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 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

CTG REVIEWS: THE DAMSELFLY by SJI HOLLIDAY

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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

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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

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#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 …

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#CTG FRIDAY #GIVEAWAY: #WIN A #CRIMEFICTION BOOK BUNDLE

 

Hurrah it’s Friday! That’s as good an excuse for a give way as any I reckon!

Today I’m giving you the chance to win a bundle of four fabulous paperbacks – perfect for crime fiction lovers.

The Prize:

AFTER YOU DIE by Eva Dolan is the third book in the fantastic Peterborough Hate Crime Unit series. Here’s what the blurb says: “DS Ferreira is back on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty. The first case to land on her desk takes her and DI Zigic to a brutal crime scene where a woman has been stabbed to death and her disabled daughter left to starve to upstairs. The murdered woman is Dawn Prentice – a woman who had come to Ferreira for help when she and her daughter were being subjected to harassment. As Ferreira battles her demons and Zigic clashes with another officer, the detectives realise that the Prentice case rests on one crucial question – who was the real target of the killer: mother or daughter?”

TIME OF DEATH by Mark Billingham is the latest book in the fabulous Tom Thorne series. Here’s what the blurb says: “Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up. But this is a place where dangerous truths lie buried. When family man Stephen Bates is arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates’ wife – an old school friend of Helen’s – who is living under siege and convinced of her husband’s innocence. As residents and media bay for Bates’ blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police townsfolk – and a merciless killer.”

SILENT SCREAM by Angela Marsons was an ebook phenomenon, now out in paperback. Here’s what the blurb says: “Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever. Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken the the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood. Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country. But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. DI Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades. As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?”

THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville is the first book in the brilliant DCI Serena Flanagan series. Here’s what the blurb says: “DCI Serena Flanagan is forced to confront a disturbing case form her past: the murder conviction of a 12-year-old boy who has just been released from prison. DCI Serena Flanagan hasn’t heard  the boy’s name in years. Not since the blood on the wall and the body in the bathroom. Not since she listened as he confessed to brutally murdering his foster father. But now Ciaran Devine is out of prison and back in her life. And so is his brother, Thomas – the brother that Flanagan always suspected of hiding something. When Ciaran’s probation officer comes to Flanagan with crest fears about the Devines, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.”

How to enter:

For a chance to win this book bundle all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below and including the #CTG hashtag) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway. [You’ll also need to follow CTG on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win].

Rules
(1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winners at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 10pm GMT on Friday 9th December 2016 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

CTG’s FIRST TIME “ON AIR”: TWO CRIME WRITERS AND A MICROPHONE PODCAST

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This week I was totally excited to join the awesome Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste on their brilliant TWO CRIME WRITERS AND A MICROPHONE podcast. Their hilarious show is a must listen for crime fiction fans – the guys are very funny and totally knowledgeable about all things crime and thriller – I’m usually laughing out loud as I listen!

Anyway, having been an avid listener of their weekly show, I was thrilled to be invited to take part, alongside my dynamic publisher Karen Sullivan, and uber blogger Liz Barnsley. It was a lot of fun to record, so I hope it’ll be fun to listen to …

Click HERE to go to the TWO CRIME WRITERS AND A MICROPHONE podcast site.

I totally recommend you listen to all the episodes and sign up for the weekly downloads.

And also be sure to follow them on Twitter @TwoCrimeWriters and like them on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/twocrimewriters/

#ASuitableLie BLOG TOUR: MICHAEL J MALONE ASKS SHOULD READING PLEASURES COME WITH A SIDE ORDER OF GUILT?

 

Today the lovely Michael J Malone is stopping by the CTG blog as part of his A SUITABLE LIE Blog Tour to talk about pleasures, guilty pleasures to be precise.

Over to Michael …

Heard the phrase “Guilty pleasures” recently? Used it yourself? The meaning of the phrase is fairly easy to compute, yeah? Something you enjoy buy feel “guilty” for doing so.

But I have a problem with that. Any guilt is apparently to do with being caught participating in an activity which is thought to be deeply un-cool by your peers.

The more I hear this phrase, the more it annoys me. One the one hand I can understand that at our deepest level we are social creatures and anything that puts us at a remove from our social group is largely to be avoided. On the other hand, we are individuals and if whatever I am doing doesn’t harm anyone else why should I care what other people think?

And who gets to decide what is cool or un-cool? Is there some arbitrary notion that hypnotises en masse? Or is it all influenced by a media that browbeats us every minute of every waking day with their choices?

The media is run my people just like us. Why do they get to decide what we should and shouldn’t watch/ read/ think/ buy? Someone gives them a job on a newspaper, magazine or TV programme and we should suddenly listen to them like they are the Great Collective Guru of Taste?

I caught and stopped myself using the GP phrase just recently when I was talking about books. I almost said Wilbur Smith was a (hangs head in shame) guilty pleasure. For the briefest of moments – I was talking to someone I wanted to impress –I worried that enjoying Smith’s books might make me look less of whatever mask I was trying to inhabit.

As I said, I caught myself and noted that I was a fan.

Are you a literary snob? Do you only read the classics? Are your shelves filled only with the likes of Atwood, Conrad, Austen and the latest Man Booker/ Pulitzer prizewinner? Do you rush to hide the latest Stephen King or James Patterson when you hear a knock at the door?

Why is popular fiction derided as somehow being unworthy?

Every year when our political leaders go on holiday it seems like they are rushing to tell the newspapers what their holiday reading will be, and it’s all very earnest. Just a couple of years back David Cameron tried to excuse his “poor judgement” in one such article by writing off his holiday reading as “trashy novels”. Which made me almost want to dig up Guy Fawkes’ grave. How dare he write off someone’s hard work as trash?!

My feeling is that there is only good writing and bad writing. If the book grips or entertains me why should I worry if the taste police look down on me?

I say, down with that all of that sort of thing. Let’s erase the phrase from our lexicon. If you find yourself kow-towing to this needless waste of energy, stand tall and announce your preference with pride and offer a biblical pox on the decision-makers of “good” taste.

Sounds like good advice!

A SUITABLE LIE is out now. Here’s the blurb: “Some secrets should never be kept … Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hid their deepest secrets, even if it kills them …”

You can buy A SUITABLE LIE from Amazon here

And to find out more about Michael, check out his website here and follow him on Twitter @michaelJmalone1

Also, be sure to visit all the other fantastic stops along the A SUITABLE LIE Blog Tour …

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Bloody Scotland Preview: INTO THE DARK with Malcolm MacKay, James Oswald & Craig Robertson

 

 

Another of the events I can’t wait to see at Bloody Scotland is the Sunday 11.45am INTO THE DARK panel with Malcolm Mackay, James Oswald and Craig Robertson. These bestselling writers know a thing or two about the dark side of human nature, and I think their panel on the subject will be totally fascinating. So, in advance of the festival, I thought I’d put a few questions to them, to get them warmed up …

Firstly, for those new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?

MALCOLM: For Those Who Know the Ending opens with Martin Sivok tied to a chair in an empty warehouse, bleeding from the head. As the story spools back to reveal the journey that’s led him here we follow two men, Martin and Usman Kassar, coming at organised crime from different directions, risking the wrath of the dangerous Nate Colgan as they test the value and limits of loyalty.

JAMES: The sixth instalment in the ongoing Inspector McLean series, The Damage Done sees Tony McLean with egg on his face when a raid on a suspected brothel goes spectacularly wrong. Expecting to find prostitutes and clients, instead the police interrupt a private swingers party. Investigating how their intelligence could have been so badly wrong, McLean finds alarming similarities with another raid, twenty years earlier, but when he begins to look deeper he opens up a nasty can of worms.

CRAIG: Murderabilia is my seventh novel and the fifth featuring DI Rachel Narey and her partner, photographer Tony Winter. It revolves around the pursuit of serial killer collectibles, something most people won’t have heard of but which is big business online. There are a number of specialist websites selling items related to killers and Rachel gets reluctantly drawn into this world after items go missing from a murder scene. There is often a high price to be paid for murderabilia – as Rachel and Tony find out.

You’re on stage at 11.45am – 12.45pm on Sunday 11th at Bloody Scotland – what can the audience expect?

MALCOLM: Well the event promises to explore the dark side of human nature, which is a slightly worrying thought. In the true spirit of Bloody Scotland I doubt it’ll stay too grim for too long.

JAMES: I’m really not sure. A hangover? The title of the discussion is Into the Dark, so maybe they’ll just turn the lights off? Seriously though, I imagine we will be examining the enduring appeal of tales that delve into the darker side of human nature. Why are we drawn to the worst in people and so fascinated by the horrible things they do? I don’t think it will be for the faint-hearted.

CRAIG: Revelations, insight laughs, shocks. All three of us tend to enjoy delving into the dark side of humanity and it will be fun to explore the psychology of that during the event. I’m keen to know what attracts James and Malcolm to that side of the genre and what it says about them – and me. I’ve appeared with both of them before and know that as well as being terrific writers, they’re fascinating to listen to too.

Bloody Scotland is one of my favourite crime fiction festivals. What makes it great for you? 

MALCOLM: This will be my third Bloody Scotland, and it’s always been a brilliant experience, laid back and friendly, like a gang of old mates taking a weekend to recharge batteries and gain inspiration for future acts of fictional criminality.

JAMES: I’ve been to every Bloody Scotland since it started, so I’m something of an old hand. The panels are always great and informative, but what I most like is meeting up with other writers, chatting with readers and generally relaxing for a weekend. So what makes it great for me? I’d have to say the bar.

CRAIG: Well I’m a bit biased because I’m one of the festival organisers and have been for its five-year existence. I like to think Bloody Scotland is friendly and fun, welcoming and a bit different. We try to think outside the box so events like Crime at the Coo, the crime writers football match and holding a play in Stirling’s Sheriff Court are what makes us what we are. There is also a great opportunity for readers and authors to mingle and we encourage that.

And, lastly, do you have any pre-panel routines, green room riders, or quirky foibles, that you’ll have to do before you go on stage?

MALCOLM: If turning up slightly late and terribly baffled counts as a routine then I’ve got it down to an art form.

JAMES: Boringly, no. Like most writers, I am something of an introvert. The thought of talking to a crowd of people fills me with sweaty-palmed dread. The reality of it has turned out to be a much better experience though. I spent a few years working as an Agricultural Consultant and that has been good training in public speaking. Farmers are a hard audience to please, especially the ones who’ve only come for the free food and a beer. Talking to people who are interested in crime fiction, or just writing in general, is genuinely one of the best parts of being a published author, and I’ve never really found it necessary to calm my nerves before going on stage. I get to wear my famous pink jacket though. I suppose I would feel naked without it.

CRAIG: For luck, I always read a chapter of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely written in the original Spanish then sing the first two verses of the Star Spangled Banner. In the green room, I have to have a bowl of red smarties and small glass of chartreuse. Apart from that, I just go on stage and make stuff up as I go along.

You heard it here folks, be sure to get a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel for an hour of revelations, laughs and shocks, and perhaps a few red smarties if we can wrestle them away from Craig!

Huge thanks to the terrific MALCOLM MACKAY, JAMES OSWALD, and CRAIG ROBERTSON for chatting with me in the run up to the fabulous BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.

It’s not too late to get yourself a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel. Hop over to the BLOODY SCOTLAND website and grab one quick at www.bloodyscotland.com

To find out more about MALCOLM MACKAY follow him on Twitter @malcolm_mackay and FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THE ENDING is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about JAMES OSWALD follow him on Twitter @SirBenfro and THE DAMAGE DONE is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about CRAIG ROBERTSON follow him on Twitter @CraigRobertson_ and MURDERABILIA is on the 8th September, you can pre-order it here

THE BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL is held in Stirling from the 9th – 11th September 2016. It’s a fantastic programme. Find out more at their website here and be sure to follow them on Twitter @BloodyScotland to stay up-to-date with all their news

CTG’s Bookish Confessions #amreading

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About ten days ago @bloke_book challenged me and a few others to confess our darkest bookish secrets. Having procrastinated for a little while, I’ve bitten the bullet, and am fessing up to my crimes against books …

Have you ever damaged a book?
Define “damaged”. If cracking a book’s spine before you start reading it is damage, then yes. I can’t help myself. Also turning corners down to mark my place. I do this as standard – there’s no point me having a book mark, I always lose it and then I lose my place! I’m also prone to dropping books in the bath (my favourite place to read). Some books escape with a tide mark around the bottom, others fall victim of a full drowning and have to be hung up to dry out! A book is there to be read, and it’s going to get bruised and dirtied up in the process – that’s my view anyway!

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?
I try hard not to. If it belongs to someone else I’m extra especially careful with it (I don’t read it in the bath). BUT I cannot guarantee not to turn the corners of the pages down – it’s a habit, I just can’t stop!

How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends on the book. Some – like an action thriller – might be a couple of days, others might be longer. It also depends why I’m reading it – if I’m on a deadline for review it has to be fast, whereas if it’s for me, for fun, then I can take my time.

Books you haven’t finished?
Loads! I’m easily bored, so if a book isn’t doing it for me I stop reading immediately.

Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?
Yes, but I’m not telling! What I will say is that spoilers can be a nightmare with books hyped from a long way before publication. I didn’t read GONE GIRL when it came out because someone had already told me the twist! (I think it’s a great story though, the book and the film).

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?
I’m happy to tell about any book I’m reading (unless talking about the book is embargoed until a certain date by the author or their PR).

Are you a fast/slow reader?

Both. Depends on the book and my mood.

Do you like to buddy read?
I’m not sure what this is. I like talking about books with my blogger friends and getting recommendations though.

Do you read better in your head/out loud?
If I’m reading someone else’s book I read it in my head. If I’m reading my own while editing, I read it out loud.

If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

One book!! *gasps* I really don’t know, but it would be a close run thing between Michael Crichton’s A STATE OF FEAR and Lee Child’s KILLING FLOOR. Or maybe a Jilly Cooper book – either RIDERS or POLO! Simply because with all these books I’d be happy to re-read them over and over and over again.

Now it’s my turn to tag some people so I pick: Susi Holliday, Liz Barnsley, Alex Caan, Rod Reynolds and Mark Hill.

And while they’re putting together their confessions, be sure to check out what others in the chain – @Bloke_book @andymartinink and @KarinaMSzczurek have already confessed to …

http://bookebloke.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/the-reader-confessions-tag.html

http://andymartinink.co.uk/2016/08/confessions/

https://karinamagdalena.com/2016/08/25/reader-confessions/