I’m delighted to feature Morecambe and Vice on Live and Deadly; the two go together very well. Today I am shining the spotlight on Matt Brolly as well as reviewing his latest book, The Controller.
He’ll be appearing with Ceri Lowe and Lesley Kelly and the panel will be moderated by Tom Fisher.
Let’s begin by getting to know Matt a little. Here’s what his website says about him:
Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.
He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time. Dead Water, a prequel, was released by Oblong Books in July2019. In addition he is the author of the acclaimed near future crime novel, Zero.
May 2019 saw the release of a new thriller, The Controller, and in 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer(Amazon Publishing)
Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, is released by Oblong Books in December 2018.
Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find out more about by following him on twitter: @MattBrollyUK.
I asked Matt some questions about his life and work.
It takes a lot of time and determination to study for a criminal law degree, and yet you switched from that into creative writing once you had your degree. What was it that made you decide law wasn’t for you?
In retrospect, I should probably have chosen English Lit as my degree! I was an avid reader as a child, and began writing as a teenager, but I the idea of studying law sounded interesting and challenging so I went down that route with a vague idea of being Rumpole of the Bailey. I enjoyed studying law but I did spend a lot of time reading fiction instead of going to lectures! That said, aspects of my degree have proved very useful. Much of the theme and plot in Zero came from studying criminal law, in particular the work I did on deterrence and morality within the law.
Your previous books have been set in the UK. What made you decide to start an FBI series in Texas and how did you go about making your books feel authentic?
I have family in Texas and have visited there a few times in the last few years. I wanted to set a thriller in the US so Texas became the obvious setting. Some of the authenticity I picked up from my visits but I also did a lot of research and fortunately had a couple of Texas based readers who gave me some advice after reading advanced copies.
Samuel Lynch and Sandra Rose are an interesting partnership. What was it that you wanted to achieve with this duo?
Initially, Lynch was supposed to be the main character of The Controller. However, once I got into the novel I realised Sandra Rose had a much bigger role to play. I think the characters complement one another. Lynch has left the FBI and has a more cavalier and emotional approach to his investigation whereas Rose is working under the scrutiny of being in the bureau. I like being able to contrast them with one other and it helps highlight the nuances to their characters. Obviously, it also means the book can be in two places at once which is necessary as the book progresses.
Lynch has been compared to a Jack Reacher style character. Is that how you see him?
Well, if he becomes as popular as Reacher I won’t be complaining! However, I don’t really see Lynch as a Reacher style character. Reacher is an almost superhuman character who roams from town to town whereas Lynch is quite lost and vulnerable. Although he does have a tough side, Lynch is probably less classically heroic.
You don’t shy away from violence in this book. Do you think it should have a trigger warning?
Interesting question. I have been reading more and more about trigger warnings on books recently. At the moment, I would say I don’t know enough about the necessity of trigger warnings to fully comment on it. Although there is violence in The Controller, the majority of it occurs off page. I tend not to write, and don’t like to read, explicit details of violence in books unless it is justified. It is often more powerful to leave certain aspects to the reader’s imagination. I think trigger warnings on books are part of a larger debate and will certainly watch out for developments with interest.
Who are your go to authors when you read to relax?
I don’t really have specific authors I go to. I like a broad range of fiction. I read whatever I happen to have downloaded to my kindle or bought from the local bookshop recently. However, I would rush to read a new release from Peter Straub, A.L. Kennedy, Jonathan Coe, Stav Sherez, John Hart, Michael Marshall, and Mo Hayder amongst many others.
Tell us about your new West Country series.
The new series is set in my old hometown of Weston-super-Mare and features a Detective Inspector called Louise Blackwell. Blackwell has recently been demoted to the seaside town after a case goes wrong at the Major Investigation Team in Bristol. The first in the series, The Crossing, begins with a murder investigation involving a local pensioner and escalates into something much bigger.
I’ve wanted to write a crime novel in the West Country area for some time now and in The Crossing I really enjoyed exploring themes of isolation, family, and religion within the environment of a small seaside community. Possibly more than my other books, the setting has a very major part to play. I explore the duality I see in many UK seaside towns between the local’s viewpoint and that of an outsider. Seaside communities, in particular, have to deal with the seasonal disruptions of influxes of transient visitors. Although not a tourist, Louise is very much an outsider in the town. She lives in a small community but is not truly accepted there whilst also being isolated from the major city she had lived her entire life. In The Crossing, Louise brings this inner turmoil with her and we see how this influences her choices and actions during the investigation.
The Crossing is part of a three-book deal with Thomas & Mercer and will be released in February of 2020.
Here’s the blurb…
In a small town full of secrets, everyone’s a suspect.
When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.
The victim – Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years – and there are more murders planned.
As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?
She must discover the crimes that unite the victims – before it’s too late.
That sounds right up my street and I can’t wait to meet Louise Blackwell!
In the meantime, here’s my review of Matt’s latest book, The Controller, released earlier this year.
Source: Review copy
Publication: 6 August 2019 from Oblong Books
It is six years since special agent Samuel Lynch left the FBI following the disappearance of his son, Daniel. Lynch believes an underground organisation known as The Railroad is responsible and has never stopped searching.
When Special Agent Sandra Rose investigates a house invasion gone wrong, she discovers the assailant has the legendary, and infamous, Railroad tattoo carved onto his back and he claims to know Daniel’s whereabouts.
Rose draws Lynch in to her case, and together they become embroiled in an unparalleled world of violence and evil.
It seems that to see his son again, Lynch will have to confront his greatest fear and face the ultimate test: an encounter with the Railroad’s enigmatic and deadly leader, The Controller.
Matt Brolly is a new author to me, but now he’s on my radar I will be eagerly looking out for the next in this series. I tore through The Controller, loving the way Brolly throws thrill after spill and sets the reader up for a brand new vicious serial killer with no empathy and all the resources he needs to carry out his devious and sickening plans.
Our protagonists are former FBI Special Agent Samuel Lynch and current Special Agent, Sandra Rose. Samuel Lynch is a driven man with only one focus in his life; to find his son, Daniel, abducted when he was seven years old, some six years ago. Since then Daniel has spent every waking hour trying to track down a shadowy organisation named The Railroad and it’s even more reclusive leader, The Controller
A home invasion goes wrong and Sandra Rose is leading the hostage negotiations but the perpetrator insists he will only speak to Samuel Lynch has his own agenda and insists on talking to Lynch. In an attempt to save the hostages, Rose brings Lynch to speak to the invader, even though Lynch was discredited in the FBI when he tried to push his theory about the so called organisation that he believes is The Railroad.
As Rose discovers more about the perpetrator and sees some tangible evidence that suggests Lynch may not be as deluded as the FBI had suggested, she agrees to work with him in her investigation into what is going on.
The action is fast, furious and sometimes very violent indeed. It is also extremely entertaining, has some great characters, both evil and on the side of right and is full of twisted moments, loads of tension and some real surprises.
Rose and Lynch are an uneasy couple, slow to trust each other, though a little light bedding down helps that, fortunately initiated by Rose which somehow helps ease the cliché. Rose is not the kind of agent who has to follow the rules fastidiously and this makes her an excellent partner for Lynch, who long ago gave up caring what the rules are.
The body count rises seemingly with every page and The Controller is as evil a mastermind as I have come across. Brolly leaves the reader with a lot of questions about this terrible organisation and its leader, which I hope will be followed through in future books in the series.
Verdict: An action packed conspiracy theory serial killer series is always going to attract my interest. Brolly not only attracted it, he held it in the palm of his hand as the tension built until I finished the book in double quick time.