*Blog Tour* Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

Today, I’m thrilled to be hosting the next stop on the Sweet Little Lies blog tour, penned by Caz Frear and published by Bonnier Zaffre Books. As part of the tour I have a fab interview with the author. As always, don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this tour.

Welcome to the CKT blog, Caz. To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel, Sweet Little Lies?

Of course!  Sweet Little Lies tells the story of DC Cat Kinsella, a young detective with the Met, who starts to believe that her father may be involved in the murder she’s investigating to and the disappearance of an Irish teenager in 1998.  It’s very much a police procedural at heart, however it has strong domestic/family noir overtones as Cat struggles to balance her professional responsibilities and her personal allegiances.

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How did you get into writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Like most authors, I’ve been writing my whole life, on and off.  And yes, I always wanted to be a writer, even if I forgot for a few years in my mid-late-twenties when boys, boozing and going out kind of took over J  Things really started to come together though when I was selected to join the Curtis Brown Creative course a few years ago.  This was a huge personal challenge but also a privilege to work alongside other aspiring writers and learn from industry-leading experts.  I finished the course in 2015 with the seeds of Sweet Little Lies sown (although it has changed quite a bit since then) and in 2016, I became aware of the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.  The rest, as they say, is history….

 You have a killer premise, how did you come up with the idea for Sweet Little Lies and how long did it take you to write?

The honest answer is I don’t know, or can’t remember, how exactly I came up with the idea for Sweet Little Lies.  I always had an image of a young Irish woman travelling to the UK for an abortion and something happening to her, and I also knew I wanted to explore a toxic dad-and-daughter relationship as I think it’s a fascinating dynamic and not as represented in fiction as mothers-and-daughters.  Added to that, I’d always always wanted to write a police procedural (even though I wasn’t sure if I was qualified to!)  so the three things eventually collided, really, and after a lot of false starts, Sweet Little Lies just came to be!

All in all, Sweet Little Lies probably took just under two years to write but that’s taking it right from initial conception until that glorious moment when I tapped The End, and there were certainly periods during that time where life took over and I didn’t write as much. Having the deadline for the R&J competition was a godsend though, as I’d probably only written 30,000 good words by the end of 2015 (plenty of bad words!) but then in 2016 the remaining 80,000 were written in a 7 month deadline frenzy!

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, did you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I secretly wish that I could just dive right in and see where I end up but I’m a really plotter.  Sweet Little Lies and Book 2 spent their early lives on an Excel spreadsheet rather than a Word document, and I refer back to it all the way through – it helps me track who’s in which scene, whether the red herrings are evenly paced, whether there’s too much ‘personal’ stuff and not enough procedural etc.  Having been through the Excel stage with Book 2, it now currently exists as a 12,000 word novella – basically I’ve written it in incredibly messy form, I’ve got the gist of everything down and now I need to go back and tell the story properly.  I should add, I don’t always stick to the plan, there were a few twists and turns in Sweet Little Lies that actually surprised me, but I need a detailed plan to work from, at least.  I find it hard to get going if I can’t see where I’ll end up.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everyone and everywhere!  Characters are usually an amalgamation of several people I’ve crossed paths with.  Just overhearing a conversation on a bus can inspire a whole new piece of dialogue.  I think ‘inspiration’ is a slightly mystical term as usually there isn’t one image or anecdote that literally inspires the writing of a 100,000 word novel.  You just start with a character and a dilemma and get writing (or in my case, get plotting!).  Just writing, even badly, fuels inspiration, rather than the other way around.  If you wait for the killer idea or the killer hook to hit, you could be waiting a very long time!

Your book is set in London and Ireland and features a detective. How much research did you do for Sweet Little Lies?

In terms of locations, I know London extremely well as I lived there for fourteen years and I know the west coast of Ireland as well as any regular tourist as my parents both hail from there.  Mulderrin is a fictional town though.  As Ireland only features in very short chapters, I was conscious that I wouldn’t do justice to the beauty of the real towns I know across County Galway and County Mayo and therefore I made a deliberate decision to keep the Irish location pretty vague.

I did a lot of research for the procedural element of the novel.  A hell of a lot!  While I don’t doubt there’s still a few holes and inaccuracies, it was really important for me to get this bit as right as I could.  I’m a huge Lynda La Plante fan and I’m in awe of how authentic her books feel and so I strive towards this, at least.  Luckily in the course of writing the novel, I met the most patient and generous police officer who didn’t mind me fact-checking and putting scenarios to him on a daily basis!  And obviously these days, Google can be your guide – there isn’t a lot you can’t find out online (although I still think you can’t beat actually speaking to someone in the know.)Caz Frear

What would you say are your top five books you would recommend? (I know this is a hard one)

Very hard!  I’ve written a few times about my favourite crime novels but personal favourites are obviously very subjective so instead I’ll try to think of the top five books that I recommend to literally everyone – the crowd-pleasers.

  • The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer’s novel about mental health tells the story of Matt and the guilt he feels over his younger brother’s death when they were younger.  Sounds depressing, right?  It isn’t.  It’s funny, sharp and made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby.  Such clean, unaffected writing too.  I force everyone to read it!
  • What Was Lost, Catherine O Flynn tells the story of Kate Meaney, a 10 year old girl who went missing from a shopping centre in 1984, and the people who try to find out what happened years later.  Again this is a bittersweet tale – a really sad story that still manages to make you laugh and feel warm inside.  In Kate Meaney, O Flynn nails a precocious but also desperately lonely 10 year old.  She’s one of the strongest child narrators I’ve read.
  • Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes had well and truly hit her stride by this 1997 cracker!  Rachel’s holiday is actually a stay in a Betty Ford-style rehab centre and while she’s initially pleased, thinking it’ll be a hotbed of celebrities and relaxing massages, what she finds is something quite different.  This novel is peak Marian Keyes in terms of combining fierce wit and warmth with a serious subject matter – addiction.
  • The Burning Air, Erin Kelly crafts the perfect psychological thriller – atmospheric, taut, beautifully plotted and with a mid-point twist that makes your jaw drop.
  • Lying in Wait, Liz Nugent is a recent addition to the ‘authors I rave about’ list.  Her first novel, ‘Unravelling Oliver’ was good but Lying in Wait is something else.  And what an opening line –My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it.’  So deliciously sinister – I absolutely love it.

Just for fun, if you could have a dinner party with three guests (dead or alive) who would they be?

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac – I just think she’s the coolest woman that’s ever lived – I even named my novel after a Fleetwood Mac song!  Actually that’s a lie, my editor came up with the title but I like to think it’s serendipity…

Arsene Wenger – Because I’m a massive Arsenal fan and I’ve got several bones to pick with him.  At least around the dinner table, we could keep it civilised.

Victoria Wood – She was an absolute genius and makes me cry laughing every time.  I love how she always gave the best lines to other people and she could be known to spend days on one joke, trying to make sure it was as sharp as it could be.  I adore that level of perfectionism.  I actually have a quote from her as my screensaver, it reminds me that even writing geniuses struggle like the rest of us…

I used to find writing scary but now I’ve got used to it once it gets going. I used to find it hard to start. Fear of the blank page. The first thing you write down won’t bear any relation to what’s in your head and that’s always disappointing.”

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes – work has definitely started on Book 2!  Cat and MIT4 will be back for more fun and games and Cat’s family will still feature.  It’s a completely new story and one that Cat isn’t personally attached to this time (don’t want her becoming a Jessica Fletcher type, even though I’m a big fan J)  However the events of Sweet Little Lies will still cast a shadow over Cat’s life (and potentially her career *she added cryptically)

Finally, what is the rest of 2017 looking like for you?

Busy!  I’m doing lots of promotional stuff for Sweet Little Lies but then I need to roll my sleeves up and properly crack on with Book 2!  As I mentioned, I have the most detailed synopsis for Book 2, and I’ve started to have fun with key scenes and key characters, but what I really need to do is stop plotting and playing and just start getting the story in down in a linear way.  I’m sure my editor agrees J

Big thanks, Caz for answering my questions!

Thanks so much for asking them!

Sweet Little Lies is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Caz Frear follow her on Twitter at @CazziF.

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Blog Tour Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Today I am part of the blog tour for Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, published by the wonderful Orenda Books, along with my counterpart Being Anne whose review you can check out here. Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this epic blog tour!

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Blurb:

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

We are first introduced to Bo Luxton, a successful writer who is runs a writing course, is married to Gus, twenty-two years her senior with two daughters and lives in a beautiful house in the Lake District.

Alice Dark’s life seems to be at a standstill; she lives in a squalid bedsit in Brighton with a loser of a boyfriend who seems to drink and take drugs and works for cash in hand – she wants more from life.

When the two women meet at the writers retreat Bo is organising, they hit it off and end up staying in touch via email once the retreat is over. As their kinship develops and Bo invites Alice to stay with her a sinister relationship develops.

The novel is told from both women point of view, sometimes via email or telephone along with a characters view point from prison which immediately tells the reader that something bad will happen.

I adored the beautiful imagery and language the authors uses throughout this novel to draw the reader in and sets up a claustrophobic atmosphere which made the action even more chilling.

The author weaves an intricate plot with a brilliant ending I didn’t see coming and does a superb job of creating two such disturbing characters – even now I’m unsure who was telling the truth – or are they both liars?

This is a novel full of tension, toxic passion, breathless pace and disturbing characters – I loved it and cannot recommend this book enough! This is a psychological thriller at the top of its game.

Big thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour and for my ARC.

About the author:

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

This novel is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Sarah Stovell follow her on Twitter at @Sarahlovescrime

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Fierce Kingdom Blog Tour Extract by Gin Phillips

This is my second post for the Fierce Kingdom blog tour, by Gin Phillips. I am excited to share this exclusive extract for you below and it is a book I thought was gripping from start to finish. You can read my review of this novel here.

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*Exclusive Extract – Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips*

5:23 p.m.

Joan scans the sand pit for any forgotten plastic men, and then she takes Lincoln’s hand and heads down the path leading out of the woods. She wonders when he will stop wanting to hold her hand, but for now they seem equally happy with the arrangement. In less than twenty steps the trees have opened up – it’s only an illusion, the seclusion of this place – and there’s the sound of the waterfall splattering on the rocks in front of the otter exhibit.

The otter is one of their favorite animals, one of the few that will still pull Lincoln from his stories. The two otters have a huge cavern‐styled enclosure with faux‐rock overhangs, and the animals curve and flip and dive in a greenish pool behind a wide glass wall. The rocks jut over the walkway, and a waterfall rushes over visitors’ heads and spills down to a turtle pond thick with lily pads and reeds and some sort of purple‐flowered stalk. The wooden footpath that winds over the pond has always struck her as the prettiest part of the Woodlands – but now it seems only empty.

Lincoln laughs next to her. ‘Look at the otter. Look how he swims.’ He still struggles with words ending in ‐er. ‘Ott‐o,’ he says, instead of ‘otter’. Lex Luth‐o. Score a goal in socc‐o.

‘I like his paws,’ she says.

‘He has paws? Not fins? Real paws like a dog or finger paws like a monkey?’

She is tempted to stop and point out the anatomy of otters. This is what she wants most for him, maybe, to see that life is full of astonishing things, to know that you should pay attention – Look, it’s beautiful, he said, staring into a puddle of gasoline in the zoo parking lot – but they don’t have time. She gives his hand a tug, and he comes easily enough, though his head is slow to turn away from the otter. As they step onto the wooden bridge, lily pads to either side of them, she wishes that they would see someone else, some other chattering fam‐ ily also running late. Not that it’s unusual to have the path to themselves. They often see no one else all the way to the exit in the afternoon, and they are pushing it closer than usual to closing time. She picks up her pace.

‘Want to race?’ she asks. ‘No.’

‘You want to skip?’

‘No, thank you.’

He plods along.

She sometimes wonders if his determination not to do a thing is in direct proportion to the amount of enthusiasm she shows for it. He continues meandering along the bridge, pausing to shrink back from a gnat or to stare down at a speckled koi. He comes to a complete stop to scratch his chin. When she asks him to hurry, he frowns, and she knows by the look on his face what he will ask for.

‘I want you to carry me,’ he says.

‘I can’t carry you all the way to the car,’ she says. ‘You’re getting too big.’

She watches his lip slide out.

‘Here’s my compromise,’ she says, before this escalates and slows them down further. ‘I’ll pick you up when we get to the scarecrows, and I’ll carry you from there. If you can do a good job of walking to the scarecrows.’

‘Okay,’ he says, although his voice is wobbly and his lip is extending more, and he is starting to wail even as he moves his feet in time with hers.

She did not, it occurs to her, specify that he could not cry as he walks. He is technically meeting her terms. It is possible that he will cry himself out in a few seconds and get distracted by some passing thought of Thor’s helmet or Odin’s eye patch. It is possible that he will only cry more loudly, and she will give in and pick him up because he has actually walked quite a long way, uncomplainingly, on his small legs. It is possible that he will keep crying and she will stand firm and make him walk all the way to the car because she does not want him to turn into one of those children who throw tantrums.

Such a system of checks and balances – parenting – of projections and guesswork and cost–benefit ratios.

A dragonfly hovers and darts. A heron picks its way along the edge of the water. The wooden path cuts back and forth through trees and wild grass.

Lincoln has stopped crying, and she’s fairly sure he’s hum‐ ming the Georgia Bulldogs’ fight song – ‘Glory, glory to old Georgia! / Glory, glory to old Georgia!’ – although as soon as she finishes the thought, he switches to the Texas Long‐ horns. No one in their family is a fan of either team, but he soaks up fight‐song lyrics as he soaks up superheroes and villains.

He is a collector. He accumulates.

Through the trees she can see the tent‐like top of the merry‐go‐round. It shines white against the dishwater sky. They pass a chicken‐wire‐enclosed exhibit for a one‐legged eagle and a near‐invisible enclosure for a pair of egrets. There are dead logs and monkey grass and lime‐green weeds. She walks toward an overhanging branch, and one of its leaves detaches, turning into a yellow butterfly and weaving up to the sky.

Finally they are back on the concrete sidewalks, which are as wide as roads. Jack‐o’‐lanterns perch on the fence posts.

They take a few steps into civilization, and she glances over at the merry‐go‐round. It is still and silent; the painted giraffes and zebras and bears and gorillas and ostriches are frozen. Lincoln used to love the merry‐go‐round, although he would only ride a zebra. Now the carousel animals have rubber bats and tiny Kleenex ghosts floating around them, hanging from the wooden framework. She and Lincoln are close enough that the white canvas top covering the carousel spreads over them, bright and calm.

‘Mommy,’ he says. ‘Carry me.’

‘When we get to the scarecrows,’ she says, ignoring his arms stretched toward her. ‘Just a little farther.’

He doesn’t protest this time. They hurry past the merry‐go‐round, toward the food court and the Kid Zone Splash Park, with the fountains of shoulder‐high water still arcing onto the blue‐raspberry‐colored splash pads.

‘Medusa’s been here,’ Lincoln announces, and she looks beyond the spraying water to the shaded spot with the stone statues of a turtle, a frog and a lizard. These days, anytime they see stone figures it is a sign that Medusa has passed by. Spider‐Man has been here, he says to spiderwebs.

‘Those poor guys,’ she says, because it is what she says every time they pass Medusa’s victims.

‘They should have kept their eyes closed,’ he says, because it is what he says every time.

She glances at the darkened glass of the Koala Café, with its shelves of plastic‐wrapped sandwiches and Jell‐O and hard‐boiled eggs, but she sees no sign of movement inside. The plastic chairs are upside down on the square tables. The staff usually close down the restaurants and lock the buildings fifteen minutes before closing time, so she’s not surprised.

Off to their right is the playground with the rock moun‐ tains and swinging bridge. Once upon a time, Lincoln was interested in Antarctica, and the big rocks were icebergs. Then last spring he was playing knights and castles on the swinging bridge, yelling at invisible kings to bring out the cannons and to fill the catapults with rocks. Now that same bridge is always Thor’s rainbow‐colored pathway to Earth. In a year Lincoln will be in kindergarten and these days of superheroes will fade and be replaced by something she can’t guess, and then at some point the zoo itself will be replaced and life will have gone on and this boy holding her hand will have turned into someone else entirely.

They are making good time now, scurrying past the gift shop and the wooden cut‐out where a kid can stick his head through a hole and pretend he is a gorilla. They slow down by the algae‐clogged aquariums at the edge of the children’s area – Lincoln cannot resist looking for the giant turtle – and an older woman appears a few yards in front of them, just around the curve of the aquarium walls, staggering backward slightly. She is holding a shoe.

‘The rock’s out, Tara,’ she says, and there is a certain cheerful desperation in her voice that identifies her as a grandmother. ‘Come on, now.’

Two blonde girls, surely sisters, come into view, and the grandmother leans down, holding out the shoe to the smaller girl. Her hair is in pigtails, and she looks a little younger than Lincoln.

‘We’ve got to go,’ says the grandmother as she works the rubber sandal onto a small foot. Then she straightens.

The little one says something, too quiet to hear, even though they are all within a few feet of each other now. Several flies tap against the aquarium glass.

‘I’ll take them off when we get to the car,’ says the grand‐ mother, out of breath. She takes an off‐balance step, holding the girls by their wrists. The girls blink at Lincoln, but then the woman is propelling them forward.

‘That’s a grandmother,’ Lincoln says, too loudly, stopping suddenly enough that he jerks Joan’s arm.

‘I think so, too,’ she whispers.

Joan glances toward the older woman – there is a flowery chemical smell in the air, perfume that reminds her of Mrs Manning in the sixth grade, who gave her and no one else a copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins on the last day of school – but the woman and her grandchildren are gone now, already past the curve of the final aquarium.

‘If I had a grandmother, is that what she would look like?’ Lincoln asks.

He has been fixated on grandparents lately. She hopes it will pass as quickly as all his other phases.

‘You do have a grandmother,’ Joan says, tugging him for‐ ward again. ‘Grandma. Daddy’s mommy. She was here at Christmas, remember? She just lives far away. We need to go, sweet.’

‘Some people have lots of grandparents. I only have one.’

‘No, you have three. Remember? Now we’ve got to get going or we’ll get in trouble.’

The magic words. He nods and speeds up, his face serious and resolute.

There is another popping sound, louder and closer than before, maybe a dozen sharp cracks in the air. She thinks it might be something hydraulic.

They’ve come to the edge of a pond – the largest one in the zoo, nearly a lake – and she catches a glimpse of swans cutting through the water. The path forks: the right branch would lead them around the far side of the pond, up through the Africa exhibit, but the left will take them to the exit in a few less seconds. She can see the green‐and‐red flash of the parrots up ahead, unusually quiet. She likes their little island in the middle of all the concrete – a bricked‐in pool with a grassy mound and spindly trees – and it is always their first and last stop, the final ritual of every visit.

‘Start practicing your parrot caws,’ she tells him.

‘I don’t need to practice,’ he says. ‘I just want to see the scarecrows.’

‘We’ll have to look at them while we walk.’

A long row of scarecrows has been propped along the fence that circles the pond. Many of them have pumpkins for heads, and Lincoln is fascinated by them. He loves the Superman one and the astronaut one – with the pumpkin painted like a white space helmet – and especially the Cat in the Hat.

‘All right, sweet,’ she says.

He drops her hand and lifts his arms.
She glances along the fence, spotting the bright‐blue

pumpkin head of Pete the Cat. About halfway down the fence several scarecrows have fallen. Blown down by the wind, she assumes, but, no, it hasn’t been stormy. Still, the scarecrows have collapsed, half a dozen of them scattered all the way down to the parrot exhibit and beyond.

No, not scarecrows. Not scarecrows.

She sees an arm move. She sees a body way too small to be a scarecrow. A skirt, hiked indecently over a pale hip, legs bent.

She is slow to lift her eyes, but when she looks farther, past the shapes on the ground, past the parrots, toward the long, flat building with public bathrooms and doors marked employees only, she sees a man standing, facing away from her, unmoving. He is by the water fountain. He is in jeans and a dark shirt, no coat. His hair is brown or black, and other than that she cannot see details, but she cannot miss it when he does finally move. He kicks the bathroom door, his elbow coming up to catch it, a gun in his right hand, some sort of rifle, long and black, the narrow end of it stretching like an antenna past his dark head as he dis‐ appears into the pale‐green walls of the women’s bathroom.

She thinks there is another movement around the parrots, someone else still on his feet, but she is turning away by then. She does not see more.

She grabs Lincoln and heaves him up, his legs swinging heavily as he lands against her hip, her right hand grabbing her left wrist underneath his bottom, linking her arms.

She runs.

Blog Tour Review Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Today, I’m absolutely ecstatic to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Fierce Kingdom penned by Gin Phillips. As part of the blog tour I have reviewed the book and I have an exclusive extract of the novel which I will share with you later on today. Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fab blog tour!

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First up is the blurb:

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

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My Review:

I love thriller novels and I had heard so much about this novel, so when I was sent an copy I just jumped at the chance to read this.

Joan and her four year old son, Lincoln, decide to visit one of their many favourite haunts, the local zoo, after school to catch the last of the day’s sunshine. But as time fades quickly Joan and Lincoln have to make a mad dash towards the exit before the zoo closes for the night; but all too soon they are faced with a bigger danger – a man with a gun is blocking the exit and is on the hunt for humans. Joan is faced with every parent’s nightmare and the fight for survival.

Wow – what can I say about this novel? I absolutely loved the action and the drama of this story which was just utterly breathless – the pace was relentless from start to finish and I found myself holding my breath a lot willing Joan and Lincoln to survive.

I most admit some of the decisions Joan makes along the way made me question how I would react in the same/similar situation? What is apparent though is the strength and determination which Joan has, which I felt made her an outstanding heroine. Joan’s desperate need to protect her son also shines through this novel and I loved the relationship between Joan and Lincoln which really showed the love between them – it made me want to close my eyes at times because I just felt so scared for these characters.

I think what made this book so scary for me is that it hits on themes which seem very relevant in the society we live in now.

I thought Fierce Kingdom was a gripping novel which takes the reader on a fast-paced journey of a mother’s fierce protection for her child. This was such a thrilling read which I just couldn’t put down and I would urge you to read – just don’t read it in a dark room on your own!

I would like to say a huge thanks to Alison Barrow and Transworld Publishers for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out 15th June which you can preorder from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Gin Phillips follow her on Twitter at @GinPhillips17

*Blog Tour* Need You Dead by Peter James

I’m super excited to be a part of Peter James’ official blog tour for Need You Dead where I’ll be sharing Peter’s dream dinner party along with all the book details. #LoveRoyGrace

Need You Dead. HB. High Res Jacket.jpgFirst up is the Blurb: 

Lorna Belling, desperate to escape her marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But, as Lorna finds, even those you consider closest to you may not be who they say they are, and a chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything.

When the body of a woman is found in the bath in Brighton, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first, it looks like an open and shut case but Grace is hesitant as ever to make assumptions and as the investigation lengthens so does the list of men with motives for killing Lorna.

As well as dealing with one of his most mysterious cases yet, Grace must cope with an unexpected new addition to the family. His existence may have only just been discovered following the death of Grace’s ex-wife, but ten-year-old Bruno is moving to Brighton to live with his Dad.

As the case unfolds, with each possible conclusion as tantalisingly plausible as the next, a sudden turn of events reveals the case to be more sinister than Grace could ever imagine.

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00) and can be purchased here.

 

 Now over to Peter James for his Dream Dinner Party

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This is a tough one! Aside from my close family and friends here is my ten in no particular order…

Oscar Wilde – for his entertaining company

Lucretia Borgia – for being one of the most evil women who ever lived

Graham Greene – for writing the book that made me want to be a writer

Peter Cooke – for being one of the funniest people ever

David Attenborough – because of my wife’s fascination for wildlife

Winston Churchill – someone I have always greatly admired

Arthur Conan Doyle – because Sherlock Holmes was always a big inspiration to me

May West – because she would be fun

Dorothy Parker – for all her witty sayings

W C Fields – I love his curmudgeonly attitude to almost everything such as ‘How do you like children, Mr Fields?’ To which he replied ‘Fried’

Some fab choices here!

A little Research…

Dedicated to authenticity, Peter bases his books upon real life experiences he has witnessed through shadowing the Sussex Police.

In Need You Dead, he focuses on domestic violence and, in particular, a case in which the police are called out to a tearful woman reporting that her live-in boyfriend had pushed dog faeces into her mouth. Peter was invited in to hear the woman’s story.

Peter also studied the increasing number of internet crimes that are now outweighing the number of thefts and burglaries that take place.

 

About the Author:

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PETER JAMES is one of the UK’s most treasured crime and thriller novelists. His Roy Grace detective novels have sold over 18 million copies worldwide in total. The series is now published in 37 territories.  Peter’s first non-fiction title ‘Death Comes Knocking’ written in association with Graham Bartlett, Head of Sussex Police was published in July 2016, scoring Peter a hat trick of titles in the Sunday Times charts within a month.

Peter’s novella, ‘The Perfect Murder’ (2010) was adapted into a play called The Perfect Murder which did its first, smash hit tour starring Les Dennis in 2014. This was followed by the play of Dead Simple in 2015, starring Tina Hobley and Jamie Lomas which was an equally big success during its 6-month nationwide run. Not Dead Enough, the third of Peter’s books to be translated to stage, is currently touring the UK to critical acclaim, starring Shane Ritchie as Roy Grace and Laura Whitmore as Cleo Morey.

Peter, an established film producer, was educated at Charterhouse then at film school. He has produced numerous films, including The Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino. He has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Brighton in recognition of his services to literature and the community, is Patron of Neighbourhood Watch nationwide, Patron of Crimestoppers in Sussex, Patron of Brighton & HoveSamaritans, and Patron of Relate, among many other charitable posts he holds.  Peter has been two-times Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and has won many literary awards, including the publicly voted ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards People’s Bestseller Dagger and he was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize.  As popular internationally as in the UK, he won the US Barry Award, for Best British Crime Novel in 2012.  Last year, 2015, he was voted by WH Smith readers as The Best Crime Author of All Time. 

Born and brought up in Brighton, Peter divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill, London and Sussex. Peter is available for interviews and to write features.

Find out more about Peter James at www.panmacmillan.com and Peter’s website www.peterjames.com and follow him on:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/peterjames.roygrace

Twitter. http://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

Instagram: https://instagram.com/peterjamesuk

YouTube: You can subscribe for free here: www.peterjames.com/YouTube

Don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous stops on this epic blog tour!

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Blog Tour: The Search by Howard Linskey

For today’s post I’m super excited to host the next stop on The Search blog tour, penned by Howard Linskey and published by Michael Joseph, Penguin. As always don’t forget to check out all the other fab books on this tour!

First up it’s the Blurb:

9780718180362Someone knows where the bodies are buried…

Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now.

Convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow was always the prime suspect. In the past, he’s repeatedly lied to the police about where Susan’s body is buried – playing a sick game from behind bars. 

But this time, he says, he’ll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.

Detective Ian Bradshaw works with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to find the body. However, this is Wicklow’s life’s work. Would a murderer on death’s door give up his last secret so easily…?

This is a story which centres around the investigation into the disappearance of a child in 1976. In 1976, six children went out to play but only five returned, little Susan Verity disappeared without a trace. Andrew Winklow, the prime suspect and convicted child killer who originally confused to her murder later retracted his confession. Now on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance, DS Ian Bradshaw is tasked with her case to try to uncover what really happened, because Adrian Winklow is dying and time is running out to discover the truth once and for all.

Wow! This story just grabbed my attention from the very beginning which opened with the creepy words of Adrian Winklow, and as the narrative unfolded kept me glued to the page.

This story is set in both the past, 1976, and the present day which in this case is 1996. The author does a fantastic job of interweaving both of these timelines into the main plot with both timelines revealing little clues along the way while still keeping up the pace and mystery.

What I really liked about this novel was the fact that the main narrative focused on an interesting cold case which managed to retain the strong sense of a life and death situation and fast-paced action which comes from novels with a ‘present day’ serial killer.

I adored the creepy, disturbing character of Adrian who even when he is at death’s door still manages to plays games with everyone. I’m not sure what really says about me but I do love a good villain!

I also really liked the main characters of DS Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton who he turns to for help, to try and unpick the truth from a serial killer’s twisted and clever mind. I was also interested in their dynamic relationships which are just at the heart of this novel and I suspect the series. The author’s writing style just made me feel very invested in these characters and sympathetic – I really cared about what happened to them.

I have never read any of Howard Linskey’s previous books but I will certainly be picking them up now after reading The Search because this was such a fascinating and brilliant read.

This is a fabulous fast-paced and twisty page-turner which is a must for the avid crime-reader.

Big thanks to Jenny Platt and Michael Joseph Books for my advanced review copy.

You can purchase this book from Amazon here.

Or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about Howard Linskey follow him on Twitter at @HowardLinskey.

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*Blog Tour* The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett

Today, I’m really excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett. As part of the tour I have some exclusive author content from Simon talking about the Forensic research which goes into the successful David Hunter novels (big thanks to Simon for sharing). Pssst…don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fabulous blog tour!

*Forensic Crime Writing by Simon Beckett*

Before I visited Tennessee’s renowned Body Farm in 2002, I’d never really given forensics much thought. I was making my living working as a freelance journalist, and although I’d already written several novels they were all psychological thrillers. So when I got off the plane into the humid Tennessee heat, I’d no idea that this trip would lead to my writing a long-running series about a forensic anthropologist.

I’d been commissioned to write about highly realistic crime scene training that was being held at the Body Farm, at the time the only facility in the world to use human cadavers to research decomposition. The course was aimed at providing practical forensic experience for US police officers and CSIs, and although the crime scenes they had to process were carefully staged, the bodies used in them were very real.

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On the last day, I was given a pair of white overalls by an instructor and cheerfully told to help excavate a grave containing a body buried six months earlier. It was a surreal experience, and I came away both affected and impressed by what I’d seen. It also provided the inspiration for The Chemistry of Death, the first in my series about British forensic anthropologist David Hunter. A specialist in analysing badly decomposed, burnt or damaged human remains, Hunter is an emotionally wounded narrator through whose eyes we see this grimly esoteric world. It’s therefore vital for him to know what he’s talking about. Which means I have to know what he’s talking about as well.

Since I’m not a forensic expert that boils down to background research. A lot of it. The internet has made accessibility to information easier than ever, providing it’s used selectively, and I’ve also acquired a respectable collection of forensic text books. But whenever possible I prefer to consult a real-life expert, whose knowledge is based on actual experience. If I want insight into, say, the effect of fire on human bone, then I’ll ask a forensic anthropologist who has carried out work in that field. It’s the same for other factual aspects of the stories, whether it’s police procedure, rare neurological conditions or caving: if you don’t know something, find someone who does.

Occasionally my requests for help have been declined, which I can perfectly understand. I’m not sure how I’d feel if a completely stranger wanted to pick my brains either. However, most experts I approach have been happy to assist, and seem to enjoy puzzling over the sometimes-bizarre questions I throw at them. For which I am immensely grateful, since it contributes a degree of authenticity to the books it would otherwise be hard to achieve.

Obviously, this sort of relationship shouldn’t be abused: these are busy, professional people, and I try to keep my questions short and to the point. But gathering the information is only part of it: the real work for the writer comes with integrating it successfully into the narrative. The temptation is to include all those arcane details you’ve so painstakingly discovered, but that’s a mistake. Fascinating as they may be, it’s important to remember that they’re meant to inform and support the story, not overwhelm it.

Working as a feature journalist helped, since that typically involved writing with authority on unfamiliar subjects, as well as presenting often complex information in a concise and readable way. On occasion that led to misunderstandings: after one magazine article about how to cook the perfect chip (journalism isn’t all trips to Tennessee) I received several interview requests myself, as though I were the expert rather than the chefs I’d spoken to.

But that’s a sign you’ve done your job as a writer. When someone picks up a David Hunter novel, I want them to believe he really is a forensic expert, talking about what he knows best. The research itself is only a part of that.

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So now for the Blurb:

‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

About the author:

Simon Beckett December 2016

After an MA in English, Simon Beckett spent several years as a property repairer before teaching in Spain. Back in the UK, he played percussion in several bands and worked as a freelance journalist, writing for national British newspapers and magazines. Some of his more memorable assignments included going on police drugs raids, touring brothels with a vice unit and trying to learn how to win a gun fight in Nevada.

To buy this from Amazon just click here

To buy this from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Simon Beckett follow him on Twitter  or check out his website here.