CTG REVIEWS: SILENT RAIN by KARIN SALVALAGGIO

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What the blurb says: “Grace Adams has spent three years trying to move on – mentally, physically, emotionally – from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths… which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realise Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed, and there are no shortage of others in town who took issue with him and his wife. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger.”

SILENT RAIN is the fourth book in the Detective Macy Greeley series that started with Karin Salvalaggio’s acclaimed debut novel BONE DUST WHITE.

First off, I have to say that I loved this book. Karen Salvalaggio creates such wonderful textured characters that it’s impossible to resist being pulled into the story from the very first page. The sense of place surrounds you, transporting you to Bolton, Montana, on Halloween night and the aftermath that follows.

Grace Adams is a fascinating character, she’s a combination of tough and vulnerable – determined to get beyond the shadow of her past, yet haunted by the events that happened in her childhood and even in a new town with a new identity, unable to escape entirely. She’s making a new life for herself though – going to college, hanging out with new friends, and focusing on her art. But things aren’t easy, and a man – Peter Granger, a literary novelist – who she trusted with her story now wants to use the details in his latest book. When he ends up dead in a house fire, and Grace is unable to provide an alibi for the time the fire started, it looks like trouble might have found her again.

And that’s just the start of it.

Enter Detective Macy Greeley. She’s tough, smart and juggles her job alongside parenting her young son Luke. She also has a history with Grace Adams – she investigated the awful events that happened in Grace’s past. As Macy starts investigating the death of Peter Granger she uncovers increasingly disturbing things about him and how he has been using young women. It seems a lot of women in Bolton could have had motive to kill him. The question is, who did?

With themes of the search for self-identity, abuse, betrayal, guilt and infidelity, this is a fast paced, gripping story which will also grab you by the heart and make you ponder for a long while after the last page has been devoured.

SILENT RAIN is an fabulously engrossing mystery delivered with one hell of an emotional punch. Read it now!

 

You can buy SILENT RAIN from Amazon here

Find out more about Karin Salvalaggio at www.karinsalvalaggio.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @KarinSalvala

WATCHING THE BODIES BLOG TOUR: @GrahamSmith1972 – CREATING A NEW LEAD

Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on Graham Smith’s WATCHING THE BODIES blog tour. 

First, here’s a little bit about the book – what the blurb says: “When Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.”

Graham is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, WATCHING THE BODIES in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. On the tour today, Graham’s talking about the process of creating a new lead. Over to Graham…

Forgive me for starting with back story, but it is rather relevant.

A few years ago I had a near miss with an American publisher and after being accepted by the commissioning editor, her readers and the proprietors, I found myself being rejected because the marketing bods for the publisher didn’t feel they could sell a UK set novel by a UK based writer to the US market.

Now, as anyone who knows me will testify, I’m rather stubborn, so after I found another publisher for that novel and I’d finished writing its sequel, I found myself with a window in which I could write another novel.

Being the stubborn Oedipus that I am, I decided to set a story in the US so I could present it all wrapped up in a neat bow to the publisher, and the marketing bods if I’m honest, who’d previously turned me down. The problem was, I had to create a new lead.

Enter Jake Boulder.

I knew which market I wanted and I’m very familiar with the genre of thriller I was planning to write. Namely that of the all action hero who fights for justice and is as handy with his fists as he is with his brain. This kind of character is your usual ex-forces type who is often very much a loner.

That’s right, I was planning to enter the world inhabited by the likes of Jack Reacher, Joe Hunter, Sam Carver, Victor and Charlie Fox.

The problem was, all these guys were so established, I would find it hard to break through writing about yet another ex-forces guy or gal who righted wrongs.

To solve the problem I decided my as yet unnamed hero wouldn’t have any military or police background and would be more of a back street brawler. I wanted him to be different and by not giving him any of this training, it’d be easier for me to pit him against enemies who were ostensibly better equipped than he was.

I was also adamant that I didn’t want my hero to start out as someone who could, and would, kill anyone who crossed him. Rather, I wanted him to be an everyman, who can look after himself and those around him. Jake Boulder may one day take the life of another human being, but on page one of Watching the Bodies, he has never killed a man.

After a few conversations with a writing buddy and a lot of thought, I had a name and Jake Boulder was officially christened. I feel it’s a good name and that Boulder suggests toughness and durability, while the Christian name of Jake is short and therefore emphasises his surname.

By now Boulder was growing in my mind. He’d moved to the US as a fifteen year-old when his mother remarried. Before he left Glasgow, his grandfather took him out into the garden and passed on a few of the fighting techniques he’d learned working in the shipyards on the Clyde.

I now had a hero with a credible back story to explain some basic, if underhand, fighting skills. Next I needed to give him a position in life. Lee Child’s Reacher has the drifter covered and both Zoe Sharp and Matt Hilton have their characters act as bodyguards on occasion so I needed to find a new hook as I didn’t want Boulder to be an assassin.

Instead I made him a bouncer / doorman in small town Utah. It’s the kind of place we’ve all seen in one movie or another where the police department is largely incompetent and every member has been hired due to nepotism.

I gave him a best friend who has his own private detective business which thrives due to the uselessness of the police and this in turn allows me to embroil Boulder in mysteries.

To round out the character, I gave him a few hang-ups from his past, a specific fear and a trait or two to hopefully endear him to my readers.

As with all lead characters, he didn’t appear fully formed in my mind, rather he grew stage by stage until he was fully developed into a person I was comfortable I could spend many hours with.

Yes, there’s a little bit of who I want to be in there along with a lot of what I find interesting. I plan to hang with Boulder for a good few more years, I’d love it if anyone who reads this would join me.

A big thank you to Graham Smith for dropping by the CTG blog today and telling us about the origins of his new lead character Jake Boulder.

You can buy WATCHING THE BODIES here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491159376&sr=8-1

And find out more about Graham Smith and his books:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/?fref=ts

Website https://www.grahamsmithauthor.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972?lang=en-gb

And be sure to check out all the other great stops along the tour:

#unleashboulder

#NIGHTMARKET BLOG TOUR: CTG + @DPemb TALK GIN, BOOK SHOPS AND HA-HAs!

 

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on Daniel Pembrey’s – aka ‘DPemb’ – blog tour for his latest thriller NIGHT MARKET. To mark the occasion, Daniel stopped by CTG HQ for couple of gins and a chat about what he’s getting up to this week…

Good to see you DPemb, what’s going on? It seems you have another book out, already!

Well ….

Well? *taps fingers against glass* Tell me all about it.

Strictly speaking it’s the second half of the same story, which started with The Harbour Master. Part two of two, if you will.

But this is a different story – it’s not The Harbour Master, it’s Night Market?

That’s true. And my Amsterdam detective Henk van der Pol is really put through the wringer this time!

Well, he went through quite a lot in the first book so sounds like gin is required.

That’s exactly right, CTG. This Wednesday 26th April, I’m doing an event at South Kensington Books in London – http://www.kensingtonbooks.co.uk/ – with the wonderful Fiona Cummins, and gin will most certainly feature.

nightmarket-rattle pic

Excellent! That sounds like a very fun event – I loved both NIGHT MARKET and Fiona Cummins’s RATTLE. And then what, I hear you’re out and about all week?

And then … publication day is the next day, April 27th, which happens to be King’s Day in Holland, so I’m trotting along to the Dutch Embassy to celebrate that. Koningsdag, as they call it. (Not that this has anything to do with my book, still!)

The Embassy, very fancy! *CTG resists the urge to ask DPemb about the likelihood of Ferrero Rocher* And then later in the week?

Ah yes, I’m going to up to Newcastle Noir to chair a spectacular thriller panel on the Sunday evening, 30th April featuring Paul Hardisty, Luca Veste and…

Me!

Yes, you! How cool will that be?

I think it’ll be very cool and a lot of fun!

We shall be talking about Deep Down Dead. And Deep Blue Trouble

Excellent – I’m looking forward to it! Now is there anything else I need to know?

Actually there is. The following Thursday 4th May, I’m doing an event at Nomad Books in Fulham with the brilliant David Young (STASI CHILD/STASI WOLF). Find out more at www.nomadbooks.co.uk/whats-on

Is he bringing his Stasi police car?

I believe that’s kaput, but perhaps he’ll bring some jet fuel-strength ex-GDR schnapps, or similar. Let’s see!

You’re going to have a busy couple of weeks! Now what’s this about ha-has, I hear you’ve been doing some rather unusual research?

*DPemb gulps down the rest of his gin* What’s what about what?

You know … *gives knowing look* Ha-has!

Ohhh … *notes down reminder to contact Jilly* yes, fingers crossed for that!

ha ha pic

A ha-ha. (Huh?)

*CTG laughs*

I guess D Pemb is keeping his ha-ha story under his hat for now!

Well best of luck with the launch of NIGHT MARKET, Daniel, and see you in Newcastle at the weekend!

Likewise CTG, and thank you for having me.

NIGHT MARKET by Daniel Pembrey is out this week. You can buy it here

Here’s what the blurb says: “When Henk van der Pol is asked by the Justice Minister to infiltrate a team investigating an online child exploitation network, he can hardly say no – he’s at the mercy of prominent government figures in The Hague. But he soon realises the case is far more complex than he was led to believe… Picking up from where The Harbour Master ended, this new investigation sees Detective Van der Pol once again put his life on the line as he wades through the murky waters between right and wrong in his search for justice.

Sometimes, to catch the bad guys, you have to think like one. . .”

To find out more about Daniel Pembrey and his books hop over to his website at www.danielpembrey.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @DPemb

And be sure to visit all the other stops on the fab NIGHT MARKET blog tour…

night market blog tour poster

CTG REVIEWS: TWO O’CLOCK BOY by MARK HILL

 

Today I’m delighted to be a part of Mark Hill’s blog tour for the debut that’s taking the UK by storm – Two O’Clock Boy.

What the blurb says:

“TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

From the chilling prologue to the nail-bitingly intense final pages this London-set police procedural had me hooked.

Longacre Children’s Home burnt to the ground thirty years ago, but the horrors that occurred during the time it was open still haunt those that grew up there and the adults that had dealings with the place. Most of them just want to forget, but someone won’t leave the past behind – they are picking off the people who grew up at Longacre – and dragging back up all the secrets that have been burried for thirty years.

Enter newly promoted DS Flick Crowley and her mentor and boss DI Raymond Drake. Two dynamic detectives determined to get to the truth behind the murders – and also two people with connections to the Longacre themselves. As their professional and personal lives colide, and they try to piece together the evidence as the body count rises, can they work together to find the killer or will the memories and questions the investigation raises force them apart?

I loved this story with its strong procedural detail and gritty, authentic feel to the narrative. Flick and Ray are two great new police characters and, as the investigation puts increasing pressure on their relationship, I was fascinated to find out how things would play out.

The story twists and turns, ratcheting up the tension with every chapter as one-by-one the past residents of the Longacre are singled out by the mysterious Two O’Clock Boy. As more secrets get exposed, and Flick and Ray get ever closer to the killer, the pace accelerates to full throttle, propelling you into the edge-of-the-seat show down and shocking revelations at the climax.

The Two O’Clock Boy is a masterful debut and a real must-read for lovers of police procedurals and detective stories – I recommend you add it to your ‘to read’ stack immediately!!

 

You can find out more about Mark Hill by popping over to his website at www.markhillauthor.com and following him on Twitter @markhillwriter

The Two O’Clock Boy is out in paperback and eBook now – you can buy it here from Amazon and here from Waterstones

And don’t forget to check out all the stops on the Two O’Clock Boy One Hot Blog Tour…

 

Rearview man in coat walking along urban subway from above

CTG’s CRIME THRILLER CLUB #COMP: SIGN UP TO #WIN BOOK BUNDLES AND CHOCOLATES

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The sun is shining, spring is springing, and the easter holidays are here – sounds like a good time for a bookish giveway…

… so everyone who subscribes to my Crime Thriller Club will be automatically entered into a prize draw with the chance to win one of these two fabulous book bundles plus some easter chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (pictured).

Book Bundle 1:

  • Die of Shame by Mark Billingham
  • Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb
  • I See You by Clare Mackintosh
  • Mask of Shadows of Oscar de Muriel
  • Evil Game by Angela Marsons
  • Hotel Chocolat Hop! and Chirp! chocolates

Book Bundle 2:

  • The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  • Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb
  • The Escape by C. L. Taylor
  • Black Wood by S. J. I. Holliday
  • The Follower by Koethi Zan
  • Hotel Chocolat Hop! and Chirp! chocolates

By signing up to the CTG Crime Thriller Club you’ll get access to my eNewsletters with exclusive subscriber competitions, content and will be the first to hear about my book news and events. I only send a few newsletters a year, so you won’t be bombarded!

It only takes a moment, so CLICK HERE to sign up now to be in with a chance to win!

** This competition closes at 9pm on Sunday 23rd April 2017 **

Rules
 (1) One entry per subscriber (2) Open to current and new subscribers (3) The winners will be drawn at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into

COVER REVEAL EXCLUSIVE: #MyLittleEye by STEPHANIE MARLAND #crimefiction

Drumroll please … today I’m super excited to share with you the cover of MY LITTLE EYE by Stephanie Marland (my alter ego) coming later this year from Trapeze Books (Orion). I love the cover, and I hope you do to…

9781409171973

MY LITTLE EYE will be out in eBook towards the end of this year and in paperback in March 2018.

To tell you a bit more about it here’s the blurb…

A rocket-paced, dark thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sharon Bolton and Luther. Can a group of true crime addicts take on the police to catch a serial killer?

KISS THE GIRLS
A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals – the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

AND MAKE THEM DIE…
As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they’re being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights.”

To find out more hop over to my Stephanie Marland page over on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/StephanieMarlandBooks

Check out the article about My Little Eye in The Bookseller here

And follow me on Twitter @CrimeThrillGirl and Trapeze Books @TrapezeBooks

 

GIRLS ON TOP: SEX IN CRIME FICTION (PART 1) with STEPH BROADRIBB & SJI HOLLIDAY #GirlsOnTop

 

Today it’s time for something a little different. Susi (SJI) Holliday and me, in conjunction with CrimeTime, have been thinking about sex in crime fiction. You can read our thoughts in a few places – the first half of our conversation here on the CTG blog, the second half over on Susi’s blog HERE, and the full article over on the CrimeTime website HERE

Once you’ve had a read, we’d love to know your thoughts – do you like a sprinkling of sex with your crime? And, if you do, what’s the most memorable sex scene in a crime thriller for you? Tweet us at @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday using hashtag #GirlsOnTop to let us know.

[STEPH] Let’s talk about sex. Sex in crime fiction, specifically. Okay, so I’ll go first – I’m not embarrassed – there’s a couple of sex scenes in my debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD. One is more of a cut away as the action happens, but the other one, towards the end of the book, is very much the action as it happens; my protagonist Lori Anderson riding a male character cowgirl style. I put it in because the scene felt right for the story and (I hope) conveys something about the characters, adding additional conflict and raising the emotional stakes of the decisions they’re about to make and the (negative) consequences they could have for their relationship. That’s a whole lot of subtext to put on a sex scene, but that’s my rationale.

Back when I was starting to write my novel, I was told that sex and crime fiction don’t mix, but that doesn’t seem quite right to me. I can think of memorable sex scenes in the crime thriller genre like Lee Child’s The Affair – Jack Reacher has sex as a train thunders along the tracks – and that chilling sex scene in Gone Girl between Amy and Desi – the book, and the slightly more bloody film version! But, now I think about it, I can’t think of many detective stories that have sex scenes playing out in full in them unless the sex itself is the crime to be solved. Surely there must be more and my memory is just playing tricks on me? To help, I’ve enlisted crime writer S.J.I. Holliday – author of the Banktoun series – to answer the question, do sex and detective fiction mix?

[SUSI] I really don’t see why not. When you ask people about this, you get very mixed responses. Readers (in general) are absolutely fine with serial killers, blood, gore, death and destruction. But throw a blow job in there and they’re skimming the pages faster than a quickie in the stationery cupboard.

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The Slice Girls [L-R]: Alexandra Sokoloff, Steph Broadribb, AK Benedict, Louise Voss, Susi Holliday, Harley Jane Kozak

Personally, I love a bit of sex. Slotted in at the right time, it can help add to the tension of your story, especially if the characters are having sex with people they shouldn’t. In all three of my books, there is a hint of sex – an encounter reminiscent of 9½ Weeks on a kitchen table in BLACK WOOD, where various food items are strewn around the kitchen… In WILLOW WALK, there’s a first-timer’s sex scene down by the river which I thought was quite touching (so to speak) and entirely relevant to the plot. There’s actually less sex in THE DAMSELFLY than in the other two. A thwarted BJ and an illicit scene in a lock-up that’s kept mainly off the page. It totally depends on the story. It definitely shouldn’t be shoehorned in if it doesn’t advance the plot.

[STEPH] Seems like Susi and me are on the same page about sex-on-the-page, but what about other crime writers, what do they think? We asked a few to find out.

Neil White – From the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre) – said, ‘Never written a sex scene. Too buttoned up. My mum will read it’ and Mason Cross – The Time To Kill (Orion) – said, ‘I’ve only included PG13 sex scenes so far, although I may need to change that for plot reasons in the new one. But Jeez, my dad reads these!’ So it could be the fear of family members reading intimate scenes is in the forefront of some writers’s minds (and limits them going all the way) but that’s not all. Chris Ewan – Long Time Lost (Faber) – said, ‘I almost wrote one yesterday and then … just cut away again. Performance anxiety.’

It also depends on the character. James Oswald – Written In Bones (Penguin) – said, ‘I don’t put much sex in my books. Tony McLean is incredibly repressed anyway, so there’s that too … on the other hand there’s auto-erotic asphyxiation and death by priapism in my latest, so maybe I do write sex after all.’

Andy Martin – Reacher Said Nothing (Transworld) – said, ‘Sad to say there are few explicit sex scenes of note in Reacher Said Nothing. I only looked over Lee Child’s shoulder while he was writing Make Me. I think there is the occasional manly handshake. But Lee – as straight as a die – had some wry remarks to make on the subject. “Never sleep with someone you know,” still resonates in my mind. And more recently he said that the most erotic experience he had ever had was a brief encounter on a train. They shared a moment but had no actual language in common. I think I may have been influenced by Childean minimalism, that “zero degree” of writing recommended by Roland Barthes. I was at a Norman Mailer writers colony in Wyoming recently when a brilliant Indian writer devised an elaborate sex scene about a dozen pages long. I wrote one, rather shorter, that went like this: “We had sex.” It’s not exactly lyrical or spiritual but it gets the job done.’

It seems, from the guys we spoke to, that male crime thriller writers generally prefer not to write on-the-page sex and to cut away before the act takes place. Mark Edwards – The Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer) – bucks this trend, he wants more sex in crime fiction, and said, ‘we Brits are notoriously squeamish when it comes to the squelchy bits. Wouldn’t it be nice if more of our great detectives were as skillful in bed as they are at solving crimes? Don’t you think there should be more people handcuffed to beds in thrillers because they like being handcuffed to beds?’

To find out what the female crime writers thought, why Susi hates ‘panties’ and what the trick to writing a good sex scene is, hop over to Susi’s blog HERE then come find us on Twitter @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday and tell us your thoughts on sex in crime fiction using hashtag #GirlsOnTop

And check out the article in full on Barry Forshaw’s CrimeTime at www.crimetime.co.uk  and check out his Rough Guide to Crime Fiction here

Buy DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb here

Buy THE DAMSELFLY by SJI Holliday here

And you can buy books by our contributing authors by clicking the book titles below:

Neil WhiteFrom the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre)

Mason CrossThe Time To Kill (Orion)

Chris EwanLong Time Lost (Faber)

James OswaldWritten In Bones (Penguin)

Andy MartinReacher Said Nothing (Transworld)

Mark EdwardsThe Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer)

 

More about Steph and Susi:

Steph Broadribb is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing at City University London and trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD is out now. Find out more at www.crimethrillergirl.com right here!

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up near Edinburgh and now lives in London. She works as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry and writes books set in a creepy and claustrophobic small town in Scotland where the crime rate is apparently higher than in New York. BLACK WOOD, WILLOW WALK and THE DAMSELFLY are a mix of psychological thriller and detective fiction, featuring the terminally unlucky in love, Sergeant Davie Gray. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com