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Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb @StephBroadribb @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TeamLori #IAmLori

Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 Jan 2019 from Orenda Books
PP: 304
ISBN-13: 978-1912374557

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

I’m a proud member of #TeamLori and my love for this series has grown as each of the three books has come out.

Lori hasn’t had a great life until now. Married to an abusive man who turned out also to be a mobster, she incurred the wrath of the Miami mafia boss after her husband was shot dead.

She is only now beginning to get her life back on track, bring her daughter Dakota together with her new man, J.T. and living a good life as a bounty hunter in Florida.

But this is Lori and that peace is never going to last.

To keep Dakota and J.T. safe she is forced to a deal with the mafia. One of their trusted henchmen, their accountant North, has turned informer and is now in FBI protective custody awaiting the trial of the aforementioned Mafioso. The mafia, unsurprisingly, want North back and if Lori doesn’t deliver him on deadline, her small family will never be safe again.

To track North down and spring him from custody won’t be easy, and she knows she’ll have to do it alone, because she needs J.T. to keep Dakota safe while she’s gone.

To make matters worse she only has 48 hours. And what a whirlwind 48 hours that is! Lori moves with the speed of lightning, encountering different dangers and some pretty squirm making characters at every turn. There’s danger and double dealing; in the fetid atmosphere of the Everglades there is more than one kind of dangerous predator at loose and Lori has trouble knowing who to trust.

But then, hasn’t that always been Lori’s problem? Not without cause, she does not trust easily, and this leads her to manage everything she comes up against alone.

Exciting, addictive, full of twists, this is Lori fighting for her life again. A super-fast pace, smart mouthed prose to die for and a plot that will keep your heart in your mouth as you watch Lori navigate the minefields between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Verdict: Deep Dirty Truth is the best Lori book yet and I love her more every book.

Amazon     Orenda Bookstore           Waterstones

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.
My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell @TheCraigRussell @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault @ClaraHDiaz #TheDevilAspect

Source: Netgalley Review copy
Publication: 7 March 2019 from Constable
PP: 496
ISBN-13: 978-1472128355

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.

Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles? Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

I was at Iceland Noir recently and was struck by how many of Scotland’s prominent crime writers cited Craig Russell as a positive influence in their reading journey, and there and then I resolved to try one of his books. Where better, then, than to start with his new novel, The Devil Aspect?

It does not take long to appreciate what a fine writer Mr Russell is. Starting The Devil Aspect, I immediately felt transported to the 1930’s. From the way people speak to an understanding of the culture and community of Czechoslovakia, Craig Russell has captured the mood and mores of a people at a time of turbulence and unwelcome change.

In Prague, these troubled times re underlined by the fear struck into the hearts of the townspeople as a result of the brutal murders of several women; murders which have an unsettling similarity to those of Jack the Ripper. This murderer, dubbed Leather Apron, is being pursued by the police force led by Kapitan Lukas Smolak, but forensic evidence is hard to come by and when at last some is found, it is hard to credit that it could be the work of a known petty criminal whom they take into custody.

German fascism is on the rise and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia is not far away. Our protagonist is psychiatrist Victor Kosárek, headed for the most notorious asylum in central Europe; Hrad Orlu Asylum is a fortress of a castle high on a cliff face, seemingly impregnable. The castle is feared by the villagers that surround it not just because it currently houses six of the most fiendish serial killers known as the Devil’s Six, but also because it has an unpleasant history that goes back into folklore memory.

Victor Kosárek has a head full of theories after studying under noted psychologist Carl Jung and he has come to the high security asylum to test his theory that the incarnate evil that is embodied in each the six sadistic killer patients stems from a common phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect- an aspect of human psychology that is responsible for dark impulses. Viktor believes that if he can, through their subconscious, reach this aspect, he may be able to understand and and possibly cure their malevolent, macabre impulses.

With wonderful detail and precision, never putting a foot wrong, yet laying a trail of false clues up and down the mountain, Russell explores the ways in which folklore, history, religion, and psychology come together to explain how people behave and how they justify that behaviour; all the time with the rise of fascism hovering over our shoulders..

As I was quickly sucked into this fabulously gothic tale of madness, horror and foreshadowing worse to come, I was struck by how beautifully resonant the atmosphere is. In many ways I was reminded of the writing of Bram Stoker and Robert Louis Stevenson, for this is a literary book that will more than hold its own alongside Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein.

Beautifully researched, the parallels between the savage murders and the unspeakable horrors of the Third Reich to come are ever present, leading to a very real sense of dread in this reader.

Verdict: Craig Russell has created an astonishing virtuoso piece of gothic horror writing. It is utterly immersive, authentically complex and completely propulsive. I was by turns transfixed, terrified and gripped. This is a must read for all fans of literary fiction, great crime and horror writing.

Amazon                                                        Waterstones

Craig Russell is an award-winning, best-selling and critically-acclaimed author, published in twenty-five languages around the world. The Devil Aspect was acquired by Jason Kaufman, Dan Brown’s editor at Doubleday. The movie rights to the Devil Aspect have been bought by Columbia Pictures. Biblical, his science-fiction novel, has been acquired by Imaginarium Studios/Sonar Entertainment for development into a major TV series. Four Jan Fabel novels have been made into movies (in one of which Craig Russell makes a cameo appearance as a detective) for ARD, the German national broadcaster, and the Lennox series has been optioned for TV development.

Craig Russell won the 2015 McIlvanney Prize for ‘The Ghosts of Altona’

– was a finalist for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize for ‘The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid’

– was a finalist for the 2013 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger

– was a finalist for the 2012 Crime Book of the Year (McIlvanney Prize)

– won the 2008 CWA Dagger in the Library

– was a finalist for the 2007 CWA Duncan Lawrie Golden Dagger

– was a finalist for the 2007 SNCF Prix Polar in France

– is the only non-German to be awarded the highly prestigious Polizeistern by the Polizei Hamburg.

Follow Craig on Twitter @TheCraigRussell

First Minister to Chair Granite Noir Festival event @GraniteNoirFest

Granite Noir – Aberdeen’s crime writing festival – has announced Scotland’s First Minster, Nicola Sturgeon as chair for one of the festival’s opening events, with Abir Mukherjee.

A voracious reader since childhood, Nicola Sturgeon will chair an event with author Abir Mukherjee, the child of immigrants from India, who was bought up in the West of Scotland, on Friday, February 22 at 7pm at the Music Hall. Their event will explore the shared heritage of Scotland and Bengal and is just one of the festival’s diverse programme celebrating, showcasing and debating the cream of crime fiction from around the world

Ms Sturgeon is well-known for her love of literature and is an advocate for reading. She established the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in 2016, to encourage children to pick up a book and expand their imagination, and her Saturday night Twitter feed is filled with recommendations from her weekly reading. She has described books as “amongst my very favourite things in life”, with crime fiction a favourite genre. Her appearance at Granite Noir follows on from recent appearances at Wigtown Book Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2018.

Ms Sturgeon recommended the acclaimed author Abir Mukherjee as one of the new wave of Scottish crime fiction authors. Abir commented that he started writing “to explore the shared history between Britain and India which…has made such a great impact on the country we live in and the values we share.”

Head of Artistic Development at Aberdeen Performing Arts Lesley Anne Rose said: “Nicola Sturgeon is known for her passion for books as both an escape and as a window into other people’s lives. As a huge fan of crime fiction and the issues and debates these novels often confront, she promises to bring a fascinating discussion to the festival and we are delighted to welcome her to the line up.”  

The First Minister will join headliners including Scottish comedian, author and presenter, Susan Calman in conversation with local crime wiring hero Stuart MacBride who will be sharing secrets of his life and work as well as discussing his latest Logan Macrae novel. As well as Sophie Hannah the author who has revived the career of Hercule Poirot.

Panel chairs include acclaimed author and broadcaster, James 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 is 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.

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

Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “Granite Noir returns for a third year with more events, more writers, more conversation and more venues.  It’s quirky, inventive, it’s a festival designed for readers and writers alike and it takes us to far flung places.  What makes it unique is the sheer range of events and the fantastic backdrop of the city.”

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 and, with several events already a sell-out, this year’s festival is set to be the biggest and best yet.

This year the festival will be supported by Granite North gin and Mackie’s who have created a very special Granite Noir ice cream.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 Feb 2019 in e-book. 18 April 2019 in paperback from Orenda Books
PP: 300
ISBN-13: 978-1912374632

Tonight is the night for secrets…A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller, reminiscent of Play Misty for Me … from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and  The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Wow! Louise Beech’s first foray into crime writing just blew me away. If, like me, you are a fan of Louise’s writing, you will know that her special gift is writing that captivates, entrances, and really makes you care about her characters. Her prose is rich and rewarding; she has the ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. This is writing that somehow manages to shine a light on the beauty of the everyday and her emotional resonance is second to none.

In Call Me Star Girl, she has used her gifts to deliver a fully-fledged dark and twisted psychological thriller that has all the hallmarks of her writing but reinforced with a steel core. This is Louise Beech on steroids and boy, is she motoring at high speed.

Told in two timelines, then and now, and predominantly in two first person voices – those of Stella McKeever and her mother, Elizabeth, with a sparing but critical third person outside perspective provided by taxi driver, Bob Fracklehurst.

Bob is a classic Beech character, full of warmth, heart and goodness. A man who wants to do the right thing and always sees the good in people. A character who does not seem integral to this dark murder story, but whose presence is nonetheless crucial to the book.

Stella is our titular protagonist. A presenter at her local radio station where she conducts a three hour late night show, before the real night hawks come on air. Stella’s mum left her when Stella was only twelve. Just sent her to a neighbour with a note and disappeared, leaving behind only a bottle of perfume that would remind Stella of her for years to come.

Stella never knew her father and all her life she has wanted to know who he was.  Now she is in an all-consuming relationship with Tom, her boyfriend. Theirs is a love affair of passion and intensity. Unpredictable, risky, it’s an all or nothing relationship where Stella’s biggest fear is that Tom will wake up one day and find her boring. So she tries to make sure that will never happen.

Stella’s mum, Elizabeth, is slowly finding a way to come back into her daughter’s life. Though she feels guilty about leaving her only child in the way she did, the sad fact is that she made a choice and if she had that choice to make again, there’s no doubting what she would do. In some ways mother and daughter are not dissimilar.

When pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago, the town was shaken. No-one has been caught and women are nervously looking over their shoulders as they walk home at night, making sure they keep to the well-lit areas as they plan their routes.

Stella too is wary, she thinks she has caught sight of someone hovering around outside the radio station on more than one evening and now she’s receiving calls to the station from a man who says he knows who killed Victoria.

But this is Stella’s last ever show and she’s not going to go quietly. Alone in the radio station, she plays out her last three hours in a show that will have consequences for everyone listening.

Tightly written, with a brilliantly executed story arc, Call Me Star Girl is an immersive dark, aberrant and sometimes very painful psychological drama that is full of memories, secrets, and long felt desires.

Verdict: Honestly, it’s hard to articulate what a powerful book this is, but Call Me Star Girl is a killer read in anyone’s book. It’s destined to be a must read of 2019 in any crime list.


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Reader’s Choice in 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for the Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise is currently writing her next book. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull and loves her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. 

Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola @Anna_Maz @TinderPress @AnneCater #TheStoryKeeper

Source: Review copy
Publication : Paperback on 10 January 2019 from Tinder Press
PP: 368
ISBN-13: 978-1472234803

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.

The Story Keeper is set in God’s own garden, the beautiful, haunting landscape of the Isle of Skye, my favourite place on earth. Set in a time of deep trouble for its residents, when greed and pitiless cruelty were in the forefront of driving every hard-working person from the island. For his is the time of the clearances; a time when Gaelic is about to be put under serious threat; when traditional farming methods can no longer sustain families and when landlords are both increasing rents and turning people off land they have family farmed for generations.

This is the atmospheric and haunting setting for the exploration of the myths and legends of the island. Audrey Hart has travelled from London, she has pretty much run away by the sound of it, though we don’t know why and she takes the long and wet journey to Lanerly Hall on Skye. Presided over by the matriarchal figure of Miss Buchanan, Lanerly Hall is an old, dilapidated house full of stuffed animals and creaking corridors.

 Audrey has come in response to an advert placed by Miss Buchanan, seeking someone who can help her collect the stories of the islanders; the myths and legends of the legendary faerie folk that still form part of their daily superstitions and practices, especially around the sea.

For just as the islanders way of life is under threat, so is the tradition of oral story telling passed down through generations and Miss Buchanan is determined to capture the stories before they are lost for ever.

Arriving into this maelstrom of change, and with an agenda of her own, Audrey must contend with a hostile game-keeper, a laird who seems to have little or no compassion for his tenants; a minister who breathes fire and fury and a group of villagers who are less than impressed by incomers. When girls start to go missing, that suspicion only intensifies and Audrey has no idea who she can trust.

Anna Mazzola creates a beautifully dark and gothic atmosphere in which to explore the folklore and legends of the islanders. Her prose is fluid and flawless and she creates a magical and mysterious environment in which anything is possible.

Sitting at her metaphorical loom, Mazzola weaves a rich and varied tapestry with multiple threads and plot lines which come together to form a magnificent story of death, destruction and stubborn courage.

Verdict : A highly enjoyable, beautifully told story.

Amazon                                                  Waterstones

Anna is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels, which have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime, explore the impact of crime and injustice. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. The Sunday Times called it, ‘A twisting tale of family secrets and unacknowledged desires.’ It won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, was published in July (paperback January 2019). It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper has been longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She also blogs for The History Girls.

Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before accidentally becoming a human rights and criminal justice solicitor. She now tries to combine law with writing, to varying degrees of success.

She lives in Camberwell, South London, with two small children, two cats and one husband.

The Red Light Zone – An Insider’s Laugh ‘n’ Tell of BBC Radio by Jeff Zycinski @JeffZycinski @LunicornPress @Lunicorn

Source: Review Copy
Publication: 24 January 2019 from Lunicorn Press
Pp: 280
ISBN-13: 978-0992926465

Stop! Danger! Sex for sale! A red light can signify any one of those, but in a radio station it means a microphone has gone live: the walls may be soundproof, but in studio space, everyone can hear you scream … or sneeze.

For twenty-five years, Jeff Zycinski worked for BBC Radio and became the longest-serving boss of Radio Scotland. He made the big decisions buying a new vacuum cleaner for the Selkirk office and chaired a meeting that almost erupted in violence when someone suggested cats were better than dogs. He has a lot to say about Brexit, Scottish Independence, football, BBC bias, Islam and strippers … but not in this book. Okay, he talks about them a bit … mainly the strippers. An affectionate, humorous account of inside life at the Beeb. You will never buy chips in the same way again!

Disclaimer: For a number of years I worked for the BBC in Nations and Regions communications mainly in Local Radio and Regional TV. I have even done the odd freelance shift for BBC Scotland. But although I have met him in passing a few times, I don’t know Jeff Zycinski. So I read this book partly to see if it rang true and because I’m interested in what kind of chap Zycinski is.

The Red Light Zone begins and ends with Jeff Zycinski leaving the BBC in the way many people do, after an endless restructuring process where it slowly dawns on you that your job has just been restructured out of existence and you either have to re-invent yourself or decide the time is right for you to go. Restructuring happens in the BBC about once every 4-5 years and it’s been known to make a lot of people both anxious and bitter. Fortunately, Zycinski is not one of those people.

The Red Light Zone is a light touch book full of humorous anecdotes, fond recollections and a refreshingly honest and self-deprecating take on a career spent in both commercial and BBC Radio. It is also imbued with a love for the creativity of programme makers and if there’s one thing I take away from this book, it is that Zycinski is a living, breathing member of the programme making classes, and not some BBC ‘suit’. Mind you, that’s true of most of the Senior Managers I have met in the content side of the BBC; it was love for the medium and the programmes that really drove them to stick in there.

The Red Light Zone offers a lot of humour, but it is also in many ways an inspiring story of how the child of a sailor in the Polish Free Navy who came to Glasgow during WW2 and stayed to marry in peacetime,  with seven siblings living in Easterhouse,  rose to become the Head of Radio in Scotland.

It’s surprising he got that far, given that his first job, working as a journalism student for Capital Radio, was to undertake a day’s recording in the famous Raymond’s Revue Bar in Soho. Working out how to convey nudity on radio was an interesting problem for a fledgling reporter.

Zycinski’s love of radio began when he was 14 and his big sister Rose introduced him to Radio Clyde. He loved to twirl the dial and listen to short wave station from the BBC Worlds Service to Radio Moscow and Radio Free Europe. But it was Radio Clyde’s overnight show that got him writing in an over-egged Chandleresque style and cemented his love for radio forever.

Spells in Moray Firth Radio, and Radio Clyde followed and then He joined BBC Radio Scotland as a Senior Producer in Selkirk. It is here that we first begin to understand the somewhat arcane nature of BBC structures, but Zycinski treats all such matters with a light touch humour and only occasionally does the inevitable frustration leak out.

Peppered with names you’ll know and some lively anecdotes, Zycinski is not often sharp-tongued, but when he is, you can tell he means it. The visit of Chris Evans to Inverness is a particularly pointed recollection.

In a career spanning 4 BBC Directors- General, it is easy to see why Zycinski is a survivor. His no-nonsense approach, combined with a love for creativity led to a revamp of the Radio Scotland schedule , the introduction of many of the programmes we can still hear today and his love for comedy and what we used to call in the old days ‘light entertainment’. Even if that revamp did lead to Ian Rankin describing him as a ‘numptie’.

In a nicely balanced book, the reader is able to laugh at events and anecdotes but also to understand the frustrations of a man who loves radio and yet could not understand why getting Radio 4 to talk to Radio 2 was ‘slightly more difficult than creating dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East’.

Similarly, getting his presenters on Radio Scotland to know and understand the rest of the station’s output so that they could talk coherently and confidently about it to listeners was a bit of an uphill struggle.

Zycinski spends some time reflecting on the Referendum campaign; the attacks on BBC Scotland’s coverage and on some presenters as well as the impact of network BBC news bosses finally sitting up and taking notice. He discusses strike action, morale at the BBC, the role of HR and Charter Renewal. The advice he got from Ken MacQuarrie, now Director of the BBC’s Nations and Regions, about attending corporate BBC meetings is priceless because of its simple truth.

As well as chronicling his time at BBC Radio Scotland, Zycinski offers amusement, bemusement and some honest reflections on the work. The book is interesting for all these reasons, but also because it paints a portrait of a man who loves his radio and whose heart lives for creativity in programme making.

I wish I had got to know him.

Verdict: A must read for those interested in BBC Scotland written with a light touch and containing plenty of humour to keep the reader interested.


Jeff Zycinski was born in Easterhouse, Glasgow in 1963, the seventh son of a Polish sailor who settled in Scotland after the Second World War. He was educated at the Central College of Commerce in Glasgow, Glasgow College of Technology and University College, Cardiff.

Jeff was the BBC’s Head of Radio in Scotland from 2005 to 2018, the longest-serving occupant of that role.

He commissioned and scheduled programmes for BBC Radio Scotland and was responsible for the production teams working for BBC Network Radio based in Scotland. His portfolio included online and multi-media content including podcasts and themed audio streams.

Jeff started his career as a news journalist in 1989 and, in 1992, joined BBC Scotland as Senior Producer in Selkirk. A year later he moved to the BBC in Inverness to launch the Tom Morton morning programme. Jeff was promoted to Editor, Topical in 1998 and returned to Glasgow. He launched both the lunchtime Lesley Riddoch programme (which won a Sony Silver Award in 2001 and again in 2002) and the Gary Robertson mid-morning programme in Autumn 2000.

In the 2006 Sony Awards, Jeff was nominated as Station Programmer of the Year. Other awards as Editor include a Sony Silver for Asking For You (2003) and Sony Bronze awards for Old Firm Day (2002) and Life Stories (2005).

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski (Six Stories #3) @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

Source: Review copy
Publication: 24th January 2019 from Orenda Books
PP: 271
ISBN-13:   978-1912374571

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…

Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

If you have read the first two books in this series, you will know that each can easily be read as a stand-alone and that each takes the form of a serialised podcast. (I really must listen to the audiobook of these, I bet it is spectacular.)

The format works really well for this kind of storytelling. Our narrator, Scott King, looks at a cold case, not investigating, just interviewing six people close to the case to see what time and distance will offer up when he speaks to them.

Scott’s job is to ask the questions, non-judgmentally and to hope that in doing so the reader can reach some kind of truth by the end.

In Changeling, the atmosphere is set from the beginning when strange events around Wentshire Forest culminate in the disappearance of 7 year old Alfie Marsden.

Wesolowski is really good at building a haunting, cold and eerie atmosphere. His prose achieves the outstanding task of taking us from 0 to 80 on the tension rev scale within the first few paragraphs and believe me, it doesn’t ever drop below that.

He has the uncanny ability to merge fact and fiction, creating a sense of urgency and deep menace which builds until you need respite from the brain storm he has created.

Is Alfie Marsden a changeling – an ugly, stupid, or strange child left by fairies in place of a pretty, charming child? Certainly something changed him from a happy child into one that knows no contentment and the genesis of that change seems to hark back to his time in the forest.

But there are no faerie folk to interview here, so Scott King goes to those who were around at the time to see what can be understood from his interviews.

The picture that emerges is one that is indeed black and not at all pretty, and the characters he interviews are, in some cases, sorry excuses for individuals. Who is lying and who is speaking truth is for the reader to decide.

I thought I had a pretty good idea where this book was heading after I had got half way through but that changed as I slowly began to realise just how clever a writer Wesolowski is, and how good his narration is in creating the perfect storm.

I found Changeling to be dark, incredibly intense, full of supressed rage and emotionally gut wrenching. It blew me out the water. I rather think Matt Wesolowski is destined for stardom.

Verdict: Superb writing and plotting of high distinction. His best yet and I would recommend Changeling to anyone. A must read of 2019.

Orenda Bookstore

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Teapot Tucker

A Book and a Brew Will See You Through


Lover of books and book reviewer. Usually found curled up with a book.

The Annual Bloggers Bash

The Official Website for the Best Blogging Event of the Year!

The Bibliofile

Book Reviews, Books, Bestsellers, Literary Fiction

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

Daily (w)rite

Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

Being Anne...

Books, travel, and other things that make life interesting

Books in my Handbag Blog

"I love your book blog and am honoured to be there amongst such class" - Carol Drinkwater, Apr 2017

Short Book and Scribes

To the point book reviews and other bookish stuff

Bucks, Books & Beyond

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...