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Last week I went along to Waterstones Richmond to the book launch of debut crime writer, and fellow City University Crime Writing alumni, David Young. David’s fantastic historical crime thriller, Stasi Child, is published by Twenty7 Books next week. The launch was a packed event, with lots of food, drink and even a fabulous book-shaped cake.

As part of the event, David read an extract from Stasi Child, and was then kept busy at the signing table for much of the evening.

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Stasi Child is out on the 11th February.

You can read my review of it here and be sure to drop back on Thursday when I’ll be posting my interview with David.

To pre-order Stasi Child from Waterstones click here

To pre-order Stasi Child from Amazon (or buy the eBook) click here

 

 

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The fabulous STASI CHILD, written by debut author David Young, is published in paperback next week on the 11th February.

To celebrate, I’m re-running my review …

What the blurb says: “East Berlin, 1975: Questions are dangerous. Answers can kill. When murder squad head Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body found riddled with bullets at the foot of the Berlin Wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: it seems the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.

Müller is a member of the People’s Police, but in East Germany her power only stretches so far. The Stasi want her to discover the identity of the girl, but assure her the case is otherwise closed – and strongly discourage her asking questions. The evidence doesn’t add up, and it soon becomes clear that the crime scene has been staged, the girl’s features mutilated. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Müller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home.

The previous summer, on Rügen Island off the Baltic Coast, two desperate teenage girls conspire to escape the physical and sexual abuse of the young workhouse they call home. Forced to assemble furniture packs for the West, the girls live out a monotonous, painful and hopeless life. Stowing away in the very furniture they are forced to make, the girls arrived in Hamburg. But their celebrations are short-lived as they discover there is a price on freedom in the DDR …”

STASI CHILD is David Young’s debut novel and the first in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series.

Striving for justice whatever the cost is second nature to Müller. She’s a determined, strong and courageous detective, following the evidence and questioning anomalies even when warned off by some very powerful and threatening people. Defying instructions, she leads her team to find the truth hidden beneath the propaganda and cover-ups. But despite her hard-line stance in her job, in her personal life her relationships are imploding and as she juggles the conflict at home with an increasingly tense situation at work, it’s not long before Müller herself could be in danger.

Chillingly authentic and set in our recent-past, this pacey page-turner of a police procedural is filled with fear, power struggles and intrigue making it one hell of a debut novel.

To find out more about David Young follow him on Twitter @djy_writer

To pre-order the paperback (or buy the kindle edition) of STASI CHILD from Amazon click here

To pre-order STASI CHILD from Waterstones click here

 

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Last week I was super excited to be invited along to a secret screening of BBC One and The Ink Factory’s new drama The Night Manager, and to hang out with some of the cast (including one of my longtime actor heroes – Hugh Laurie!).

Hardly able to contain myself with excitement, I trotted along to the swanky May Fair Hotel to find out all about it.

This adaptation of John le Carré’s wonderful spy thriller The Night Manager (published in 1993) is a fascinating and complex story of criminality. Former British solider, Jonathan Pine, is recruited by intelligence operative, Angela Burr, to infiltrate the inner circle of an arms dealer who is known as ‘the worst man in the world’, Richard Roper, in an attempt to bring him to justice.

Gracefully interpreted for the small screen, The Night Manager remains faithful to le Carré’s original whilst bringing it undeniably into current times. From the opening scenes in Cairo, the story pulled me into the world of The Night Manager and held me enthralled (and sometimes appalled) for the duration of the screening. In the discussion afterwards, Hugh Laurie spoke of his love for le Carré’s novel and his desire to bring the story to the screen after he first read it over twenty years ago. It’s been a long time in the making, but having seen the results I’d say that the wait has been absolutely worth it.

Stunning visually, with stand out performances from Hugh Laurie in the role of Richard Roper, Tom Hiddleston in the role of Jonathan Pine, and Olivia Colman in the role of Angela Burr, this gripping adaptation is a must-watch drama for 2016

The Night Manager will be screened later this month on BBC One in six one-hour episodes.

Be sure to watch live or record it (FYI I’m going to do both!) because you’re really not going to want to miss it!

For a sneaky peep at The Night Manager click here to go to the trailer on YouTube

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Today I’m delighted to be hosting a tour stop on Tim Baker’s FEVER CITY Blog Tour. Tim’s dropped by the CTG blog to answer a few questions about this stunning noir thriller …

Welcome, Tim! Your debut novel FEVER CITY was published in January, can you tell us a bit about it?

FEVER CITY is a propulsive, seat-of-your-pants noir thriller set in the 1960s with an important contemporary component set in 2014.

There are three separate narratives, each with its own central mystery. As the novel progresses, these three stories begin to converge then intertwine, dovetailing at the end into a resolution of all three mysteries.

The first narrative features a private investigator, Nick Alston, who is brought in to assist the police in their search for the kidnapped child of America’s richest and most hated man.

The second concerns a professional contract killer, Hastings, who is recruited into an attempt to assassinate President Kennedy and who decides to risk his life to sabotage the hit.

And the third concerns Nick’s son, Lewis Alston, who is in Dallas in 2014 to interview JFK conspiracy nuts for a book he’s doing on the Kennedy Brothers and who stumbles across information that could connect his own father to the assassination of President Kennedy.

I’m a big fan of the noir thriller. Can you tell me about what attracted you to writing this kind of story?

I’m also a huge fan of the noir thriller. What I love most is the moral ambiguity and the elevated dramatic stakes, as well as the power of the genre’s central conceit – which is that we are all prisoners of the mistakes of our past. Noir is always character-based storytelling and so tends to occupy a richer, more emotionally complex terrain than ordinary thrillers; a landscape of nuance, despair and danger.

In FEVER CITY you blend historical facts – like the assassination of JFK – with the fictitious storyline. How did you go about researching the era and places featured?

It was very important for me to get all the background historical elements right – whether they were concerning JFK and the documented events leading up to his assassination, or portraying the real-life figures who appear as secondary characters, such as Howard Hughes, Marilyn Monroe or J Edgar Hoover.

Once I had that historical architecture in place, I set about shaping mood and nuance, often by withholding specifics and implying ambiance instead of trying to build it.

As far as place is concerned, I believe that tone is the best way to capture the kind of rich period atmosphere I was after, rather than merely layering factual details down one upon another.

How would you describe your approach to writing – do you dive right in, or plot everything out in detail first?

Normally I begin with a strong sense of place. I try to write a locale in as rich and as vivid a way as possible, so that I feel as though I have entered that terrain; as though I inhabit it.

Once I’ve accomplished that, a certain tone emerges, and with it a voice.

That’s the pivotal moment for me – when I discover that voice. Sometimes it never arrives, and I have to abandon the story, but when I do manage to find it, I get caught up in the voice and just start writing.

I never plot the story at the beginning. Instead I see myself as embarking on a voyage of discovery, knowing there will be surprises along the way and trying not to anticipate them.

After completing several drafts, I begin to step back and take a look at the plot from the point of view of story structure. This is when I try to sharpen details and ensure that the story is both coherent and structurally sound without being obvious. My editor at Faber, Angus Cargill, taught me an enormously important lesson about the power of keeping your writing implicit.

FEVER CITY is your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about your route to publication?

It was in 2011 that I came up with the idea to combine a fictitious kidnapping with a momentous historical event, the assassination of JFK.

And I also wanted to layer in a contemporary domestic noir style narrative into the story that would give resonance to one of the themes of FEVER CITY, which was that the forces behind JFK’s assassination are the same forces that nearly destroyed the world economy in the 2008 Financial Crisis.

It was an ambitious and complex project, and the book took three years to write, after which I sent it out to agents on both sides of the Atlantic.

The first offer of representation came from a young agent, Tom Witcomb, at Blake Friedmann, and his offer put all the other agents on alert. Many came back requesting I give them additional time to consider the manuscript.

But in the meantime, Tom was already busy outlining his vision of the book and the kind of edits he would suggest, and I just found his enthusiasm contagious and knew he would be able to transfer that genuine passion to potential publishing houses.

Tom put the manuscript out to auction and less than three days, we were excited beyond words to accept Faber’s pre-empt. When I had seen the list of publishers Tom was sending the book to, the one I really wanted far more than any other was Faber and Angus Cargill. I was my dream choice and I was over the moon to find a home with them.

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

I’m just completing a thriller set in Mexico in 2000 about the battle for justice of two women aligned against the forces of corrupt political institutes, vicious sweatshop owners, and narco terrorism. I’m also working on a first contact novel set in 19th Century Australia, and the sequel to FEVER CITY. And if all goes well, one of my screenplays will be going into production in September in Brazil.

 

A big thank you to Tim Baker for dropping by the CTG blog today and talking about his debut novel FEVER CITY.

Here’s what the blurb says: “Nick Alston, a Los Angeles private investigator, is hired to find the kidnapped son of America’s richest and most hated man. Hastings, a mob hitman in search of redemption, is also on the trail. But both men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal that spreads from the White House all the way to Dealey Plaza. Decades later in Dallas, Alston’s son stumbles across evidence from JFK conspiracy buffs that just might link his father to the shot heard around the world.”

FEVER CITY by Tim Baker is published by Faber & Faber and out now. You can buy it from Amazon here

Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter @TimBakerWrites

And check out all the other fabulous tour stops on the FEVER CITY Blog Tour …

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What the blurb says: “EVEN THE DEAD HAVE THEIR SECRETS. A reformed teenage gang leader is gunned down in cold blood and an angry DS Dan Baines, who knew the victim well, reckons he knows who is responsible. But his boss, DI Lizzie Archer, wants to know the identity of the mystery man who died with him – and whether he was intended victim or innocent bystander. When an officer from the National Crime Agency turns up and declares the case off limits to Archer and her team, it’s clear that there is more going on than meets the eye. Several conflicting agendas are in play and the body count is rising. And Archer and Baines realise that the only people they can truly trust are each other.”

 

When two people are gunned down in the street in the market town of Aylesbury, DS Dan Baines and his boss, DI Lizzie Archer, are determined to find who has brought gun crime to the Buckinghamshire town. But the case is more than just work for DS Baines, he has been something of a mentor to the younger victim, and the loss hits him hard, bringing losses in his past hurtling back into the present and haunting him day and night. DI Lizzie Archer is battling problems of her own, trying to carve out a new life in Aylesbury after relocating from the MET to escape London. As the two detectives piece the evidence together, and the body count continues to rise, they start to suspect that some of those engaging in criminal activity could be amongst their colleagues.

DI Lizzie Archer is a determined and dynamic detective who, having overcome personal injury, is building herself a new life from scratch. DS Dan Baines is a committed detective who is battling the demons of the past that, in this book, are threatening to overcome him. They make for an engaging duo.

It’s not often I get to read a crime book set in a place I know well, so it was a real treat for me to read this and picture exactly where in Aylesbury and the surrounding area the scenes were set.

EVIL UNSEEN is pacey story, with plenty of twists and intrigue to keep the reader guessing until the finale.

Perfect for fans of police procedurals.

 

EVIL UNSEEN is out now. To buy the book from Amazon click here

To find out more about Dave Sivers hop on over to his website here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @DaveSivers

And be sure to check out all the other fabulous stops on the EVIL UNSEEN Blog Tour …

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What the blurb says: “Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing. Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairy-tale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairy-tales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow …”

This psychological thriller is very difficult to review without giving anything about the story away!

What I will say is that this is one of those books that has you guessing right to the end about what really happened, keeping you locked into the suspense of the story, hooked by the intrigue, and trying to work out who did what, and why they did what they did.

Diana Jager is a fascinating character – strong and driven on the outside, while vulnerable and hurting on the inside. As the story unfolds, revealing that the fairy-tale romance between her and her husband, Peter, wasn’t everything the papers led their readers to be believe, it becomes clear that Diana and Peter were hiding dark secrets of their own.

Jack Parlabane is wrestling with his own demons. A talented but now disgraced investigative journalist, he’s not afraid of digging deep to find the truth behind a story, but his empathy and own desires start to cloud the issues, and have the potential to put him far closer to danger than he’d ever have imagined.

This is a story where nothing is quite as it seems and the characters all have something to hide. It’s also the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last, and although it’s part of the Jack Parlabane series I found it worked well as a standalone.

Masterfully plotted and brilliantly observed, with a touch of dark humour and a cracking pace, this intricate thriller will have you captivated right to the final page.

 

To buy BLACK WIDOW on Amazon click here

To buy BLACK WIDOW from Waterstones click here

To find out more about Chris Brookmyre and his books pop over to his website at www.brookmyre.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @cbrookmyre

 

[With thanks to Little Brown for my copy of BLACK WIDOW]

 

 

 

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Today I’m delighted to be joined on the CTG blog by crime writer Chris Brookmyre. Chris, a former journalist, is one of Britain’s leading crime novelists and more than one million copies of his Jack Parlabane series have been sold in the UK alone. He’s kindly agreed to answer some questions about his latest book in the Jack Parlabane series – BLACK WIDOW – and talk about his writing process.

So, to the interview …

Welcome, Chris! Your latest book BLACK WIDOW is published today, can you tell us a bit about it?

It’s about how the most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves. It’s about a surgeon who has given the best years of her life to her career and is beginning to think that maybe the price was too high: she doesn’t have anyone with whom to share her life and is fearing that the time to have a husband and a family may have passed. Then out of the blue she has a whirlwind romance with a hospital IT tech: within six months they are married, and within six more he is dead. The question is: did she kill him, and if so, did she have a very good reason.

Surgeon Diana Jager is a fascinating character – strong, successful and willing to speak out for what she believes in, yet inwardly vulnerable – what was it that inspired you to create her and tell her story?

My wife is an anaesthetist who has worked in the NHS for twenty years. She saw a lot of her colleagues in the same situation as Diana in terms of giving so much of themselves to their careers. She observed a great deal of sexism in medicine, overt sexism in terms of how people are treated and spoken to, but also a more insidious, pervasive covert sexism in terms of how it is made a lot easier for male doctors to have both a career and a family. They are seldom forced to choose, or judged for their decisions. The other inspiration was the way I’ve seen women abused on social media for being even the slightest bit outspoken. I wanted to create a character who would be an acerbic and divisive blogger in order to show what the fall-out might be like for a woman who dared to stick her head above the parapet.

How does a story idea start for you – with a character, a theme, a plot, all three, or something different?

I honestly can’t remember. By the time I’ve finished writing a book, there has been so many processes gone through that the seeds are lost in this miasma of inter-tangled ideas. It’s different for every book. With Black Widow I wanted to write about how we are inclined to trust people early in a relationship because we are desperate for it to work out, and that can blind you to danger signs. I’ve touched upon this in previous books: how we tend to intellectually rationalise our fears in order to convince ourselves everything will be okay, when in fact we should listen when our instincts are telling us to run.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot your novels out in advance, or dive right in and see where the story takes you?

These days it’s more the former, but in the past it was the latter. I would come up with outlandish ideas that excited me, and before I knew it I was mired in them. I would end up drawing upon my wife to help work out a way of pulling all the threads together into a satisfying conclusion. A good example is All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye, where I came up with the concept of this very law-abiding and dutiful grandmother who gets drawn into a world of espionage. The possibilities were so intoxicating that the book just got longer and longer, but in recent times I have been plotting my books very carefully. Not too much because you don’t want it to seem like your characters are on a rail, but with something like Black Widow, which is very twisty turny, if you want to misdirect the reader, you have to control the information and be very conscious of how much the reader knows at any given time. In order to do that, you need to know where it’s all going. As a character says in the Sacred Art of Stealing, you won’t know anything until you know everything.

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So, what’s next for Jack Parlabane? Do you have another series book planned and, if so, will things start to look up for him in his private life?

I’ve actually just finished the first draft of the next Jack Parlabane book, and having in recent novels been wrestling with the implosion of print journalism, at the start of the new one he is finally turning things around. He bags a job at a very forward-thinking news website, and one of the characters remarks to him that Jack is so used to things going wrong, he finds it hard to accept it when things are going right. Parlabane replies that this is because when everything is going right, that’s usually the sign that a meteor is about to strike, which of course it soon does.

As crime writers are also usually avid crime readers, can you tell us what’s your favourite crime novel and why?

Strangely enough, perhaps my favourite crime novel is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I always loved Douglas Adams’ work, and when he decided to write a detective story, it was of course an entertainingly bizarre detective story. As soon as I finished it I went back to the beginning and read it again because it was a novel that read completely differently second time around, once you knew what was really going on. Since then it has been my ambition to write a novel that would have readers to that, and hopefully I have realised that ambition with Black Widow. The best twists aren’t merely a surprise: the best twists change the meaning of everything so that you can go back and read the same chapters again and it’s like seeing the same events through different eyes.

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

I will be polishing up the next novel, which is entitled Want You Gone, and I am also writing another science fiction novel. It won’t be outlandish far-future science fiction: I am hoping to take my crime readers with me because the plan is that it will be a crime novel that just happens to be set in space.

Huge thanks to Chris Brookmyre for stopping by the CTG blog today and letting me grill him.

BLACK WIDOW is out today.

To buy it from Amazon, click on the link here 

To buy it from Waterstones click on the link here

You can find out more about Chris and his novels by hopping on over to his website here and following him on Twitter @cbrookmyre

 

And, I’ll be reviewing his fabulous new book – BLACK WIDOW – here tomorrow so don’t forget to stop by then!