the challenges she faces.

Annie clings on to the hope that she can better herself through studying. She believes that she can escape her past through diligence, hard work and sheer force of will. Hope has no such self-regard; her whole life she has been dependent on others to survive and has undergone some truly awful experiences in order to do so.

But in finding each other, Annie and Hope have created a space where each feels safe with the other and they have been making plans to live together when as is inevitable, the home is forced to close in cost savings measures. Whether the reader can rely on their narration, though is a question that hangs in the air as we read.

The Home is the story of these three girls and how one of them came to be lying dead and pregnant in the churchyard, her body held by her grief-stricken partner. It is strong, compelling and has an utterly haunting impact.

Beautifully told, Stovell keeps the reader guessing as she builds up a picture of the lives of these children which comprise self-harm, child-grooming and psychological abuse and yet shows us that hope can still shine through in an immersive thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

Verdict: There’s tension, mystery and shedloads of suspense threaded through this spell-binding psychological thriller. It may be dark and heart-breaking, but it is also immersive, raw and captivating. The Home goes straight on to the must read list for 2020.

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Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

Fairy Rock by Stephen Watt @StephenWattSpit @RedSquirrelPress @LoveBooksGroup

Source: Review copy
Publication: 21st September 2019 from Red Squirrel Press
PP: 92
ISBN-13: 978-1910437841

Glasgow is correctly lauded for its wonderful characters and hospitality but at the turn of the Millennium it was dubbed the ‘Murder Capital of Europe’ with sectarian divisions and organised crime rife in the city. Four of its natives have been raised around the city’s Bridgeton area, cultivated by its ill-omened beliefs, and now have to separately find a way to subsist. But one crime family firmly believes in the tradition of torture and a novel way of disposing of its detractors. Who will emerge smelling of roses—or end up pushing the roses up from the earth below?

One of the very real joys of writing about books is the opportunity it gives me to pick up something unusual; something I might not normally have gone for but which turns out to be really quite special. Stephen Watt’s Fairy Rock is just such a work.

A crime novel in verse and not only that, but set in the midst of where I live. Not just close or nearby, but in the immediate locality. And it is dark. So dark it is as black as the devil’s soul. All the worst aspects of human life are in this book. Rape, incest, endless drug selling and taking, violence, gore, sectarianism, gun running and of course, murder all play their part in the daily lives of our characters.

Set in Bridgeton, Stephen Watt has written a powerful story that follows the lives of a crime family and four residents as they scrape their way through each day. Bridgeton is ruled with a rod of iron or in this case, with granite curling stones from Ailsa Craig, by the local crime family – and woe betide anyone who fails in their role or tries to cross them.

This is a world where the fastest runner lives longest, but even then it’s a short life. Watt’s descriptions are vivid and authentic; his characters stand out like those in a Ken Currie or early Peter Howson painting. Watt knows the awfulness of the lives they lead and squares up to it, shoving it in our faces and showing us what is going on under our noses, lest we be in any doubt.

Fairy Rock is a poet’s Trainspotting, with more violence (believe me, the de-gloving sequences are eye wateringly brutal) and yet there’s a vein of humour that permeates the whole, usually at the Police’s expense.

Danny, Seamus, Deek and Claire have their dark and sorry lives mapped out in front of them. Danny, is so messed up that fellow pupil Laura has to grass him up while at school in order to feel safe. Watt’s imagery is startling and striking and his poem follows a linear trajectory as we trace the various crimes, the impact on the characters, and the efforts of the police to stop them.

Verdict: I really got immersed in Fairy Rock, the world’s first crime novel in verse and I’d certainly read more of Stephen Watt’s raw, dark and visceral work. This author’s crime poetry is very much to my taste.

Fairy Rock is available from Red Squirrel Press

Stephen Watt was born in the Vale of Leven in 1979. His awards include first prize in the Poetry Rivals Slam, the StAnza International Digital Poetry Slam, and the Tartan Treasures award. Notable collections which he has curated include the Joe Strummer Foundation collection Ashes To Activists (2018) and the James Watt bicentenary booklet Horsepower (2019). He is Dumbarton Football Club’s Poet-in-Residence and was appointed the Makar for the Federation of Writers (Scotland) in 2019. He lives in Dumbarton with his wife Keriann and pug Beanz.

In 2017 Andrew Smith, then Director, now Chair of the Scottish Writers’ Centre, came up with a dynamic idea to run a Twitter campaign inviting poets to pitch an idea and the winner would have a poetry pamphlet published by the SWC’s publisher partner, Red Squirrel Press. Poet, critic, essayist, editor, designer and typesetter Gerry Cambridge, poet Sheila Templeton, writer, musician and Editor of both Postbox Press (the literary fiction imprint of Red Squirrel Press) and Postbox International Short Story Magazine, Colin Will, and myself took part in a panel at the SWC, ‘How to get published’ in October 2017. Andrew received many entries, a shortlist was drawn up, Stephen Watt subsequently won and persuaded me to publish a full-length collection.

— Sheila Wakefield, Founding Editor, Red Squirrel Press

Run by Jackie McLean @JackieJamxx @ThunderPointLtd @LoveBooksGroup #RUN

Source: Review copy
Publication: 17 October 2019 from Thunder Point Ltd
PP: 256
ISBN-13: 978-1910946640

RUN THE GAUNTLET

DI Donna Davenport and her team are under pressure.With the hunt on for the country’s most notorious cop killer, and an ongoing complex international investigation, the murder of a local thug during a football match is the last thing the police need.But as more incidents overload the police, and fear brings vigilante mobs onto the streets, suspicion grows that the mayhem is being orchestrated.


CUT AND RUN
One man can make it stop. With the city heading towards chaos and disaster Donna prepares to abandon caution and the rules, even if it means she is ostracised by her own team.

I am delighted to welcome Jackie McLean to my blog today to discuss her road to publication. Jackie’s latest novel, Run, is the final part of the trilogy that began with Toxic and was followed up with Shadows. Her books are set in the North East of Scotland and her protagonist, D.I. Donna Davenport is unusual in that every day she is living with a condition that would surprise people if they knew.

Jackie joins me today to discuss her publication process and what she has learned from her experience. Welcome Jackie and over to you.

The road to publication

My third crime novel, Run, was published in October, five years on from publication of my first one. Here, I’m going to talk about the road to publication, something of the publication process, and things I’ve learned along the way.

The first thing that I’ve learned, and that many aspiring writers may be unaware of, is how long the publication process can be. It can take a year or more from having your book accepted by a publisher to seeing it in print – and finding a publisher in the first place can take even longer than that.

When I finished the first in my series, Toxic, I decided to try and find an agent. This involved sending it out to several agents who were open to submissions for crime fiction. Agents receive many more submissions than they can ever hope to give full attention to, and so it can take a long time for an agent to get round to looking at one and responding to it. It’s a nerve wracking time for a writer, as you wonder what feedback (if any) you might hear, and as you try and temper your hopes and dreams, being all too aware of the very high chance of rejection.

As it happened, I did receive rejections from the agents I submitted to, although along with those came encouraging words, which helped. Next I sent Toxic into the Yeovil Literary Prize, where it was shortlisted. Emboldened by this, I made further revisions to the book, and prepared to send it directly to smaller independent publishers (which you can do without having an agent). I was fortunate that the first one I sent it to, ThunderPoint, were looking for new work, and they accepted Toxic for publication.

At that point, you then have to hand your book over to be edited by someone who is not your relative, and who does not have to say nice things about it – another thing that can be daunting for a writer! However, if you want to be published, you have to be prepared to see your book at this point as a joint venture. Fortunately for me, the editing process wasn’t too painful, although it did take some time – my editor had to have time to read it and decide on the changes she wanted; I then re-drafted the text based on her advice; she had to have time to read it again, and so on until the final edit was done.

This, I would say, is the second thing I learned about the road to publication – when you finish writing your book, it’s by no means the end. Be prepared to re-write it and re-write it again until your editor says it’s ready. While it’s your work, it’s the publisher who will be taking it to market (with the financial risks involved in that), and it’s important to trust their judgement about what’s going to work best.

Once the editing process is over, however, the remaining road to publication can be remarkably rapid. There’s the book cover to agree, and promotional activity to arrange (book shop events, social media book blog tours, and so on), and before you know it, publication day arrives. The third lesson I learned? Being a crime writer is a whole lot of fun! It’s a lot more important that I realised that you get as involved as possible in the crime fiction community. There are always events, festivals, and online chat to take part in, and it’s a very friendly and supportive community. If you’re a new writer, take the plunge and get involved – other writers, bloggers and readers will have your back.

Writing Toxic, took me a long time (more than ten years, in fact), because back then, writing was nothing more than a hobby. It didn’t matter how long I took to write a book, and it didn’t matter how many times I changed the ideas in it – it was only for my own amusement. Having a book published changed that for me. While I still write for enjoyment as much as I always have, I’m now much more acutely aware of deadlines. So, lesson number four…

Once you get a book published, people will immediately start asking you when the next one is coming out. For me, it was three years later, because I still had to write the book! If I was to do things all over again, I would wait until I had two (three would be better) books ready before approaching a publisher.

One final lesson? The thrill of seeing your book in print never diminishes. I was just as excited with the third one as I was with the first – maybe even more, so here’s to the fourth book (which I’m writing feverishly as we speak…).
——————————————————————————————————————

Thanks so much Jackie and I look forward eagerly to your next book (no pressure!)

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Jackie lives in Glasgow and has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop in Glasgow’s Southside (ask her anything about pets).  She currently works with East Ayrshire Council, where until recently her job involved frequent visits to Kilmarnock Prison.
She also forms part of the Dangerous Dames and Murder & Mayhem along with a number of other crime writers.  She was one of Bloody Scotland’s 2019 Crime in the Spotlight authors.
Until recently, Jackie ran the writing group at Waterstones Braehead, and has also run creative writing sessions with the men in Kilmarnock Prison. 

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A Rush of Blood by David Mark @davidmarkwriter @severnhouse #ARushofBlood

Source: Review copy
Publication: 30 September 2019 from Severn House
PP: 224
ISBN-13: 978-0727889058

Ten-year-old Hilda’s search for her missing friend has terrible consequences in this gripping psychological thriller.

When her friend Meda fails to turn up for dance class one evening, 10-year-old Hilda is convinced that something bad has happened to her, despite Meda’s family’s reassurances. Unable to shake off her concerns, Hilda turns to her mother, Molly, for help. Molly runs the Jolly Bonnet, a pub with links to the Whitechapel murders of a century before and a meeting place for an assortment of eccentrics drawn to its warm embrace. Among them is Lottie. Pathologist by day, vlogger by night, Lottie enlists the help of her army of online fans – and uncovers evidence that Meda isn’t the first young girl to go missing.

But Molly and Lottie’s investigations attract unwelcome attention. Two worlds are about to collide in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on the rain-lashed streets of London’s East End, a historic neighbourhood that has run red with the blood of innocents for centuries.

I’m rather a fan off David Mark’s writing. The Zealot’s Bones was a stand-out book of 2017, that did not get the recognition it deserved. The Mausoleum, another stand-alone novel, was a beautifully conceived and well executed historical tale full of exceptionally well-drawn characters, with a tense and claustrophobic setting.

What Mark does really well is inject full on atmosphere into whatever he writes and in A Rush of Blood, he returns to more of a gothic horror theme.

This time it is a contemporary story, but with echoes of the days of Jack the Ripper. We are in the East End of London and ex-cop Molly runs a Jack the Ripper themed pub, the Jolly Bonnet, in Whitechapel. Molly’s best friend is Lottie, a pathologist who is also a vlogger, maintaining a somewhat macabre vlog called The Coffin Club on the quirkier aspects of death and the paraphernalia of death, which has a huge following. Lottie dresses with all the flair and flamboyance of a bright blue haired steampunk. Molly has a 10 year old daughter, Hilda who lives with her, but who can also be found hanging out in the pub with Lottie, whom she finds fascinating.

Hilda attends a dancing class and her friend there is a similarly aged Lithuanian girl named Meda.  One day, Meda simply fails to show up and after Hilda badgers her mother into going to Meda’s home to find out what’s wrong, the pair realise that they are in the midst of something rather more serious that they could have suspected.

Meda’s family have wrongly assumed that she is the subject of kidnap for ransom, a practice that is seemingly not uncommon to these Eastern Europeans. They think that setting some home-grown heavies on the kidnappers will get Meda back safe and sound and do not need well-meaning people like Molly sticking their noses in.

Unfortunately, what Molly and Hilda have stumbled on is altogether more sinister and far creepier.

Hilda and Molly are our narrators, with additional interventions from Lottie and a strange and deeply creepy character, Mr Farkas, adding their voices.

Mr. Farkas was once a noted academic, now he, like Lottie, is a collector of death artefacts. He lives in  a dilapidated three story house in Spitalfields. It does not take long before the reader realises that sanity and Mr Farkas have only a nodding acquaintance…

David Mark has an interesting mind and a very different way of looking at crime which appeals to my love of all things dark and horror filled. Here he plays with gothic themes and gives them a contemporary slant, all the way transporting the reader into a world we never wanted to inhabit. This is not a whodunit, rather it is a portrait of cruelty and madness leavened by loving relationships and some fearsomely good straight talking.

Mark’s characters are glorious; Lottie in particular, and his crimes are tainted with the macabre and the obscene, in the sense that they are outside the realm of human decency. He manages to paint detailed portraits and tinge them with sepia, all the while ensuring that we know who the warm blooded lovers of life and laughter are.

Verdict: A dark, horror imbued read with some sexy and warm, life affirming moments to pierce the darkness. Recommended.

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David spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Hector McAvoy novels.

He has written five novels in the McAvoy series, Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity and Dead Pretty. David has also written a McAvoy novella, A Bad Death, which is available as an ebook.  Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel, a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller.

He lives in Northumberland  with his partner, two children and an assortment of animals.

Die Alone by Simon Kernick @simonkernick @penguinrandom @arrowpublishing @deadgoodbooks #DieAlone

Source: Review copy
Publication: 28 November 2019 from Century
PP: 416
ISBN-13: 978-1780894515

Alastair Sheridan has it all. Wealth, good looks, a beautiful wife and children and, in the chaotic world of British politics, a real chance of becoming Prime Minister.
But Alastair also has a secret. He’s a serial killer with a taste for young women.

Only a handful of people know what kind of monster he is, and disgraced detective Ray Mason is one of them.Awaiting trial for murder, Ray is unexpectedly broken free by armed men and given an offer: assassinate Alastair Sheridan and begin a new life abroad with a new identity. The men claim to be from MI6. They say that Sheridan is a threat to national security and needs to be neutralised. Ray knows they are not who they say they are, and that their real motives are far darker.

The only person Ray trusts is ex-cop and former lover Tina Boyd, who’s keen to settle her own scores with Sheridan.
With enemies on every side, only one thing is certain.

No one wants them to get out alive.

Simon Kernick likes to mix and match his characters and though each of his books can be read as a stand-alone, together they make up more than the sum of their parts. So Ray Mason, Tina Boyd and Mike Bolt have all appeared in previous books, but Die Alone is the final part of the Bone Field Trilogy. Don’t let any of that get in the way of enjoying this excellent, fast paced novel, though.

Ray Mason was a police detective, and a damned good one. But his tolerance for letting vicious killers get away has reached its limits and as a result when we meet him he is in the Vulnerable Prisoners Wing of a high security prison, awaiting trial for a double murder. Disgraced and disowned by his own colleagues and with a price on his head put there by those criminals whose lives and crimes he has disrupted, Mason has few friends and way too many enemies.

So when, in the midst of a prison riot, Mason is liberated from the prison and promised a new life and a new identity, he knows his options are limited. It helps that in exchange for this largesse, Mason has to kill a man he knows to be the personification of evil.

Alastair Sheridan is the most loathsome of villains, a seemingly respectable fat cat turned politician who is also a sadistic serial killer. Behind a façade of bonhomie, he has blackmailed and crawled his way almost to the top by associating with some of the worst villains there are, both at home and internationally. Sheridan is clever though and his façade is near perfect, with a trophy wife and seemingly unimpeachable lifestyle.

Mason knows differently though and is prepared to use cold blooded killing as a way to take out this vile perpetrator.

But Mason has been set up and soon the hunter becomes the hunted. Soon his very few friends will be putting their lives at risk for him as he hares from one death defying shoot out to another, putting everyone he cares about in serious danger.

Kernick has created in Mason an honourable man who the justice system has failed, making him ready to mete out his own form of retribution.  He keeps his promises, regardless of the personal cost and though he knows he is not good for her, he feels a bond with Tina Boyd that he can’t help but tug on.

Die Alone is an action-packed thrill ride. It is relentless in its pace and the quest for justice is never far away from his protagonist’s quick thinking mind. Mason is a man who lives life to the full and is never more than three paces away from the next ambush.

Vivid, with just enough scary violence and with an authentic feel for the criminal underbelly of England, Die Alone is an electric read.

Verdict: The very definition of a thrill-ride, Die Alone starts at a running pace and just gets faster. The characters are engaging and the plot electric. If you like your protagonists quick thinking and commando fit, Die Alone is the book for you.

Hive Books                                Waterstones                                  Amazon

Simon Kernick is a British thriller/crime writer now living in Oxfordshire with his wife and two daughters. Whilst he was a student his jobs included fruitpicker and Christmas-tree uprooter. He graduated from Brighton Polytechnic in 1991 with a degree in humanities. Kernick had a passion for crime fiction writing from a young age and produced many short stories during his time at polytechnic. After graduating Kernick joined MMT Computing in London in early 1992, then joined the sales force of the specialist IT and Business Consultancy Metaskil plc in Aldermaston, Berkshire in 1998 where he remained until he secured his first book deal (The Business of Dying) in September 2001. His novel Relentless was recommended on Richard & Judy’s Summer book club 2007. It was the 8th best-selling paperback, and the best-selling thriller in the UK in the same year. He is a Sunday Times #1 bestselling author and one of the UK’s foremost thriller writers. His twelve novels have been translated into more than twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies worldwide.

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