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The Blameless Dead by Gary Haynes #Cover Reveal @GaryHaynesNovel

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

Best selling thriller writer Gary Haynes has a new novel, The Blameless Dead coming out this March and I can’t wait!

Before I show you the fabulous cover, here’s a bit about The Blameless Dead.

In the dying days of World War Two, Pavel Romasko and his Red Army colleagues pick their way through the carnage and detritus of a dying Berlin. Stumbling upon the smoking remains of a Nazi bunker, they find something inside that eclipses the horror of even the worst excesses in the city above them.

As the war ends, retribution begins. But some revenge cannot be taken at once. Some revenge takes years…

And so it is, as post-war Europe tries desperately to drag itself back onto its feet, and soldiers attempt a return to normality, that retribution continues to ferment in the Gulags of the Soviet Union and beneath the surface of apparently ordinary lives.

Which is how, seventy years later, FBI agent Carla Romero and New York lawyer Gabriel Hall are enlisted to investigate a series of blood-chilling crimes that seem to have their roots in the distant past — even though the suffering they cause is all too present. And for one of them, the disappearance of young women is a particularly personal matter.

The Blameless Dead is an epic, compelling, edge-of-the-seat drama that sweeps the reader from twentieth century Europe to modern-day New York. Part murder-mystery, part historical novel and shot through with adrenalin-pumping action, this novel demonstrates that, while the hostilities may cease and the peace be signed, the horror of war is never really over…

Doesn’t that sound absolutely, well, fabulous?


Are you ready to see the cover yet?  Just a little bit about the author first.

Gary Haynes author image

Gary Haynes is a bestselling thriller writer, and member of the International Thriller Writers organisation. He studied law at university and passed his post-graduate legal qualifications before becoming a commercial litigator. He is a Freedom of Speech advocate and is interested in history, philosophy and foreign policy. Gary’s previous novels include the popular Tom Dupree series: State of Honour and State of Attack.

You can connect with Gary online via his website:

Or follow him on Twitter, @GaryHaynesNovel

And now for that stunning cover!


The Blameless Dead

Isn’t this gorgeous?

The Blameless Dead is available in March from Endeavour Media. In the meantime, why not add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

MacBride, Billingham, Mukherjee and Sigurdardottir to feature at Granite Noir 2019 @granitenoirFest @ApaRachel

The cream of crime fiction authors from around the world, a poisoned high tea party, Noir inspired cabaret and a specially commissioned Escape Room game are some of the highlights that audiences can expect in Aberdeen in February when the third annual Granite Noir festival gets underway.

The festival line up promises more of the Scandi and Scottish crime fiction fans know and love, an incredible exhibition of historic mug shots from Aberdeen’s UNESCO recognised archives, and events that share the secrets of Scotland’s most notorious poisoners, as well as crime inspired theatre fresh from the Edinburgh Festivals.

Crime fiction is a terrific model for authors keen to explore social issues and current events, and authors will take audiences to South Korea, India, New York and Iceland, and even back in time, to Victorian London.

In an exciting first for the festival, Granite Noir will also be hooking up live with Murder in the Mountains festival in Crested Butte, Colorado to debate across both sides of the Atlantic the influence of place in crime fiction and crime fiction festivals.

Among the headliners is Scottish comedian, author and presenter, Susan Calman in conversation with local crime writing hero Stuart MacBride who’ll be sharing secrets of his life and work as well as discussing his latest Logan McRae novel.

Panel chairs include acclaimed author and broadcaster, James Naughtie.

Jim Naughtie

James is one of Britain’s best-known broadcasters. Born and educated in Aberdeenshire, he began his journalism career on the Press and Journal and wrote for the Scotsman and Guardian before moving into broadcasting. He’s a former presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4, and host of the network’s monthly Bookclub. He’s the author of acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including the spy thrillers Paris Spring and The Madness of July.

Joining James on chairing duties will be award-winning broadcaster Edi Stark, as well as Kezia Dugdale, Fiona Stalker, Alex Clark and Craig Sisterson.

Abir Mukherjee


The headline event of the first night will be author Abir Mukherjee in conversation with a very special guest on the shared heritage between Scotland and Bengal. Other events on the opening day include In Conversation events: Brushes with the Law with authors Tony Kent and Abi Silver. This will be followed by Staying Alive – Surviving a Series, with authors Yrsa Sigurdardóttir and Mark Billingham, and chaired by Fiona Stalker.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir


Mark Billingham

Mucho Mistrust features Lisa Ballantyne, Renée Knight and Tara Isabella Burton, who will look at the terrifying consequences of misplaced trust.

Saturday’s schedule kicks off with a free Granite Noir WorkshopMorning Coffee with agent Jenny Brown, in the Lemon Tree Lounge, at 10 am.

Scotland’s most respected literary agent, Jenny Brown, will be on hand to answer industry questions to share coffee and a conversation.

This will be followed by Northern Noir, delivered by Claire MacLeary and Lucy Foley.

Claire MacLeary

Since launching her debut at our first Granite Noir, and earning praise as a “brilliant new talent” by Dame Sue Black, Claire MacLeary’s been longlisted for the 2017 McIlvanney prize, and the 2018 Hearst Big Book Awards. They will be describing how setting becomes part of story telling.

Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley, previously known for her historical novels, will talk about The Hunting Party, a deliciously chilling ‘who died and who dunnit’ and why she was inspired to set it in the wild remoteness of the Scottish Highlands.

On Saturday evening Festival Ambassador and hometown hero Stuart MacBride is in conversation with Susan Calman, to talk about his life and work, and The Blood Road, the newest Logan McRae novel. 

Think you know Victorian Britain? Find out at Sunday’s Gothic Game Changers event, hosted by ES Thomson and Alex ReeveAnd what could be more inviting on a chilly Sunday afternoon than a plate piled high with scones, pastries and dainty sandwiches… but beware! Poisoned High Tea is an event with a twist. Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic, will be there to remind us that in the hands of queen of crime Dame Agatha Christie, everything on the menu could become a lethal weapon.

On Sunday afternoon, debut author Harriet Tyce will Be in Aberdeen Central Library discussing one of the hottest reads of early 2019, the outstanding Blood Orange.

Kezia Dugdale chairs Globe-Trotting Thrillers on Sunday evening with authors Holly Watt and author of one of this year’s most explosive thrillers, Star of the NorthD.B. John. There are three Crimewatch Film Screenings at Belmont Filmhouse: Leave Her to Heaven, Laura and Gilda.

Little Criminals caters for younger fans with a Draw Your Own Mystery event for ages 5-7, as well as Spine Tingling Mysteries for ages 8 and over Join Fleur Hitchcock, author of two new books, Murder at Twilight and The Boy Who Flew, to hear all about how she went from a childhood spent reading Tintin and Batman and digging for treasure, to writing spooky books of her own. She’ll talk about her books, and offer inspiring top tips about her writing process.

Head of Artistic Development at Aberdeen Performing Arts and Producer of Granite Noir, Lesley Anne Rose said: At the heart of Granite Noir is crime fiction and the incredible writers who create it. Author conversations about trust, character building and the lure of Northern settings form the backbone of the festival programme. However, we are proud to boldly take Noir where it has never been before, to play around with art forms, the notions of light and dark, good and evil and blur the lines between all of these – questioning how crime fiction can shed a light on the darkest recesses of the soul.

Explore the lure of cinema’s femme fatales, take a walking tour, attempt to crack the code of the Locked Room Escape Game and enjoy the Late Night Noir cabaret culminating in Noir at the Bar, where there will be a chance to see some of your favourite authors as you’ve never seen them before! “

Freelance writer and interviewer Lee Randall has programmed the author conversation strand of the festival for the third time. She said: “For 2019 we’re bringing you familiar faces alongside some of the most-talked-about debut authors working in the genre, and novels that whisk us around the world and back again. It’s my hope that as well as coming to see your heroes, visitors will take a chance on events with writers whose names are new to them. You never know when you’ll discover a new favourite writer!”

The festival also presents a host of inspiring workshops for aspiring writers of all ages covering everything from perfecting noir lyrics to crafting historical crime narratives with the help of the archival collections that make Aberdeen such a treasure trove for scholars.There is also a whole host of events designed for families and Little Criminals, including a drawing workshop, locked room mini games, and much more.

Within the records of Grampian Police held by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, is an album containing nearly 2,000 mugshots of criminals incarcerated at HM General Prison, Perth, in the early 1880s. Each of these spellbinding sepia images is accompanied by a card containing personal details of the individuals and the crime they had committed.


Throughout the weekend, these fascinating images will be on display at the Central Library and The Lemon Tree, providing an insight into these 19th century lives of poverty and desperation.

Produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts, in partnership with the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives and Aberdeen City Libraries, Granite Noir is now entering its third year.

Events will take place in city centre venues including The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen’s Central Library, The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and 1906 Restaurant.

The festival is designed for readers and writers alike, and events include In Conversation sessions; Granite Noir Workshops; film screenings; Young Criminals (family events); other Fringe events and Late Night Noir. Locals in the Limelight runs alongside the festival, offering aspiring local writers to share the stage with top crime fiction authors. This year the festival will be supported by Granite North gin and Mackie’s who have created a very special Granite Noir ice cream.

Events are individually priced and tickets go on sale on Saturday, November 17. Tickets are available from or by phone on 01224 641122. Further information and tickets for all of the Granite Noir events can be found at






Stuart McBride to launch Granite Noir festival @GraniteNoir @APArachel ‏

Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s crime writing festival is all set to launch its third festival programme at a special event at His Majesty’s Theatre this weekend.

Highly renowned local crime novelist Stuart MacBride will join the team behind Granite Noir to share the secrets of the festival’s 2019 programme and mark its official launch.

Granite Noir Fest 2017

Granite Noir 2019 will take place from Friday 22 – Sunday 24 February and is the most ambitious festival yet. This event will be the first time the line-up of Granite Noir 2019 will be revealed, with announcements involving some of the biggest names in crime fiction, as well as news on a packed weekend of workshops, film screenings, exhibitions, noir inspired music and cabaret and much more.

The launch is supported by Granite North gin ( how excited am I by this news!) and Mackie’s who have created a very special Granite Noir ice cream. (I wonder if there’s such a thing as a gin ice cream float?) Free samples of both will be available at the event.

Aberdeen Performing Arts’ Head of Artistic Development, Lesley Anne Rose and producer of Granite Noir said: “Granite Noir has gone from strength to strength as a festival and we can’t wait to reveal the programme for 2019. At the heart of the festival is crime fiction and the incredible authors who create it, but, working with our festival partners, we’re proud to be taking Noir as a starting point for curating, commissioning and programming across art forms to create a truly unique festival programme with something to offer all ages.”

“This year we’re also proud to be working with Granite North gin, Mackie’s ice cream and Aberdeen based Locked Door Escape Games to ensure that local businesses benefit from the festival programme. As well as offering opportunities for local up and coming writing talent to share the Granite Noir stage with top international authors.”

Lee Randall, who programmes the festival’s author conversations, will be on hand to share her programmer’s choice.

To get everyone in the Granite Noir mood,  the 2019 programme is launching alongside a production of Rebus: Long Shadows on the stage at His Majesty’s –. a brand new play celebrating one of the most legendary crime fiction detectives. The launch takes place at the end of a week-long stint at HMT for Rebus: Long Shadows whose cast members include Charles Lawson and Cathy Tyson.

The launch will take place 5pm-6.30pm on Saturday, November 17 in the Stalls Bar at His Majesty’s Theatre, following the matinee performance of Rebus: Long Shadows and is free to attend.

Granite Noir is produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts in partnership with Aberdeen City Libraries, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives and the Belmont Filmhouse.












Wasp Latitudes by Allan Watson @AllanWatson12 @BOTBSPublicity #WaspLatitudes


Source: Review copy

Publication: 30 August 2018

PP: 345

Against a background of brutal attacks on people and property by a rag-tag group of homeless men whom the media quickly dub Berserkers, DI Will Harlan is juggling with a head-in-a-bucket patricide, a lethal wife-swapping session, a sex-tape scandal involving the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – and perhaps most discomfiting of all – a spate of late night phone calls from his favourite serial killer, Howie Danks.


As the wife-swapping investigation spirals into a glut of cold-blooded slayings carried out by a mysterious pair of killers known as the Wasp Queen and the Priest, Harlan has to look into the past where a cold case may contain uncomfortable answers. But it’s in the present where the real danger lies as he follows a twisted path of mind control and madness leading to a cruel land some call the Wasp Latitudes.


I plunged straight into Wasp Latitudes immediately after reading Heart Swarm, such is my appetite for the character of D.I.Will Harlan. Allan Watson manages to neatly combine a dark and grisly world view with lots of bodies, violence and nasty, squirmy, stuff and then to layer that with a wicked sense of humour that keeps the whole thing elevated above the darkness.

Sometimes I stop and wonder what goes through an author’s mind when their books are as dark as this one, and then I shudder and resolve not to think about it anymore. I like to tell myself that if its going on the page, it’s getting the outlet that is so clearly required.

Wasp Latitudes is one heck of an inventive crime thriller. With more dead bodies than the massacre at the Little Big Horn, this book starts out fast paced and ends up frenetic, leaving the reader gasping for breath.

This time DI Harlan not only has to contend with the perpetrators of a series of gruesome crimes, he also has to cope with the endless interference of the Serious Crimes Unit treading all over his feet.

It starts out well enough, the day. The Bersekers, a group of people carrying out seemingly random acts of mindless violence are now being hunted down by the Serious Crime Squad so are not Harlan’s problem. Then a nice wee operation in George Square to sniff out a blackmailer ends up with Harlan being given a new nickname and becoming a reluctant You Tube star. And then, to make matters worse, he is caught up in an altercation at the bar of his hotel in front of his daughter and her boyfriend.

The next day isn’t much better. In the midst of dealing with three suspicious deaths he is called in to see the Serious Crime Unit, and is suddenly face to face with his old partner, DS Cara McAulley and her boss, DCI John Roan. Soon he’s being questioned about the bar brawl and before he knows what’s happened, Serious Crimes have nicked one of his murder cases from under his nose.

Then we have a cast of diabolical characters, hard men, psychopaths and worse with a series of unpleasant deaths that are not only gruesome and very smelly, but reminiscent of some kind of blood ritual slaughter.

Combined with wife swapping, sexual blackmail, revenge and obsession, this is the kind of book that grabs you and doesn’t let go. Like a rat down a drainpipe, D.I. Will Harlan won’t stop until he finally works out what’s going on and why.

With a little help from an old acquaintance, he gets on the right track – but will the price he has to pay be too high?

Edgy, unpredictable and utterly consuming this is the Glasgow underworld writ large with an additional helping of sex and horror, mixed in with a dry, scathing wit.

Verdict: My kind of book and a great follow on from Heart Swarm. Watch out for the sting in the tail.

Amazon (where it is currently only 99p!)


About Allan Watson


Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.

In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.

He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack)

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that…

Paris in The Dark by Robert Olen Butler (Christopher Marlowe Cobb #4 ) @NoExitPress @RobtOlenButler @AnneCater #ParisintheDark

Source: Review copy

Publication:   25TH October 2018 from No Exit Press

Pp: 256

ISBN-13: 978-0857302458


Autumn 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front. Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission.


Let me start by saying how much I enjoyed this really very well written historical espionage thriller by Robert Olen Butler. The more books I read from No Exit Press, the more impressed I am by their selection of extremely good writers, whatever the genre.

I hadn’t read any of Robert Olen Butler’s previous Kit Cobb books, but that was no barrier to 100% enjoyment of this one, the 4th in his series, which works just fine as a stand-alone novel.

Butler takes us to Paris in 1915 where our protagonist, Kit Cob, a Chicago reporter, sets the scene in a Paris café whilst chatting to the waiter about his evening and partaking of a ‘bijou’ – a connoisseur’s cocktail of gin, chartreuse and sweet vermouth.

The United States has not yet entered the war, thanks to President Woodrow Wilson, but many Americans have travelled under their own steam to volunteer in the European war effort. Kit Cobb is a war correspondent who doubles, sometimes under pressure, as a spy for US Government Intelligence.

Ostensibly in Paris to report on the war, but being somewhat hindered from visiting the front line by the French Government, Cobb hits on a piece covering the role of some US citizens who are volunteering as Ambulance Drivers for the American Hospital, La Chapelle, in Paris.

At the same time, he is deeply concerned by a campaign of civilian bombing thought by the French authorities to be coming from German saboteurs aimed at undermining morale in the country.

Working together, the French and US agencies are seeking intelligence about these bombings and the perpetrators. James Polk Trask, Cobb’s spymaster, tasks Cobb as a fluent German speaker, with the job of tracking down a lead from the French.

I was hugely impressed by the sense of place and time with which this novel is imbued. Detailed research has created an impeccably authentic atmosphere of the First World War Paris and the political climate that prevailed.

Cobb follows a dangerous and tricky path among German refugees in his search for the saboteurs and though he reckons he knows what he’s doing, his intelligence isn’t all it might be and he strays a bit off the right path.

When he finally does come to understand who is responsible for the bombings and deaths of so many innocent civilians, he is both horrified and outraged.

An American nurse, Louise Pickering, provides some romantic time out, though he can never be just himself with anyone in this city where the dead are returned to be buried under cover of darkness.

This is first rate prose which beautifully conveys the sights and sounds of WW1 Paris and the whole sense of a city embroiled in an overt and covert war is beautifully captured. There is tension and excitement, too as the pace builds up to a rousing crescendo in the Paris catacombs.

This is so timely a novel, too, coming as it does on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. What would those American soldiers think of their President’s inability to honour them because it was raining, I wonder?

Verdict: A beautifully written, well plotted and engrossing spy novel which makes first World War Paris come to life.

Amazon                                           Waterstones


About Robert Olen Butler


Robert Olen Butler is one of America’s most highly regarded writers, having published 17 novels, 6 short story collections, and a book on the creative process. Among his numerous awards is the Pulitzer Prize which he won for A Good Scent for a Strange Mountain. Four of his novels are historical espionage thrillers in the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, a character far closer to Robert than any other he has written. Like ‘Kit’ Cobb, Robert also went to war, was part of the military intelligence and a reporter and editor at an investigative business newspaper. Robert is also a widely admired and sought after university teacher of creative writing and counts among his former students another Pulitzer Prize winner.





Skin Deep by Liz Nugent @lizzienugent @GeorgiaKTaylor @PenguinUKBooks

Source: Review Copy

Publication: 15 November 2018 UK Paperback from PenguinUK

Pp: 384

ISBN-13: 978-0241979730

I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

Wow, what a book! Utterly mesmerising, completely propulsive and with a voice as stark and bleak as anything I have read.

Cordelia Russell is an astonishing character. She was born beautiful and in her daddy’s eyes she could do no wrong. She was the Queen of Inishcrann, or so he told her most days, though being Queen of a small island with a tiny population was perhaps not the most she could aspire to; but for now it was enough.

She knows she is special and that’s what drives her forward. From an early age she has learnt how to use what she has to get her own way and she does that with barely a thought for her impact on others. In short, Delia is cunning, manipulative, entirely without empathy and both shallow and narcissistic.

All the time I was reading the book I had the nature v. nurture argument rolling around in my head, but in the end I have had to conclude that perhaps some people are just born that way. Regardless, Delia is almost certainly a sociopath, if not a psychopath yet you can’t help feeling sad for her.

As she grows up, she is looked after by a range of people, most for reasons of human kindness, yet for Delia, these people are just a succession of opportunities to get what she wants.

Throughout the book there is an impending sense of disaster, it’s like watching an implosion in slow motion, and that’s where the real suspense lies. You know you want to look away; you’re sure you ought to look away, but you just can’t. Deeply affecting, horrifying and absolutely remorseless, Delia is a character who both compels and horrifies in equal measure.

This is really strong writing with more than one repellent character, but which nevertheless mesmerises the reader.

Verdict: A real triumph of prose writing that completely transfixes the reader and keeps you needing to read to the haunting and very fitting end.

N.B. This is a reprise of the review I published on Live and Deadly in April 2018

Amazon                                                       Waterstones

About Liz Nugent


Liz was born in Dublin, where she now lives with her husband, musician and sound engineer Richard McCullough.

Liz first began to write for broadcast in 2003. Between 2003 and 2013, she worked as a Story Associate on the popular television soap opera Fair City. She had several pieces accepted for Sunday Miscellany, a radio series on RTE Radio 1 specialising in nostalgic autobiographical writing.
Subsequently, she had two children’s stories accepted by the Fiction 15 series for the same broadcaster.

In 2006, her first short story for adults, Alice, was shortlisted for the Francis McManus Short Story Prize.
Liz went on to write a children’s animation series called The Resistors for TG4. Her half-hour drama, The Appointment was one of four winners chosen to be broadcast live on TG4 in the Seomra Sé series.
Liz’s radio drama, Appearances, represented Ireland at the New York Festivals in 2008.
She was the winner of an EATC bursary and writing workshops in Geneva and Berlin for pilot episode of drama series Campus in 2007.

Liz’s first novel Unravelling Oliver was published to critical and popular acclaim in Ireland in March 2014. It quickly became a firm favourite with book clubs and reader’s groups. In November of that year, it went on to win the Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards and was long listed for the International Dublin Literature Prize 2016. She was also the winner of the inaugural Jack Harte Bursary provided by the Irish Writers Centre and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Dec 2014.

Her second novel, Lying in Wait, was released in July 2016. It went straight to number 1 in the Irish Bestseller lists, remaining there for nine weeks and spent eight months in the top ten.
In September 2016, Liz was awarded the Ireland Funds Monaco bursary and went to Monaco for a month to write in the Princess Grace Irish library.
In November 2016, Lying in Wait won the RTE Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice Award at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. The book was also shortlisted in the Crime Fiction category. It has been long listed for the Dublin International Literary Award 2018.

Lying in Wait was chosen as part of the Spring 2017 list for the very prestigious Richard & Judy Book Club in the UK.

Liz was honoured to win the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year award in Literature in October 2017.

Aside from writing, Liz has led workshops in writing drama for broadcast, she has produced and managed literary salons, interviewed other writers and curated the literary strand of Skibbereen Arts Festival in July 2016.

You can follow Liz on twitter@lizzienugent

This review is part of a blogtour. See what other bloggers are saying about this fabulous book:

Skin Deep Blog Tour

Heart Swarm by Allan Watson @allanwatson12 @caffeinenights @BOTBS

Source: Review copy

Publication: 5 Oct. 2017 from Caffeine Nights Publishing

PP: 256

ISBN-13: 978-1910720813

 It feels like history is repeating itself when out-of-favour detective Will Harlan gets summoned to a crime scene in the village of Brackenbrae after a young girl is found hanging in the woods.

Five years ago Harlan headed up the investigation of an identical murder in the same woods; a mishandled investigation that effectively destroyed his credibility as a detective. The new case immediately takes a bizarre twist when the body is identified as the same girl found hanging in the woods five years ago.

The following day a local man commits suicide and the police find more dead girls hidden in his basement. The case seems open and closed.

Until the killing spree begins.

Harlan finds himself drawn into a dark world where murder is a form of self-expression and human life treated as one more commodity to be used and discarded.

The only clue that links everything is a large oil painting of ‘Sagittarius A’ – a massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy orbited by thirteen stars daubed in blood with the words – Heart Swarm

I’m also reading Wasp Latitudes by Allan Watson, which is Book 2 in the DCI Will Harlan series, so I thought I ought to start at the beginning and read the first book, Heart Swarm. Wow. I am so glad I did. Now, I like my crime on the dark side and it’s fair to say that this book fits squarely into the dark zone of my brain.

From its inventive opening to the large body count that follows, this is a book that grabs the reader by the short and curlies and never lets go.

Set in a small village just outside Glasgow, Heart Swarm introduces us to DCI Will Harlan. A man not without issues, something of a serial shagger and with a daughter he adores and a now remarried ex-wife who can’t stand to see him, his baggage is packed in trunks rather than a backpack. Harlan was once a damned good detective but he badly messed up a high-profile murder investigation and lost almost everything as a consequence, including his marriage. Since then he has been marginalised at work; overlooked for everything except the most tedious of cases

Now he’s living in a hotel close to Glasgow’s Necropolis, which feels more than suitable, run by an ex-con. It’s fair to say that Harlan never sets out to make friends, either at work or elsewhere.  He’s not an immediately likeable character, and he tends not to command unswerving loyalty from his team, though it does feel like his friendship is something you could rely on.

Cara McAuley, his sidekick is also an intriguing character. She has her own issues, but she is straight as a bat and a great foil to Harlan. Their relationship is complicated and can only get more so as the case progresses and Harlan has to keep more of what he learns to himself.

There are times in this book where Heart Swarm feels like a horror rather than a police procedural, but then murder is horrifying and some truly awful things do happen in the real world.  Watson does not shy away from any of these and his book deals with some gruesome issues from cults to paedophilia to necrophilia. Thankfully it stops just short of being overly graphic, but I’d still say that this is not a book for those who prefer their police procedurals to be bloodless.

Sometimes eye-wateringly dark, sometimes feeling slightly overblown, Watson brings us a book full of pace, great characters, a complex plot, the odd conspiracy theory and a host of twisted, gruesome moments.

Verdict: Well written, dark and occasionally making my stomach queasy, I’m so glad to be racing on to the next book!

Amazon                                                                        Waterstones

About Allan Watson

allan watson_

Allan Watson is a writer whose work leans towards the dark end of the fiction spectrum. He is the author of seven novels – Dreaming in the Snakepark, Carapace, The Garden of Remembrance, 1-2-3-4, Monochrome, Heart Swarm and Wasp Latitudes.

In between the books, Allan wrote extensively for BBC Radio Scotland, churning out hundreds of comedy sketches, in addition to being a regular contributor for the world famous ‘Herald Diary’.

He occasionally masquerades as a composer/musician, collaborating with crime writer Phil Rickman in a band called Lol Robinson with Hazey Jane II whose albums have sold on four different continents (Antarctica was a hard one to crack)

Allan lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, but has never worn the kilt or eaten a deep fried Mars Bar. He also once spent three days as a stand-in guitarist for the Bay City Rollers, but he rarely talks much about that…
 Twitter – @allanwatson12
See my review of Wasp Latitudes on Nov 14th



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This blog is for me to share with you where books have taken me recently.

Sandy's Book a Day Blog

A book a day is bliss😍

Over The Rainbow Book Blog

Book reviews and ramblings from a book mad mum of three!

Raven Crime Reads

Criminally good reads...


Live the life of a reader

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Barbara Copperthwaite



Fiction reviews, Bookblogger, Fiction book reviews, books, crime fiction, author interviews, mystery series, cover, love, bookish thoughts...

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Two Girls Who Love To Read Spreading the Love For All Things Bookish! 💕📚🎧