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

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

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

Book Bundle 1:

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

Book Bundle 2:

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

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

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

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

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

#TheMissing Blog Tour: Get a peep at Chapter 1 of C.L. Taylor’s The Missing

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Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the lovely C.L. Taylor’s THE MISSING Blog Tour and letting you get a read of the first chapter of her latest thriller.

Firstly, here’s the blurb: “When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface. Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with is disappearance. A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it? Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide …”

THE MISSING

Chapter 1

Wednesday 5th August 2015

What do you wear when you peer into the barrel of a camera and plead for someone, anyone, to please, please tell you where your child is? A blouse? A jumper? Armour?

Today is the day of the second television appeal. It’s been six months since my son disappeared. Six months? How can it be that long? The counsellor I started seeing four weeks after he was taken from us told me the pain would lessen, that I would never feel his loss as keenly as I did that first day.

She lied.

It takes me the best part of an hour before I can look at myself in the bedroom mirror without crying. My hair, cut in a short elfin style last week, doesn’t suit my wide, angular face and my eyes look dark and deep-set beneath the new fringe. The blouse I’d deemed sensible and presentable last night suddenly looks thin and cheap, the knee-length pencil skirt too tight on my hips. I select a pair of navy trousers and a soft grey jumper instead. Smart, but not too smart, serious but not sombre.

Mark is not in the bedroom with me. He got up at 5.37 a.m. and slipped silently out of the room without acknowledging my soft grunt as I peered at the time on the alarm clock. When we went to bed last night we lay in silence side by side, not touching, too tense to talk. It took a long time for sleep to come.

I didn’t say anything when Mark got up. He’s always been an early riser and enjoys a solitary hour or so, pottering around the house, before everyone else wakes up.

Our house was always so noisy in the morning, with Billy and Jake fighting over who got to use the bathroom first and then turning up their stereos full volume when they returned to their rooms to get changed. I’d pound on their bedroom doors and shout at them to turn the music down. Mark’s never been very good with noise. He spends hours each week driving from city to city as part of his job as a pharmaceutical sales rep but always in silence – no music, audiobooks or radio for him.

‘Mark?’ It’s 7.30 a.m. when I pad into the kitchen, taking care to step over the cracked tile by the fridge so I don’t snag my pop socks. Three years ago Billy opened the fridge and a bottle of wine fell out, cracking the tiles that Mark had only finished laying the day before. I told him it was my fault.

‘Mark?’

The kettle is still warm but there’s no sign of my husband. I poke my head around the living-room door but he’s not there either. I return to the kitchen, and open the back door that leads to the driveway at the side of the house. The garage door is open. The rrr-rrr-rrr splutter of the lawnmower being started drifts towards me.

‘Mark?’ I slip my feet into a pair of Jake’s size ten trainers that have been abandoned next to the mat and slip-slide across the driveway towards the garage. It’s August and the sun is already high in the sky, the park on the other side of the street is a riot of colour and our lawn is damp with dew. ‘You’re not planning on cutting the grass now, surel—’

I stop short at the garage door. My tall, fair-haired husband is bent over the lawnmower in his best navy suit, a greasy black oil stain just above the knee of his left trouser leg.

‘Mark! What the hell are you doing?’

He doesn’t look up.

‘Servicing the lawnmower.’ He gives the starting cord another yank and the machine growls in protest.

‘Now?’

‘I haven’t used it for a month. It’ll rust up if it’s not serviced.’

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

‘But Mark, it’s Billy’s appeal.’

‘I know what day it is.’ This time he does look up. His cheeks are flushed and there’s a sheen of sweat that stretches from his thick, unkempt eyebrows all the way up to his receding hairline. He passes a hand over his brow, then wipes it on his trouser leg, rubbing sweat into the greasy oil stain. I want to scream at him that he’s ruined his best suit and he can’t go to Billy’s appeal like that, but today isn’t the day for an argument, so I take a deep breath instead.

‘It’s seven-thirty,’ I say. ‘We need to get going in half an hour. DS Forbes said he’d meet us at eight-thirty to go through a few things.’

Mark rubs a clenched fist against his lower back as he straightens up. ‘Is Jake ready?’

‘I don’t think so. His door was shut as I came downstairs and I couldn’t hear voices.’

Jake shares his bedroom with his girlfriend Kira. They started dating at school when they were sixteen and they’ve been together three years now, sharing a room in our house for the last eighteen months. Jake begged me to let her stay. Her mum’s drinking had got worse and she’d started lashing out at Kira, phys­ically and verbally. He told me that if I didn’t let her live with us she’d have to move up to Edinburgh to live with her grandfather and they’d never get to see each other.

‘Well, if Jake can’t be bothered to get up, then let’s go without him,’ Mark says. ‘I haven’t got the energy to deal with him. Not today.’

It was Billy who used to disappoint Mark. Billy with his ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude about school and his belief that life owed him fame and fortune. Jake was always Mark’s golden boy in comparison. He worked hard at school, gained six A- to C-grade GCSEs and passed his electrician course at college with flying colours. These days it’s phone calls about Jake’s poor attendance at work that we’re dealing with, not Billy’s.

I haven’t got the energy to deal with Jake either but I can’t just shrug my shoulders like Mark. We need to present a united front to the media. We all need to be there, sitting side by side behind the desk. A strong family, in appearance if nothing else.

‘I’m going back to the house. I’ll get your other suit out of the wardrobe,’ I say but Mark has already turned his attention to the lawnmower.

I shuffle back to the path, Jake’s oversized shoes leaving a trail in the gravel, and reach for the handle of the back door.

I hear the scream the second I push it open.

THE MISSING is out now. You can buy it from Waterstones here, or Amazon here

To find out more about C.L. Taylor hop over to her website here and follow her on Twitter @callytaylor

And don’t forget to check out all the other great stops along THE MISSING Blog Tour:

The Blog Tour

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

BritCrime Festival logo

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

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

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

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

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

Author, Mason Cross

Author, Mason Cross

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

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

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

Author, Eva Dolan

Author, Eva Dolan

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

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

See you at BritCrime!

#TheLie Blog Tour: CTG reviews The Lie by C.L. Taylor

The Lie cover image

The Lie cover image

I’m delighted to be part of the #TheLie Blog Tour, and for the tour stop today I’m posting my review of this fabulous psychological thriller …

What the blurb says: “Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist. Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women. Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .”

How well do we really know our friends, and how strong are those bonds when they’re tested to the limit? These are two of the questions C.L. Taylor’s latest psychological thriller prompts the reader to think about as they follow the dual storyline narratives of The Lie to their explosive conclusion.

The story pulls you in straight away, and the flowing narrative holds you captive until the final page has been turned. It’s a story packed with tension, twists and turns, immersing you into Jane’s world and feeling the fear inside her building as she’s contacted by someone who can’t possibly be alive. Or can they?

Deeply unsettled, Jane relives the horror of the past through a series of flashback chapters which transport her (and the reader) back in time to the ‘trip of a lifetime’ she took with her then best friends – Daisy, Leanne and Al – to Nepal. As they travel from their hotel to a remote retreat in the mountains it soon becomes clear that the ripples of tension and jealousy within the group are rising, and it’s not long before the friendships start to unravel with devastating consequences. As the creepy, shocking truth (and serious danger they’re in) becomes more apparent in the Nepal timeline, the threat level in the present escalates to a critical level.

I can’t really say much more about the story without giving away some of the excellent twists, but what I will say is that C.L. Taylor has brilliantly captured the complex and changing dynamics between the four young women on their adventure turned nightmare, bringing them to life in a wholly believable (and therefore very scary!) way. Jane is a wonderfully complicated character – she’s passionate about her job at the animal sanctuary and determined and bold in dealing with the difficult characters she encounters, yet claustrophobic and terrified into panic when a trigger to a memory from the past is pressed. She’s a character that I found myself really caring about and rooting for.

High drama and high stakes, this is a real pulse-pounder of a psychological thriller and a must-read for 2015.

Highly recommended.

 

You can find out more about C.L. Taylor and her books at www.cltaylorauthor.com and follow her on Twitter @callytaylor

And be sure to check out all the other #TheLie blog tour stops …

BlogTour

 

Top Moments 2015: #ChipLitFest

Lee Child (c) Aston Photography

Lee Child (c) Aston Photography

Last weekend I went to ChipLitFest 2015, the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, to see some of the wonderful crime writing events they had on.

It was my first visit to this festival, so bright and early (well, nine-thirtyish anyway) I met up with author Helen Giltrow outside the fabulous Jaffé and Neale Bookshop & Café where we grabbed a quick coffee before the start of the events.

First up was Lee Child in conversation with Mark Billingham – two writers at the top of their game. The packed out event in Chipping Norton Theatre passed in a flash as they talked about Lee’s love of Aston Villa, the origins of Reacher and the latest book – PERSONAL – that’s new out in paperback. It also sounds like there’s a new Reacher film based on the book NEVER GO BACK in the pipeline, with production starting in the autumn. It was a great event, with Lee and Mark on great form and plenty of time for audience questions (and for getting books signed afterwards).

Mark Billingham (c) Aston Photography

Mark Billingham (c) Aston Photography

After the session there was just time for some more coffee and a slice of cake at the Jaffé and Neale Bookshop & Café – I had the gluten and dairy free Clementine Cake, it was amazing!

Then it was just a short walk to the Town Hall for the Breaking Through panel with Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and C.L. Taylor, and moderator, Peter Guttridge. It was great to hear all about Mel, Mark and Cally’s routes to publication, and fantastic to hear that between them they’ve sold over a million copies of their books.

Then it was time for a leisurely lunch at The Chequers, and a quick (or not so quick) drink in the sun on the balcony at the fabulously named bar ‘Bitter & Twisted’.

Then we headed back to the Theatre for S.J. Watson interviewed by Peter Guttridge. It was fascinating hearing about the translation of S.J. Watson’s first book BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP into a film (of the same name) and great to hear an excerpt of his second book SECOND LIFE that’s come out recently. The chapter ended on a real cliff hanger and I’m very intrigued to read the book so I can find out what happens.

S.J. Watson (c) Aston Photography

S.J. Watson (c) Aston Photography

As we filed out of the Theatre it was the end of my visit to ChipLitFest 2015.

I had a fantastic day at a wonderful festival – a brilliantly smooth-running event with fabulously friendly people at every festival location. My only regret is that I didn’t stay for the quiz!

I’ll certainly be back in 2016.

Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

Check out ChipLitFest’s website at http://www.chiplitfest.com where you can sign up for their newsletter, and be sure to follow them on Twitter @ChipLitFest

And big thanks to awesome Aston Photography  www.astonphotography.co.uk for letting me use their fabulous pictures of authors Lee Child, Mark Billingham and S.J. Watson taken during the festival.

You can find out more about the fabulous authors mentioned above by following the links below …

Lee Child at http://www.leechild.com (and you can check out my review of PERSONAL here)

Mark Billingham at http://www.markbillingham.com/news.html (and you can check out my review of his latest book TIME OF DEATH here)

Mel Sherratt at http://www.melsherratt.co.uk (and you can check out my review of FOLLOW THE LEADER here)

C.L. Taylor at her blog here http://cltaylorauthor.com (and I’ll be reviewing her latest book THE LIE next week)

Mark Edwards at http://vossandedwards.com (and I’ll be reviewing his new book FOLLOW YOU HOME when it’s released in June)

S.J. Watson at http://www.sjwatson-books.com (and I’ll be reviewing his new book SECOND LIFE in the near future)

 

Event Alert: Chip Lit Fest – Crime Day, 25th April 2015

Chip Lit Fest logo

Chip Lit Fest logo

The lovely spring literature festival Chip Lit Fest has a day (and a package) especially geared towards crime fiction fans. On Saturday 25th April 2015 you can spend the day soaking up the festival atmosphere and listening to some amazing crime and thriller writers talking about their books and all things writerly.

Here are some of the great sessions they’ve got lined up …

10.00 – 11.00am* New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, creator of the Jack Reacher series, will be in conversation with bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham, creator of the Tom Thorne series.

12.00 – 1.00pm* Breaking Through: hear from bestselling authors Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and C L Taylor about what it takes to become a published author.

2.00 – 3.00pm* Nordic Noir: Three of Denmark’s most exciting writers – Sara Blaedel, Kenneth Degnbol and Dagmar Winther talk about the phenomenon that is Nordic Noir.

4.00 – 5.00pm New Voices: meet three new writers who’ve recently made a splash – Paula Hawkins, whose debut thriller The Girl On the Train had a huge buzz around it when it published last month, Renee Knight whose novel Disclaimer was an international sensation, and Jason Hewitt whose novel The Dynamite Room was long listed for the Desmond Elliott prize.

6.00 – 7.00pm* Second Life: SJ Watson, author of the bestselling novel Before I Go to Sleep will be talking about his latest book – Second Life.

Then from 7.45 – 9.30pm it’s the Chip Lit Quiz – hosted by bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham. Test your knowledge alongside writers and festival goers, compete for prizes and celebrate books!

And that’s not all, there are loads of non crime fiction related events, events for children and creative writing sessions for writers – it’s all set to be a fun and informative weekend.

With so many great sessions going on, I’m really looking forward to this festival!

For more information, hop on over to the festival website at http://www.chiplitfest.com/events/package/the-crime-festival and follow them on Twitter @ChipLitFest for up to date festival news.

 

*Indicates the sessions included as part of the Crime Festival package.