My Adventures at Crime Fest 2017

In May, I went to Crime Fest with a lot of other fellow bloggers, crime authors, aspiring writers and avid readers. This was my second time attending Crime Fest and it didn’t disappoint. I spent a fabulous four whole days in Bristol and even went down a little earlier on the Wednesday evening and goes what? I found myself walking into Waterstones and purchasing a new book before the main event.

Over the weekend I didn’t sleep very much as I was too busy talking to lots of new and old friends at the bar as well as attending quite a few of the panels and live tweeted along with my fellow bloggers Joy Kluver, Victoria Goldman, Jen Lucas and Sharon Wilden.

So I’m going to give you all a snapshot of what went on over the four days I was there.

Day One:

I attended the Forensic Crime Scene Excursion which I had been looking forward to for weeks. This was held at The University of the West of England in a special crime scene house which is used to train Forensic science students and police officers.

When we arrived the scene was set – all we had to do was solve the murder which had been committed upstairs.

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This is not a real person – although it did look very lifelike!

A Forensic technician was on hand to answer any questions we had and helped us to work how the murder was committed – I learnt a lot about blood splatter and how different substances are tested at a crime scene which was just brilliant.

After spending a lot of time in the two ‘crime rooms’ upstairs we then spent some time in the ‘lab’ and was shown how to test for blood, saliva and finger marks among other things.

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After the crime scene we travelled back to the hotel in time for the first panels of the day to kick off, I attended the first Debut Panel

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Debut Panel with Mary Torjussen, Steph Broadribb, David Coubrough, Lucy V Hay and Karen Robinson

As well as a session on Keeping Secrets and Telling Lies with Andrea Carter, Rod Reynolds, Lucy Dawson and Julia Crouch.

 

I spent the remainder of the evening catching up with people in the bar and crashed out at about midnight.

Day Two:

This was a day filled with so many great panels, I managed five in total which were all brilliant!

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The appeal of Serial Killers Panel with Helen Fields, James Carol, Paul Finch, Leigh Russell and Mark Roberts

This panel discussed how obsessed and fascinated as readers we have become with serial killers as we are fascinated with the darker side of ourselves. Of course I had to buy some of these books!

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Partners in Crime Panel with Sarah Ward, Luca Veste, Sarah Hilary, Ann Randall and Stav Sherez

I really enjoyed this panel and learnt a lot about series characters and the modern police duo.

I then went to a spotlight session with Sam Carrington who discussed how working in a prison with a mixture of different offenders inspired her writing.

After lunch I went to panel which debating whether we need happy endings in crime fiction.

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Happy endings do we need them? With Caro Ramsey, Kati Hiekkapelto, Kjell Ola Dahl, Steve Mosby and Kevin Wignall.

 

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Parenting 101: Protagonists with commitments with Quentin Bates, Steph Broadribb, J.M Gulvin, Mary-Jane Riley and Sanjida Kay

At the CWA awards ceremony I was super pleased as two of my fellow colleagues, from the City University course I’m studying, was long listed for the CWA Debut Daggers competition so it was celebrations all round!

Day Three:

This was a tough day for me and a few of my fellow bloggers – exhaustion was starting to set in and I only managed three panels this day as well as a nap. I think all the late nights was catching up with me.

 

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The modern police procedural with Elizabeth Haynes, Fergus McNeill, Alison Bruce, Valentina Giambanco and Sharon Bolton

My first panel of this day was hilarious, the moderator Alison Bruce asked ‘ice-breaker’ questions to the rest of the panel like have you ever committed a crime? Or if they’ve ever been in any fights.

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Good vs Bad in Crime Fiction with Kevin Wignall, Torkil Damhaug, M.R.Hall, Martin Edwards and Chris Ewan.

There were laughs a plenty at this panel, if you’ve ever heard Kevin Wignall moderate a panel you know he will ask random children questions to the other panel members along the way. I think my favourite was ‘if you could only time travel once would you go backwards or forwards?’ Food for thought…

I then listened to Barry Forshaw interview Anthony Horowitz which was just fascinating!

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I then went for some birthday celebrations for Fran Dorricott with my lovely friends before chatting in the bar until the early evening and trying out some of Vicki Goldman’s Toffee Vodka.

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I was even part of the bar selfie in the evening although I have no idea why I’m leaning?!

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Day Four:

I went home quite early but still managed to squeeze in a great panel in the morning before setting off home for London laden with lots of new books!!

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London as Location with Jane Casey, Tara Moore, Christopher Fowler, Alison Joseph and Shelia Bugler

 

I loved Crime Fest and next year they celebrate their 10th Anniversary – I will definitely be heading back for this.

And my Crime Fest blog post wouldn’t be complete without adding in this hilarious picture of Rod Reynolds trying to make myself, Amanda Jennings and Karen Sullivan look serious!

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Big thanks to everyone I chatted to and hung out with at Crime Fest – you made it one of the best yet! If you ever get a chance to go to Crime Fest I would really recommend it.

 

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 Special Girls by Isabelle Grey

Today I’m delighted to host the next stop on the #BlogTour for The Special Girls written by Isabelle Grey and published by Quercus. Don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous stop on this tour!

The Blurb:

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They are called the ‘special girls’. How are they special and why were they chosen? Historical child sex abuse is linked to the murder of a young doctor.

A doctor is found beaten to death in woods close to a summer camp for young women with eating disorders. The camp is run by the charismatic Professor Chesham. DI Grace Fisher is called in, but is quickly pulled from the investigation – to head up a cold case inquiry involving Chesham himself.

Some years earlier, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to the special girls – and the danger they are still in.

This is the third novel in the DI Grace Fisher series which sees Grace investigating the murder of Tim Merrick who was beaten to death, he was a psychiatrist who worked with Professor Ned Chesham  with vulnerable teenage girls who suffer with eating disorders. As Grace starts to delve she finds no clues to the culprit but before she can get too comfy she is pulled from the case to look into an old police enquiry which looked into an allegation of child sex abuse against Professor Chesham.

This is the third novel in the DI Grace Fisher series which sees Grace investigating the murder of Tim Merrick who has been beaten to death, he was a psychiatrist who worked with Professor Ned Chesham helping vulnerable teenage girls who suffer with eating disorders. As Grace starts to delve into the case she finds no clues to the culprit but before she can get too comfy, she is pulled from the case to look into an old police enquiry which looked into an allegation of child sex abuse against Professor Chesham.

The Special Blog Tour Poster

I really enjoyed this novel which has a solid and compelling narrative with very believable characters.

First of, I loved the setting of Wryford Hall, an old stately home with a big wooded area where the summer camp is held yearly and where Tim Merrick is found murdered in the opening passages; it is remote and just downright creepy.

I also liked characters in this novel which were all well-rounded who I cared about causing me to read on. I especially loved the main protagonist, Grace Fisher a courageous DI who will do everything in her power to uncover the truth.

There is not much violence in this novel but it does tackle some very dark, controversial themes of historic child sex abuse cases where abusers are figures with political or celebrity status and police cover ups, which are in fact very contemporary issues at the moment and made for a gripping and refreshing read. The content is very emotive and at times just harrowing which the author does a fantastic job of sustaining sympathy for the victims in this case and keeping that emotion at the forefront for the reader.

In this novel it really showed how much the author had done her research into police procedures and forensics which trickled throughout the narrative, giving it a very authentic and believable feel. I thought the writing style was very easy and the story just gripped me from the very start. The investigation has a solid narrative which picked up pace and ramped up the tension with Grace’s career in jeopardy.

If you like police procedurals with a sensitive subject, which I thought the author handled very well, than this is definitely one for you!

Big thanks to Quercus books for my advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t published until 6th April but the good news is you can preorder this from Amazon now just click here.

To preorder this from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Isabelle Grey follow her on Twitter at  @IsabelleGrey ‏.

 

Killer Review: Blood Tide by Claire McGowan

The Blurb:

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire returns in BLOOD TIDE, the fifth novel in Claire McGowan’s series.

Blood Tide

Called in to investigate the disappearance of a young couple during a violent storm, Paula Maguire, forensic psychologist, has mixed feelings about going back to Bone Island. Her last family holiday as a child was spent on its beautiful, remote beaches and returning brings back haunting memories of her long-lost mother.

It soon becomes clear that outsiders aren’t welcome on the island, and with no choice but to investigate the local community, Paula soon suspects foul play, realising that the islanders are hiding secrets from her, and each other.

With another storm fast approaching, Paula is faced with a choice. Leave alive or risk being trapped with a killer on an inescapable island, as the blood tide rushes in…

This is the fifth instalment in the Paula Maguire series which sees Paula being asked for her expertise to investigate the disappearance of Matt and Fiona, a couple from London who recently moved to Bone Island. As Paula starts to delve deeper Paula realises there’s something more sinister going on in the Island – a storm is setting in where the inhabitants are acting strangely, the blood tide is coming and a killer is lurking in their midsts, one that is watching her every move.

Nail-biting! I have so far enjoyed the other books in the series and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s been nearly three years since Paula had a daughter, Maggie, but her personal life is as confusing and compelling as ever. With her personal life in tatters Paula finds her life in danger, without any back-up, on a treacherous Island where everything and everyone seems to be out to get her. It was great to see the familiar cast of characters back with more heartache and complicated personal lives – will Paula ever get her happy ending? Probably not, its crime fiction, but it doesn’t stop me hoping.

One of the best things about this novel is the creepy and harsh setting of Bone Island, with its beautiful sands and charming wildlife – it  just made the events on this island and its inhabitants even more chilling. I also loved the vivid descriptions and the treacherous storm which just made me feel plain terrified. It was good to see Paula out on a limb without being on familiar territory seeing her pushed to her limits and cut off from everything and everyone. It really brought out more of Paula’s character and I couldn’t stop reading.

The novel also features Sergeant Bob Hamilton’s viewpoint of past events where it seems he may know more than he’s been telling about Paula’s missing mother, Margaret Maguire. I loved finding out more about her mother’s past which ran alongside the present day action and just when I thought I had it figured out the author reveals a massive bombshell – and now I have to wait until the next instalment to find out what happened.

Again the author does a fantastic job of describing the Troubles in Ireland and highlighting a period of history which I was too young to properly understand at the time. I loved the new setting of Bone Island the author sets the story in which created an atmosphere of fear for the characters and a chilling narrative, while still tantalising me as the reader with new information about Paula’s missing mother whose story threads throughout the series.

I think this is the best novel in the series so far and would highly recommend this book for any avid crime reader! If you haven’t already done so should I would recommend reading the other books in the series.

I would like to say a big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline Publishers for my advanced review copy.

This novel isn’t out until 23rd March but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Claire McGowan follow her on Twitter at @inkstainsclaire or check out her website here.

Killer Review: Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Blurb:

Quieter Than Killing - D.I. Marnie Rome 4 (Hardback)

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

Oh my – I cannot begin to describe how awesome this novel is! I read this in one weekend, I was so engrossed I forgot to watch the England Rugby match on TV (which I usually never miss).

Quieter Than Killing is the forth installment in the DI Marnie Rome series which sees Marnie and her partner Noah trying to piece together a number of assaults which are escalating in violence. But as they delve deeper and uncover a number of chilling secrets, they realise the culprit has plans which they could never have imagined…

I do think this is one of her best yet, it is chilling and disturbing which really captures the fear of the victims. The sub-plots with Marnie’s foster brother and Noah’s troubled brother also come to the forefront of this novel which I found fascinating – I couldn’t wait to see what happened! The investigation itself focuses on Marnie having to deal with a vigilante who is attacking ex-convicts, teenage gangs, a missing child no-one knows is missing and convicts with a grudge – which kept me on the edge of my seat.

I really enjoyed the bleak descriptions of a harsh London winter which the author depicts, creating a chilling and haunting atmosphere for the characters.

The main protagonist DI Marnie Rome is at her very best in this novel, she isn’t your stereotypical detective – she evokes sympathy for the victims and has a gritty determination to see the job through not matter what even though she is struggling to come to terms with the murder of her parents. One of the things I love about this series is Marnie’s relationship with Noah – they bounce off each other and their friendship is at the heart of this novel.

For anyone who hasn’t read this series yet, I would highly recommend. Sarah manages to weave an effortless plot, has hard hitting themes and strong and lovable characters who you can’t help rooting for.

I loved loved loved this book and cannot recommend this enough. It has everything you can want from a gritty police procedural; surprising twists and shocking truths, a compelling plot and a fantastic cast of characters who you can get under your skin in a number of ways.

I am a massive fan of Sarah’s novels and this one didn’t disappoint. If anything I can’t wait for book five.

This novel isn’t out until 9th March but the good news is you can preorder this book from Amazon just click here

Or to preorder this book from Waterstones click here.
To find out more about Sarah Hilary follow her on Twitter at @sarah_hilary

Author Interview: David Mark

Today I’m thrilled to have David Mark, author of the DS McAvoy series, joining me for a quick chat all about his new novel Dead Pretty.

Welcome to the CKT blog David!

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your new book in the DS McAvoy series, Dead Pretty and what sparked your idea for the story?

I spend a lot of time wondering about in the woods and sitting in old churches, letting my mind drift and getting all existential. I was out at this gorgeous little church in East Yorkshire and was just having a bit of a daydream and because I’m the sort of person who plays the music of his life on the black keys, my thoughts turned dark. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I just had this notion that human beings see the sunshine as being full of hope and fairy-tales but nature is a different beast. I was thinking about how ladybirds look pretty until you see them chewing through an aphid. And I imagined a young girl, excited and happy and full of zeal for her clandestine meeting, and the peril she was putting herself in with her big heart and naiveté. It snowballed from there really. I found myself really interested in the sliding scale we use to qualify tragedy. Of course, that all sounds like a very Radio 4 kind of answer, so if you’re after a thrilling police procedural, I hope it ticks that box too. This is the story of a good policeman’s obsession with getting justice – even as a vicious killer exacts justice of their own. It involves armpit-scalping and a murder involving a toilet seat. I’m giving you no more than that.

I love the title of your novel, where did the inspiration for this come from?

That’s a hangover from my journalism days. Whenever there had been a murder it would be up to one of the journalists to acquire a picture of the dead. It was so strange that people thought it was somehow more tragic if the murdered girl was a look. You’d catch people saying ‘she’s dead pretty’ and then feeling awful for being callous.

I found the central investigation into the disappearance of Hannah Kelly and Ava Delaney’s murder compelling with a number of twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Did you plot the story out first or did you dive right in and see where the story took you?

I never dive right in. I’m a careful plotter. Sometimes parts of the narrative take off under their own steam but I like to know how it will end before I begin. I always knew that I wanted to write a story about the character of Reuben Hollow, who may or may not have killed somebody who bullied his daughter. I identify with that character very closely. Don’t judge me.

Who is your favourite recurring character in the series and why?

I think that would have to be Trish Pharaoh, Aector’s boss. She makes me laugh and she writes her own lines, in a way. I think she’s the most believable character I’ve ever written. But I do love the giant, scarred gangland enforcer, Mahon, who disappeared over the clifftop at the end of TAKING PITY and reappeared in the e-book A BAD DEATH. There may one day be a book about his youth, if anybody would like to make me an offer …

There is always a lot of debate about where the best place is for an author to write, where is the best place that you have found to write? And do you have any rituals or writing quirks?

I’m very lucky in that regard. I have a lovely office in my house, full of all the essentials, like books and maps and wrestling figures, and I just get my head down and get on with it. It’s a big change from all the years when I was unpublished – scribbling in notebooks while waiting for juries to return from murder trials.

David Mark ©a r t E A S TJust for fun…if you could collaborate with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I always thought it would be an honour to work with Terry Pratchett, but everybody I’ve spoken to says he was an absolute terror, so I may spare myself that. I’m actually very energised by mixed media projects and have half an idea that would work as a graphic novel so perhaps somebody in that area. I’d go into a coma of excitement if I got to work with Alan Moore. But I’m a bit of a control freak so it would be hard to share the creative process, I fear. I suppose if I was brutally honest I would like to have collaborated on one of the so-called ‘classics’ like Pride and Prejudice or Mill on the Floss. Perhaps that way I would have made them vaguely engrossing.

Finally, 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 always working on something! I write constantly. If I don’t, the voices in my head start to scream. I have my first historical crime novel coming out next year and there is another McAvoy, CRUEL MERCY, out in January, taking Aector to New York.  I’ve got a few radio projects up my sleeve and hope to dip my toe in the true-crime market. There’s no rest when you write about the wicked.

I would like to say a huge thank you to David for answering my questions for the CKT blog!

Don’t forget to grab your copy of David’s fabulous novel Dead Pretty which is out now and can be purchased from Amazon here or from Hodder here.

To find out more about David Mark follow him on Twitter @davidmarkwriter.

Killer Review: The Lost by Claire McGowan

First Line: ‘Imagine all of you went missing.’

Blurb:  Not everyone who’s missing is lost
When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.

Not everyone who’s lost wants to be found
Surrounded by people and places she tried to forget, Paula digs into the cases as the truth twists further away. What’s the link with two other disappearances from 1985? And why does everything lead back to the town’s dark past- including the reasons her own mother went missing years before?

Nothing is what it seems
As the shocking truth is revealed, Paula learns that sometimes, it’s better not to find what you’ve lost.

This is the first in the Paula Maguire series which introduces Forensic Psychologist Paula Maguire. Paula is a strong, independent single woman who has a disregard for the rules and has been living and working in London for many years. When her father breaks his leg she decides to accept an offer to be a consultant as part of a cross border unit, looking into the case of two missing teenage girls which forces her to return to her hometown of Ballyterrin –  a small town on the Northern/Southern Irish border. But as she digs deeper into the case she realises this case isn’t as clear-cut as it seems and is forced to confront her own secrets long buried.

Fast-paced!

I loved the character of the main protagonist Paula whose impulsive nature gets her into trouble and has conflict with quite a few of the other characters including Guy (Paula’s boss and love interest) and Aidan (Paula’s childhood boyfriend who runs the local newspaper). I especially loved the dynamic relationships between all of these three characters adding another dimension to the story which made me want to find out what will happen next as well as trying to guess what had happened to the teenage girls.

The novel is set against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland which explores the history of the Troubles and the devastating affect it is still having on the lives of people in the present day. There is also a theme of secrets and lies which adds a dark and eerie atmosphere to the story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This is a great multi-layered story where the author manages to weave a number of sub plots without them overshadowing the main narrative. I thought the fictional setting of Ballyterrin felt very real for me as well as all of its inhabitants which made me feel like I was right there as the action unfolded.

This story is full of pace which featured a number of twists and turns keeping me guessing until the very end. I loved the authors writing style – before I knew it I was at the end.

I would highly recommend this novel which is a compelling and engaging read packed full of pace, suspense and great characterisation.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

To buy this book on Waterstones click here

To find out more about Claire McGowan follow her on Twitter @inkstainsclaire or visit her website here