CTG’s TEN COOL THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT BLOODY SCOTLAND

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Slice Girling it up at Crime in the Coo! [L-R: Louise Voss, CTG, AK Benedict]

Bloody Scotland (9-11 September) was, once again, bloody brilliant!

It’s a super friendly and dynamic festival with a brilliant team of organisers and volunteers.

It’s hard to pick just ten things, but I’ve done my best – and added a bunch of photos to show the rest …

  1. Getting picked up from the station and chauffeur driven to the hotel by lovely crime fiction blogger @GrabThisBook after being on a delayed train for over 10 hours
  2. Raising a glass to celebrate Craig Robertson’s brilliant new novel MURDERABILIA and catching up with all my crime writer and blogging friends
  3. Hearing Daniel Pembrey read from his debut novel THE HARBOUR MASTER in front of a massive crowd at the Albert Halls
  4. Laughing till I cried at the (NOT) BORN IN THE USA panel with Steve Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Gordon Brown and Catriona McPherson
  5. Singing with THE SLICE GIRLS (Alexandra Sokoloff, AK Benedict, SJI Holliday, Louise Voss) at The Curly Coo bar as part of the Crime in the Coo event
  6. Marvelling over the mouthorgan playing genius of Stuart Neville (at Crime in the Coo)
  7. Cheering at the bravery of the pitchers at the PITCH PERFECT event
  8. Being fascinated by Neil McKay and Alexandra Sokoloff (chaired by Alexandra Benedict) talking about the nature of evil
  9. Watching a piper shoot fire out of his bagpipes on every top note in Stirling town centre
  10. Sitting back and enjoying the conversation between top-of-their-game crime writers Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine

Find out more about this brilliant festival at www.bloodyscotland.com and be sure to book your ticket for next year – I just know that it’s going to be fantastic.

You can buy Daniel Pembrey’s THE HARBOUR MASTER here

You can buy Craig Robertson’s MURDERABILIA here

Check out the GRAB THIS BOOK blog here

Check out THE SLICE GIRLS on Facebook here

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CTG PRESENTS: @MarkHillWriter spills some Online Secrets #TwoOClockBoy

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Today I’m thrilled (if a little worried for you) that the lovely Mark Hill is taking the reins at CTG HQ to scare the crap out of you talk about his stunningly good debut crime thriller THE TWO O’CLOCK BOY.

Over to Mark …

Tell me a secret. Write it on a piece of paper.

I’m sure there’s something about yourself – something that happened, something you did – that you’ve never told anyone. It’s probably a small thing, you can live with it.

But what if that secret was a terrible, dangerous thing, and it came back to haunt you? Just what would you do to make it go away? Secrets drive you to desperation. Before you know it, you’re crossing a line – doing things you never imagined you were capable of.

Just how far would you go?

Secrets – of the deadly variety – are catnip for crime writers.

When I began to write about DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley and the other characters in my crime thriller The Two O’Clock Boy, I wanted to discover how the sins of the past can crash catastrophically into the present. I wanted a terrible secret to emerge which would pitch my characters into the molten heat of an emotional firestorm. I wanted to body slam them with those big, nasty emotions: guilt and rage and terror. I wanted to make bad things happen – very bad things – and watch them fall apart.

At the eye of this terrible conspiracy, trying to make sense of it, are my coppers – Drake and Crowley. They’re the ones who have to get to the truth of a series of murders, to bring to an end a deadly slaughter. And Ray Drake knows better than most about secrets, and about guilt and rage and terror…

Because Ray’s got a secret. And if anyone found out what it was… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

I liked Ray Drake when I started to get to know him, he flew off the page. I discovered Ray’s a family man. He’s a bit tense, perhaps – troubled – but a good copper, a great copper. He’s the kind of guy you’d want in your corner.

But now, knowing what I know about Ray, do I understand him?

No.

Do I trust him?

Absolutely not.

You see, Ray’s a lot like his city. You think you know him, but you don’t, not really. London is 2,000 years old. Secrets multiply within its boundaries like germs in a petri dish. Some of them are frankly macabre, unsettling. Bolt as much glass and steel to the city as you like, build it ever higher or wider, but its streets will always pulse with dangerous mysteries – and it absolutely will not give them up without a fight.

But sometimes secrets do emerge from its tangled, teeming streets. And one of them its on his way to give Drake and Crowley the fight of their lives.

You see, after several decades, The Two O’Clock Boy is back.

So, that secret I asked you to write down. Burn it, shred it, get rid of it how you see fit. But don’t ever kid yourself that you’ll ever be free of it.

Wow. So that should tempt you (and terrify you) to read Mark Hill’s brilliantly gritty crime thriller The Two O’Clock Boy.

THE TWO O’CLOCK BOY is out now in eBook. You can buy it from Amazon here

Find out more about Mark Hill by hopping over to his website at www.markhillauthor.com and follow him on Twitter @MarkHillWriter

And be sure to check out all the great stops along the path of The Two O’Clock Boy blog tour:

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Blog Tour: THE DEVIL’S WORK by Mark Edwards – An Extract

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Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on THE DEVIL’S WORK Blog Tour.

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THE DEVIL’S WORK is the latest thriller from the fabulous Mark Edwards. Here’s the blurb: The Devil’s Work follows Sophie Greenwood, a young mother who unwittingly accepts a job at the office from hell! Re-entering the workforce after having her first child, Sophie thinks she’s found her dream job in the marketing department of an iconic children’s publisher. But very quickly Sophie comes to find that someone is out to get her and that the dream job may turn out to be a nightmare. A mouse nailed to her front door… A stranger following her home in the shadows… Unexplainable whispers in the office late at night… As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must confront dark secrets from the past and race to uncover the truth about her new job… before it kills her. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor?”

And now … THE DEVIL’S WORK by Mark Edwards – an extract:

As soon as the cold air hit her face she realised how drunk she was. Disorientated, Sophie took a wrong turn and ended up walking in a circle before she found the bus stop. As the bus rumbled through Brixton she became sure she was going to throw up so she disembarked. Home was thirty minutes away but the walk should sober her up a little, make the world stop spinning.

As she neared Brockwell Park she became aware of footsteps behind her. She turned but couldn’t see anyone there. Jesus, now she was hearing things. Since Josh – who was still in hospital, recovering slowly – had been attacked she’d felt more wary walking by herself. That must be what was happening now. She was jumpy because of what had happened to Josh. There wasn’t really anyone following her.

She crossed the street so she was close to the shops, where she felt safer. The jolt of adrenaline had sobered her up a little and she no longer felt like she might vomit. Soon, she was turning in to the street where she lived. She paused to rummage through her bag for her keys – and heard footsteps behind her.

Somebody was following her.

She started walking again, quickly, casting a look back over her shoulder. It was a man, featureless in baggy clothes, a hood obscuring his face. At least, she assumed it was a man – it was hard to tell.

The man started to walk faster too.

She found her phone and decided not to call Guy, in case it made the man run at her, so she punched out a short text instead, her fingers shaking, praying Guy would see it immediately.

On our road. Man following me. Come out!

She further increased her pace, scrabbling in her bag for her keys, unable to find them. The man behind her increased his pace too.

She panicked, running towards her flat, abandoning the attempt to find her keys. She would hammer on the door. But what if Guy had already gone to bed? He was probably sulking because she’d stayed out so late. He’d be in bed, Daisy beside him, with his earplugs in. He’d already told her she’d need to sleep on the sofa. Oh, God, the man was jogging behind her, so close, just twenty feet away now. He was going to grab her, pull her into the alleyway, rape her . . .

She reached the door and raised her fist to bang on it.

It opened.

She threw herself inside, a sob breaking in her throat as Guy stepped past her. The man, whose features were still cloaked by darkness, stopped moving.

‘I’ve called the police,’ Guy yelled, going out onto the front step. ‘They’re on their way.’

The man stood still and silent for a moment, then turned and jogged away, back up the road. The darkness swallowed him.

‘Have you really called the police?’ she asked, after Guy closed the door.

‘No. Do you want me to?’

She shook her head. ‘What’s the point? He’ll be long gone by the time they get here.’

 

The next morning, Guy went outside to put the bins out. He came back in almost immediately, looking like he was going to throw up.

‘Those bins smell rancid, don’t they?’ Sophie said.

‘No, it’s not that.’ He rummaged beneath the sink and found the Marigolds and a carrier bag.

‘What are you doing?’

She went to follow him as he headed back outside but he said, ‘Wait there.’

She hesitated, then decided she had to see what it was. She heard a cry of disgust come from Guy, who was by the front door. She reached the doorway and clapped her hand to her mouth.

A large white mouse had been superglued to the front door, its nose pointing to the ground, tail stiff with rigor mortis. Its eyes were closed, front teeth protruding, a look of pain frozen on its face.

 

To find out more about Mark Edwards and his books hop over to his website at http://www.markedwardsauthor.com and follow him on Twitter @mredwards

THE DEVIL’S WORK is out today! Buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to check out all the other great stops on THE DEVIL’S WORK Blog Tour:

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Bloody Scotland Preview: INTO THE DARK with Malcolm MacKay, James Oswald & Craig Robertson

 

 

Another of the events I can’t wait to see at Bloody Scotland is the Sunday 11.45am INTO THE DARK panel with Malcolm Mackay, James Oswald and Craig Robertson. These bestselling writers know a thing or two about the dark side of human nature, and I think their panel on the subject will be totally fascinating. So, in advance of the festival, I thought I’d put a few questions to them, to get them warmed up …

Firstly, for those new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?

MALCOLM: For Those Who Know the Ending opens with Martin Sivok tied to a chair in an empty warehouse, bleeding from the head. As the story spools back to reveal the journey that’s led him here we follow two men, Martin and Usman Kassar, coming at organised crime from different directions, risking the wrath of the dangerous Nate Colgan as they test the value and limits of loyalty.

JAMES: The sixth instalment in the ongoing Inspector McLean series, The Damage Done sees Tony McLean with egg on his face when a raid on a suspected brothel goes spectacularly wrong. Expecting to find prostitutes and clients, instead the police interrupt a private swingers party. Investigating how their intelligence could have been so badly wrong, McLean finds alarming similarities with another raid, twenty years earlier, but when he begins to look deeper he opens up a nasty can of worms.

CRAIG: Murderabilia is my seventh novel and the fifth featuring DI Rachel Narey and her partner, photographer Tony Winter. It revolves around the pursuit of serial killer collectibles, something most people won’t have heard of but which is big business online. There are a number of specialist websites selling items related to killers and Rachel gets reluctantly drawn into this world after items go missing from a murder scene. There is often a high price to be paid for murderabilia – as Rachel and Tony find out.

You’re on stage at 11.45am – 12.45pm on Sunday 11th at Bloody Scotland – what can the audience expect?

MALCOLM: Well the event promises to explore the dark side of human nature, which is a slightly worrying thought. In the true spirit of Bloody Scotland I doubt it’ll stay too grim for too long.

JAMES: I’m really not sure. A hangover? The title of the discussion is Into the Dark, so maybe they’ll just turn the lights off? Seriously though, I imagine we will be examining the enduring appeal of tales that delve into the darker side of human nature. Why are we drawn to the worst in people and so fascinated by the horrible things they do? I don’t think it will be for the faint-hearted.

CRAIG: Revelations, insight laughs, shocks. All three of us tend to enjoy delving into the dark side of humanity and it will be fun to explore the psychology of that during the event. I’m keen to know what attracts James and Malcolm to that side of the genre and what it says about them – and me. I’ve appeared with both of them before and know that as well as being terrific writers, they’re fascinating to listen to too.

Bloody Scotland is one of my favourite crime fiction festivals. What makes it great for you? 

MALCOLM: This will be my third Bloody Scotland, and it’s always been a brilliant experience, laid back and friendly, like a gang of old mates taking a weekend to recharge batteries and gain inspiration for future acts of fictional criminality.

JAMES: I’ve been to every Bloody Scotland since it started, so I’m something of an old hand. The panels are always great and informative, but what I most like is meeting up with other writers, chatting with readers and generally relaxing for a weekend. So what makes it great for me? I’d have to say the bar.

CRAIG: Well I’m a bit biased because I’m one of the festival organisers and have been for its five-year existence. I like to think Bloody Scotland is friendly and fun, welcoming and a bit different. We try to think outside the box so events like Crime at the Coo, the crime writers football match and holding a play in Stirling’s Sheriff Court are what makes us what we are. There is also a great opportunity for readers and authors to mingle and we encourage that.

And, lastly, do you have any pre-panel routines, green room riders, or quirky foibles, that you’ll have to do before you go on stage?

MALCOLM: If turning up slightly late and terribly baffled counts as a routine then I’ve got it down to an art form.

JAMES: Boringly, no. Like most writers, I am something of an introvert. The thought of talking to a crowd of people fills me with sweaty-palmed dread. The reality of it has turned out to be a much better experience though. I spent a few years working as an Agricultural Consultant and that has been good training in public speaking. Farmers are a hard audience to please, especially the ones who’ve only come for the free food and a beer. Talking to people who are interested in crime fiction, or just writing in general, is genuinely one of the best parts of being a published author, and I’ve never really found it necessary to calm my nerves before going on stage. I get to wear my famous pink jacket though. I suppose I would feel naked without it.

CRAIG: For luck, I always read a chapter of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely written in the original Spanish then sing the first two verses of the Star Spangled Banner. In the green room, I have to have a bowl of red smarties and small glass of chartreuse. Apart from that, I just go on stage and make stuff up as I go along.

You heard it here folks, be sure to get a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel for an hour of revelations, laughs and shocks, and perhaps a few red smarties if we can wrestle them away from Craig!

Huge thanks to the terrific MALCOLM MACKAY, JAMES OSWALD, and CRAIG ROBERTSON for chatting with me in the run up to the fabulous BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.

It’s not too late to get yourself a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel. Hop over to the BLOODY SCOTLAND website and grab one quick at www.bloodyscotland.com

To find out more about MALCOLM MACKAY follow him on Twitter @malcolm_mackay and FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THE ENDING is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about JAMES OSWALD follow him on Twitter @SirBenfro and THE DAMAGE DONE is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about CRAIG ROBERTSON follow him on Twitter @CraigRobertson_ and MURDERABILIA is on the 8th September, you can pre-order it here

THE BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL is held in Stirling from the 9th – 11th September 2016. It’s a fantastic programme. Find out more at their website here and be sure to follow them on Twitter @BloodyScotland to stay up-to-date with all their news

Guest Post: Mike Thomas talks the 10 phrases every cop hears in their career

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Today I’m delighted to be handing the controls of CTG HQ over to Mike Thomas. Mike’s novel ASH AND BONES is out now and, having served in the police he’s just the right person to talk about the ten phrases every cop will hear during their career. So, over to Mike …

Thirty years is a long old time to be a copper. What makes that length of service feel even longer are the stock phrases you hear day in, day out. Some of them come from your ‘customers’ (or criminals, in old money). Some will drift from the mouths of your colleagues. And a few will be heard from normal MOPs (Members of the Public) who you interact with at incidents and general patrol – if you’re not sitting in the parade room filling in interminable forms for six hours, that is – during a shift. All of them are guaranteed to make you roll your eyes and curse inwardly, and wonder why on earth you ever signed up to be a plod.

  1. What’s your number, I’m going to have your badge

An old favourite of villains. Usually spouted by one of them after the police have had the temerity to arrest him for violently assaulting his girlfriend, his mother, and then several MOPs who intervened, before headbutting, kicking and spitting at the arresting officer, who was forced to wrestle him to the ground and handcuff him, all the while trying not to go overboard (reasonable force, y’see) or hurt him at all. This, of course, is police brutality in his tiny little mind, and now the man wants the arresting officer’s force number so that he can have them sacked and their warrant card –‘badge’ – taken away.

  1. Of course I loves him/her, I f*** him don’t I?

You go to a Domestic Dispute, and find the male and female have spent the day drinking litres of Spar super strength cider in their garden – it’s not raining that much, so of course it’s okay to sit in deck chairs amongst the weeds and those rusted car wheels – before deciding to spend the evening punching one another in the face really, really hard, while calling each other some rather choice names which people living three streets away could hear. Neither party wishes to make a complaint, arguing that they love each other, and when you question this that phrase above comes out. So you attempt to arrest the male, just to get him away from the house so the fighting stops and everyone within a two mile radius can get some sleep. Then, of course, they turn on you, and start punching you in the face really, really hard.

  1. If you weren’t in that uniform I’d fight you right here, right now

A strange one, this. Criminals or angry drunks seem to think that if you were to quickly change into a tee shirt and jeans it would a) suddenly make you weaker than if you were in uniform and b) mean you were no longer a police officer, just because you are out of ‘the cloth’. After a few years it had got to the point that I’d offer to strip naked to see if people still wanted to carry out their threat. Oddly, not one of them did.

  1. I’ve just got a quick call for you, it’s on the way back to the station

Ah, the control room. Sometimes called Ops Room, or if you’re feeling fancy, The Public Service Centre. Woo. Anyway, typically a windowless hive of workstations, staffed primarily by female civvy (civilian) controllers, who spend twelve hours a day/night handling endless calls from the public, liaising with other emergency services, and dishing out incidents to police officers via the radio system. Working there is a thankless, stressful nightmare, and they all deserve a medal. But this is the one phrase that gets those cop eyes rolling – thanks to GPS and other tech gubbins, the controllers know exactly where you are, all the time. And that incident they have on their list, the one that’s been hanging around for hours because nobody wants to do it, because it’s absolute rubbish? They’re now giving it to you, because it’s at a house on your route back to the station at the end of a tour of duty. Just a quick call. Just to pop in and see if elderly Mrs. Jones is okay. Just to clear that pesky incident from the computer screen. So you go, and you find Mrs. Jones dead, and she’s been dead for a month, and your first finish on time for two weeks goes south because now you’re the OIC (Officer in the Case) for a Sudden Death which sees you dealing with grieving relatives and mountains of paperwork and a trip to the mortuary and handling the putrid remains of a human being. Oh, and working an extra six hours on top of the ten you’ve already done. But hey, at least you’re still sucking air.

  1. There we are then

You’ve just heard that phrase from Number 4. You don’t want to do that ‘quick call’: you have seventeen incidents to update on the Niche computer system, your notebook to write up, the sergeant to liaise with, and it’s your daughter’s fifth birthday and you are not – under any circumstances – going to a call that has been sitting on a computer terminal in Ops Room since yesterday. You are going home on time for the first time in an age, dammit. So you touch the transmit button on your personal radio and explain, a tad grumpily, and ask them to pass it on to the next shift. The terse reply: ‘There we are then.’ And you sigh, and do you know why? Take a look at the first letter of each word she just transmitted across the airwaves. See what they spell? That’s what she’s just called you.

Thomas, Mike

  1. Can I wear your hat?

If I had a pound, et cetera. Friday night? Working the dreaded ‘After Dark’ shift, where you’re drafted into a city centre to police the thousands of revellers who have flooded into its pubs and clubs? You will hear this question every half an hour. You will, when new to the Job, let them wear your hat, even pose for photographs with smiley men and women – many of them drunker than you’ve ever been – while they laugh and giggle and try on your police helmet. Then, after a few years of it, and after that one time when a young whippersnapper ran off, laughing gleefully, with your ‘lid’, something inside you will snap. And you will refuse. You will ignore the drunk-yet-polite men and women, and come across as a right miserable old bugger. And you will walk away, ignoring their pleas for a picture while they wear your Custodian helmet, and you will find a dark, drizzly corner to stand in, and you will breathe a sigh of relief while contemplating your lot, and hope nobody ever finds you again, until five minutes later when, from beside you, you will hear: ‘Can I wear your hat?’ See also: ‘Are you the strippagram? A-hahahahahaha!’

  1. Why don’t you catch some real criminals?

Never understood this. What is a real criminal? The kingpin of a massive drugs importation gang? A murderer, or rapist? Someone who traffics children into sexual slavery? Or perhaps someone who repeatedly – and deliberately – kicks the wing mirror off their neighbour’s car due to a long-running and terribly petty dispute over parking spaces? It’s all crime. Kicking a wing mirror off is criminal damage. Hence, you are a criminal. The police are going to arrest you for it. There is no point whatsoever saying this phrase as they are placing you into the back of a prisoner van, hands cuffed to the base of your spine. It just sounds like you’re whining, so stop it. Nobody cares.

  1. What’s the problem? Is it going to take long?

See those bright yellow cones, and that fluttering police tape, and the half dozen police cars and two ambulances and a fire truck inside the cordon, plus that – look, up there! – crying man sitting on top of a twelve storey office block, legs over the ledge, face ashen and eyes on the ground all that way below as he mulls over whether to jump and end it all because he’s lost his job and his wife has left him and taken the kids and he has nothing whatsoever to live for? But anyway, we’re REALLY, REALLY SORRY for closing the road while our negotiator tries to save his life and it means you have to queue for ten minutes or – heaven forfend! – find an alternative route into work.

  1. This is harassment, bro

A close relative to number 7, and usually followed by Number 1. Frequently uttered by career criminals and recidivists, as if in astonishment that you have arrested them – again! – for burgling another house, or hitting their partner for the third time this week, or selling yet more dodgy E tabs that sent a clubber into a coma from which they will never awaken. The police are not harassing, you, for goodness’ sake. They are doing their jobs. If you don’t like getting lifted by the Old Bill, STOP DOING CRIMEY THINGS, THEN.

  1. I pay your wages

Wait, you personally go into my bank each and every month, fill out a deposit slip with my name and account details, write down the requisite amount, and hand it over to the cashier so they can give me all your money? THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU ARE VERY KIND.

A big thank you to Mike Thomas for sharing the ten phrases every cop will hear during their career with us. As you can imagine, Mike’s novel ASH AND BONES is a truly authentic police procedural, and the beginning of a new series featuring DC Will MacReady.

Here’s the blurb: “At a squalid flat near the Cardiff docks, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong when the police aren’t the only unexpected guests. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range, the original suspect is left in a coma. The killer, identity unknown, slips away. Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help – but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path …”

You can buy ASH AND BONES from Amazon here

And be sure to check out Mike’s website www.mikethomasauthor.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @ItDaFiveOh

 

CTG’s Bookish Confessions #amreading

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About ten days ago @bloke_book challenged me and a few others to confess our darkest bookish secrets. Having procrastinated for a little while, I’ve bitten the bullet, and am fessing up to my crimes against books …

Have you ever damaged a book?
Define “damaged”. If cracking a book’s spine before you start reading it is damage, then yes. I can’t help myself. Also turning corners down to mark my place. I do this as standard – there’s no point me having a book mark, I always lose it and then I lose my place! I’m also prone to dropping books in the bath (my favourite place to read). Some books escape with a tide mark around the bottom, others fall victim of a full drowning and have to be hung up to dry out! A book is there to be read, and it’s going to get bruised and dirtied up in the process – that’s my view anyway!

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?
I try hard not to. If it belongs to someone else I’m extra especially careful with it (I don’t read it in the bath). BUT I cannot guarantee not to turn the corners of the pages down – it’s a habit, I just can’t stop!

How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends on the book. Some – like an action thriller – might be a couple of days, others might be longer. It also depends why I’m reading it – if I’m on a deadline for review it has to be fast, whereas if it’s for me, for fun, then I can take my time.

Books you haven’t finished?
Loads! I’m easily bored, so if a book isn’t doing it for me I stop reading immediately.

Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?
Yes, but I’m not telling! What I will say is that spoilers can be a nightmare with books hyped from a long way before publication. I didn’t read GONE GIRL when it came out because someone had already told me the twist! (I think it’s a great story though, the book and the film).

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?
I’m happy to tell about any book I’m reading (unless talking about the book is embargoed until a certain date by the author or their PR).

Are you a fast/slow reader?

Both. Depends on the book and my mood.

Do you like to buddy read?
I’m not sure what this is. I like talking about books with my blogger friends and getting recommendations though.

Do you read better in your head/out loud?
If I’m reading someone else’s book I read it in my head. If I’m reading my own while editing, I read it out loud.

If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

One book!! *gasps* I really don’t know, but it would be a close run thing between Michael Crichton’s A STATE OF FEAR and Lee Child’s KILLING FLOOR. Or maybe a Jilly Cooper book – either RIDERS or POLO! Simply because with all these books I’d be happy to re-read them over and over and over again.

Now it’s my turn to tag some people so I pick: Susi Holliday, Liz Barnsley, Alex Caan, Rod Reynolds and Mark Hill.

And while they’re putting together their confessions, be sure to check out what others in the chain – @Bloke_book @andymartinink and @KarinaMSzczurek have already confessed to …

http://bookebloke.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/the-reader-confessions-tag.html

http://andymartinink.co.uk/2016/08/confessions/

https://karinamagdalena.com/2016/08/25/reader-confessions/

Bloody Scotland Preview: EVA DOLAN, MARI HANNAH & BEN MCPHERSON

One of the events I’m really looking forward to at Bloody Scotland is the Saturday 10.30am panel with Eva Dolan, Mari Hannah and Ben McPherson. Having seen each of these dynamic writers in action before, I’m sure this is going to be a lively and entertaining debate. So, in advance of the festival, I thought I’d pop them a few questions, you know, to get them warmed up …

Firstly, for those new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?

EVA: After You Die is the third in the Zigic and Ferreira series and follows the investigation into the suspicious death of a young right-to-die activist and the murder of her mother, in an idyllic commuter village a long way away from the team’s usual stamping ground. It was quite an emotional book to write as it covers the complicated and contentious issue of right to die, the demands of being a carer and the way a family copes in the aftermath of a terrible accident.

BEN: A Line of Blood is my first novel. It’s about a father and his eleven-year-old son who discover a corpse in the house next door. The father fails to stop his son from seeing the dead man, and at first he thinks that’s his biggest problem, but then his marriage begins to unravel, and he realises his wife knew the dead man. The murder exposes fault lines in the marriage and confronts the family with a past that none of them can escape. I’m deep into my second novel at the moment. Again it’s about a family, and again something terrible happens to that family, but this time they’ve done nothing to deserve it. They have to choose between justice and revenge… 

MARI: I’m best known for my Kate Daniels series but my latest book is a standalone. THE SILENT ROOM is conspiracy thriller introducing Special Branch DS Matthew Ryan who I am a little bit in love with. The opener sees his disgraced boss, DI Jack Fenwick, sprung from a prison van. Professional Standards officer, Eloise O’Neil investigates. Under suspicion of aiding the audacious escape, Ryan is suspended, warned not to interfere. Convinced of Jack’s innocence, he works off-book with Grace Ellis (ex-DCI) & Frank Newman (ex-MI5) to find him. I had such a lot of fun writing this book. Fear not if you are a Kate Daniels groupie. She’s back in GALLOWS DROP in November.

You’re on stage at 10.30 – 11.30am on Saturday 10th at Bloody Scotland – what can the audience expect?

EVA: At half past ten in the morning? Three bright-eyed and bushy-tailed crime writers who definitely didn’t stay up all night in the hotel bar and then quickly freshened up to go straight on stage. I think it will be a pretty lively panel, Mari Hannah is a marvellous writer and lovely lady and Ben McPherson’s book starts with a dead guy with an erection, so he’s obviously not shy!

BEN: I’m on with Mari Hannah an Eva Dolan, so I think the audience can expect to be entertained! I also hope we’ll have something to say about the big questions that crime books raise: What makes a murderer? How should people react when terrible things happen? And for me the two most important questions: Why do good people do bad things? And what does it take for a bad person to do the right thing? But the pleasure in being on a panel is that you never know exactly which way the conversation is going to go. The audience can lead you in unexpected directions…

MARI: There will be blood! Ben, Eva and I have written very different books. The discussion will no doubt reflect this. We’ve all met before and I’m looking forward to taking the stage in such brilliant company. From a personal point of view, I’m hoping to meet some passionate readers and have a few laughs.   

Bloody Scotland is one of my favourite crime fiction festivals. If you’ve been before, what makes it great for you? And, if you haven’t, what are you most looking forward to?

EVA: I love Bloody Scotland and am delighted to be back again this year as it really is the highlight of the crime calendar. The programme is always a good blend of big names and newcomers and the organisers have a knack of putting the right people together on stage so the panels are generally much sparkier and funnier than at some more, um…staid festivals. I’m marking up Chris Brookmyre and Stuart Neville in conversation, Into the Dark with Malcolm Mackay, James Oswald and Craig Robertson looks very good too and (Not) Born in the USA on Sunday afternoon is bound to be fascinating and fiery. Away from the purely bookish things I’m looking forward to catching My Darling Clementine and Mark Billingham’s The Other Half show, which I’ve heard is brilliant. Then the late night cabaret at Crime at the Coo straight after. And, of course, the Scotland v England football match, where the fittest authors available – and some who probably aren’t – show off their silky skills.

BEN: I was born in Glasgow and grew up in Edinburgh, so it’s great to becoming home to Scotland. I’ve heard such good things about Bloody Scotland. I’m most looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues, and just talking! Writing is lonely, especially if you live away from your home country, so festivals give you the chance to see people you would otherwise only know from Facebook. And the crime fiction community — writers, readers and bloggers — is very supportive. It makes you feel part of something bigger.

MARI: Living in rural Northumberland – no that far from Scottish border – I was delighted to learn that Scotland was planning its very own International Crime Festival back in 2012. So, like a true Border Reiver, my clan and I hopped over Hadrian’s Wall to see what all the fuss was about. Any excuse for a trip to Stirling. Right from the off, I knew that Bloody Scotland was a wee bit special. Over and above the quality crime writers on the programme – everyone knows that Scotland has produced some of the finest in the genre – what I like most about the festival is the relaxed atmosphere and how much fun the fringe events are. Crime in the Coo is a sell-out, must see event. Please someone drop out so I can get a ticket! And then there’s the grudge footy match. C’mon England!

And, lastly, do you have any pre-panel routines, green room riders, or quirky foibles, that you’ll have to do before you go on stage?

EVA: I’m quite relaxed about events generally and the crowd at Bloody Scotland tends to be very welcoming, which is a big help. So it’s a quick nervous wee and check my dress isn’t tucked into my knickers and I’m good to go!

BEN: Coffee. Far too much coffee.

MARI: Other than checking that I haven’t split the waistband of my pants before I’m called for a sound check – yes, that really did happen – I don’t think so. I suppose it very much depends on my fellow panelists. If Eva’s up for a rum beforehand, it would be churlish to expect her to drink alone. I’m sure Ben and I could manage a wee dram of something to take the edge off the nerves. J

Brilliant! And if you want someone to join you for a quick dram let me know!

Huge thanks to the terrific EVA DOLAN, BEN MCPHERSON, and MARI HANNAH for chatting with me in the run up to the fabulous BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.

As you can tell, their panel is going to be a cracker. It’s not too late to get yourself a ticket. Hop over to the BLOODY SCOTLAND website and grab one quick at www.bloodyscotland.com

To find out more about EVA DOLAN follow her on Twitter @eva_dolan and AFTER YOU DIE is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about BEN MCPHERSON follow him on Twitter @TheBenMcPherson and A LINE OF BLOOD is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about MARI HANNAH follow her on Twitter @mariwriter and THE SILENT ROOM is out now, you can buy it here

THE BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL is held in Stirling from the 9th – 11th September 2016. It’s a fantastic programme. Find out more at their website here and be sure to follow them on Twitter @BloodyScotland to stay up-to-date with all their news