CTG Reviews: BONE DUST WHITE by Karin Salvalaggio


What the blurb says: “Someone is knocking at the door to Grace Adams’s house and won’t stop. Grace thinks she knows who it is, but when she looks out her bedroom window, she sees a woman she doesn’t recognize walking on the trails behind her home. The woman isn’t alone for long before a man emerges from the dark of the surrounding woods and stabs her, then retreats into the shadows, leaving her to die in the snow. Frantic, Grace calls the police, but knows they’ll never arrive in time, so she herself goes to the woman and is surprised to find she’s not a stranger – and that only raises more questions.

Badly shocked, Grace is taken to the hospital, and Detective Macy Greeley is called back to the small town of Collier, Montana, where she worked a case once before. She needs to track down the killer and find out what the murder has to do with Grace, a troubled young woman whose harrowing past may have finally come in from the cold. But the town of Collier is just as hard-bitten now as it was years ago, and Macy will have to reopen old wounds as she investigates a murder that looks like it took eleven years to come to pass.”

This is one of those books that pulls you into its world and holds you captive throughout the story until the very last word. And be warned, the world of BONE DUST WHITE is a claustrophobic place; a small town bursting with lies and deceit, a harsh winter environment that is as much of a killer as the humans who stab and shoot within it, a place where you can never escape from your past or the interference of others in your future. In short, the perfect setting for a crime thriller!

Detective Macy Greeley is a strong female lead. She’s pregnant, and heading towards single motherhood due to a rather complicated set of circumstances, but focused on solving the fresh case of the shooting outside Grace Adams’s house, and finding answers to solve the cold case of four young women’s deaths and the disappearance of another, many years previously. It’s not easy though. Aside from the dead ends, and difficulty in getting straight answers about either case from anyone in Collier, she’s also forced to reconnect with her own past in the small town, and the unfinished business she left behind.

As Macy digs deeper into the present and the past she starts to unravel the intricate web of secrets, lies and messy relationships that bind friends and enemies to the town. I especially loved the dark, brooding atmosphere of Collier and the quirky, unique characters that populate it. With gorgeous writing, a suspenseful storyline, and cast of characters where no one is telling the whole truth, this is thriller writing at its finest.

Chillingly creepy and hauntingly atmospheric BONE DUST WHITE is an absolute must read for crime fiction fans.

You can buy BONE DUST WHITE from Amazon here

And find out all about Karin Salvalaggio and her books here and follow her on Twitter @KarinSalvala


Today I’m super excited to have award winning crime writer (and good pal of mine) David Young guest posting on the CTG blog as part of his STASI WOLF Blog Tour. STASI WOLF is the second book in the Oberleutnant Karin Müller series following up from the smash hit STASI CHILD. Today, David Young is talking about the real life case that inspired the story in STASI WOLF.

Over to David …

Twenty-six years ago this month communist East Germany’s most well-known murder hunt began when the torso of a young boy was found stuffed in a suitcase by the side of the Halle to Leipzig rail line.

The body was soon identified as that of seven-year-old Lars Bense, who’d gone missing on a cinema trip two weeks earlier in the supposedly ideal socialist new city of Halle-Neustadt. A city where every apartment was near-identical, where streets didn’t have names, and where addresses were simply a strange six-digit code.

It’s the city that is the setting for Stasi Wolf, and although my fictional story is set six years earlier than the real-life murder, I’ve ‘borrowed’ some aspects of the murder investigation for the novel.

In the actual murder case, the only clue detectives had to the identity of the killer was found in a newspaper the body was wrapped in. A crossword puzzle was partially completed – the idiosyncratic handwriting, so experts said, was that of a middle-aged woman.

So began what still ranks as the biggest-ever handwriting sampling exercise in world history as part of the Kreuzworträtselmord – the Crossword Puzzle Murder. More than half-a-million samples of writing were collected, sometimes by ingenious methods such as staged competitions.

Die grossen Kriminalfaelle

At the heart of the hunt were the GDR’s reviled secret police, the Stasi – only this time they were doing some good, providing the manpower to help the overworked CID section of the People’s Police. I have them playing the same role in the novel – but also have them constantly overseeing my fictional detective Karin Müller’s work, because they don’t want news of her investigation to alarm the model city’s residents. And that has some basis in truth too. The successful end of the actual investigation was – in East German times – only mentioned in one small local newspaper report.

Today Halle-Neustadt is battered and worn, with many of its apartment blocks empty and condemned. A once-thriving population of 100,000 – mostly workers at the giant chemical works at nearby Merseburg – has shrunk to less than 40,000. But memories of the Crossword Puzzle Murder live on.

The team that eventually cracked the case – after several months – was led by Halle murder squad head Hauptmann Siegfried Schwarz. ‘Sigi’ – as he’s known – is still a hunter – but now it’s his hobby, and animals and birds are the quarry, rather than murderers, in the fields north-east of Halle where he now lives.

He agreed to meet me in Halle-Neustadt as part of his research and talked me through some of his cases, as well as his most famous one.

Although generally a jovial man, his face clouded over with sadness and his voice cracked with emotion when he spoke of another case that is perhaps closer to the central plot of Stasi Wolf – the killing of a baby whose body was found stuffed in a drawer in Halle city itself.

But it’s the Crossword Puzzle that he’s most well-known for. Some nine months after the hunt began the culprit was arrested. The handwriting had been matched to a resident of Block 398 – a middle-aged woman working as a seasonal worker on the Baltic Coast.

A male friend of the woman’s daughter fitted the profile of the killer, and eventually confessed to murder and sexual abuse of the boy, and was jailed for life – although after reunification this sentence was reduced because as he was eighteen at the time, he qualified as a juvenile.

He was released in 1999 and died in 2013 – on the day of the 32nd anniversary of his crime.

But – just as in the fictional Stasi Wolf – the real-life case has a final twist. His then girlfriend published what was supposedly a German-language ‘novel’ based on the murder that same year. Prosecutors opened a new case against her, on the grounds of alleged complicity to murder, because her statements in the novel differed from her accounts at the time.

However, she and her publishers insisted her book was fiction – and the case against her was subsequently dropped for lack of evidence.

A huge thank you to David Young for guest posting on the CTG blog today.

STASI WOLF is out now. Here’s the blurb: East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing. But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image. Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .”

You can buy STASI WOLF from Amazon HERE

And be sure to check out all the fantastic stops on the STASI WOLF Blog Tour and follow David Young on Twitter @djy_writer






This week valentine’s day happens, and that sounds like a good excuse for a competition to me …

… so everyone who subscribes to my new Crime Thriller Club will be automatically entered into a prize draw with the chance to win this valentine’s prize (pictured) including:

  • A signed copy of DEEP DOWN DEAD
  • A box of valentine’s chocolates from Hotel Chocolat
  • A mini bottle of rose champagne (only to UK entrants, sorry!)
  • A pair of handcuffs (cos nothing says ‘be my valentine’ like a pair of handcuffs right?)

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.

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 19th February 2017 **

(1) One entry per subscriber (2) Open worldwide, but champagne will only be posted to UK addresses – sorry! (3) All entrants must be 18 years or over (4) The winner will be drawn at random (5) No cash alternative (6)  The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into



I’m thrilled to have been invited to speak on panels at a whole bunch of fabulous crime writing events and festivals this year. While some of the details are still being finalised, I thought I’d give you a heads up on where I’ll be heading between now and May.

Hopefully see you there …



Panel with M.R. Hall, David Young, Sheena Kamal and Steph Broadribb, chaired by Barry Forshaw

Details: https://www.goldsborobooks.com/event/february-first-monday/



Orenda Books Roadshow with Kati Hiekkapelto, Michael J. Malone, Antti Tuomainen, Louise Beech, Steph Broadribb, Matt Johnson and Matt Wesolowski

Details: https://www.waterstones.com/events/join-us-for-an-evening-of-international-crime-fiction-writing-with-the-orenda-roadshow/liverpool



3 Slices of Crime panel with SJI Holliday, Russel McLean and Steph Broadribb chaired by Gordon Brown

Details: http://www.ayewrite.com/Pages/default.aspx



Panel details tbc

Details: https://dealnoir.wordpress.com/



Panel details tbc

Details: http://newcastlenoir.blogspot.co.uk/



Panel details tbc

Details: http://www.crimefest.com/





What the blurb says: “Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She’s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie’s death. And it’s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother’s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…”

THE DAMSELFLY is the third book in the Banktoun series, and a real firecracker of a read.

Series favourite, DS Davie Gray is back, joined by DC Louise Jennings to try and work out who killed local teenager Katie Taylor, a resident of the rather ill-fated Banktoun in Scotland.

As always with this series, I found myself hooked fast and pulled deep into the small town whisperings and curtain-twitching claustrophobia of the small Scottish town. Katie is a compelling character, and although she is only alive for a short time on the page, she is a constant presence within the book, one that has you willing DS Gray and DC Jennings on in their search for her killer.

But they don’t have an easy task. Banktoun is a place of many secrets, and getting them uncovered is a difficult job. With the police no closer to an arrest, and the outrage in the town growing by the hour, it isn’t long before social media is used to incite townsfolk to take matters into their own hands. Someone is playing an evil game. Question is, who?

As DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings are soon to find out, in a town plagued by lies and resentments, danger can be far closer than you think.

I loved this book. It’s a brilliant page turner of a read with and a twisting, turning story that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s also gut-wrenchingly emotive, with vivid characters, and a creepy and stiflingly intense location.

An outstanding police procedural that had me captivated from the very first page to the jaw-dropingly shocking finale, THE DAMSELFLY is a must read for all crime fiction fans.

THE DAMSELFLY is out today. You can buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to pop over to SJI Holliday’s blog here and follow her on Twitter @SJIHolliday 

#RUPTURE Blog Tour: Ragnar Jonasson’s book launch in a deserted fjord


Photo credit: Tomas Jonasson


This evening I’m thrilled to be joined by Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jonasson whose latest book RUPTURE is out now with Orenda Books. The book is already published in Iceland, and Ragnar’s popped by to talk about its rather unusual launch.

Over to Ragnar …

In 2012, Rupture was published in Iceland (as Rof). In Iceland, I usually have a traditional book launch at a downtown bookstore in Reykjavik, and we did just that for Rupture, but then I also had a bit of a crazy idea. I suggested to my publishers that we would do a second book launch in Héðinsfjörður, a fjord next to Siglufjordur, in the northernmost part of Iceland, where the book is set (actually the first crime novel ever to be set in this beautiful location).

Héðinsfjörður, in terms of its natural beauty, is of course an ideal spot for a launch, but there was this one downside; the fjord hasn’t been inhabited since 1951, so no-one lives there. But we decided to go for it, and I drove up north in the middle of winter ahead of the scheduled launch date, and those who may have read Snowblind know that Siglufjordur and neighbouring areas can be very unpredictable in terms of weather in the winter! So that was the second challenge, preferably to avoid any snowstorms.

When we arrived there, it turned out that the weather was actually incredibly good, still and bright. But would someone actually show up? Well, it wouldn’t be just me, because my parents, my brother and brother-in-law had joined me, but I was fully prepared to read a bit from the book to just them. Incredibly, though, people started showing up. Some from Siglufjordur, and some even further away, from Akureyri for example (the capital of the north, featured in Blackout) – and in the end we had about 40 people there listening to the reading. Needless to say, this was the first ever book launch in Héðinsfjörður!

RUPTURE is the fourth book in the fantastic Ari Thor series. Here’s the blurb: “1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Héðinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all. In nearby Siglufjordur, young policeman Ari Thor tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Isrun, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjordur in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them. Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.”

RUPTURE is out now, you can buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to follow Ragnar on Twitter @ragnarjo


#TheIntrusions Blog Tour: Stav Sherez talks about writing Prologues


Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on the #TheIntrusions Blog Tour and am joined by fabulous crime writer Stav Sherez.

Stav is a fan of using prologues in his novels (as am I) and he’s kindly agreed to talk about his process for prologue writing and how the prologue in his latest book – THE INTRUSIONS – came about.

Over to Stav …

Every crime novel has a beginning, middle and end – but where, exactly, do you begin? The question of whether to prologue or not is one of the most frequently asked in creative writing classes. The answer is often hotly debated but, like everything else in fiction, there is no right or wrong way, only what suits the book in question.

I’ve seen so many creative writing tips and lists that tell you never to prologue. They claim it slows the action down, prevents readers from immediately engaging with the narrative, and is unnecessary.

I disagree with this. I love prologues. I love to read them and I love to write them. All my novels have featured them. And – despite being beginnings – they’re nearly always the last sections to be written.

There’s something about the very nature of a prologue that is perfect for creating mystery. The prologue, rather than putting off the action, plunges you straight into the story, not knowing if it’s the beginning, middle or end of the narrative. Prologues create a frame and that’s perhaps one of the main reasons I like them, the way they stand outside the main action – the prologue can chart events that take place days or weeks or even years before the central narrative or they can be enigmatic flash-forwards straight into the heart of the book. As a reader, my favourite type of prologues are the ones where I have no idea how they relate to the plot until three-quarters of the way through – it all clicks into place.

But I never get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Or the twenty-third. Every novel I’ve ever written has featured several very different prologues before I settled on the final one. I never know how to start until I have reached the end.

The Intrusions proved the hardest of my novels to write a prologue for. I wrote what I thought was a decent prologue after I’d finished the first draft. It was set 30 years before the action of the novel and in another country – but it didn’t fit. It knocked the main storyline off-kilter. I cut it and rethought the beginning. My second prologue was 10,000 words and consisted of only one sentence! The idea was to start the book with a long tracking shot the way Orson Welles does in Touch of Evil. The prologue followed a relay of CCTV cameras across London on a Friday night, picking up the main characters, following them, dropping them, and roving across the capital. I’m kind of glad I didn’t stick with that one…

The next prologue was set during one of the character’s childhood years. It was a family dinner scene, static and tense and a world away from the previous prologue. I was quite happy with it but one of the benefits of doing many drafts is you get to read over the novel a hundred times or more and anything that doesn’t fit or is boring becomes obvious very quickly – and the new prologue was just too far removed from the action and themes of the novel.

I tried again. I started from scratch and this time the prologue, though it takes place some time before the action of the book, supplied part of the puzzle that Carrigan and Miller would later have to solve. It also introduced some of the themes I wanted to explore in the novel and, finally, it felt exciting, plunging the reader directly into peril.

It took me two and a half years of writing different prologues before I found the one which suited the book but, sometimes, you need to write all the wrong things before you can get it right.

A huge thank you to Stav Sherez for popping over to the CTG blog today and talking about prologues.

THE INTRUSIONS is out now. Here’s 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?”

THE INTRUSIONS is out now 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 …