Rooftop Book Club Crime Event

On Tuesday evening I was delighted to attend the Rooftop Book Club Crime evening hosted by Headline Publishers and Crime Files at Carmelite House where Headline Publishers are based.IMG_3033

This was a very intimate event with wine, nibbles and author book signings while boasting a gorgeous view of London’s Skyline. By the end of the event each attendee left with a fantastic goodie bag with FOUR early proof copies of new upcoming crime novels which I am very excited to read!


The event itself consisted of two panels made up of six fabulous British crime authors discussing their new novels and all things crime. The first panel featured Elly Griffiths, Claire McGowan, J.S Law and was chaired by Jake Kerridge. The panel discussed the settings in their novels, different communities reflected in their settings, the borderlands and between places, enclosed settings, the benefits of using made up places and the idea of whether the setting should be seen as a character within itself.IMG_3009.JPGA Q&A followed each panel – after the first panel a member of the audience asked a great question about settings in future novels and what the authors’ best and worst settings would be? This turned into a lively discussion about locked rooms, weird islands, historical settings, the suburbs and the dreaded places that everyone knows very well like Waterloo Station.

The second panel featured Janet Ellis, Sarah Hilary, Antonia Hodgson and was chaired by Antonia Senior. The panel was titled London past and present and discussed the wonderful city of London with its unique smell, anonymity, those weird places on the outskirts, different London boroughs, the rich versus poor and how they researched the different areas of London featured in their novels. Sarah Hilary went on to beguile the audience with tales of Battersea Power station, Janet Ellis discussed Primrose Hill in Georgian England and Antonia Hodgson spoke about how revolting London was during the Georgian period with its vomit, blood, guts and a big sense of desperation which she has described within her two novels.IMG_3031.JPG

This was a lively and fun evening jam packed with crime authors, publishers, bloggers and like-minded crime readers. There will be similar events from the Rooftop Book Club so don’t forget to follow them on twitter @RooftopBookClub to keep up to date with more fantastic evenings.IMG_3001.JPG

And now for the featured authors:

Elly Griffiths, @ellygriffiths, author of the riveting Dr Ruth Galloway series set in windswept Norfolk and the Stephens and Mephisto series set in 1950s Brighton.

Claire McGowan,@inkstainsclaire, author of the captivating Paula Maguire series, standalone novel The Fall and writer of Women’s general fiction under the pen name Eva Woods.

J. S Law, @JSLawBooks, debut author of Tenacity, a novel set in a Submarine. This will be part of a series featuring Lieutenant Danielle Lewis.

Janet Ellis, @missjanetellis, debut author of The Butcher’s Hook set in the summer of 1763 which has been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize 2016.

Sarah Hilary, @sarah_hilary,author of the amazing DI Marnie Rome series.

Antonia Hodgson, @AntoniaHodgson,author of the Devil in the Marshalsea and the Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins novels.

The Evolution of Fear Blog Tour – Paul E Hardisty

Today I’m delighted to be kicking off The Evolution of Fear tour and have Paul E Hardisty here to talk about his new novel and what inspires him.

Welcome Paul to the CKT blog for a stop on your awesome #EvoultionOfFear blog tour.

Evolution of Fear Vis 1 copy.jpg

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new novel The Evolution of Fear?

The Evolution of Fear is the sequel to the CWA Creasy New Dagger award short-listed The Abrupt Physics of Dying. Claymore Straker is a fugitive, on the run from the authorities in the UK, and hunted by the Russian Mafia.  As the assassins close in, Clay learns that the people who want him dead are also after Rania, the woman he loves. Breaking cover, Clay flees his safe house in North Cornwall to find Rania, who has gone missing. The trail finally leads him to Cyprus, where his worst fears are eclipsed, and Clay learns that he has so much more to fight for and lose than he had ever imagined. The Evolution of Fear is first and foremost a thriller, but it also explores some fundamental questions about the nature of fear, and the evolution that we must all go through if we are to conquer those fears which can so easily lead us to betray ourselves, those we love, and the things we believe in.

This is the second novel which features the character of Claymore Straker, how did you create such a dynamic and interesting protagonist?

Claymore Straker, I suppose like so many characters, is a child of many parents: me, who I might have been, and perhaps who I would have liked to have been, if I could have chosen to be someone else. But that child has grown since conception, and as the Abrupt Physics of Dying developed, so did the character.  In The Evolution of Fear, Clay changes and grows as the kindness of strangers, the loyalty of friends, and the love of a good woman begin to erode the wall of hate and regret he has built around himself.  Just when he thinks he can trust no one but himself, events prove him wrong. And just when he thinks he can never be forgiven for the wrongs of his past, the people closest to him show him how.

Claymore Straker is a fantastic name for a leading hero, how did you come up with the name?

I always liked the name Claymore, and for this protagonist, it was ideal.  First because, as a soldier in the Border War in Angola in the early 1980’s fighting the communist insurgency, he on many occasions deployed and used the eponymous M18 directional anti-personnel mine (the Claymore), with its prophetic inscription “Front Towards The Enemy.”  It was Clay’s father, originally from Scotland, who named him after the famous Scottish two-handed broadsword.  Growing up as a boy, Clay loved his name, exactly for these combative characteristics. But after his harrowing experiences during the war (the subject of the prequel to the first two books, which I am now writing, titled Reconciliation for the Dead), he has come to hate it. Straker is actually the family name of some good friends in Perth, Western Australia, where we live. They said I could borrow their name!

There never seems to be any let up for Clay, which I loved. How did you come up with the idea for the story?

Clay is a character born of conflict. His life has been shaped by three little known regional wars, first in Angola during the border war in the 19880’s (the subject of Reconciliation for the Dead, out in 2017), the Yemen civil war of 1994 (the setting for The Abrupt Physics of Dying), and now in The Evolution of Fear, the Cyprus conflict, which began with the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish Army, and remains unresolved to this day.  I know all of these places well, and have studied these conflicts extensively, and in the cases of Cyprus and Yemen, first-hand. Because the Abrupt Physics of Dying left a number of questions unanswered, the Evolution of Fear was a natural extension of the story, taking Clay back to an island he already knew well, to face his and Rania’s destiny.

There are a number of locations which feature in the novel including; Cornwall, Turkey and Cyprus. What made you choose to set the story in all of these very beautiful, but very different locations?

I love writing about places I know – making them come alive for the reader. I lived in the West Country of the UK for several years, and always loved the rugged and isolated Cornish coast. Also, after the sun-scorched adventures in Yemen in the first book, I wanted contrast that suited Clay’s situation – dark, stormy, cold, with sheets of gusting rain.  The first half of the book takes place in rain and darkness.  Fighting through a storm, he slowly comes out into the hazy ozone-choked sunlight of Istanbul , one of my favourite cities in the world. I stayed at the Pera Palas hotel several times while I was living and working in Turkey during the 1980s, and wanted to re-create its atmosphere of faded end-of-century glory. Cyprus, where I lived for almost a decade, is a beautiful beguiling island which has been embroiled in conflict for over 40 years. In many ways, the island’s problems reflect Clay’s own battle with himself.

Paul Hardisty.JPGCan you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Do you plot out all of the action first or do you just start writing and see where it takes you?

I am an engineer, and still work full time. My training has influenced how I write. It is very systematic. I start with an essential theme I want to explore through the character’s experience. Then I develop a core structure and plot line in advance, sketching out the action from beginning to end. I break up each day’s writing into a specific block or outcome, with a specific goal. Once the first draft is complete, and the structure can stand and bear weight, I start to allow myself more creative license, and start to weave in things that I think will add beauty, thematic relevance, or plot twists and turns. I love writing.  Absolutely love it. I have to find a way soon to stop working full time at science and engineering, so I can write more.

Who would you say is the biggest influence on your writing?

I guess like most writers, there are a whole number of authors that I admire, and who have in one way or another influenced me. Hemingway, McCarthy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Balzac, Maupassant, Houllebecq.  But I would have to say the person who has most influenced what I write about, and how, is my father. From a young age he bred in me a love and fascination for travel and other cultures, and a spirit of risk taking and discovery.  Those are the things I try to put into my writing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author, like myself?

There is all the usual stuff, which is good and true. Writers write. So write. As much and as well as you can. It’s a career like any other – you only get good by working at it over many years. Don’t give up. For me the most important thing is to back yourself – find your own voice, and your own way of telling a story and trust in yourself that if it is good enough, eventually, someone else will want to read it and will enjoy it. There is no point just copying what others have done.

What are you reading at the moment?

Right now I am reading Musashi, the quintessential Japanese novel about the life of the famous 16th Century samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, written by Eiji Yoshikawa before the Second World War, and translated by Charles Terry. I am also reading Jihadi: A Love Story, by fellow Orenda author Yusuf Toporov, and ploughing my way through A La recherché Du Temps Perdu by Proust, in French (my first language).

And finally, what is the rest of 2016 looking like for you?

Busy. I will be attending the UN Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Rotterdam in May for work, and the Boucheron writing festival in New Orleans in September.  Before the end of the year I am also planning to go back to Yemen to see and report first-hand on the effects of the current civil war there (if I can get into the country).

I would like to say a HUGE thanks to Paul E Hardisty for chatting to me today as part of his blog tour. Don’t forget to check out all of the other fab stops on The Evolution Of Fear blog tour!

To buy this book on Amazon click here or to buy on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Paul E Hardisty follow him on Twitter @Hardisty_Paul or check out his website here.

Now for the Evolution of Fear Blurb:

Claymore Straker is a fugitive with a price on his head. Wanted by the CIA for acts of terrorism he did not commit, his best friend has just been murdered and Rania, the woman he loves, has disappeared. Betrayed by those closest to him, he must flee the sanctuary of his safe house in Cornwall and track her down. As his pursuers close in, Clay follows Rania to Istanbul and then to Cyprus, where he is drawn into a violent struggle between the Russian mafia, Greek Cypriot extremists, and Turkish developers cashing in on the tourism boom. As the island of love descends into chaos, and the horrific truth is unveiled, Clay must call on every ounce of skill and endurance to save Rania and put an end to the unimaginable destruction being wrought in the name of profit.

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Chiller Review: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

First line:‘I dreamt vividly the night she died.’

In Her Wake HBcover copy 4Blurb: A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence.

Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.

Bella is close to her mother, so close that she spent nearly every minute of her childhood with her. So when Bella’s mother dies she is grief-stricken and has to face the terrifying prospect of living without her. But when a dark and tragic family secret is revealed, Bella’s world is literally turned upside down. Bella is forced to go on a journey to find out the truth which will question not just her own identity but her life too. Can Bella survive the fallout or will it destroy her?


The character of Bella is shy, passive and tends to let others control her who I deeply sympathised with, but what kept me hooked into the story is the way she grows as the novel progresses as she is forced to confront a devastating family secret.

The author uses very beautiful descriptions of Cornwall (as someone who has never been) which felt so realistic to me – I felt I was right there with Bella. The novel contains themes about identity, loss, toxic relationships, self-discovery and betrayal which the author trickles into the plot without it overshadowing the action which I loved.


This is a must read with its vivid imagery and beautiful writing which takes you on a heart-breaking journey of deceit and discovery.

With thanks to Orenda Books for my copy of In Her Wake.

To buy this book on Amazon click here.

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Amanda Jennings follow her on Twitter @MandaJJennings or check out her website here.

In Her Wake Blog Tour – Extract and Giveaway

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the next stop on the fabulous Amanda Jennings’ In Her Wake blog tour to share the prologue with you and to give one lucky person the chance to win their very own copy of this fab book.

In Her Wake HBcover copy 4.jpgBlurb:

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings


I dreamt vividly the night she died. I’ve had this dream before. In it I am running. Always running. My heart thumps in my ears. My breath comes in short, painful gasps. It is dark and cold and the tress reach out to grab me, as if they are alive, as if they are trying to capture me with their long, twiggy fingers. Their roots are thick and hidden and I trip repeatedly. I think my feet must hurt. I look down to see that I am wearing only one slipper.

When did I lose the other?

Fear has taken hold of me now. A rising panic fills me and I begin to struggle for breath. My chest is tight, like a giant’s hand is squeezing and squeezing, making each gasp impossible. It is getting darker. I must keep running. And then, just when I think it’s all over, there it is, a glorious sunrise appears ahead and forces back the darkness. She is sitting, as she always does, in the pool of light on the forest floor. A little girl in a white nightie, soft, golden curls framing her pale face. I run to her and she lifts her head. When she sees me she smiles. I wave and she waves back and then I laugh because she is wearing my other slipper. We both have one bare foot and one slipper. How funny!

As soon as I laugh, the light begins to fade and so does she. I scream loudly my lungs feel as if they might split open.

I have to reach her before she melts away.

But it’s always too late.

As I stretch my fingers out to touch her, she vanishes.

My hand grasps smoke.

Then everything turns black and the ground beneath me disappears. I am falling through a void, into a pit with windowless walls that stretch up for miles, walls that are slippery with darkness and impossible to climb.

I am lost forever.

This is what I dreamt the night she died.

To find out more about Amanda Jennings follow her on Twitter @MandaJJennings or check out her website here. In Her Wake is published by Orenda Books and is out to buy now. To buy this book on Amazon click here.


  • Tweet the link to this post with @emms_rachel in the post OR like or retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway. (You’ll need to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send you a direct message if you win.)
  • Rules: 
Only one entry per reader.
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • I will draw the winner at random. There will be no cash alternative
  • The competition closes for entries at 10.00pm GMT on Friday 15th April 2016
  • My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

****This competition has now closed****

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the In Her Wake Blog Tour:

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Killer Review: Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

First Line: ‘Rain had blunted all of London’s spires, flattened her high-rises, buried her tower blocks in puddles of mud.’

Blurb:  The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene. A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home. To the one man who understands her. Gives her shelter. Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house. He’s the head of her new family.

He’s Harm.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.

Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear…

DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake are back with a bang in this fantastic third novel in the Marnie Rome series. A distraught young girl walks into the road and causes a fatal car crash – only to then disappear from the scene. What starts out as a simple case to locate the missing girl turns into a disturbing and sinister case for Marnie Rome as she is faced with a new type of criminal – someone who collects runaway young girls like they’re sweets who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

I was so pleased when I picked up this book as I loved Sarah Hilary’s previous book Someone Else’s Skin. Tastes Like Fear was breath-taking from the very first moment I started reading.

I especially loved the characters of Marnie and Noah even more in this novel as it has a lot more depth of character in this story by drip feeding both characters’ backstory and flaws but still managing to keep it relevant to the main plot of the story.  I particularly found the villain very creepy in this novel, putting me on edge as a reader which made me keep pick up this book as I was desperate to find out who it was and what motivated them.

The setting of Battersea Power Station was very vivid and descriptive which really brought this area of London to life for me and added another dimension to the story.

The novel also has a fantastic twist in it that I didn’t see coming which literally made me gasp out loud and turned the whole story on its head. This novel is packed full of pace and suspense with a tightly weaved plot which kept me on the very edge of my seat.

This is a fantastic read for anyone who loves a thrilling, high stakes police procedural with a twist.

With thanks to Net Galley and Headline Publishing for my copy of Tastes like Fear.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Sarah Hilary follow her on Twitter @sarah_hilary or visit her website here 


First Monday Crime Event

This week I went to the First Monday Crime Event, hosted by Goldsboro Books which was held at City University. This is a new crime/thriller evening which will be held in Central London on the first Monday of every month and which will feature a range of amazing best-selling authors.

The event was an instant hit and featured an awesome panel of authors; Leye Adenle, Elly Griffiths, Mary Paulson-Ellis, Amanda Jennings and chaired by Barry Forshaw. The authors discussed their recent novels, their debuts, their experience at submitting the first draft, book themes, the dreaded second novel syndrome, plotting and the notion of a tidy desk.


They all gave some great recommendations of crime authors they love including; Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allen Poe, anything by Charles Dickens, Lizzie Thompson, Isabelle Grey and Pace Setter Novels from MacMillian Publishers.

IMG_2962This lively and fun evening featured cupcakes, wine and some fantastic goody bags from Orenda Books. After the panel discussion there was even a chance to buy the books and to get these signed by the authors – which is something I always look forward to at events! The evening ended with a lot of socialising down the local pub.

If you get the chance I would recommend anyone who loves crime/thriller novels to go. There is a small £5 charge to attend but with a friendly, fun and lively atmosphere I think it is definitely worth it.


To find out more about the next event or to book tickets visit the Goldsboro books events page here or follow @1stMondayCrime.

The Featured Books:

Brit Noir by Barry Forshaw: The Pocket Essential Guide to British Crime Fiction, Film and TV.

Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle

Blurb: Guy Collins, a British hack, is hunting for an election story in Lagos. A decision to check out a local bar in Victoria Island ends up badly – a mutilated female body is discarded close by and Collins is picked up as a suspect. In the murk of a hot, groaning and bloody police station cell, Collins fears the worst. But then Amaka, a sassy guardian angel of Lagos working girls, talks the police station chief around. She assumes Collins is a BBC journo who can broadcast the city’s witchcraft and body parts trade that she’s on a one-woman mission to stop.

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Blurb: Brighton, winter 1951.

Pantomime season is in full swing on the pier with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin, but Max’s headlines have been stolen by the disappearance ­­of two local children. When they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the press nickname them ‘Hansel and Gretel’.

DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The girl, Annie, used to write gruesome plays based on the Grimms’ fairy tales. Does the clue lie in Annie’s unfinished – and rather disturbing – last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime?

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

Blurb: A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.

The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis 

Blurb: Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name . . 

In a freezing, desolate Edinburgh flat an old woman takes her last breath surrounded by the few objects she has accrued over a lifetime: an emerald dress, a brazil nut engraved with the ten commandments – and six orange pips sucked dry.

Meanwhile, guided by the flip of a coin, Margaret Penny arrives back at her old family home, escaping a life in London recently turned to ash. Faced with relying on a resentful mother she has never really known, Margaret soon finds herself employed by the Office for Lost People, tasked with finding the families of the dead: the neglected, the abandoned, the lost. Her instructions are to uncover paperwork, yet the only thing Mrs Walker, the old woman in her current case, left behind is a series of peculiar objects.

But in the end it is these objects that will unravel Mrs Walker’s real story: a story rooted in the London grime and moving from the 1930s to the present day, a story of children abandoned and lost, of beguiling sisters and misplaced mothers, of deception and thievery, family secrets and the very deepest of betrayals; in which the extraordinary circular nature of life will glitter from the page. For in uncovering the astonishing tale of an old woman who died alone, Margaret will finally discover her own story too . . .



Wicked Game Blog Tour

Today it’s my pleasure to share a sneak peek of Matt Johnson’s superb thriller Wicked Game as part of the Wicked Game Blog Tour and to give one lucky person the chance to win their very own copy of this fab book.

Wicked Game copy 2.jpgWicked Games extract:

‘Fucking hell, Jed, what is that smell?’ asked Blackwood, as they joined the other passengers on the short, stifling walk across the tarmac to the waiting airport bus.

Garrett had smelled Kalikata before. Sweat, exhaust fumes and local spices combined to produce a pungent, musty aroma that some loved but many found hard to bear.

‘That’s the smell of India, Mac. Get used to it, we’re gonna be here a while.’

As they boarded the bus, Garrett could see his friend becoming impatient. He was anxious to get to their hotel and get their business underway. Garrett smiled. Mac was going to have to adjust to the slower pace of life here. The perpetual heat and humidity would soon put paid to any ideas of doing things quickly. Mac Blackwood was used to the chilly, windswept streets of Glasgow, whereas Garrett was from Florida and had been to India many times before.

In the welcome air-conditioned atmosphere of the arrivals hall, Mac relaxed again.

‘No wonder they call this the black hole of Calcutta,’ he said pointing through the window of the crowds who stood outside waiting to beg from, or sell to, the arriving travellers. There were hundreds of them. Men, women and children of all ages. Kids with filthy hands, blackened nails and puppy-dog eyes chased around, pleading for small change from the tourists.

‘I fuckin’ hate this place already.’ Blackwood turned away from the window. ‘Ach, for Christ sake. Look at the state of that kit.’ He pointed to the uniforms of the soldiers who milled around the airport concourse, trying to looks efficient.

Garrett was starting to get tired of his companion’s constant moaning. He stayed silent until their bags appeared on the carousel.

Outside, he hailed a taxi. But as the driver took their bags, children surrounded them, their tiny hands open and extended. ‘Gimme dollar, gimme dollar.’

One youngster held up a soiled copy of Penthouse. ‘You buy, you buy,’ he called.

As Mac Blackwood reached for his pocket, Garrett grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the car. He knew giving just one child some cash would mean another fifty blocking their way.

‘Oberoi Hotel,’ he told the driver. Blackwood had to prise tiny fingers from the door handle before he could join Garrett in the back. They accelerated slowly away, stained and grimy hands smacking incessantly on the windows as the taxi driver sought out a route through the throng.

With the noise and bustle of the airport fading away behind them, Garrett sighed and shook his head at Blackwood. ‘Over three million kids die every year in this country from diseases caused by poverty,’ he said. ‘They’ll do whatever they can to survive. Help one, and they’ll all want a piece of you.’

Blackwood simply nodded. Not helping a needy kid didn’t sit comfortably with him.

They had been travelling for only a minute or two when the taxi started to slow.

‘What now?’ Blackwood leaned forward. The taxi driver was stopping to let a cow cross the road.

‘Cows are sacred here, Mac,’ said Garrett, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘ Just be patient.’

At that moment, the front passenger door swung open and a filthy teenager in a simple shirt and trousers jumped in. The first thing Blackwood noticed was the smell. Garrett saw the holdall the kid carried.

‘American?’ The boy smiled as he turned to ask them the question.

‘Canadian,’ Garrett lied. Canadians were popular everywhere.

‘Have a nice day.’

The last thing Jed Garrett saw were the two wires that stuck out from the side of the bag the boy was carrying and the swift movement as he reached down to press them together.

To find out more about Matt Johnson follow him on Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK or check out his website here. To buy this book on Amazon click here.


  • Tweet the link to this post with @emms_rachel in the post OR like or retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway. (You’ll need to follow me on Twitter, so that I can send you a direct message if you win.)
  • Rules: 
Only one entry per reader.
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • I will draw the winner at random. There will be no cash alternative
  • The competition closes for entries at 9.30pm GMT on Tuesday 5th April 2016
  • My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

* ****This competition has now ended and the prize winner notified *******


Wicked Games Blog tour.jpg

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Thriller Review: Wicked Game by Matt Johnson

First Line: ‘Jed Garrett and Mac Blackwood stepped out of the artificially cool aircraft cabin into a wall of heat.’Wicked Game copy 2

What the blurb says: 2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans.

Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse a wicked game in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

Meet Robert Finlay, a soldier turned policeman with a wife and new baby girl who has long since buried his murky military past. When a series of murdered policemen turn out to be former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own former SAS regiment, he realises that his past is coming back to haunt him and that he is the next on the target list.

Faced with the terrifying prospect of losing his wife and child, Finlay must face his demons and dig deep into his past to use his long-buried fighting skills to protect his family. But can he find the enemy before it is too late?

This gripping debut novel is set in 2001 and contains a lot of dramatic action which refuses to let up. I loved the main character Robert Finlay, a strong, determined yet resourceful policemen who would do anything to protect his family. The novel also uses many flashbacks of Finlay’s military past which I found as a reader gave me a better understanding of his character and evoked a lot of empathy.

I found the vivid descriptions and settings really brought the novel to life for me, making it feel like I was right in the action.

This is a breath-taking, debut novel which will have you on the edge of your seat.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Matt Johnson follow him on Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK or check out his website here


Deal Noir 2016

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Deal Noir, a convention for crime writers, aspiring writers, bloggers and for those beloved fans of crime fiction.

There’s a time and a place for everything: The event kicked of with a lively debate with Craig Sisterson, Guy Fraser-Sampson, Linda Regan, Daniel Pembrey and William Shaw, focusing on the importance of setting in crime fiction, why each author picked the location for their own novels and what it said about the characters.

Panel one

Craig Sisterson, Guy Fraser-Sampson, Linda Regan, Daniel Pembrey and William Shaw

The next panel New Blood featured the debut authors; Simon Booker, Sarah Ward, SJI Holliday and Alison Baillie which featured a number of great tips on how each author became published, what influenced their writing and their own writing journeys’.

After a quick break, a funny and engaging session Around the World in 80 Slays kicked off featuring Edward Wilson, William Ryan, Piergiorgio Pulixi, Quentin Bates and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, bringing an international flavour to the conference. The session discussed characters in crime writing, how to approach research and discussed their own personal experiences visiting or living in different countries which feature in the author’s stories including; Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Russia, Italy, Auschwitz and Baltimore.

Panel three

Edward Wilson, William Ryan, Piergiorgio Pulixi, Quentin Bates and Yrsa Sigurdardottir

May the Force Be With You was a interesting session with a range of current or ex-military and police officers, David Videcette, Lisa Cutts, Michael Fowler and Matt Johnson. This panel discussed the transition from being in the police force to writing and becoming a published author. It also featured some information about the British police force and how this influenced their own writing.

After lunch the conference restarted with The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie with Dr John Curran and David Brawn. This was an insight into the well-loved novels of Agatha Christie and how Harper Collins Publishers have changed the way they market their novels to target a new generation. I was delighted with the cheeky reveal of the cover for Closed Casket, the new Hercule Poirot novel penned by Sophie Hannah which will be released later this year.

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Watching the Detectives was a engaging panel  moderated by Ayo Onatade, featuring the authors, Andrew Taylor, Susan Moody, Simon Brett and John Harvey, discussed what it is like to write a crime series, the pros and cons of writing about an amateur detective and the type of crime series they like to read themselves.

The highlight of the event for me was the Leading Ladies panel with Alison Joseph, Elly Griffiths, Alex Marwood, Sarah Hilary and Elizabeth Haynes. This was a lively discussion about the gender question in crime fiction, the crime victims, the psychopaths, dodgy subsidiary characters, how they plot a novel and each author’s central characters.

The event came to close with Criminal Cabaret with Simon Brett, reading out some of his own humorous works of fiction and a wine reception giving us a chance to talk to the authors and to get those newly purchased books signed. This was my first time attending this event which had such a lovely and friendly atmosphere – I’m very much looking forward to going again next year!