CTG Reviews: FOLLOW YOU HOME by Mark Edwards

FOLLOW YOU HOME cover image

FOLLOW YOU HOME cover image

What the blurb says: It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. But after a perfect start, an encounter with a young couple on a night train forces Daniel and Laura to cut their dream trip short and flee home.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what happened that night. But as they try to fit into their old lives again, they realise they are in terrible danger—and that their nightmare is just beginning…

Mark Edwards’ latest novel takes psychological thrillers to a whole new level of gritty suspense.

Disorientated and unable to cope in their own separate ways, Daniel and Laura are being driven apart by the horror they encountered back in Romania when on their ‘trip of a lifetime’. But whereas Laura doesn’t want to talk about the trip or have any reminder of it, Daniel yearns to resolve the issues he’s battling with before they engulf him entirely. When a succession of strange happenings make him fear he’ll never be free of the past, he seeks professional help, and begins to talk about what happened so he can finally move on.

As the memories of the past threaten to snuff out his future, Daniel battles to get to the truth behind the strange and sinister goings on, and steps up his efforts to convince Laura to talk about what happened. But as both Daniel and Laura start to lose their grip on reality, and people around them start to die, it seems that the past just won’t let them go.

FOLLOW YOU HOME is a real cracker of a psychological thriller – bags of suspense, tonnes of tension and a dark and troubling undercurrent of terror throughout the story. It had me gripped to the very last page. Highly recommended.

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

 

[with thanks to NetGalley, Mark Edwards and Thomas & Mercer for my copy of FOLLOW YOU HOME]

The INTO THE FIRE blog tour: CTG interviews Manda Scott – plus a fab #IntoTheFireComp

INTO THE FIRE cover image

INTO THE FIRE cover image

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Manda Scott to the CTG blog as part of the INTO THE FIRE blog tour. Manda is the author of four critically acclaimed novels about Boudica and, writing as MC Scott, four novels set in Ancient Rome featuring assassin and spy Sebastos Pantera. She is founder and Chair of the Historical Writer’s Association, the Historical Publishers’ Group, Chair of the HWA Debut Crown and of the programming panel for the Harrogate History Festival.

So, to the interview …

Your latest book INTO THE FIRE is out in hardback this month, can you tell us a bit about it?

It’s a dual time line thriller – the contemporary thread is set in 2014 and there’s a historical thread in 1429, when a young girl, who claimed to be a peasant, turned up at Chinon and told the king she had been sent to free France from English rule (I paraphrase, but that was the gist).

In 2014, Inès Picaut is a police chief in Orléans, called to the site of a fire at a hotel, that is clearly arson. It’s the third such fire in as many weeks, but the first in which there is a body – and so she is now leading a murder hunt. The dead man in this case has been burned beyond recognition, but for the fact that he swallowed a USB drive before he died, and it contains three enciphered files which may help Picaut and her team to identify him – a task which becomes ever more pressing as further fires erupt, and more people die.  

In 1429, Tod Rustbeard, a man of French and English nationality, fights on the English side as the self-styled Maid of Orléans breaks the siege of Orléans. As the English defences crumble, he is sent behind enemy lines with an explicit task: to find the truth behind this girl who cannot be what she says she is – and then to use that truth to destroy her.  As he grows ever closer to his quarry, he has to question not only her identity, but his own. 

The two timelines weave together, each informing the other, so that the central question WHO WAS SHE? drives both forward.  I am absolutely convinced that she wasn’t an illiterate peasant girl, but we can talk about that more in the next question.   Beyond that, any good thriller is driven by a mix of anticipation and uncertainty, and each thread has to have its own threats, rhythms, internal questions that make the two together greater than the sum of their parts.

What was it that sparked your idea for writing INTO THE FIRE?

I’d always had an interest in Joan of Arc’s reputation as a woman warrior – having written about Boudica, it at least made sense to take a look at  the next most famous woman warrior – but I always got stuck on the notion that she was a peasant girl who turned up out of nowhere, got on a warhorse and led the troops into battle. Either she was a cipher, a flag-carrier and nothing more… or she had to be trained. If she was the former, I wasn’t interested. If she was the latter, I couldn’t see how it was possible.  Then I read an article that pointed me in the direction of who she could have been and the more I read about it, the more sense it made – until in the end, it seemed to me she couldn’t have been anyone else.  The question of why she had to spin her own lies in the beginning also makes so much more sense once everything falls into place.

Then I learned that the man who proposed this theory first was thrown out of France and even now, is immensely bitter about it – and it seemed to me that this, the current way of looking at her, was the most important.  She has been mis-represented for 600 years, and even now, she’s being held up as an icon of ‘perfect womanhood’ (virginal, godly, republican) by the far right in France.  So iI really wanted to explore how the political movements of the twenty first century hijack the myths of the past – and how they’ll kill to keep that myth intact. I believe absolutely in the maxim of ‘show, don’t tell’ in writing, so that meant that if I wanted to do what I thought was possible, it had to be through the vehicle of a dual time line narrative – that I had to *show* who she was in the past, in order for us to understand more deeply the projections and patho-mythologies of the present..  It’s a lot harder to write, but if the author gets it right, it’s immensely satisfying to read.

How would you describe your writing process – do you plot the story out in advance or jump right in and see where it takes you?

I never plot in advance, although if there is a historical thread to the book, then I need to make sure I know the history of who was where, doing what and when – and that I have all the ancillary data correct: the things that bring history alive. But for me to write a book, it needs to live inside me, which means the characters have to have their own freedom and they have to have the power to surprise me. I’d grow bored otherwise, and if I’m bored, then the reader is going to be bored too…

INTO THE FIRE features both an investigation taking place in present day Orleans and a historical timeline featuring Joan of Arc in 1429 – how did you go about researching them?

First, I got on the EuroStar and went to Orléans – that was really key to understanding the dynamics of both past and present.  In anything I write, the characters matter most, their identities and inner integrities and the charisma of the situation, but always, the place shapes its people and Orléans was key to both threads.  Having been there, I spent a very large amount of time reading everything I could about Joan of Arc (and there’s a lot), particularly the transcripts of the two trials – her trial by the English and the ‘rehabilitation trial’ by the French 30 years later that endeavoured to prove she wasn’t really a heretic after all – eye witness statements at the latter were crucial to understanding what actually happened, although of course we have to remember that human memory is flawed and undoubtedly coloured by time.  But still, having got my head around her, the modern day narrative of Picaut and Patrice, her computeroid cyber-brain assistant was fast and furious and most of it just rolled out almost unaided. I’m very wary of people who say that books write themselves, because they never do, but some are less effort than others and this bit flowed particularly sweetly – I revelled in the cyber-crime aspects, and the breaking of ciphers.  I’d written a series of spy thrillers just before and the cadences of that were still working their way through.

What was it that first attracted you to writing crime fiction?

I read Val McDermid’s Lyndsey Gordon series back in the 90s and fell in love with the genre. I wrote HEN’S TEETH in the late 90s because I thought I needed the exigencies of plot to help me complete a novel and then I joined the CWA and learned the actual rules of crime writing, as opposed to the ones I had invented for myself, and found that it was a fascinating structure within which to explore the things that matter most to people – I hate the kinds of novels that look at our masks. I am most interested in what happens when we drop those masks and we do so in the presence of death and danger – so crime writing, and thriller writing in particular – is the obvious medium. I consider my historical novels to be thrillers too, they’re just written in a different milieu.

For those writers aspiring to publication, what advice would you give?

I’d say what Fay Weldon said to me on my first writing course, which was ‘Find your own voice’, and then what Terry Pratchett (one of the greats, so sadly missed) said on the second writing course which was, ‘just keep writing.’  And then last, from me: Read.  Read everything.  Read books you love and books you loathe and books you don’t really care about – and work out what you love and why you love it and how it was done, and what the good bits are and what works and what doesn’t.  Reading is the apprenticeship for writing so read and read and read.

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

I’m 3/4 of the way through a sort-of sequel to INTO THE FIRE called ACCIDENTAL GODS so I have to finish that, and then we seem to be about to sell the TV rights to Into the Fire and the company wants me to write the screenplay which is both an enormous honour and an enormous privilege, so I’ll crack on with that.   I’ll be at Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in July in Harrogate and then back up again for the History Festival in October. I’m Chair of that for the third and final time this year and so it’ll be all-out to make it the best yet.  I’m handing over Chair of the Historical Writers’ Association to the brilliant historical crime writer Imogen Robertson also in October and Andrew Taylor, multiple winner of the Historical Dagger will take over Chair of the HWA Debut Crown, so between now and October, I’ll be flat out, but I’ll have a rest in November. Perhaps.  I suspect something else will have come up by then.

A massive thank you to Manda Scott for talking to us today on the CTG blog.

To find out more about Manda and her books hop on over to her website at www.mandascott.co.uk and be sure to follow her on Twitter @hare_wood

 

*** COMPETITION ALERT ***

 I’m thrilled that those lovely folks at Bantam Press have given me a copy of INTO THE FIRE to giveaway to one lucky winner! To be in with a chance to win 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 – making sure to include the hashtag #IntoTheFireComp. You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter so 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 winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Monday 29th June 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

Also, make sure you check out all the other fabulous stops along the INTO THE FIRE blog tour …

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Crime In The Court Crime @GoldsboroBooks 2015 – What a great night! #IBW2015

David Headley opens Crime in the Court

David Headley opens Crime in the Court

Fabulous independent bookstore Goldsboro Books in London held their hugely popular Crime in the Crime evening last night. I’ve heard loads of great things about the event before, but yesterday was my first time going along to one.

It was a wonderful evening. With over 70 crime writers in attendance and around 400 people filling the gorgeous bookstore and all the outside space in shop-lined Cecil Court (luckily a pedestrians only street!) it was a friendly, fun and swelteringly hot London night out.

David Headley – Goldsboro owner and literary agent – was the perfect host. With free drinks and the shop’s beautiful shelves to browse, plus lots of laughter and the perfect opportunity to catch up with crime writers and readers – it was a crime fiction addict’s heaven!

Attending authors included: Rebecca Whitney, Elizabeth Haynes, Terry Stiastny, Susan Wilkins, Clare Mackintosh, Antonia Hodgson, Louise Millar, Christobel Kent, Kate Rhodes, RC Bridgestock, Charles Cumming, SD Sykes, William Shaw, V.M.Giambanco, Ali Knight, Elly Griffiths, L.C.Tyler, Dreda Say Mitchell & Tony Mason, Elena Forbes, Julia Crouch, Mick Herron, Colette McBeth, T.R.Richmond, Vaseem Khan, Jenny Blackhurst, Robin Blake, Sabine Durrant, JS Law, Clare Carson, Erin Kelly, Jane Lythell, Stuart Prebble, Simon Toyne, Anya Lipska, Fergus McNeill, SJI Holliday, Helen Giltrow, Claire McGowan, Eva Dolan, Mark Billingham, SJ Watson, Sharon Bolton, Renee Knight, David Hewson, Emma Kavanagh, Sarah Hilary, Alison Joseph, Cal Moriaty, Saul Black, Diana Bretherick, Rod Reynolds and Mark Hill.

crime writers Helen Giltrow, Rod Reynolds & Mark Hill

crime writers Helen Giltrow, Rod Reynolds, Mark Hill (with a copy of Rod’s debut The Dark Inside – out in September)

Definitely an event I’ll put in my calendar again for next year!

In the meantime, be sure to visit Goldsboro Books at Cecil Court, London (just a minute walk from Leicester Square tube) or hop on over to their website at www.goldsborobooks.com

Friday Book Freebies #CTGgiveaway – THE CROOKED HOUSE and THE CRIME AT BLACK DUDLEY

It’s Friday! So to celebrate the fast approaching weekend we’ve got two fabulous books to give away.

About the Books …

crooked 2

THE CROOKED HOUSE by Christobel Kent

What the blurb says: “Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties and a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote house on a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.

The one night violence was unleashed in the crooked house, in a nightmare that only Alison survived and from which she’s been running ever since. Only when she falls for the charismatic Paul does Alison realise that to have any chance of happiness, she must return to her old life and face a closed community full of dark secrets.

Utterly beguiling and strikingly atmospheric, The Crooked House will be enjoyed by fans of stylish thrillers such as Apple Tree Yard and The Girl on the Train.”

The Crime at Black Dudley cover image

The Crime at Black Dudley cover image

THE CRIME AT BLACK DUDLEY by Margery Allingham

What the blurb says: “A suspicious death and a haunted family heirloom were not advertised when Dr George Abbershaw and a group of London’s brightest young things accepted an invitation to the mansion of Black Dudley. Skulduggery is most certainly afoot, and the party-goers soon realise that they’re trapped in the secluded house. Amongst them is a stranger who promises to unravel the villainous plots behind their incarceration – but can George and his friends trust the peculiar young man who calls himself Albert Campion?”

With quirky characters, and a mysterious family custom involving a haunted dagger, this is a lively locked-room mystery with plenty to keep the reader on their toes as George Abbershaw tries to figure out the truth behind the strange and sinister goings on at Black Dudley mansion.

*** THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED ***

How to Enter …

For a chance to win these two fabulous books, 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 – making sure to include the hashtag #CTGgiveaway. You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter so 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 winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 5pm GMT on Sunday 21st June 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

CTG Reviews: The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die cover image

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die cover image

What the blurb says: “HE’S WATCHING HER. SHE DOESN’T KNOW IT…YET
When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer. But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear. And the killer has a very special part for George to play…”

This fast paced thriller is Marnie Riches debut novel and the first book in the Georgina McKenzie series.

Opening with a bombing on campus at the University of Amsterdam, the stakes are high from the off and continue to escalate as criminology student, Georgina ‘George’ McKenzie gets drafted in to help the police, and specifically Detective van den Bergen, gather intelligence from within the student and wider communities. But when a second bomb goes off, and a series of other murders follow that centre around the University, it seems that George may have a closer connection to the killer than anyone suspected.

Experienced cop – Detective van den Bergen – is a great pairing for George. Whereas she is headstrong and prone to charge into a situation, he is analytical and considered (and a bit of a hypochondriac) – but both are determined and single-minded about the need to get to the truth behind the killings and bring those responsible to justice, and they’re not afraid to go against direct orders to achieve their goal.

Bold and fearless, George is quick to piece together the evidence, and gets frustrated by the slowness of the police. As the stakes escalate, and the danger draws closer, she takes increasingly bigger risks – putting herself (and her friends) in danger. One of those friends is Ad – who George enlists to help her check out the evidence and run her own investigation. Between them they’re often a few steps ahead of the Police and end up feeding information to van den Bergen.

The story hurtles along at a breakneck pace as George and Ad track their suspects across Holland and Germany, and it seems sure that they’ll soon have the killer. But George is hiding a secret past, and as the ghosts of her past come back to haunt her, she realizes she’s going to need all her street smarts to foil the killer and keep her friends, and herself, alive.

A nail-biting, seat-of-your-pants read – The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is a great read for those who love action thrillers and fabulous introduction to a great new series.

I’ll be sure to watch out for the next book – The Girl Who Broke the Rules – which is coming out in August.

 

You can find out more about Marnie Riches and her books by hopping over to www.marnieriches.com 

And be sure to follow her on Twitter @Marnie_Riches

Events Alert: BritCrime 2015 – a free online crime fiction festival on 11-13 July!

BritCrime Festival logo

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime 2015 is a brand new sparkly crime fiction festival that will run for the first time from 11 – 13 July 2015. Instigated by author Helen Smith, the festival will feature more than forty crime authors taking part over the three-day festival.

The free festival – yes, that’s right – FREE – will take place entirely online. There’ll be live Q&A panel discussions on the BritCrime Facebook page as well as ‘Meet us in the (virtual) Bar’ sessions for late night chat and japes.

In the run up to the festival there’ll be lots of exciting things going on – giveaways, video sessions and interactive Google Hangouts. You can also sign up to get the festival email updates – and be entered into the draw to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

Participating authors include Quentin Bates, Jenny Blackhurst, Rebecca Bradley, Graeme Cameron, Steve Cavanagh, Tammy Cohen, Mason Cross, Julia Crouch, Eva Dolan, Steven Dunne, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Paul Finch, Helen Giltrow, Sarah Hilary, Susi Holliday, Jane Isaac, Amanda Jennings, Emma Kavanagh, Anya Lipska, Colette McBeth, M J McGrath, Fergus McNeill, Clare Mackintosh, Michael J Malone, Ava Marsh, Alex Marwood, K T Medina, Daniel Pembrey, J F Penn, Nick Quantrill, Marnie Riches, Craig Robertson, Mel Sherratt, Alexandra Sokoloff, Helen Smith, C L Taylor, Simon Toyne, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Sarah Ward – that’s A LOT of authors!!

Author, Mason Cross

Author, Mason Cross

And you can ask them anything! Want to know what sparked the idea for a book? – you can ask them; want to learn how to pick locks or how to turn your teenage diary into a murder story? – there’ll be tips for that too; wondering what it’s like to go from real life detective to crime fiction writer? – that’s something you can ask as well.

On Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th July the live Q&A sessions will run from midday to 10pm (UK time) with the ‘Meet us in the Bar’ sessions live after the panels from 10pm to midnight.

On Monday 13th July there’ll be highlights from the BritCrime Festival, a report from ThrillerFest (New York), BritCrime authors on tour: looking forward to Harrogate, Bloody Scotland and Bouchercon, and ‘What’s next for BritCrime? – more exciting stuff to come.’

Author, Eva Dolan

Author, Eva Dolan

So whether you love murder mysteries, police procedurals, private investigators, thrillers, romantic suspense or domestic noir (or all of them!) by getting online and involved, you’ll be able to take part in this fantastic new festival wherever you live – and FOR FREE!

So be sure to follow @BritCrime on Twitter, and then hop on over to the festival website at www.britcrime.com to find out more, register, and start thinking of all the questions you’d like to ask the authors …

See you at BritCrime!

CTG Reviews: THE WRONG GIRL by Laura Wilson

THE WRONG GIRL cover image

THE WRONG GIRL cover image

What the blurb says: “In 2006, three-year-old Phoebe Piper went missing on a family holiday. Despite massive publicity and a long investigation, no trace of her was ever found. Seven years later, Molly Jackson, aged ten and recently uprooted to a Norfolk village, finds her great uncle Dan dead in his bed. Molly remembers nothing of her early years, but she’s been sure for ages that she is Phoebe. Everything in her life points to it.

Dan’s death brings his sister Janice back to Norfolk where she’s re-united with Molly’s mother Suzie, the daughter she gave up for adoption decades earlier. Janice discovers that a former lover, Joe Vincent, lives nearby. Joe was a rock star who, at the height of his fame, turned his back on public life. As she is drawn back into the past, Janice begins to wonder if Dan’s death and Joe’s reputation as a reclusive acid casualty are quite what they appear. And then Molly disappears.”

 

Janice – still in shock from the sudden death of her brother, and thrust unprepared into meeting her long lost daughter who she has always yearned to connect with – returns to Norfolk to her family home. It’s a place that holds many memories for her, not all of them good. It’s here that she meets Suzie – her daughter – and Molly – her grand-daughter – and tries to forge a relationship with both of them. But it’s not easy, and as the memories of the past mingle with the reality of her brother’s death, Janice begins to wonder if something, or someone, more sinister is at work.

I found myself pulled headlong into Janice and Molly’s worlds. Through their narratives the reader discovers the events in their pasts that have shaped their sense of selves and identity, and how the secrets and suspicions that they hold influences each of their decisions in the present. One of the many joys of this book are the fabulous characters – they are so vividly drawn, and the dialogue pitch-perfect, that it feels like you’re watching real-life action unfold before you.

A twisting, turning mystery of tangled secrets, guilt and regret THE WRONG GIRL artfully combines the dark undertones of past trauma with a growing sense of impending doom, and had me captivated from the first page to the last.

With stunning writing, vivid characters and bags of suspense, THE WRONG GIRL is a must read for fans of psychological thrillers – highly recommended.

 

To find out more about Laura Wilson and her books hop on over to www.laura-wilson.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @LWilsonCrime