You Die Next: read the prologue here for free

You Die Next final jacket

My new thriller, written under my Stephanie Marland pen name, is out today! Whoop! And as a publication day treat I thought you might like to read the prologue for free.

First here’s the blurb: “When a group of urban explorers stumble across a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio, terror strikes. And when one of the group is found dead, the team realise – they’re being hunted.
DI Dominic Bell is investigating the murder, but as the body count rises, time is running out. The only person who can help him is a figure from his past, Clementine Starke – but Clementine is haunted by her own demons. Can the two of them pair up to catch the killer? Or is it already too late?”

And now to the prologue…

YOU DIE NEXT: PROLOGUE

It’s streaming. Quality’s good, not HD, but clear enough. On screen, top left, are the words: JedUrbXTM is LIVE. Could be that he’s the guy in the balaclava.

He’s close to the camera, holding it out like he’s taking a selfie, his face over-sized from the weird angle. The tight woollen hood obscures his features, reducing him to two irregular-shaped eyeholes and a gash for a mouth. There’s light somewhere below his face, illuminating his lips. It makes him look ghoulish.

He’s talking. The balaclava shifts, the material skewing a few centimetres to give a hint of stubble around his mouth before the hood slides back into place. The sound has a miniscule delay, as though he’s lip-syncing out of time. His accent is northern, from Manchester perhaps. ‘I’m Jedx, and for me this is all about the rush… the massive adrenaline hit. The risk . . . ’

As he speaks, hearts and thumbs-up emojis float across the bottom of the screen; the viewers of the live-stream are showing their appreciation.

He grins and gives a thumbs-up. Then the camera swings away from his face, plunging the view into darkness, and the autofocus struggles. The picture is grainy, impossible to make out, but the audio remains clear; there’s a sound like running water, as well as loud rustling, muttering with a few swears, then hurried footsteps on gravel.

A picture morphs into view. Three people, silhouetted by torchlight, march ahead of Jedx. The camera rocks from side to side as he follows them. Trees hang over the pathway, their gnarled branches clutching at his jacket like deformed bony fingers. The undergrowth is dense.

Jedx’s voice, disembodied this time, says, ‘It’s tough getting in, but no surprises there. We’ve found a virgin site . . . unclaimed. We need to tread careful. We didn’t see any on-site security when we reconned the place, but there are loads of ‘Keep Out’ signs. If there’s a patrol, we don’t want them to know we’re coming.’

Comments are appearing under the live feed:

DavidSees: Where are you guys?

Optxxxx: Dope!

UrbexFan984: Loving this feed

FunLeapExp: Bravo

VulcanD86: Where you at?

The camera wobbles and closes in on the three figures ahead. As it reaches them it pans right, to the closest one. ‘Hey, Sass. Tell the viewers where we are.’

‘Hendleton Studios.’ The woman’s voice is quiet, breathy. She half-turns to the camera but all that shows is that she’s wearing red lipstick, and tiny diamantes glitter around the eyeholes of her balaclava. ‘Famous from the black and white era until the end of the sixties . . . the hit movies Die Happy, Marriage and the Man, Lola’s Journeyand The Fourth Way Downwere made here. So was the cult horror classic Death by a Thousand Daggers. The studio closed after owner Joey Oakenridge died unexpectedly—’

‘In totally dodgy circumstances,’ a new male voice cuts in, higher pitched and younger sounding, with a London accent. ‘Well suspicious if you ask . . . ’

‘Beaker’s right.’ Jedx turns the lens back to himself. The angle’s crooked once more, with only his mouth is visible. ‘Wikipedia says it’s haunted.’

‘Fucksake. I’m trying to give the facts here.’ Hands, with orange-painted nails emerging from fingerless gloves, grab the camera and yank it round to face the woman, Sass, again. ‘The verdict was death by misadventure.’

There’s a shout to hurry up from another voice, an older sounding guy. The view shifts forward and the image sways as the trio jog towards the fourth person. He’s standing in front of a high wire fence. Although he’s a half-foot taller than the rest of them, the fence must be a good two feet higher than him.

The camera focuses on a sign. It’s weathered and faded with age. NO ENTRY. TRESSPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. The taller guy throws a rucksack over the fence, followed by a crowbar. It hits the top and the wire jangles.

Sass pulls the camera back to her. ‘Mortgaged several times over, the studio stopped production and closed its gates for the last time on 24 January 1972. It’s been lying dormant ever since.’

‘Until tonight,’ says Jedx. The view returns to him. He’s smiling beneath his balaclava and puts on an American accent, movie voiceover style. ‘Because tonight, folks, we’re breaking our way in.’

The onscreen counter beside the word LIVEis at 28:03. The viewer tally beneath it stands at over four hundred. A doorway comes into view, boarded-up with plywood. Tattered ‘Keep Out’ notices are pasted haphazardly across it like badly hung wallpaper. The arched stone doorframe is green with algae but still impressive. Carved into the stone over the top of the door is HENDLETON STUDIOS: SOUND-STAGE ONE.

Jedx swings the camera round to face him. ‘We’re gearing up to gain entry. As you know, this is kind of illegal.’ He grins into the lens. ‘But you guys won’t tell anyone, will you?’

Pinnyhip078: Do it!!

DavidSees: Oh this is epic. Let’s see what’s in there!

Upyeah99: Hmmmmmm.

Koso: Don’t go inside

LiveWildRock: Your secret’s safe with us!

UrbexUncovered: Googling Hendleton now!!

Thumbs-ups and hearts stream across the bottom of the screen again.

Jedx laughs. ‘Looks like you’re as keen to see inside as we are.’

The camera moves to catch the tallest guy taking his crowbar to the boarded door. The plywood splinters, rotten chunks of wood crumbling away as he levers off the board. He flings the pieces out of his way and steps through the mouth of the building.

‘Come on,’ he says, not looking back. Two paces in and the darkness swallows him whole.

The lanky guy – Beaker – follows, pulling a pair of night-vision goggles into place as he steps through the doorway.

‘We’re entering the sound-stage where all the biggest hits were filmed.’ Sass’s voice is hushed, excited. She climbs over the discarded wooden board as she talks.

‘Let’s check it out,’ says Jedx. The view swings left to right as he navigates the doorway. ‘This is such a rush. My heart’s going mental. Ready for anything. Bring it on!’

Inside, the only light comes from their torches. The hall is narrow. Old movie posters hang in tatters from an ancient noticeboard. The ceiling has caved in, spewing wires and debris onto the floor below.

They move quickly.

‘It stinks in here,’ Jedx narrates. ‘Really bad.’

Beaker, in the camouflage jacket, turns towards the camera. ‘Like somebody died.’

‘Shut up.’ Sass’s voice has more tension in it now. ‘You’re creeping me out.’

There’s a clatter as someone kicks something.

‘Fuck.’ Beaker stops. Curses some more under his breath.

The tall one calls from the front. ‘You OK?’

‘Yeah, Cap. I just . . . ’ Beaker shines his torch onto the ground. ‘Shit.’

The camera zooms in. At his feet is a wooden box. It’s filled with clown heads.

Jedx laughs, but his voice sounds nervous as he swings the camera around and addresses the viewers. ‘Freaky, yeah?’

Laughter emojis float across the screen showing that those watching the action are still enjoying the show. The comments keep coming.

DavidSees: How does it feel being inside?

LiveWildRock: This is crazy!

Upyeah99: It’s too dark. More light needed.

Pinnyhip078: Woah! Awesome!

UrbexUncovered: Great work. Lovin’ your channel.

FunLeapExp: Great explore. Can I join you? DM me.

Jedx is nodding as he reads the comments on the live-stream from his phone. He looks into the camera lens. ‘David, it feels awesome, totally pumping. We’ve got torches, Upyeah99, that’s all the light we have. FunLeapExp, sorry man, we’re a tight group, no vacancies.’

‘Come on,’ Cap calls from off camera. ‘Keep moving.’

Jedx gives a mock salute and the view rotates. He follows Sass along the corridor, manoeuvring around the piles of broken ceiling tiles and mouldering boxes that litter the route. The floorboards creak beneath their feet.

They move faster.

At the end of the corridor they stop. There’s a door. On the wall is a large beacon covered in decades of dust. The sign beside it says: NO ENTRY WHEN RED LIGHT IS ON. RECORDING.

Cap turns to the camera. The whites of his eyes look artificially bright against the balaclava and gloom. He’s talking fast; high on the thrill. ‘This is it, nirvana for this site. Abandoned over forty years ago. Now we’re about to breach. You ready?’

Sass holds up her SLR camera. Grins.

Beaker takes out his mobile. ‘Ready, Cap.’

‘Streaming live every step of the way,’ says Jedx. He looks into the camera. ‘You guys ready to see inside?’

Hundreds of thumbs-up icons flit across the feed.

DavidSees: Get in there now!

LiveWildRock: Hell yeah!

UrbGold300: This is so fascinating.

Upyeah99: Show us! Can’t wait it see how it looks.

Koso: Don’t! Go home.

Pinnyhip078: Dudes, go for it!

Optxxxx: Wooohooooo!

Jedx nods as he reads them from his phone, then grins at the camera. ‘I’ll take that as an affirmative.’ He pushes his phone back into his pocket and nods at Cap. ‘We’re good to go.’

As Cap pushes down the door handle the other three crowd in close.  The camera tilts, and as it moves it looks as if the dusty red light blinks. Then the view is blocked, and only Beaker’s camouflage jacket and Sass’s black fleece are visible.

‘It’s stuck,’ Cap says. ‘The wood must have warped.’

There’s a thud and the camera view jerks upwards, showing Cap shouldering the door. The hinges squeal. Cap exhales hard. Then it finally starts to inch open.

Sass turns to the camera, just one of her crystal-ringed eyes visible, and whispers, ‘We’re in.’

They move into a small space, like an anteroom. Floor to ceiling curtains hang across the opening to the main sound-stage, obstructing their view. As they look around, their torchlight illuminates a row of dust-covered chairs and a low table with a pile of decomposing magazines. On the wall is a shooting schedule from forty years ago; the daily running order for a film titled Dark Pleasures.

Sass grins towards the camera. ‘This would have been the waiting area, the twilight zone between the real world and the fantasy of whichever movie was being filmed.’ She steps towards the curtains. ‘I’d have expected velvet curtains like in a theatre but—’

‘It’s black plastic sheeting.’ Beaker sounds nervous. ‘The velvet’s piled up in the corner over here.’

The camera moves to a heap of material in the corner, then Jedx swings it round to face him. ‘There’s no dust on these curtains, they can’t have been here long.’ He moves the camera closer to the plastic. ‘Yeah, these are pretty clean. The colour hasn’t faded and the plastic is thick, heavy-duty stuff.’

Sass appears. She runs her fingers across the black plastic. There’s confusion in her tone. ‘It’s been cut precisely to size and carefully hung, completely filling the opening.’ She looks past the camera, towards Jedx. ‘We’re not the first here. Someone did this recently.’

‘Wow’ emojis appear on the live-stream. Questions are being asked in the comments.

DavidSees: Why replace the curtains?

UrbGold300: Who did that? If the place hasn’t been touched for forty years . . .

Upyeah99: Plastic curtains?? Weird as!

ExpoDisW: Don’t like the look of that. Get out of there guys!

For a moment there’s complete silence. Then Cap steps alongside Sass and slides his hand between two of the plastic sheets. A chink of light appears.

Sass inhales hard. ‘Why’s there light? This place was cut off years ago. There shouldn’t be any power.’ She reaches towards Cap. ‘Wait, we ought to . . . ’

But she’s too late. He’s already pulling the plastic aside.

The light is blinding.

‘Fucking . . . what the . . . ’ There’s a tremble in Jedx’s voice. ‘That’s . . . that’s . . . ’

The camera swerves sideways, the autofocus struggling. Silhouettes seem to morph into each other in the haze. Then the view stabilizes and there’s a glimpse of a wooden frame, before it shifts again, focusing on an old Arriflex movie camera, its body and shooting reels covered in dust. The view tilts, revealing a second camera behind the Arriflex. This one is tripod-mounted and modern. Focused on what’s in the centre of yet more plastic sheeting, spread out across the stage floor.

Someone retches.

Sass cries out.

Beaker turns towards the camera, his eyes wide. ‘We need to move. Fucking move.’

‘Go.’ All the bravado’s gone from Cap’s voice. ‘Get out before they—’

There’s a noise like an angry roar. It sounds half human, half animal.

Cap shoves Beaker and Sass backwards into Jedx, blocking the camera’s view. They jostle against each other, panicking. Jedx twists round; the camera’s view is a blur of light. He pushes the others ahead and, for a brief moment, the camera finds colour – grey rope, brown wood, and a long river of crimson. Then it’s gone.

‘Quick, come on.’

‘Move!’

‘Shit.’

They scramble back through the plastic curtain. Barge through the door into the hallway.

The camera jerks side to side. Angled down, it films three sets of feet; black Nikes, maroon Converse, some kind of leather hiking boots. They’re sprinting. Leaping broken floorboards. Swerving round debris. Something falls from Cap’s pocket, no one seems to notice.

‘Hurry up.’

Loud breathing. Panicked cries.

There’s a crash. Swearing. The camera drops to the ground, landing at a right angle to the floor, and the lens fractures.

Jedx is on his knees, clown heads scattering around him. He scrambles to get up, the heads rolling in his wake, but they bring him down again, his face inches from the lens.

Loads of ‘wow’ emojis and hearts are flooding across the live feed.

Jedx’s gaze is focused past the camera. He’s shaking his head. Eyes wide. Mouth open. Fear obvious.

Footsteps thud along the floor in a slow rhythm. Confident. Deliberate.

‘Oh fuck.’ Jedx lurches forward on all fours, his arms and legs paddling wildly. His expression desperate. His foot catches the camera and it spins, sliding along the floor, out of reach. Jedx crashes over the clown heads, crushing their skulls beneath his feet. Disappears.

The camera lies still.

The image is grainy. The view split into three by the broken lens. Rotten floorboards. Upturned prop box. A clown head with its smiling face caved in.

The footsteps come closer. Black Doc Martens appear on-screen. Halt. There’s a sigh, just audible. A gloved hand reaches towards the camera.

The image cuts to black.

JedUrbXTM livestream terminated.

If you’d like to find out what happens next, click on the book cover below to hop over to Amazon where it’s available in ebook, audio and paperback…

CTG EXCLUSIVE: ARNE DAHL ON CREATING TENSION & HIS FAVE BOOKS #WATCHINGYOU

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To celebrate the release of bestselling international crime writer Arne Dahl’s new thriller WATCHING YOU – the first instalment in a new rocket-paced series featuring a brand new crime team, led by Detective Sam Berger – Arne invited a few folks to ask him some questions about his writing and then recorded his answers on camera.

I asked him two questions…

Question 1: What are your top tips on creating tension and pace when writing a thriller? Click to watch Arne’s answer on the Dead Good Books YouTube channel HERE

Question 2: Which books or writers in the crime genre do you enjoy reading, and why? Click here to watch Arne’s answer on the Dead Good Books YouTube channel HERE

WATCHING YOU  by Arne Dahl is out now. Here’s the blurb: “Elen Savinger has been missing for three weeks. At each abandoned crime scene linking to the case Detective Sam Berger finds a hidden clue: a tiny metal cog, almost invisible to the naked eye. Someone is sending Sam a message, someone who knows that only he will understand the cryptic trail. When another teenaged girl disappears without trace, Sam must convince his superiors that they’re dealing with a serial killer. As the police continue the hunt to find the latest victim, Sam is forced to unearth long-buried personal demons. He has no choice if he is to understand the killer’s darkly personal message before time runs out. Somebody is killing just for him.”

You can read an extract of WATCHING YOU by clicking HERE and popping over to Dead Good Books.

Order it HERE from Waterstones or HERE from Amazon

And find out more about Arne Dahl and his books over on his website at www.arnedahl.net and follow him on Twitter @arne_dahl

CTG REVIEWS: #LoveLikeBlood BY MARK BILLINGHAM (plus chance to #WIN a copy)

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a tour stop on the LOVE LIKE BLOOD blog tour for Mark Billingham’s latest book in the Tom Thorne series.

LOVE LIKE BLOOD is out in hardback on 1st June 2017, but I’ve got one copy to giveaway! To be in with a chance to win it, tweet the link to this review on Twitter and include @crimethrillgirl in the tweet, or retweet one of my tweets about it [see end of this post for the T&Cs].

So, to the review…

What the blurb says: “As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft and vengeful. Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts. As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.”

Wow, this is one hell of a great read…

DI Nicola Tanner wants justice. She wants justice for the young murder victims in the cases she’s been working that she believes to be honour killings carried out by professional killers, and she wants justice for the horrific murder of her partner, Susan.

Grieving, yet utterly focused and determined, Tanner makes it her mission to enlist DI Tom Thorne to help her investigate the plausibility of her hypothesis, something that it seems everyone – both the Honour Crimes Unit and the community – are unwilling to consider.

But Tom Thorne is never one to shy away from difficult cases or from doing things that might ruffle other people’s feathers, and with a small amount of persuasion he agrees to help Tanner investigate.

Tanner and Thorne make a great crime solving duo. Tanner is driven and focused, all business, not one for small talk and niceties; but her passion for justice and her dogged determination to get to the truth no matter what the danger might be makes her a compelling character that I was rooting for to succeed.

Street-wise, country music loving, DI Tom Thorne has a family now with Helen and her young son Alfie. As he digs deeper into the cases that Tanner believes are connected, and some members of the religious communities the victims are from become increasingly hostile, he starts to worry about all that he has and all that he could lose. As Tanner and Thorne get closer to discovering the truth, the tension ratchets ever higher all the way to the dramatic, breath-taking climax and the shocking twist at the end.

This is a book with a strong theme of social justice. It explores a community divided in views, hate crime, honour killings, generational differences, religious tradition, political sensitivities and gives the strong message: whatever it’s dressed up as, murder is still murder.

LOVE LIKE BLOOD is a disturbing, heart-breaking, and utterly compelling crime thriller crafted by a writer at the top of his game. An absolute must-read for all fans of crime fiction, and my top read of 2017 so far.

LOVE LIKE BLOOD is out this week. You can pre-order it from Amazon here and from Waterstones here

To find out more about Mark Billingham visit his website at www.markbillingham.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @MarkBillingham

** The giveaway closes at 9pm on Tuesday 30th May** Rules
 (1) One entry per person (2) The winners will be drawn at random (3) No cash alternative (4) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

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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

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: 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

 

 

CTG EXCLUSIVE: Louise Beech, Russ Litten and Nick Quantrill talk crime fiction, love stories, and the lure of erotica!

 

Today I’m hosting a stop on Louise Beech’s fantastic THE MOUNTAIN IN MY SHOE blog tour.

Louise has gathered a couple of her fab writerly mates – Russ Litten and Nick Quantrill – from her home town of Hull into the tour bus for a chat about crime fiction, their books and writing. It makes for a fascinating read …

So, lads…. crime fiction. What is that and what does it mean to you? What drew you to writing it? 

NICK: For me, crime fiction is a way to explore the world around me, try to make it sense of it. It can local, national, international, but I think it’s the best genre for doing the job. I’ve always been a crime reader, so writing it was the logical next step.

RUSS: I like crime fiction and I read it, but I don’t write it and have never had any real desire to do so. My second book “Swear Down” was marketed as a crime book but I didn’t consider it in those terms. There’s actually more crime in my first novel. I suppose the reason Swear Down was considered crime fiction was because it has a policeman as one of its central characters. But it’s a book about friendships and families more than anything.

LOUISE: I fell accidentally into it! It was a complete surprise when publisher, Karen Sullivan, told me that The Mountain in my Shoe was a psychological thriller. I was dead chuffed though. If it puts me in the same gang as you guys, well, then it can’t be bad… 

What do you think are the limits of genre-writing, if any, and do you try and conform, or do it your own way?

RUSS: I don’t really think about my own writing in terms of genre. I certainly don’t attempt to conform or subvert limits, I just tell the story that’s bugging me, whether that involves a policeman or a ghost or someone who is in love or whatever. As a reader, I get a bit bored by books that follow standard tropes and cliches and crime fiction can often be guilty of that. The covers put me off, especially British crime fiction. They all seem to have the word “blood” in the title and have dark foreboding imagery. It’s all a bit formulaic. The Americans seem to be better at it. I like people like Daniel Woodrell or Denis Johnson, who write about crime and criminals but without any of the standard trappings or cliches. The actual prose style tends to more interesting too; fresh, inventive, lively.

One thing that was made clear to me when writing Swear Down was how hemmed in the police procedural can be. If the work is going to be realistic, you’d have your star cop spending most of the time sat on their arse in a van or knocking on doors. This is probably why most crime fiction cops are “mavericks” or people who bend the rules. Because if they followed all the rules the book would be dull beyond belief. I’d like to see more British crime novels take the point of view of the criminal. Maybe they do exist and I’ve just not read them because I’ve been put off by the covers.

NICK: I don’t think any genre-writing necessarily has to have limits. We’re constantly seeing novels that challenge what we think a crime novel should be, what it should contain, how it should be constructed etc. You could maybe argue all genre writers conform to a certain degree, as there are fundamental expectations, but essentially we all do it our own way.

LOUISE: I agree totally about doing it our own way. That’s the only way I can do it. I tell the story how I instinctively feel it needs to be told, and if it ends up fitting a certain niche, I suppose that’s great. But I don’t try and aim for it.

What do you think about how the genre is expanding? Psychological Thriller, a very open sub-genre, covers so many novels now, so it’s a huge market. How to stand out?

NICK: We’ve always had psychological thrillers and no doubt always will, but it’s undeniable they’re having a moment of popularity at the moment. Maybe that says something about us as people now, maybe it’s clever marketing? I don’t know, but I think you stand out by developing your voice. If you follow the market, there’s every chance it will have moved on before you finish your novel.

RUSS: I have no idea. I think even the marketing people have trouble with that. In fact, I don’t think they are interested in standing out. They just look for a bandwagon and hurl themselves aboard. How else can you explain the amount of books currently with the word “girl” in the title? One of my favourite books of the last few years is Hawthorne and Child by Keith Ridgway, which features two detectives driving around London trying to piece together seemingly unrelated tales, but it’s very far removed from what could be considered traditional crime fiction. A book like that is never going to fly to the top of any best seller list because it’s so hard to pigeonhole. But I can’t concern myself with any of this as a writer, because I’d end up second guessing myself and worrying about what I should be doing and writing with my head rather than my guts. That would be no fun to me at all.

LOUISE: Standing out for me is all about voice. Our own unique voice is all we have. Most stories have been done. Most twists, most reveals. But no one can write the way we do. That’s our way to rise to the top. 

A sense of place matters, and of course we’re all from the champion city of Hull, and we’ve all set novels there. Why Hull, apart from being home? What does this place lend to crime – haha!

RUSS: I set my first novel in Hull because all my initial stories were based on autobiographical experience. Plus, I am very lazy, and research takes up too much valuable time. Far better to look out the window and draw upon memory. I’m not sentimental about Hull, but I do think it’s a great place to live if you’re creating something. You can be free of distraction and influence. I hope all this 2017 malarkey doesn’t make us self-conscious.

As for crime, well, Hull is a port, which makes it open to all sorts of mischief. It’s also a place with high levels of poverty and unemployment, which generally leads to the law being broken. The one thing Hull hasn’t got is organised crime, which is why most of the drugs that get sold in the north of England get imported into Hull by people from other cities, taken away to be stamped on and then brought back into Hull to be retailed. Most other cities with docks have organised cartels with links to oversea importers. It’s a mystery why Hull doesn’t have this.

NICK: In truth, it’s because it’s home. It’s the only place I’ve lived, so I felt confident I could tackle trying to understand it. Regardless of that, it’s a great location for a crime novel. It has swathes of deprivation, it has pockets of great affluence, it’s isolated, it has a port…the list goes on! That said, I’m working on a novel set outside of the city, so we’ll see how it goes…

Anything non-crimey you’d really love to turn your hands to?

NICK: I don’t really have thoughts about cheating on crime very often. As a genre, it offers such versatility and opportunity. It feels like it offers all I want when I sit down and right. I quite fancy writing a Young Adult novel, though…

RUSS: I’m finding myself being drawn back constantly to short stories. Whether that’s a result of my own naturally limited attention span I don’t know, but I’m currently wrestling with a way to combine prose poetry, flash fiction and the short story. I find music to be the best medium for that at the moment. You can be concise and vivid and still make something that stands up to repeat visits. As for the novel, I am currently wrestling with a love story. It’s the oldest story in the world and I want to see if I can tell my version in a voice that rings bright and true.

LOUISE: Erotica is calling me. Soon I might listen….

And favourite crime writers, and why?

RUSS: Americans mainly. Richard Price, Daniel Woodrell, Jordan Harper … but they aren’t really crime writers, they write about criminals. The best British crime books I have read are by Derek Raymond and Ted Lewis.

NICK: I could be here all day! The ones I always go to are Ian Rankin (sense of place, character, the whole package), Elmore Leonard (dialogue), Lee Child (pace and action), Michael Connelly (complex thrillers wrapped up as bestsellers)… the list is endless…

LOUISE: You probably can’t go far wrong with Russ Litten or Nick Quantrill. Look them up if you haven’t….

Yes, definitely look them up!

A huge thank you to Louise, Nick and Russ.

LOUISE BEECH’s latest book is THE MOUNTAIN IN MY SHOE. You can buy it here from Amazon. And be sure to follow her on Twitter @LouiseWriter

NICK QUANTRILL’s latest book is THE DEAD CAN’T TALK. You can buy it here from Amazon. And follow Nick on Twitter @NickQuantrill

RUSS LITTEN’s book SWEAR DOWN can be bought from Amazon here. And follow Russ on Twitter @RussLitten

This is a stop on the THE MOUNTAIN IN MY SHOE Blog Tour. To find out more about Louise Beech and her books make sure to check out all the great stops …

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