CTG Reviews: ONLY THE BRAVE by Mel Sherratt

Only the Brave cover image

Only the Brave cover image

What the blurb says: “When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion. DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies. As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.”

This is the third book in the fantastic DS Allie Shenton series following on from Taunting the Dead and Follow the Leader. Taking place over forty-eight hours, the story centres around a fatal stabbing – one where there are many people who seem to know something about the incident, but none of them are going to give up that information easily to Allie and her team.

Allie is used to working hard, but this case has more personal connections than Allie is comfortable with. History is dredged up when Terry Ryder’s daughter – Kirstie – turns out to be the girlfriend of the victim, pushing Allie back into contact with Ryder, something she would much prefer to avoid.

The emotional stakes are high in this story as Allie’s sister Karen, whose health took a turn for the worse at the end of the previous book ‘Follow the Leader’, is getting progressively more ill. Allie is torn between finding the killer and being there for her sister. Unable to choose, she tries to do both – exhausting herself both physically and psychologically. But as she gets closer to solving the murder case, there is another danger lurking nearby – a person who’s been waiting a very long time to get Allie to themselves – and as the book hurtles along towards its dramatic conclusion, Allie has to use every ounce of her determination and resolve if she’s to escape with her life.

Slickly plotted and a real page-turner of a read, ONLY THE BRAVE is a rollercoaster of grit and emotion.

Highly recommended.

 

[with thanks to Mel Sherratt and Thomas & Mercer for my copy of ONLY THE BRAVE] 

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)

 

Get in Character – get your name in Mel Sherratt’s next book WRITTEN IN THE SCARS

Written in the Scars cover image

Written in the Scars cover image

Clic Sargent’s 10-day Get in Character eBay auction ends this weekend and is expected to raise thousands of pounds for children and young people with cancer

Over 70 popular authors are offering fans the opportunity to have their name appear in their forthcoming novels. In addition, super-fans also have the chance to bid on having lunch with Lee Child or afternoon tea with thriller writer Amanda Jennings. And aspiring writers can bid on the opportunity to have their work critiqued by other top authors. 

The 10-day auction started on Thursday 26 February and ends on 8pm Sunday 8 March 2015. The highest bidders for each author buy the opportunity to have a character named after them in their next book, and immortality in print. People can also bid to have a character named after a loved one.

One of the fabulous crime writers taking part is Mel Sherratt and I’m delighted to welcome her to the CTG blog to answer a few questions about her writing and how she came to get involved with the Get in Character campaign. We’re also super excited that she’s given us an exclusive reveal of the fantastic cover of the book that the winner will have a character named after them in – WRITTEN IN THE SCARS (above).

So, to the interview …

CLIC Sargent is a great charity. How did you first get involved in the “Get in Character” campaign?

Last year, as part of a local charity event, I was asked to auction off a character name in my next book, ONLY THE BRAVE. One fabulous gentleman, Steve Burgess, bid £1000. I was so proud of this so when I was asked by CLIC Sargent to be involved with this auction too, I thought why not? It’s for a brilliant cause – I don’t expect to raise anywhere near the last bid but I would love to top the £100 mark.

Your latest book FOLLOW THE LEADER is just out, can you tell us a bit about it?

FOLLOW THE LEADER is about a serial killer who is one step ahead of the police while he seeks payback for his past. From the get-go, you have his point of view. There are a series of flashbacks before every murder that try to help you understand why that particular victim was chosen. But he’s playing a game too, leaving clues in the form of magnetic letters. It’s up to the police to work out either who he is or who the next victim is before it’s too late.

The novel’s underlying theme is bullying and how as impressionable teenagers, we either change or don’t change once we leave the school gates, and peer pressure, behind.

As part of the “Get in Character” auction you’ll be letting the highest bidder be named as a character in your next book. Can you tell us what that book will be about?

WRITTEN IN THE SCARS is about a family living on the notorious Mitchell Estate. It’s the fourth book in THE ESTATE SERIES. Each character has their own problems, pressures, hidden scars that define their past. Sometimes they are visible; sometimes they are burdens that they carry around with them.

So, you can’t see Donna’s scars left over from her broken marriage. You can’t see Lewis’s scars from his time in the army. You can see Megan’s scars but she won’t let you. And Mary can’t remember how she got hers.

If making a better future could erase the past, we’d all be for it, wouldn’t we? But as ever, there are consequences…

What was it that got you started writing crime fiction?

For me personally, police procedurals are about solving a crime, and getting justice, so I enjoy plotting the stories. But I want to show how crime affects individuals too. As well, the aftermath of a crime must be devastating for some and we all deal with things differently. By choosing dark and gritty characters, it allows me to dive into the unknown and twist everyday situations into ‘what if’ story lines.

I also enjoy writing about fear and emotion, and taking readers along on that journey with characters. Some characters they will like: some they will dislike, pretty much like in life itself.

I’m also a firm believer that there is good and bad in us all. It’s how we choose to use it, I suppose. As a writer, I like to take the ordinary and make it a bit extra-ordinary but still believable. I like writing domestic situations that have gone wrong too. Using different points of view can make stories far more emotional.

Which authors inspire you?

I am a massive fan of Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham. I read their books for pleasure but also to study them – not only the police procedural elements, but how to hook, set scenes, work in red herrings and give out subtle clues.

As well, I enjoy books by Martina Cole, Elizabeth Haynes, Mandasue Heller and Lynda la Plante. I found amongst their pages women of courage – strong women who were often knocked down but would rally to get back up again. More recently writers such as Colette McBeth, Clare Mackintosh and C.L. Talyor have given me hours of pleasure.

What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

I have two books out with my publisher, Thomas & Mercer, during the first half of the year – FOLLOW THE LEADER and ONLY THE BRAVE. As well as that, I have one or two of my own books coming out – one of those will be WRITTEN IN THE SCARS.

 

Thanks so much to Mel Sherratt for dropping by and answering our questions.

The Clic Sargent’s 10-day Get in Character eBay auction ends at 8pm Sunday 8 March 2015.

To bid for the opportunity to have a character in Mel’s book named after you or a loved one, and help the campaign raise thousands of pounds for children and young people with cancer, hop on over to http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Get-Character-Named-Character-WRITTEN-SCARS-Mel-Sherratt-/201289396764?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item2eddc8721c

 

CTG Reviews: Follow the Leader by Mel Sherratt

Follow the Leader cover image

Follow the Leader cover image

What the blurb says: “A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a magnetic letter in the shape of an E. Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing. As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert. The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next. The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must Follow the Leader.”

Follow the Leader is the second book in the DS Allie Shenton series, following on from Taunting the Dead, and it’s a pulse pounder of a story. The title might allude to a playground game and the story be structured around a nursery counting rhyme, but this is no light-hearted tale of child’s play. It’s a gritty, rollercoaster of a read, with a well-planned and intelligent killer leading DS Allie Shenton and her team in a deadly race against time.

DS Allie Shenton is a courageous and dynamic lead character. She’s proactive and smart, utilizing the skills of her team to full advantage to investigate the murders and work out the killer’s pattern in order to determine who will be the next target. It’s a difficult case to work for some of her team, especially when a connection to one of the local schools and old school friends begins to emerge. As the attacks increase, it becomes a harder case for Allie Shenton too – there are similarities between one of the attacks and the vicious attack that critically injured her sister, Karen, several years previously – an attack for which the perpetrator was never caught.

Packed with intrigue and brilliantly drawn characters, the story twists and turns at a rapid pace and pulls the reader along with the action, defying you to put it down – I couldn’t, and devoured the book in a single weekend! It also lets the reader glimpse into the world of the killer, showing the events in their life that have led them to the extreme action they’re now taking in revenge.

Artfully plotted, this gritty and emotive story is a must read for fans of police procedurals.

Highly recommended.

 

[With thanks to Mel Sherratt for my copy of FOLLOW THE LEADER]