CTG’S BOOK NEWS: #MyLittleEye out in ebook now!

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Yesterday my first book under the pen name Stephanie Marland was published. It was thrilling to see the ebook delivered to my Kindle first thing in the morning (yes, I bought my own ebook!) and it’s so exciting to see the story out there in the world. I spent the day on Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram, and the night drinking prosecco!

It’s the first in the Starke and Bell crime thriller series and is published by Trapeze (who are part of Orion). The paperback will be out in April 2018.

HERE’S THE BLURB:

Can a group of true crime addicts take on the police to catch a serial killer?

Could you catch a killer?

Clementine Starke thinks she can. As a string of young women are found dead in their homes surrounded by rose petals, it’s becoming clear that London has a new serial killer; ‘The Lover’. Reeling from her own disturbing past, Clementine bands together with an online crime collective and immerses herself in the case, desperate to beat the police and catch The Lover before he kills again. But with the body count rising, Clementine discovers that trying to catch a killer is safer from behind a keyboard.

HERE’S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

‘The first novel in what promises to be a riveting new series, My Little Eye is a one-sitting read: gripping, clever and worryingly plausible.’ Mick Herron author of REAL TIGERS and SPOOK STREET

‘My Little Eye is an enthralling, intriguing and twisty tale for all of us armchair detectives who think we know it all.’ Liz Nugent, author of LYING IN WAIT and UNRAVELLING OLIVER

‘A clever, twisting, nightmare-inducing read, I couldn’t put this one down’ Chris Whitaker, author of ALL THE WICKED GIRLS

‘Ingeniously plotted and perfectly chilling, Marland knows how to ratchet up the tension and keep her readers balancing on the edge. A dark, mysterious thriller with characters you can’t wait to meet again. I loved it.’ Susi Holliday, author of THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER

‘A masterclass in pacing & such an original take on the serial killer thriller’ Eva Dolan, author of THIS IS HOW IT ENDS

‘This is a multi-layered, gripping read steeped in authenticity that will keep you up at night.’ Catherine Ryan Howard, author of DISTRESS SIGNALS

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE? 

Hop over to Amazon UK HERE or Amazon US HERE

CTG Interviews KJ Howe about The Freedom Broker

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While I was at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate I met up with fellow debut novelist KJ Howe to chat about her fabulous thriller THE FREEDOM BROKER. Over coffee, we talked research, writing process, and how she created the kick-ass action heroine Thea Paris…

Thea Paris is such an authentic all-action female lead – what inspired you to create her as a character?

I always wanted to write a strong female protagonist. As part of my research I went out to the Phoenix desert and trained in hand-to-hand combat, knife fighting and more. I’m a big believer of if you’re going to write about it you should have experienced it. I’ve got this rolodex of Special Forces guys I can call on – they read the book – and wanted to bring an authenticity to the page. I would have loved to have been a spy! I’ve been zip lining, cage diving with sharks, but I’m also feminine and enjoy dressing up – I wanted to show a woman can be a real woman but also really strong too, but not in a comic book way. Thea Paris has very human baggage and with her diabetes there’s a ticking clock – she has to have her insulin [which can be tricky given some of the situations she gets into during the course of The Freedom Broker]. I wanted to show that if you have a chronic illness it shouldn’t stop you, and if you’re a woman it shouldn’t stop you doing your dream job.

Thea’s job as a Response Consultant [kidnap negotiator/rescuer] is an unusual one – what research did you do?

I’ve spent the last four years immersed in that world and found out first-hand about what it’s like. As well as speaking with people who’ve been in real life hostage situations – like Peter Moore who was the longest held hostage in Iraq – I’ve found out about the world of kidnap and ransom. I attended the Kidnap and Ransom Conference – I didn’t know anyone, and it’s a dark, closed world – but I needed to learn about it so I could write authentically. Now I’ve got contacts all over the world – including special ops people, response consultants, a psychologist who specialises in hostage mentality, and security guys who protect journalists in war zones.

I wanted to do something fresh and unique, and I didn’t want to do FBI or Police as I’m not a rule follower – I wanted the freedom to go wild! Private industry doesn’t have the same restrictions, and it’s interesting how the whole system works – from big companies, to kidnap insurance, through to response consultants [interestingly, Lloyds of London are the people who first started selling kidnap and ransom insurance]. People can be insured for as much as fifty million dollars, and negotiators will often haggle down from the ransom demand – usually 10% or so. In the US and the UK the penalty for kidnap is high, and there’s also a 95% chance of getting caught. But in Mexico there are no laws on kidnap and a 95% chance of not getting caught – so it’s more worth the risk to kidnappers. Plus there’s no lack of potential victims – everyone has loved ones – it’s scary. With every book in the series I’m hoping to explore a different aspect of kidnap.

THE FREEDOM BROKER is super twisty-turny – what was your writing process?

I’m an organic writer. I do plan ahead, but mostly the story is held in my head. I do go back and plant things later though. You can’t fight who you are – if you need to plot to feel in control then do that. I find there’s a freshness from organically writing – the characters come alive. So listen to your heart and write how you want to – my style is ‘pants on fire’ writing. You can sometimes get into trouble writing organically, but for me it’s well worth the risk. If I get into a corner I think ‘what’s the theme of the book?’ – it’s often family – and can work out what next from there.

What got you into writing thrillers?

When you look at the book you’re reading and the books you chose to read there’s always an emotion attached to them. With thrillers it’s energy and adrenaline, with mysteries it’s puzzle solving, with romance it’s hope, and with sci-fi it’s wonder. I’m into adrenaline and energy – I’m a very action orientated person. I read David Morrell’s Brotherhood of the Rose – a spy thriller – and thought I’d love to be an author and be able to do what he did to me to another reader, to take them to another place – like Athens – and fascinate them. The Eye of the Needle and Day of the Jackal are great books. I grew up in different places around the world and wanted a character that can go anywhere – each book will go to different countries.

KJ HOWE

What words of advice do you have for those aspiring to be published?

Embrace criticism from credible sources. I worked on my book for two years and had to go on the journey – it’s 10% about talent and 90% about perspiration – and you have to be in it for the long haul. Everyone I know has been at it for a while. Write every day or as often as you can – get out the junk words and keep going! David Morrell is my mentor and he has a saying ‘Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else’ – only you can write your book. It’s like with me having had a very international life – I’ve lived in lots of places where the shadow of threat is always there – I can bring to the page what I’ve learnt. Be fresh. Unless there’s great writing and a unique voice don’t do something that’s already been done. Stay the course and get help – never bring your ego to the table. Although I’m published I feel like I’m at the beginning of the journey. I want to stay at it, keep getting better, and then getting word out about my books and reaching readers. Learn everything you can about this business. Do your own social media, and get involved and be part of the writing community (events like the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival held at Harrogate every July are a great place to start). I try to help as many writers as I can – playing it forward as I’ve had a lot of help from authors. You can contact me through my website and the ThrillerFest website [she’s the Executive Director of the fantastic crime writing festival] – I’m always happy to hear from people.

And with that the coffee was drunk and the interview was over. KJ Howe was a brilliantly fun interviewee and it was great to meet her and talk about all the fascinating research she’s done – she really is an action woman herself!

To find out more about KJ Howe visit her website HERE and be sure to follow her on Twitter @KJHoweAuthor

You can read my review of THE FREEDOM BROKER HERE and then hop over to Amazon to buy it by clicking the link HERE

And check out the ThrillerFest website HERE for all the details on this amazing crime writing festival held in New York every summer.

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

CTG REVIEWS: TWO O’CLOCK BOY by MARK HILL

 

Today I’m delighted to be a part of Mark Hill’s blog tour for the debut that’s taking the UK by storm – Two O’Clock Boy.

What the blurb says:

“TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.”

From the chilling prologue to the nail-bitingly intense final pages this London-set police procedural had me hooked.

Longacre Children’s Home burnt to the ground thirty years ago, but the horrors that occurred during the time it was open still haunt those that grew up there and the adults that had dealings with the place. Most of them just want to forget, but someone won’t leave the past behind – they are picking off the people who grew up at Longacre – and dragging back up all the secrets that have been burried for thirty years.

Enter newly promoted DS Flick Crowley and her mentor and boss DI Raymond Drake. Two dynamic detectives determined to get to the truth behind the murders – and also two people with connections to the Longacre themselves. As their professional and personal lives colide, and they try to piece together the evidence as the body count rises, can they work together to find the killer or will the memories and questions the investigation raises force them apart?

I loved this story with its strong procedural detail and gritty, authentic feel to the narrative. Flick and Ray are two great new police characters and, as the investigation puts increasing pressure on their relationship, I was fascinated to find out how things would play out.

The story twists and turns, ratcheting up the tension with every chapter as one-by-one the past residents of the Longacre are singled out by the mysterious Two O’Clock Boy. As more secrets get exposed, and Flick and Ray get ever closer to the killer, the pace accelerates to full throttle, propelling you into the edge-of-the-seat show down and shocking revelations at the climax.

The Two O’Clock Boy is a masterful debut and a real must-read for lovers of police procedurals and detective stories – I recommend you add it to your ‘to read’ stack immediately!!

 

You can find out more about Mark Hill by popping over to his website at www.markhillauthor.com and following him on Twitter @markhillwriter

The Two O’Clock Boy is out in paperback and eBook now – you can buy it here from Amazon and here from Waterstones

And don’t forget to check out all the stops on the Two O’Clock Boy One Hot Blog Tour…

 

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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

CTG REVIEWS: FEVER CITY by Tim Baker

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What the blurb says: “Nick Alston, a Los Angeles private investigator, is hired to find the kidnapped son of America’s richest and most hated man. Hastings, a mob hitman in search of redemption, is also on the trail. But both men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal that spreads from the White House all the way to Dealey Plaza. Decades later in Dallas, Alston’s son stumbles across evidence from JFK conspiracy buffs that just might link his father to the shot heard round the world.”

 

This is one hell of a read.

I’m a total sucker for anything to do with JFK and Marilyn Monroe, so FEVER CITY with its thriller and conspiracy plotlines had me totally hooked.

The story is told through multiple narrators, and across three timelines – two in the 1960s and one in present time. As the storylines of investigation, redemption, obsession and the search for personal truth intertwine, they give the reader tantalising glimpses of the full picture, and raise the stakes and the tension ever-higher towards the shocking climax.

It’s as gritty and violent as the most ruthless hitman, and as glamorous and captivating as the most beautiful femme fatale. And the writing is simply stunning.

FEVER CITY is a cinematic, mystery-filled thrill of a read. If you like your thrillers super twisty with an extra loading of suspense, you won’t be disappointed – buy it now!

 

FEVER CITY is out in paperback now. You can buy it from Amazon here and from Waterstones here

To find out more about Tim Baker and stay up to date with news on his books follow him on Twitter @TimBakerWrites

CTG Reviews: BONE DUST WHITE by Karin Salvalaggio

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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