Blog Tour: CWA Anthology Mystery Tour

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour for the CWA Anthology of Short Stores, Mystery Tour, which has been edited by Martin Edwards and published by the fabulous Orenda Books. As part of the tour I have reviewed a selection of the stories and also have a fab giveaway to offer one lucky winner, but more more of that to come….

The Blurb:

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

CWA_Cover_Image.jpgContributions from:

Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday 

Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis 

Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson 

Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler 

Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey 

Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles 

Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson 

Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan 

William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

And edited by Martin Edwards

I loved reading this fabulous collection of short stories! There were crimes ranging from blackmail, guilt and just plain old revenge!

I don’t usually read short stories but this collection is just so diverse and riveting it made such a refreshing change. The stories themselves are cleverly written and each story is self-contained. I have only read a selection of these stories but I will be dipping into these stories over the coming cold winter evenings, snuggling up with a nice cuppa while these fantastic writers scare me.

My top stories so far include:

The Queen of Mystery by Anne Cleeves – This is about a woman writer at the top of her game and the lengths some people will go to stay on top…this literally packed a punch.

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – features a young woman who returns to the scene of a mystery from her childhood, trying to deal with what happened. This was very atmospheric and emotive.

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – this story was cleverly told through receipts which draws you in to slowly reveal a twisted tale of betrayal. I don’t want to say anymore because this was a refreshing and fantastic way to tell a story.

Wife on Tour by Julia Crouch – this story is about a wife fed up with the way her husband treats her and decides to take the ultimate revenge. I can’t say anything more than just brilliant.

Snowbird by Kate Rhodes – A story about a man who moves to a beautiful new town  after retiring from his career. But is there something dangerous lurking in the shadows? Oh this tale was so descriptive drawing you into a sinister tale of revenge….

Writer’s Block by Paul Gitsham – A story about a failing writer who gets caught up in a crime he hadn’t intended. Very cleverly plotted and just devious.

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jonasson – This is one of the shortest tales in the anthology but still manages to get you. Brilliantly atmospheric and draws you in to a fantastic climax, it’s still very mysterious.

A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday – this is a tale of twisted love and a man out for revenge. I can’t even describe what this is about without giving it away but it showcases the superbly evil mind of Susi Holliday.

If there is one book you should read this winter than it is this anthology. It is one of those books you can just dip in and out off, picking a story at random which will take you on a short adventure for the evening and I can tell you some of those stories I’ve read are just so twisted and dark, it will keep you thinking…

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

This publication isn’t out until 15th November 2017 but the good news is you can preorder your copy from Amazon here.

Now for the Giveaway Alert!!

So now I have a fantastic giveaway, arranged by Anne Cater and the publisher, for lucky winner to win a copy of Julia Crouch’s latest novel, Her Husband’s Lover, who is one of the author’s from this fab anthology.

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE COPY of HER HUSBAND’S LOVER BY JULIA CROUCH

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  •  Retweet one of my tweets about the giveaway (@emms_rachel
  • OR comment on the post below with your favourite crime motive. I think you can’t beat some good old fashioned revenge. (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 winners at random. There will be no cash alternative
  • The competition closes for entries at 13.00pm GMT on Monday 13th November 2017
  • My decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

Don’t forget to check out the other fab stops on this blog tour!

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My Favourite Reads from 2016

So, for the past fortnight I have ended up taking an unplanned blogging break to concentrate on a big assignment I had to hand in for my MA so apologies for not hearing from me – but I’m happy to say it went well.

Anyway, I thought it was high time I picked my favourite books from this year, so today I’m going to do just that and reveal my top reads I have read in 2016. It was a very hard decision and I couldn’t narrow it down to ten so I have been very cheeky and picked twelve.

So here are my twelve favourite reads from 2016 which I heartily recommend for any crime fan:

 

Number Twelve

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See How They Run by Tom Bale

Oh I loved this breath-taking thriller, which sees the two main characters running for their lives just because of a package. It has a tightly weaved plot and a number of twists and turns which left me breathless and wanting more.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Eleven

Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson

What can I say about this novel? This is the second novel in the Dark Iceland series and boy does it pack a punch. I love the small world of Siglufjörður which the author paints as well as the small cast of interesting characters. This is a classic murder mystery infused with dark undertones which really brings the beautiful and eerie setting of Iceland to life.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Ten

 Before I Let You in by Jenny Blackhurst

This is a fantastic read where the author slowly weaves each of the characters pasts into the main narrative without giving anything away. This led up to the fantastic and explosive ending which I never saw coming. This novel really showcased the author’s brilliant writing and her clever but devious mind at work.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

 

Number Nine

The Constant Soldier (Hardback)

The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

When I started reading this, I knew it was something special. This novel is set in 1944 with an injured German Soldier as the protagonist which I found inspiring. It is a novel littered with beautiful descriptions and historical facts, which the author skillfully weaves into the story without it overpowering the narrative. It made it feel haunting, emotive and very authentic.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Eight

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Blood Symmetry by Kate Rhodes

This is the fifth instalment in the Alice Quentin series which features Forensic Psychologist Alice Quentin catching a new killer – one that leaves behind blood packets. I found the characters compelling and sympathised with many of them. I also loved how the author manages to fuse an historical event, The Tainted Blood Scandal, with a modern day killer.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Seven

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

This is a debut novel which is set in London in 1837 and explores the real life story of Sarah Gale, sentenced to hang for her involvement in the murder of her lover’s fiance. This was a gripping story full of murky secrets. The author also weaved beautiful and vivid descriptions throughout which really brought Victorian London to life for me.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

 

Number Six

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Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes

This story is full of bone-curdling creepy drama which I couldn’t stop reading. I felt the author came into her own by bringing the creepy and atmospheric setting to life for me, and loved the descriptions of the harsh and claustrophobic Yorkshire landscape which hindered the characters and added something sinister and somewhat special to the novel.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Five

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

This was a novel I was glued to from the very first page. It was told over fifteen years which led to the eventual downfall of the character(s). I especially loved the shady character of Joe Thomas whose charm and complexities won me over, despite his faults and just general creepiness.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Four

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The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

Wow – The Bird Tribunal. This is such a haunting and claustrophobic read! The author did a superb job of making me, as the reader, feel truly creeped out (in a good way). It is only a short novel but man does it pack a punch. By the end of it I was truly lost for words, which doesn’t usually happen to me.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Three

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

This was without doubt a read I didn’t see coming. The characterisation in this novel is superb, with each character having their own twisted logic of death which made for a boiling pot of deceit and betrayal. The author managed to lull me into a false sense of security only to go WHAM! This novel literally had me screaming out loud.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number Two

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Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb

This is Steph’s debut novel which features Lori Anderson, her daughter Dakota and the charismatic JT. This had all the ingredients for a superb thriller, it’s fast-paced, full of high-stakes, has a kick-ass heroine and has a tightly weaved plot. It also deals with hard-hitting themes and has pure emotion at the heart of the novel. I honestly couldn’t put it down.

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

 

Number One

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

Without a doubt, Tastes Like Fear is a police procedural at its very best! It is the third in the DI Marnie Rome series featuring Marnie Rome, an empathatic and intelligent DI who is still struggling with her past. It is a novel jammed packed with suspense, has beautiful vivid descriptions and compelling characters you can relate to. What’s more it has a tightly weaved plot and an amazing twist I didn’t see coming – it made for a killing read. I couldn’t just couldn’t stop reading and for anyone who hasn’t read the series I would recommend you read them immediately!

You can read my full review here. And buy it through Amazon here.

Killer Review: The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

First Line: ‘Through her left eye she could see nothing now.’

Blurb: Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding.

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

At the beginning of this story Sarah Gale is sentenced to hang and imprisoned at Newgate Prison to await the date of her execution and petitions the king for mercy. Edmund Fleetwood an idealistic lawyer is commissioned to investigate her petition but Sarah refuses to help at first until after much persuasion she finally starts to reveal her story but is she really telling the truth? And if not, why?

Gripping!

I really enjoyed this novel and loved spending time with both the main protagonists Sarah Gale and Edmund Fleetwood. The novel is told from both their points of view with much of the main action set in Newgate prison. As I was reading I found myself drawn to both characters and sympathetic to the situations they were both in making it hard to decide whether I truly believed Sarah’s story.

At the beginning of each chapter the author reveals an extract of a newspaper article or a book from the time of the murder which I enjoyed as it gave a slice into the life of Victorian London.

As soon as I started to read I was hooked from the very beginning. I could tell straight away that this was a very well researched novel featuring the language of the period through the dialogue and its beautiful and vivid descriptions which showed the tastes, sounds and smells of Victorian London – I felt like I was there with the characters making this an authentic and compelling read which really brought the period to life.

I spent most of the novel trying to figure out what Sarah was hiding and whether Edmund would discover this in time. I do have my own theory about what happened in real life but that was part of the joy of the story to discover what could’ve happened in this fictionalised account of the case and to make up my own theories as I was reading.

I thought this was a gripping page-turner full of beautiful imagery which really brought Victorian London to life. I still can’t believe this is a debut novel and would recommend this to anyone who likes a slice of crime mixed in with history.

Big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline for my copy of The Unseeing.

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Anna Mazzola follow her on Twitter @Anna_Mazz

You can also check out my previous interview with the author here.

July First Monday Crime Round-Up

So this week I had the pleasure of both assisting and attending the July First Monday Crime event which was sponsored by Killer Reads.

The panel consisted of debut authors Anna Mazzola and Beth Lewis, successful crime novelists Andrew Taylor who is the author of a number of crime and historical novels and Stephen Booth who is the author of the Cooper and Fry series. Keeping the panel in check as panel chair was Claire McGowan author of the Paula Maguire series who also runs the MA in crime thriller novels at City University – the very same course I’m currently studying on.

This was a fantastic, lively evening where the authors each discussed where they found the idea for their stories, the importance of setting, research, writing strong female characters who are morally ambivalent and top tips for aspiring writers, much like myself.

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The evening finished with a fab goodie bag, the opportunity to buy those all important books which the authors signed and a drink at the pub.

July Goodie Bag

The ideas behind the books: Beth was inspired by a TV show (she wouldn’t share which show this was), Anna found the story of Sarah Gale mentioned in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher and researched it, Andrew loves imagery and was inspired by the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and Stephen was inspired by the beautiful setting of the Peak District ‘which is a good place to find a body.’

 

Top tips from the writers:

Stephen Booth: ‘There’s no such thing as writers block. Just write. Sit down and write because its your job.’

Andrew Taylor: ‘Write one line a day because that line could turn into a sentence, then a paragraph then into a chapter. Writers write.’

Beth Lewis: ‘You need discipline to finish a book. You’ve got to teach yourself to finish that book, don’t move onto the next shiny idea.’

Anna: ‘Think about your book last thing at night before you go to bed.’

 

So now for the fab books:

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The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola is set in London in 1837 and is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother who has been sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown but petitions the king for mercy. Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate but he is struggling with his own demons. Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

Wolf Road by Beth Lewis is a debut literary thriller. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old. So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper  is wanted for murder and Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka. So Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move.

Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor is a historical thriller set during the time of the Great Fire of London. London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer. In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth is the 16th novel in the Cooper and Fry series set in the Peak District. A series of suicides from tourists throughout the Peaks throws Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and his team in Derbyshire’s E Division into a race against time to find a connection to these seemingly random acts – with no way of predicting where the next body will turn up. Meanwhile, in Nottingham Detective Sergeant Diane Fry finds a key witness has vanished…But what are the mysterious Secrets of Death? And is there one victim whose fate wasn’t suicide at all?

 

The next First Monday event will be coming up in September after a break over the summer so don’t forget to follow at @1stMondayCrime for updates on all their upcoming events.

Don’t forget to follow all of the authors on Twitter as well:

Author Interview: Anna Mazzola

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Anna Mazzola join me for a Q&A about her new novel The Unseeing.

Welcome to the CKT blog Anna.

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Anna Mazzola (photo credit Lou Abercrombie)

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel The Unseeing?

Happy to. The Unseeing is a historical crime novel based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted in 1837 of aiding and abetting her lover, James Greenacre, in the murder of another woman. Sarah was sentenced to death and petitioned the King for mercy. The Unseeing begins with the appointment of the lawyer who is to investigate her petition, and he – and the reader – has to determine whether Sarah Gale is indeed innocent or whether she is far more involved than she would have us believe.

You have mentioned before that your novel is based on the real-life case of Sarah Gale who was sentenced to hang for the murder of Hannah Brown in the Victorian era. How did you find out about her case and what sparked your interest as a writer to write about this?

I first read about James Greenacre in the Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I was originally interested in the crime because it took place in Camberwell, not far from where I live. However, when I read through the Old Bailey transcript of the trial, it was Sarah who most interested me. Very little was said in her defence – she gave only a short statement denying being in Camberwell at the time of the murder. As she was facing the death sentence for her part in the horrific murder of another woman, I thought that was very strange. What was preventing Sarah from speaking out to defend herself? Was she guilty? Afraid of James Greenacre? Or something else?

Your novel is set in Victorian London, how did you research about this period and did you find anything new and fascinating which you had to include in your novel?

The research part was great fun. I loved visiting the British Library but, as I was mainly researching in the evening after work, I did a lot of my research online, for example on the  Harvard University website (which has many of the original pamphlets relating to Greenacre and Gale), in the British Newspaper Archives, and through a variety of other brilliant sites, including Lee Jasper’s Victorian London. Lots of nineteenth century texts are available via Gutenburg, Forgotten Books and Google books.

I discovered many astonishing and terrible things, particularly about child labour in Victorian London, the lives of the poor, the injustices of the justice system. A tiny fraction of my research became part of the story, but most of it is just stored way in the recesses of my mind and on my computer hard-drive. People go to fiction – even historical fiction – for the story. The facts can’t stand out or you’ll lose the reader.

Did you find it difficult to write about real people and weave them into a fictional story?

In short, yes. Although it was initially useful to have a ‘template’ – an idea of who the characters were, I then felt hampered by what they might have been and what they might have done. In a way, it was fortunate that I didn’t know more about Sarah. She remained an enigma.

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

For The Unseeing, I created a synopsis and worked from that, but I now know that I should have plotted it out in a far more detailed way. Every writer is different, but I think I work best when I know where I’m headed (even if the plot later changes). For my next novel, I’m working from a far more detailed plot structure. I’ll have to see how that works out!

Who was your favourite character to write about in the Unseeing and why?

It was Sarah. It took me a long time to get to know her, but – probably because of that – she’s stayed with me. I want to know what happens to her next.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I’m currently writing my second historical crime novel, which is set on the Isle of Skye in 1857. It’s about a young woman who goes to work for a collector of folklore and discovers that a young girl has gone missing, supposedly taken by spirits of the unforgiven dead, although of course that’s not what she believes. Again, the idea was sparked by a real case, but I haven’t tried to base it on the facts in the same way that I did with The Unseeing.

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

Margaret Atwood. She’s been a huge inspiration since I was quite young. I made the mistake of telling her this when I met her a signing. She didn’t seem impressed: presumably I was the ninth person in the queue to have told her the very same thing.

And finally, just for fun, if you could have a dinner party for three select guests, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Nina Simone, Aung San Suu Kyi and Madonna. All terrifyingly powerful and talented women with fascinating stories. They would almost certainly have a fight.

A big thank you to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions! 

Don’t forget you can catch Anna Mazzola at the next First Monday Crime in July to grab a signed copy of The Unseeing.

To find out more about Anna Mazzola follow her on Twitter @Anna_Mazz. You can preorder your copy of The Unseeing from Amazon here.

Follow First Monday Crime at @1stMondayCrime for updates on their upcoming events.