CTG’s #threewordbookreview – THE MIDNIGHT LINE by LEE CHILD

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Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the fantastic (and certainly not micro) Jack Reacher series – THE MIDNIGHT LINE – by Lee Child.

My verdict: FAST-PACED. THOUGHT-PROVOKING. ACTION

(That’s five words you say? Yeah, yeah. So I slipped in a couple of cheeky hyphens – my blog, my rules!)

The Midnight Line is out now from Transworld. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

CTG’s #FreebieReadsFriday – #win Lee Child’s No Middle Name and my Deep Blue Trouble #Friyay

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Phew it’s Friday!

To celebrate the start of the weekend I’m running a competition on my Steph Broadribb Facebook page and giving away two paperbacks – thriller master Lee Child’s No Middle Name (short story collection) and my own latest thriller Deep Blue Trouble.

For a chance to win, hop over to Facebook, like my page and tell me in the comments below what your favourite Friday night treat is – here’s the link: Steph Broadribb on Facebook

Ps. mine’s a glass of prosecco, an orange scented candle, and great company).

I’ll draw the winner at random at 8pm on Sunday 28th January 2018.

Good luck!

GIRLS ON TOP: SEX IN CRIME FICTION (PART 1) with STEPH BROADRIBB & SJI HOLLIDAY #GirlsOnTop

 

Today it’s time for something a little different. Susi (SJI) Holliday and me, in conjunction with CrimeTime, have been thinking about sex in crime fiction. You can read our thoughts in a few places – the first half of our conversation here on the CTG blog, the second half over on Susi’s blog HERE, and the full article over on the CrimeTime website HERE

Once you’ve had a read, we’d love to know your thoughts – do you like a sprinkling of sex with your crime? And, if you do, what’s the most memorable sex scene in a crime thriller for you? Tweet us at @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday using hashtag #GirlsOnTop to let us know.

[STEPH] Let’s talk about sex. Sex in crime fiction, specifically. Okay, so I’ll go first – I’m not embarrassed – there’s a couple of sex scenes in my debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD. One is more of a cut away as the action happens, but the other one, towards the end of the book, is very much the action as it happens; my protagonist Lori Anderson riding a male character cowgirl style. I put it in because the scene felt right for the story and (I hope) conveys something about the characters, adding additional conflict and raising the emotional stakes of the decisions they’re about to make and the (negative) consequences they could have for their relationship. That’s a whole lot of subtext to put on a sex scene, but that’s my rationale.

Back when I was starting to write my novel, I was told that sex and crime fiction don’t mix, but that doesn’t seem quite right to me. I can think of memorable sex scenes in the crime thriller genre like Lee Child’s The Affair – Jack Reacher has sex as a train thunders along the tracks – and that chilling sex scene in Gone Girl between Amy and Desi – the book, and the slightly more bloody film version! But, now I think about it, I can’t think of many detective stories that have sex scenes playing out in full in them unless the sex itself is the crime to be solved. Surely there must be more and my memory is just playing tricks on me? To help, I’ve enlisted crime writer S.J.I. Holliday – author of the Banktoun series – to answer the question, do sex and detective fiction mix?

[SUSI] I really don’t see why not. When you ask people about this, you get very mixed responses. Readers (in general) are absolutely fine with serial killers, blood, gore, death and destruction. But throw a blow job in there and they’re skimming the pages faster than a quickie in the stationery cupboard.

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The Slice Girls [L-R]: Alexandra Sokoloff, Steph Broadribb, AK Benedict, Louise Voss, Susi Holliday, Harley Jane Kozak

Personally, I love a bit of sex. Slotted in at the right time, it can help add to the tension of your story, especially if the characters are having sex with people they shouldn’t. In all three of my books, there is a hint of sex – an encounter reminiscent of 9½ Weeks on a kitchen table in BLACK WOOD, where various food items are strewn around the kitchen… In WILLOW WALK, there’s a first-timer’s sex scene down by the river which I thought was quite touching (so to speak) and entirely relevant to the plot. There’s actually less sex in THE DAMSELFLY than in the other two. A thwarted BJ and an illicit scene in a lock-up that’s kept mainly off the page. It totally depends on the story. It definitely shouldn’t be shoehorned in if it doesn’t advance the plot.

[STEPH] Seems like Susi and me are on the same page about sex-on-the-page, but what about other crime writers, what do they think? We asked a few to find out.

Neil White – From the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre) – said, ‘Never written a sex scene. Too buttoned up. My mum will read it’ and Mason Cross – The Time To Kill (Orion) – said, ‘I’ve only included PG13 sex scenes so far, although I may need to change that for plot reasons in the new one. But Jeez, my dad reads these!’ So it could be the fear of family members reading intimate scenes is in the forefront of some writers’s minds (and limits them going all the way) but that’s not all. Chris Ewan – Long Time Lost (Faber) – said, ‘I almost wrote one yesterday and then … just cut away again. Performance anxiety.’

It also depends on the character. James Oswald – Written In Bones (Penguin) – said, ‘I don’t put much sex in my books. Tony McLean is incredibly repressed anyway, so there’s that too … on the other hand there’s auto-erotic asphyxiation and death by priapism in my latest, so maybe I do write sex after all.’

Andy Martin – Reacher Said Nothing (Transworld) – said, ‘Sad to say there are few explicit sex scenes of note in Reacher Said Nothing. I only looked over Lee Child’s shoulder while he was writing Make Me. I think there is the occasional manly handshake. But Lee – as straight as a die – had some wry remarks to make on the subject. “Never sleep with someone you know,” still resonates in my mind. And more recently he said that the most erotic experience he had ever had was a brief encounter on a train. They shared a moment but had no actual language in common. I think I may have been influenced by Childean minimalism, that “zero degree” of writing recommended by Roland Barthes. I was at a Norman Mailer writers colony in Wyoming recently when a brilliant Indian writer devised an elaborate sex scene about a dozen pages long. I wrote one, rather shorter, that went like this: “We had sex.” It’s not exactly lyrical or spiritual but it gets the job done.’

It seems, from the guys we spoke to, that male crime thriller writers generally prefer not to write on-the-page sex and to cut away before the act takes place. Mark Edwards – The Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer) – bucks this trend, he wants more sex in crime fiction, and said, ‘we Brits are notoriously squeamish when it comes to the squelchy bits. Wouldn’t it be nice if more of our great detectives were as skillful in bed as they are at solving crimes? Don’t you think there should be more people handcuffed to beds in thrillers because they like being handcuffed to beds?’

To find out what the female crime writers thought, why Susi hates ‘panties’ and what the trick to writing a good sex scene is, hop over to Susi’s blog HERE then come find us on Twitter @crimethrillgirl and @SJIHolliday and tell us your thoughts on sex in crime fiction using hashtag #GirlsOnTop

And check out the article in full on Barry Forshaw’s CrimeTime at www.crimetime.co.uk  and check out his Rough Guide to Crime Fiction here

Buy DEEP DOWN DEAD by Steph Broadribb here

Buy THE DAMSELFLY by SJI Holliday here

And you can buy books by our contributing authors by clicking the book titles below:

Neil WhiteFrom the Shadows (Bonnier Zaffre)

Mason CrossThe Time To Kill (Orion)

Chris EwanLong Time Lost (Faber)

James OswaldWritten In Bones (Penguin)

Andy MartinReacher Said Nothing (Transworld)

Mark EdwardsThe Devil’s Work (Thomas & Mercer)

 

More about Steph and Susi:

Steph Broadribb is an alumni of the MA Creative Writing at City University London and trained as a bounty hunter in California. Her debut novel DEEP DOWN DEAD is out now. Find out more at www.crimethrillergirl.com right here!

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up near Edinburgh and now lives in London. She works as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry and writes books set in a creepy and claustrophobic small town in Scotland where the crime rate is apparently higher than in New York. BLACK WOOD, WILLOW WALK and THE DAMSELFLY are a mix of psychological thriller and detective fiction, featuring the terminally unlucky in love, Sergeant Davie Gray. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com

 

CTG REVIEWS: NIGHT SCHOOL by LEE CHILD

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What the blurb says: “In the morning, they gave Reacher a medal. And in the afternoon, they sent him back to school. It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’. For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big. Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It’s a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad. Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine.”

Lee Child’s latest addition to the Jack Reacher series is Reacher #21 – NIGHT SCHOOL and I was super excited to get my hands on an early proof copy – black covers, very minimal (rather like the great Reacher himself). Or at least it was very minimal, till I travelled to Scotland with it in my overnight bag, and the glitter originally stuck onto the wrapping paper of a gift I was taking relocated itself onto the book cover. I guess I’m probably the only person with a glittery copy of NIGHT SCHOOL!

Anyway, back to the book …

Well, as always, Reacher #21 delivers the Reacher-style goods. It also forces fans to delay gratification on the present day Reacher/Chang what-happens-next question from the end of the previous book – MAKE ME – and instead takes us back in time to when Reacher was still in the military. Not an easy delay for an impatient Reacher addict like me to take, but as Lee Child pairs Reacher back up with Neagley I’m willing to concede it’s a fair trade.

And in NIGHT SCHOOL it’s fascinating to see Reacher back in the structured environment of the military – reacting to the confines of protocol and hierarchy, yet still very much ‘being Reacher’; hard-wired to do whatever is needed to get justice, pushing blocks out the way (or ignoring them), and challenging the status quo. There’s a strong investigatory feel to the story, with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and the pace whips along at breath-taking speed.

The relationship between Reacher and Neagley is complex and interesting – the mutual respect, the banter, the attraction yet inability to connect physically due to Neagley’s phobia of being touched. It was a joy to spend time with them in NIGHT SCHOOL and I’m hoping that we might get to see more of their relationship in future books.

NIGHT SCHOOL is everything you want from an action thriller – fast, hard and gripping. Read it now, then go back and read all the rest!

And, for the next book in the series – Reacher #22 (I’m guessing black cover, no glitter) what I REALLY want to know what happens between Reacher and Chang!

You can buy NIGHT SCHOOL from Amazon here

Find out more about Lee Child and the Reacher series at www.leechild.com 

 

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/

Happy August: CTG has “Gone Reading”

For the next few weeks I’m having a little blogging holiday. I’ve got a stack of fantastic books to read, some cool interviews to do, and I’m cracking on with writing the first draft of the follow-up to DEEP DOWN DEAD.

I’ll be back on 1st September with a revamped look and bursting to tell you about the books I’ve read.

Until then, here’s a sneak peep at my August TBR pile …

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Until then, you can catch me over on Twitter …