Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Joanna Briscoe (c) Jason Alden

Today I’m handing over the reins of the CTG blog to Joanna Briscoe whose latest novella TOUCHED is published today. Joanna is the author of Mothers and Other Lovers, Skin and the highly acclaimed Sleep with Me which was published in ten countries and adapted for television.

She spent her  early years in ‘the village of the damned’ – Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire – which was the location for the celebrated 1960 film based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos – and the inspiration for her Hammer novella TOUCHED.

So, over to Joanna …

A Writer’s Life

There is much that is unglamorous about a writer’s life… and much that is privileged. At the moment, I walk through a King’s Cross that changes daily, and have a swim, on the way to the British Library, and this feels amazing.

It’s true that there are lots of publishing parties, award parties, and I hang out with lots of other authors, but I wouldn’t really wish this career on my children. It’s too solitary, neurotic, insecure… How I dream, so often, about being with other people, in an office, on a film set, in a school. Just being surrounded by people working, instead of labouring in silence, would be amazing.

Yet, as with most writers, I am driven to do this. It doesn’t feel like a choice, rather, a compulsion.

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED cover image

TOUCHED has collected some rave reviews and is an eerie ghost story, and a chilling and creepy tale.

Here’s the blurb: “Rowena Crale and her family have moved from London to a cottage in a picture perfect English village. But despite their efforts, the cottage resists all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp, stains come through layers of wallpaper, ceilings sag, and strange voices emanate from empty rooms. And then, one by one, Rowena’s daughters go missing….”

To find out more hop over to Joanna Briscoe’s website at www.joannabriscoe.com and follow her on Twitter @JoannaBriscoe

 

BLACK WOOD cover image

BLACK WOOD cover image

If you like psychological thrillers then this superb debut novel is going to be a real treat for you. I first had the chance to read it, pre publication, last autumn and have been bursting to talk about it ever since! So I’m delighted that the Crime Thriller Girl blog is today’s tour stop on the BLACK WOOD Blog Tour …

What the blurb says: “Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun.

But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?”

Set in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business (and past) this psychological thriller uses the claustrophobic setting to maximum effect. There’s a real sense of foreboding as the current and past timelines alternate back and forth, and the tension ratchets up notch-by-notch.

Banktoun might at first appear to be a small, quaint village with a low crime rate that leaves Sergeant Davie Gray wishing for a bit more police work, but scratch the surface and the secrets simmering just below the surface soon start to threaten the uneasy peace.

When a spate of attacks by a balaclava wearing man jolt the villagers from their usual calm, tensions start to rise and after a visitor from the past makes an appearance at the local bookstore where Jo works it’s not long before she begins to unravel. With the flood of memories and questions arising from that fateful day in the woods over twenty years ago threatening to overwhelm her, Jo decides to try and uncover what really happened all those years ago to her and Claire. She sets out to investigate, determined to get her own justice. Question is, can she discover the truth before her paranoia and fears get the better of her?

Jo is an unpredictable, and at times unreliable, narrator who makes for an interesting and flawed heroine. Sergeant Davie Gray is an altogether more solid and reliable narrator, and as such is the perfect counterbalance to Jo.

I was immediately hooked from the first page. From the small village location, to the cast of engaging and interesting characters, many of whom seemed to be hiding something, I found BLACK WOOD a really ‘moreish’ read. I loved the twists and turns, and – although I’m usually pretty good at figuring out who did it – this book had me guessing to the end. It also features some pretty creepy masks!

BLACK WOOD is an excellent debut. An atmospheric, pacey and darkly-suspenseful mystery, it’s perfect for fans of psychological thrillers.

Highly recommended.

[with thanks to Black & White Publishing for my copy of BLACK WOOD]

To find out more about SJI Holliday and BLACK WOOD hop on over to her website at: www.sjiholliday.com and follow her on Twitter @SJIHolliday

And don’t forget to check out the other stops on the fabulous BLACK WOOD BLOG TOUR …

Blog-Tour-URLs[3]

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Image  —  Posted: March 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Written in the Scars cover image

Written in the Scars cover image

Clic Sargent’s 10-day Get in Character eBay auction ends this weekend and is expected to raise thousands of pounds for children and young people with cancer

Over 70 popular authors are offering fans the opportunity to have their name appear in their forthcoming novels. In addition, super-fans also have the chance to bid on having lunch with Lee Child or afternoon tea with thriller writer Amanda Jennings. And aspiring writers can bid on the opportunity to have their work critiqued by other top authors. 

The 10-day auction started on Thursday 26 February and ends on 8pm Sunday 8 March 2015. The highest bidders for each author buy the opportunity to have a character named after them in their next book, and immortality in print. People can also bid to have a character named after a loved one.

One of the fabulous crime writers taking part is Mel Sherratt and I’m delighted to welcome her to the CTG blog to answer a few questions about her writing and how she came to get involved with the Get in Character campaign. We’re also super excited that she’s given us an exclusive reveal of the fantastic cover of the book that the winner will have a character named after them in – WRITTEN IN THE SCARS (above).

So, to the interview …

CLIC Sargent is a great charity. How did you first get involved in the “Get in Character” campaign?

Last year, as part of a local charity event, I was asked to auction off a character name in my next book, ONLY THE BRAVE. One fabulous gentleman, Steve Burgess, bid £1000. I was so proud of this so when I was asked by CLIC Sargent to be involved with this auction too, I thought why not? It’s for a brilliant cause – I don’t expect to raise anywhere near the last bid but I would love to top the £100 mark.

Your latest book FOLLOW THE LEADER is just out, can you tell us a bit about it?

FOLLOW THE LEADER is about a serial killer who is one step ahead of the police while he seeks payback for his past. From the get-go, you have his point of view. There are a series of flashbacks before every murder that try to help you understand why that particular victim was chosen. But he’s playing a game too, leaving clues in the form of magnetic letters. It’s up to the police to work out either who he is or who the next victim is before it’s too late.

The novel’s underlying theme is bullying and how as impressionable teenagers, we either change or don’t change once we leave the school gates, and peer pressure, behind.

As part of the “Get in Character” auction you’ll be letting the highest bidder be named as a character in your next book. Can you tell us what that book will be about?

WRITTEN IN THE SCARS is about a family living on the notorious Mitchell Estate. It’s the fourth book in THE ESTATE SERIES. Each character has their own problems, pressures, hidden scars that define their past. Sometimes they are visible; sometimes they are burdens that they carry around with them.

So, you can’t see Donna’s scars left over from her broken marriage. You can’t see Lewis’s scars from his time in the army. You can see Megan’s scars but she won’t let you. And Mary can’t remember how she got hers.

If making a better future could erase the past, we’d all be for it, wouldn’t we? But as ever, there are consequences…

What was it that got you started writing crime fiction?

For me personally, police procedurals are about solving a crime, and getting justice, so I enjoy plotting the stories. But I want to show how crime affects individuals too. As well, the aftermath of a crime must be devastating for some and we all deal with things differently. By choosing dark and gritty characters, it allows me to dive into the unknown and twist everyday situations into ‘what if’ story lines.

I also enjoy writing about fear and emotion, and taking readers along on that journey with characters. Some characters they will like: some they will dislike, pretty much like in life itself.

I’m also a firm believer that there is good and bad in us all. It’s how we choose to use it, I suppose. As a writer, I like to take the ordinary and make it a bit extra-ordinary but still believable. I like writing domestic situations that have gone wrong too. Using different points of view can make stories far more emotional.

Which authors inspire you?

I am a massive fan of Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham. I read their books for pleasure but also to study them – not only the police procedural elements, but how to hook, set scenes, work in red herrings and give out subtle clues.

As well, I enjoy books by Martina Cole, Elizabeth Haynes, Mandasue Heller and Lynda la Plante. I found amongst their pages women of courage – strong women who were often knocked down but would rally to get back up again. More recently writers such as Colette McBeth, Clare Mackintosh and C.L. Talyor have given me hours of pleasure.

What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

I have two books out with my publisher, Thomas & Mercer, during the first half of the year – FOLLOW THE LEADER and ONLY THE BRAVE. As well as that, I have one or two of my own books coming out – one of those will be WRITTEN IN THE SCARS.

 

Thanks so much to Mel Sherratt for dropping by and answering our questions.

The Clic Sargent’s 10-day Get in Character eBay auction ends at 8pm Sunday 8 March 2015.

To bid for the opportunity to have a character in Mel’s book named after you or a loved one, and help the campaign raise thousands of pounds for children and young people with cancer, hop on over to http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Get-Character-Named-Character-WRITTEN-SCARS-Mel-Sherratt-/201289396764?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item2eddc8721c

 

DANGEROUS cover image

DANGEROUS cover image

To celebrate DANGEROUS by Jessie Keane coming out in hardback, those lovely people at Pan Macmillan have given me three copies of this fabulous crime thriller to giveaway.

Here’s a bit about the book …

What the blurb says: “Whatever the cost, she would pay it. Coronation year: 1953. Fifteen-year-old Clara Dolan’s world is turned upside down following the shock death of her mother. Battling to keep what remains of her family together, Clara vows to keep her younger siblings, Bernadette and Harry, safe whatever the cost.

With the arrival of the swinging sixties, Clara finds herself swept up in London’s dark underworld where the glamour of Soho’s dazzling nightclubs sit in stark contrast to the terrifying gangland violence that threatens the new life she has worked so hard to build.

Sinking further into an existence defined by murder and betrayal, Clara soon realises that success often comes at a very high price.”

This is a real page-turner of a book. What I especially love about Jessie Keane’s books is the way she creates such a compelling cast of unique and nuanced characters. DANGEROUS is no exception, with brilliantly drawn main characters, and fully rounded supporting characters, all adding to the intrigue and richness of the story. You can read my full review here http://crimethrillergirl.com/2015/02/19/ctg-reviews-dangerous-by-jessie-keane/

 

*** THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED ***

So, to the competition …

For a chance to win a copy of DANGEROUS all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway with the hashtag #CTGcomp [You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win].

Rules
 (1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winners at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Sunday 8th March 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

Follow the Leader cover image

Follow the Leader cover image

What the blurb says: “A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E. Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing. As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert. The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must Follow the Leader.”

Follow the Leader is the second book in the DS Allie Shenton series, following on from Taunting the Dead, and it’s a pulse pounder of a story. The title might allude to a playground game and the story be structured around a nursery counting rhyme, but this is no light-hearted tale of child’s play. It’s a gritty, rollercoaster of a read, with a well-planned and intelligent killer leading DS Allie Shenton and her team in a deadly race against time.

DS Allie Shenton is a courageous and dynamic lead character. She’s proactive and smart, utilizing the skills of her team to full advantage to investigate the murders and work out the killer’s pattern in order to determine who will be the next target. It’s a difficult case to work for some of her team, especially when a connection to one of the local schools and old school friends begins to emerge. As the attacks increase, it becomes a harder case for Allie Shenton too – there are similarities between one of the attacks and the vicious attack that critically injured her sister, Karen, several years previously – an attack for which the perpetrator was never caught.

Packed with intrigue and brilliantly drawn characters, the story twists and turns at a rapid pace and pulls the reader along with the action, defying you to put it down – I couldn’t, and devoured the book in a single weekend! It also lets the reader glimpse into the world of the killer, showing the events in their life that have led them to the extreme action they’re now taking in revenge.

Artfully plotted, this gritty and emotive story is a must read for fans of police procedurals.

Highly recommended.

 

[With thanks to Mel Sherratt for my copy of FOLLOW THE LEADER]

To celebrate THE DISTANCE by Helen Giltrow coming out in paperback today, those lovely people at Orion have given me three five-book bundles of fantastic crime thrillers to giveaway to three lucky winners.

The Prize:

Each bundle includes the following wonderful books …

The Distance by Helen Giltrow

Missing You by Harlan Coben

Hell’s Gate by Richard Crompton

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham

Touching Distance by Graham Hurley

It’s a fantastic prize with five great books. To wet your appetite, here’s a bit more info about each of them …

The Distance cover image

The Distance cover image

The Distance by Helen Giltrow

What the blurb says: They don’t call her Karla anymore. She’s Charlotte Alton: she doesn’t trade in secrets, she doesn’t erase dark pasts, and she doesn’t break hit-men into prison. Except that is exactly what she’s been asked to do. The job is impossible: get the assassin into an experimental new prison so that he can take out a target who isn’t officially there. It’s a suicide mission, and quite probably a set-up. So why can’t she say no?”

This breath-taking thriller from Debut Dagger shortlisted author Helen Giltrow is described by bestselling author Lee Child as “Fast, hard and very, very good.”

You can check out my review of The Distance here: http://crimethrillergirl.com/2015/02/25/ctg-reviews-the-distance-by-helen-giltrow-2/ 

 

 

Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing You cover image

Missing You cover image

What the blurb says: It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart 18 years ago. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable. As Kat’s hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved – her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.”

Harlan Coben is an international No.1 bestselling thriller author and a winner of the EDGAR, SHAMUS and ANTHONY AWARDs. His books are published in over 40 languages, with more than 47 million copies in print worldwide.

 

Hell’s Gate by Richard Crompton

Hell's Gate cover image

Hell’s Gate cover image

What the blurb says: When Mollel, a former Maasai warrior turned detective, ends up in a small, fly-blown town on the edge of a national park, it looks as if his career has taken a nose-dive. His colleagues are a close-knit group and they have not taken kindly to a stranger in their midst. Mollel suspects they are guilty of the extortion and bribery that plague the force, but when the body of a flower worker turns up in the local lake, he wonders if they might be involved in something more disturbing… For all is not as it seems in Hell’s Gate. Amid rumours of a local death squad, disappearances and blackmail, Mollel is forced not only to confront his Maasai heritage, but also to ask himself where justice truly lies. In upholding the law, is he doing what is right?”

Richard Crompton lives in Nairobi. Hell’s Gate has been described by bestselling crime writer Ian Rankin as “A compulsive whodunnit set in Kenya”.

 

 

 

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: “When DC Fiona Griffiths says ‘yes’ to her policeman boyfriend, it’s an affirmation that she wants finally to put her psychological breakdown behind her, and become a resident of ‘Planet Normal’ like everybody else. But she still can’t resist the challenge of an undercover policing course, and finding it remarkably easy to assume a new identity, she comes top of the class. So when an ingenious payroll fraud starts to look like the tip of a huge criminal iceberg, Fiona is selected to infiltrate the fraudsters’ operation, posing as a meek former payroll clerk now forced to work as a cleaner. But as she penetrates deeper into their operation, coming closer to identifying the mastermind behind it, she faces another, even more frightening danger – that her always fragile grip on her sense of self has now been lost and she may never find her way back.”

You can check out my review of The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths here: http://crimethrillergirl.com/2014/03/11/ctg-reviews-the-strange-death-of-fiona-griffiths-by-harry-bingham/ 

 

 

Touching Distance by Graham Hurley

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: “DS Jimmy Suttle is trying to get his life back on track. His marriage has fallen apart and he rarely sees his young daughter, Grace. But then a murder shuts the door on the chaos of his personal life… The victim was shot through the head at the wheel of his car on a lonely moorland road. The only witness? His two-year-old son, strapped into the rear child seat. Within days, two more killings, equally professional, equally without motive. Meanwhile, Suttle’s estranged wife is embarking on an investigation of her own in the world of journalism. But the story brings her to the question at the very heart of Jimmy’s case – what does it take to make a man kill?”

Graham Hurley has twice been shortlisted for the THEAKSTON’S OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD, and has been praised as one of the INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY’s five best UK crime writers.

 

 *** THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED ***

So, to the competition …

For a chance to win a five-book bundle all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway. [You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win].

Rules
 (1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winners at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Wednesday 4th March 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!