CTG REVIEWS: THE INTRUSIONS by STAV SHEREZ

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What the blurb says: “When a distressed young woman arrives at the station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities resurfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two woman have been subjected to?”

Not only is Stav Sherez a masterful word wizard, he also knows how to tell one hell of a story.

THE INTRUSIONS is the latest book in the Carrigan and Miller series and thrusts the detective duo deep into the warped and brutal world of a smart and sadistic killer who is leaving a trail of broken minds and broken bodies in their wake.

This is one of those novels that grabs you from the very start and dares you not to look away as it takes you on an uncompromising dive into the dark recesses of online behaviour. It’s an authentically real feeling police procedural with a strong emotional heart. Every character is rounded and nuanced, and every twist and turn in the plot hooks you harder and propels you quicker through the chapters towards the breathtaking finale.

Darkly poetic and chillingly haunting, THE INTRUSIONS gets under your skin and into your mind, lingering long after the final page has been turned.

An absolute must read for all crime fiction fans.

THE INTRUSIONS is published on 31 January on Kindle and the 2 February in trade paperback. You can order it from Amazon here 

To find out more about Stav Sherez hop over to his publisher Faber’s website here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @stavsherez

You can also check out the great stops on THE INTRUSIONS Blog Tour …

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GUEST POST: Dave Weaver talks Unreliable Narrators

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Today I’m handing over the reins at CTG HQ to author Dave Weaver. Dave’s a fan of unreliable narrators and uses one in his latest book THE UNSEEN. Over to Dave …

The Reliable ‘Unreliable Narrator’

It’s something both ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ have in common as well as many other popular thrillers and famous novels across genres – the ‘unreliable narrator’. Our protagonist appears to be balanced and coherent but then unfolding events contradict their skewed reasoning and drive an ever-growing wedge between their perception of reality and ours. Things just don’t add up; the reader can no longer take the story at face value. Is the POV character insane, lying, deluded or just plain wrong? We won’t know until the final piece of the jigsaw that is their damaged mind fits into place.

This is what gives the narrative its strength; the need to understand the true nature of the head we are locked in and the reason that person disguises it. For once we give them our trust there is no escape from the consequences of their actions. We become helpless partners in their chaotic drift towards disaster.

The unreliable narrator works particularly well in crime and mystery plots where the reasons for a person’s odd behaviour are shown in the story’s resolution. But how can the author make the reader understand that he or she is not to be believed or trusted? Clues must be planted at regular intervals to make sure the reader understands that things are not as they should be, even if the narrator remains unaware of this. Other characters’ reactions, the narrator’s inappropriate behaviour in various situations and a general sense of normalcy slipping away can help achieve this.

The phrase ‘unreliable narrator’ was first coined by literary critic Wayne Booth in the early 1960s. It has many classic examples:

Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabakov’s ‘Lolita’, whose unreliability is shown by his outrageous claims, endless self justification and contempt for others; Alex from Anthony Burgess’ dystopian classic ‘A Clockwork Orange’ who proves at the very start to be a violent, manipulative sociopath who uses a fictional language, has delusions of grandeur and enjoys exaggerating his reprehensible acts to strut and show off to us, his horrified accomplices; the main character in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club’, a maladjusted insomniac who joins an underground fight club for therapy that quickly transforms into a terrorist group, leading us down a particularly nasty rabbit hole to a stunning reveal that makes us question everything gone before; J. D. Salinger’s cynical teenage Caulfield in ‘Catcher in the Rye’, an admitted liar whose opinions are provoked by adolescent angst and filtered through the distorting prism of immaturity.

What does the writer gain from this deception of using a misleading main character to tell the story? The main reward would seem to be balance, or rather lack of it. If the reader’s perceptions are continually challenged they are in a state of constant tension and the story becomes a fairground ride of unexpected twists and turns. They cannot rely on their guide with any degree of certainty and they cannot predict the outcome. In fact anything could happen; a healthy state for a thriller to be in.

Sometimes the narrator is unreliable by nature, so awful they cannot be objective about themselves even when behaving abominably; they continually self-justify the most terrible acts.

Sometimes they are damaged; an accident or psychological impairment has caused them, and by definition us, to see the world in a particular way others don’t.

Sometimes they are young or naive; the narrator of Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night’ is an autistic child seeking to explain their understanding of events. There is no trickery involved in these reports, at least on the teller’s part; they are telling us what they know. It is the miss-fitting framework around what they say that gives the lie to their words.

A further type of narrator is different from the above in that their misconceptions are due to a lack of, or incorrect, information. This is particularly effective in the thriller genre as having only half the picture can lead to some pretty spectacular leaps in the dark. Of course, in crime there are any number of unreliable narrators; they’re called witnesses and constantly contradict each other. The character of the investigator who will sift all this for the truth must be the one reliable factor. If we cannot trust their best efforts at enlightening us anarchy will quickly ensue. This would be problematic in a crime novel which is a carefully constructed and methodical machine with room for doubt and suspension of disbelief but never anarchy.

A final benefit of the unreliable narrator is that they can be used to cross genres. If their state of mind is in question we may start out with what appears to be fantasy and end up in psychological melodrama thus getting the best of both genre worlds; something I have attempted with my latest novel, ‘The Unseen’.

However the device of unreliable narrator is used though, it generally proves to be a reliable method of delivering the chilling psychodrama every thriller writer aspires to and every reader wants to read.

Big thanks to Dave Weaver for sharing his thoughts on the reliable ‘unreliable narrator’.

Dave’s latest book THE UNSEEN is out now. Here’s the blurb: Ex-advertising man John Mason is driving to the small town of Hambleford to view a cottage that is for sale, when he is caught in a sudden hailstorm. It brings back memories of the crash a year before in which he lost his wife Judith; a crash caused by a woman in white standing in the middle of the road – a woman who was nowhere to be found after the accident. As the hailstorm lashes his car he has a vision of her, with empty eyes and a silent screaming mouth. John had been having regular dreams about her ever since the crash, but lately they have been replaced by dreams of an idyllic cottage on a hillside like the one in which Judith had wanted them to live. John is special – he sees things that others can’t. Since childhood he’s had strange experiences but has tried to shut them out; now he thinks Judith is trying to contact him, that she’s been sending his mind images of the house where her spirit will join him again, and that Pine Cottage in Hambleford is literally the cottage of his dreams. But things aren’t all as they appear and John quickly becomes convinced that a spirit other than Judith is trying to manipulate him.”

You can buy THE UNSEEN from Amazon here

And find out more about Dave over on the Elsewhen Press website here

 

 

CTG EXCLUSIVE: NIGHT MARKET by DANIEL PEMBREY LAUNCHES & ‘Mirakel van Amsterdam’ GIN #GIVEAWAY

 

After a cracking start to the week at a super fun speakeasy event downstairs in The Vault at Milroy’s of Soho we’re on an alcohol theme here at CTG HQ.

On Tuesday night, Daniel Pembrey, Rod Reynolds, Michael Grothaus and me chatted about ‘Spirits in Noir Fiction’, moderated by expert noirist Barry Forshaw. There was bookish conversation, whiskey cocktails (I can recommend the Smoking Gun) and the fabulous folks from South Ken Books created a pop-up bookstore around one of the fireplaces! [Hop over to the lovely Joy Kluver’s blog here to read a full write-up from the event]

At the event, Daniel Pembrey talked about his new book NIGHT MARKET which is out in e-book today. This is the sequel to the fabulous THE HARBOUR MASTER and Detective Henk van der Pol is hitting the Dutch gin. As you may already know, Henk likes to have a beer and a gin chaser; it’s sometimes called a kopstoot in Amsterdam (headbutt), or a duikboot in Flanders (submarine).

You can buy NIGHT MARKET on Kindle here

THE COMPETITION: To toast the launch of this Harbour Master sequel, Daniel is giving away a bottle of Mirakel van Amsterdam – single old grain, Henk’s favourite, and originating from centuries-old independent Amsterdam distillery Van Wees. Trust me, this is a bottle you want in your drinks cabinet – though don’t have it within too easy reach if you want to keep temptation at bay! (I believe the seal is unbroken.)

TO ENTER: email Daniel, danielpembrey@gmail.com, saying where you found the first occurrence of Henk ordering a beer-with-gin-chaser in Night Market

The winner will be picked on 5th February.

Good luck!

 

[Please note the winner needs to provide a UK address for shipment and to be aged over 18 years]

 

GUEST POST: Ankush Saikia talks about his Arjun Arora series

 

Today I’m handing the controls of CTG HQ over to Ankush Saikia who’s here to talk about his detective Arjun Arora series, including Dead Meat (2015) and Remember Death (2016), both published by Penguin Random House India.

Welcome Ankush Saikia! So how did the Delhi detective series comes about, and what is the social relevance of the books?

I was born in Assam in 1975, and grew up there and (along with a few years in the US, where my father was teaching) in Shillong, both in North East India. When I was 21 I left for Delhi, where I stayed for a long time (more than a decade), working first in journalism and then in publishing. Delhi was a city I grew to love and detest in equal measure, a tough, almost-violent place that taught one how to survive. I returned to North East India in 2011, and, after writing a noir thriller set in Shillong (The Girl From Nongrim Hills, Penguin India 2013), I began trying to write something which had been on my mind for a while: a dark novel set in Delhi that looked at the multiple layers of existence in that city.

The detective came about as a character who, by virtue of his profession, would be able to easily access different levels of society in the capital. Delhi is a city of outsiders, but to make Arjun Arora even more of an outsider, I made him the only child from a mixed marriage (a Punjabi father, a Nepali mother) who grew up in North East India, but was forced to move with his family in his teens to Delhi after his construction-supervisor father was shot in the knee by insurgents in remote Manipur. His memories of his time in North East India remain a source of nostalgia for Arjun Arora; he is someone with one foot permanently in the past. Then there is his time as a major in the Indian army, which he was asked to leave due to insubordination. A stint as a private security contractor in Iraq sees him narrowly escaping a beheading after being kidnapped. Back in Delhi he tries his hand and fails at various businesses, and starts drinking too much. His wife and teenage daughter leave him. Then he finds something which he is good at, being a detective, even as handling cases involving greed and deceit leads him further into the darkest corners of his soul.

Both the books so far have elements of true crime in them: the infamous Delhi “tandoor” murder and cricket match-fixing in the first book, a gruesome murder case of a woman in Bangalore (she was drugged and buried alive in a box) and the strange lives of Bollywood actresses from the 1960s in the second. The third book should see Arjun Arora travel to Nagaland and Manipur in North East India in connection with a case, where he gets mixed up in smuggling and insurgent activity.

As far as the social relevance of the books are concerned, I would like to think they shine a light on the varied lives and classes in India, from the high to low, from the innocent to corrupt, and reinterpret the traditional detective character in an Indian setting. Also, the country is undergoing social change on a vast scale, which means there are more and more people—especially in the cities—who are adrift, cut loose from traditional beliefs and a sense of rootedness. Arjun Arora can be taken as a representative of this change. India is a vast country with myriad problems—and so that can only mean more interesting cases for detective Arjun Arora in the future.

A big thank you to Ankush for joining us at CTG HQ today.

To find out more about Ankush Saikia over on his website: www.ankushsaikia.com

Follow him on Instagram & Twitter: @ankushsaikia

Publisher’s links …

Remember Death http://penguin.co.in/book/fiction/remember-death/

Dead Meat http://penguin.co.in/book/fiction/dead-meat/

The Girl from Nongrim Hills http://penguin.co.in/book/fiction/girl-nongrim-hills/

And check out some reviews here …

Remember Death

http://www.hindustantimes.com/books/review-of-ankush-saikia-s-remember-death/story-DxUn52QjxME4bvx677o7KM.html

Dead Meat

http://www.tripfiction.com/murder-thriller-set-in-delhi-best-indian-noir/

The Girl from Nongrim Hills

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/374577/northeast-noir.html

 

FANCY SOME BOURBON & BOOKS? CTG DOES “SPIRITS IN NOIR FICTION” MILROYS OF SOHO – 24 JAN 17

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How about some bourbon with your books?

On Tuesday 24th January I’m joining the fabulous Daniel Pembrey, Rod Reynolds, Michael Grothaus, and noir grand master Barry Forshaw (who’ll be cracking the whip) to talk about spirits in (and in the writing of) crime fiction.

As well as the alcohol based discussions, you’ll find out which of us:
– partied with the Hollywood A-list and has dirt on all of them
– trained as a bounty hunter in California
– has Jilly Cooper on speed dial
– has interviewed the world’s top authors and -literally- wrote the book on crime fiction
– has a terrifying stare but is really a pussycat

Tickets are FREE but space is strictly limited so jump over HERE to sign up – takes 2 seconds.

Hopefully see you there!!

#DeepDownDead DEBUT DIARY: LAUNCH PARTY!

Last week we had the official DEEP DOWN DEAD launch party at the fabulous Waterstones Piccadilly bookstore in London. I was really nervous beforehand – what if no one came? What if I said something stupid? What if I was too nervous to say anything at all?

I shouldn’t have worried – so many lovely people came along to celebrate the launch, and we packed out the room until there was standing room only – amazing! Also, I had my marvelous publisher Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books at the helm, my brilliant agent Oli Munson providing moral support, and the awesome crime writer Martyn Waites to interview me. They made it fun (for me, and hopefully everyone else!), and soon after Martyn asked me the first question (possibly something to do with tasers!) I forgot to be nervous and had fun.

There was wine, and beer, and bourbon, and cake. There was cornbread (my most favourite food!) and peanut butter chocolate cookies (big thank you to Joy Kluver for baking them) plus Reeces Pieces and Hersheys Kisses. And country music!

Me and Martyn dressed appropriately for the occasion – he wore a gorgeous red western shirt and I wore my favourite red with white flowers cowboy boots. I wore a sparkly black dress too, although in some pictures it kind of looks like I’m not wearing a skirt (note to self – wear a longer dress next time!).

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to celebrate the launch of DEEP DOWN DEAD, who bought books and let me sign them, and who took photos and live tweeted, and who came over and said hello. And to those who couldn’t make it and sent messages and tweeted and RTed the event.

Thank you – you made the night special.

 

 

#DeepDownDead DEBUT DIARY: IT’S LAUNCH DAY!

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It’s 5th January, and that means DEEP DOWN DEAD is out in paperback! It’s so exciting to hold my debut novel in my hands – I feel like I need to pinch myself to check it’s actually happening! 

It’s out in the world and available from Waterstones HERE and Amazon HERE (in the UK) and on Amazon.com HERE (in the US) as well as other great bookstores.

In case you’ve missed it, here’s the blurb:Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the darkest secrets of her past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest amusement parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has here work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric and things become personal.”

 

I’ve been overwhelmed with the quotes that DEEP DOWN DEAD has been getting from crime thriller writers. Here’s what they’ve been saying:

‘This is a good one – fast, confident, and suspenseful. My kind of book’ Lee Child

‘With a Stephanie Plum-style protagonist in bounty hunter Lori, Deep Down Dead has a Midnight Run feel to it, but much darker. Really, really good’ Ian Rankin

‘Read some great debuts this year but Deep Down Dead is a real cracker. Steph Broadribb kicks ass, as does her ace protagonist Lori Anderson!’ Mark Billingham

‘Crazy good … full-tilt action and a brilliant cast of characters. This is a series and an author to watch’ Yrsa Siguroardóttir, author of I Remember You

‘Deep Down Dead is a blast of a book – fast-paced, engaging and hugely entertaining’ Simon Toyne, author of Solomon Creed

‘Steph Broadribb has written a brilliant, pacey, bounty-hunter tale that marks the beginning of what will undoubtedly become a sparkling career’ Steve Cavanagh, author of The Defence

‘An action-packed crime thriller dripping with intrigue from the Deep South, and with a feisty no-nonsense heroine to boot. It’s a debut that demands to be read, with excitement and exhilaration flying off every page. In Lori Anderson, Broadribb has created a memorable and authentic female lead – and readers will be left wanting the next installment of her adventures as soon as possible’ David Young, author of Stasi Child

‘Tough as a pair of rhino-hide cowboy boots and unremittingly energetic. An explosive, exciting debut’ David Mark, author of Dead Pretty

‘An action-packed Southern road noir that pulls no punches. Single mom/bounty hunter Lori Anderson is an engaging new heroine, and Deep Down Dead is quite simply a hell of a thriller’ Mason Cross, author of The Killing Season

‘A fresh and compelling debut with an intriguing plot, a great new heroine, and a setting that zings with authenticity’ Anya Lipska, author of A Devil Under The Skin

‘If anything, Broadribb and her protagonist, tough Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson, have more than a hint of Lee Child and Jack Reacher about them, with (literally) no punches pulled. The other parallel with Lee Child is, of course, the fact that this is an English writer making a sterling job of finding an American voice for both the narrative and the characters, and Broadribb proves to be just as adroit in this area as her male counterpart … a promising debut delivered with both energy and colour’ Barry Forshaw, Time Crime

‘Furious, fast and thrilling’ Graeme Cameron, author of Normal

‘Dead Down Dead grabs you like a whirlwind – once you’re in, there’s no getting away till it’s through with you. Pacey, emotive and captivating, this is kick-ass thriller writing of the highest order’ Rod Reynolds, author of The Dark Inside

‘A relentless page-turner with twists and turns that left me breathless’ J.S. Law, author of Tenacity

‘Deep Down Dead oozes authenticity. This is an engaging, original thriller with the type of characters you wish you knew in real life. Fresh, compelling and beautifully written, with a real cinematic quality. Read. Now.’ S.J.I. Holliday, author of Black Wood

‘Lori Anderson is a bounty hunter like none you’ve ever encountered before. This is a series that will run and run. You’ll need to clear some time in your diary to read Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead because you won’t want to set this one aside till the end. A genuine page-turner’ Howard Linskey, author of No Name Lane

‘Fast, furious and utterly addictive, Deep Down Dead is a blistering debut and marks Broadribb as a rising talent to watch’ Neil Broadfoot, author of Falling Fast

‘Non-stop adrenaline rushes in this romantic action-adventure, introducing gritty, earthy, unstoppable heroine in bounty hunter Lori Anderson – and a bad boy opponent/partner who is actually worthy of her. If you love romantic suspense, you’ll love this ride’ Alexandra Sokoloff, author of The Huntress/FBI thrillers and co-author of The Keepers series

‘The story moves at a frantic pace, and the plotting, along with the writing, is so deft and assured that it’s really quite staggering that this is a debut. But what really sets this book apart is the characterization of Lori and JT; it’s kind of like reading early Reacher, where you know you’re at the beginning of something very special, characters that will stay with you, books that you’ll wait patiently for each year’ Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks

‘A stunning debut from a major new talent’ Zoe Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox crime series

‘This is perfect for fans of Lee Child and Janet Evanovich, with the same American charm you find in Charlaine Harris, but it also has a sensibility that is completely unique and totally Broadribb. Lori Anderson is a fascinating heroine, with plenty of secrets and depth, but also totally kick-ass and relevant. Deep Down Dead is just so assured for a debut, and there wasn’t a single false step. It’s fun, thrilling, edge of your seat but also dealing with some seriously dark issues, and introduces a cast of characters I want to meet again! A great start to what is already one of my favourite series. Can’t wait for the next one’ Alex Caan, author of Cut To The Bone

‘Powerful, passionate, and packs a real punch’ Fergus McNeill, author of Knife Edge

‘A gem of a read that delivers thrills at breakneck pace … Lori is a feisty heroine we all wish had our backs’ Marnie Riches, author of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die

‘There are a couple of different ways to think about this debut. Once is an entertaining bounty-hunter adventure, and on that level it’s quite a ride. But another take is as a character study, with depth – the relationship between protagonist Lori, daughter Dakota and male lead JT. It’s assured and emotionally moving. Will be keeping an eye on this author and she does next’ Daniel Pembrey, author of The Harbour Master

‘A kick-ass American thriller and a great read … crying out to be a Hollywood movie. I couldn’t put it down’ Louise Voss, author of The Venus Trap

‘I ripped through this high-octane, breathlessly paced thriller in almost one sitting. Loved kick-ass Lori and her sexy-as-hell love interest JT – a combo to get your heart racing, and then some’ Ava Marsh, author of Untouchable

‘Steph Broadribb’s debut novel has been a long time coming, but is was definitely worth the wait. Dripping with authenticity, filled with unforgettable characters, and with a plot to die for. The writing is fantastic, making it one of my favourite debut novels for a long, long time. Deep Down Dead is just the first novel in what will be an incredible career for Broadribb. I can’t wait to read the next Lori Anderson book!’ Luca Veste, author of The Dying Place

‘We all need a fast-talking, gun-toting heroine with a heart of gold in our life, and Lori Anderson is a most compelling creation. If you don’t read Deep Down Dead, you’ll really be missing out’ Claire Seeber, author of The Stepmother

‘This writer! This book! I haven’t witnessed such a buzz about a new author for quite some time, and the buzz is entirely deserved. Breathtakingly pacey and authentic. You have to read it’ Michael J. Malone, author of A Suitable Lie

‘This thrilling debut is a masterwork of suspense, as bounty hunter, Lori Anderson, takes us on a road trip fraught with danger, passion and high-octane jeopardy. Steph Broadribb is a top crime talent! Unputdownable’ Helen Cadbury, author of To Catch A Rabbit

‘Finished this at a gallop! Great action scenes and great atmosphere in a top romantic thriller’ C.J. Carver, author of Spare Me the Truth

‘Relentless, breathtaking and emotionally charged. A roller coaster of a read! Jane Isaac, author of Beneath the Ashes

‘Steph Broadribb’s gritty debut will appeal to fans of the Sue Grafton alphabet series. I can’t wait to see what bounty hunter Lori Anderson gets up to next!’ Cass Green, author of Hold Your Breath