CTG’s #threewordbookreview – The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

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Today’s three word ‘micro’ book review features the latest in the brilliant Tom Thorne  series – THE KILLING HABIT – by Mark Billingham.

Here’s what the blurb says: “We all know the signs: cruelty, lack of empathy, the killing of animals. Now pets on suburban London streets are being stalked by a shadow, and it could just be the start. DI Tom Thorne knows the psychological profile of such offenders all too well, so when he is tasked with catching this notorious killer of domestic cats, he sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen. Others are less convinced, so once more, Thorne relies on DI Nicola Tanner to help him solve the case before the culprit starts hunting people. It’s a journey that brings them face to face with a killer who will tear their lives apart.”

My verdict: TENSE. GRITTY. PROCEDURAL.

This is one of my favourite crime series and this book is another cracker – an essential read for fans of crime fiction and police procedurals.

The Killing Habit is out now from Sphere. To find out more and buy the book click the cover below and hop over to Amazon:

CTG’s Confessions from Bouchercon 2017: Toronto “Passport to Murder”

 

For the last six days the Bouchercon festival hotel – the glorious Sheraton Toronto – has been my home. It’s been a whirlwind of a week starting with a visit to Niagara Falls and ending with the launch of Scottish crime writer Gordon Brown’s latest thriller – Falling Too.

I’ve met some fantastic people, fought jet lag and hangovers, and eaten a lot of veggie burgers. Here are some of my highlights:

  1. Niagara Falls with the lovely Karin Salvalaggio and Jacques Filippi. If you get the chance to go definitely take the Maid of the Mist tour – you get very wet but it’s so worth it.
  2. Speed Dating breakfast – partnering up with the lovely Margaret Mizushima and meeting over 150 readers in two hours over breakfast. It was an early start (7.30am!!) but so worth it.
  3. Debut breakfast – another 7.30am start but again very worth it to meet all the other debut authors and readers (plus getting to eat the best lemon and poppyseed bread ever!).
  4. Talking about how I mess with Lori on the ‘My Poor Puppet’ panel with fab moderator Prof Dean Jobb, and awesome crime writers Steve Burrows, Blake Crouch, Karen Dionne, and Matthew Fitzsimmons.
  5. Being one of the debut authors on the ‘New Kids in Town’ panel with the dynamic Eric Beetner as moderator and fellow debuts Matt Goldmann, Kristen Lepionka, Jennifer Soosar, and Mary Torjussen.
  6. Hanging out in Quinn’s Bar with fellow UK crime writers William Shaw, Mark Billingham, Mark Edwards, and Guy Bolton.
  7. Dinner at Little Anthony’s with Team Orenda.
  8. Grabbing coffee and cookies with the brilliant NYC blogger Abby Crime by the Book.
  9. The whole Bouchercon vibe.
  10. Celebrating Gordon Brown’s latest book – Falling Too – in Quinn’s.

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 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 10 COOL THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT BOUCHERCON

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THE SLICE GIRLS at the HOUSE OF BLUES [L-R: Alexandra Sokoloff, CTG, AK Benedict, Louise Voss, SJI Holliday, Harley Jane Kozak]

It was my first time at Bouchercon and OMG it was amazing!

Firstly, Bouchercon is a massive festival – almost 2000 writers, readers, bloggers and industry folks all poured in from across the world for the mystery convention that ran from Thursday September 15th to Sunday September 18th. The atmosphere was electric!

Plus, it was held in New Orleans this year – a city unlike any other that I’ve visited – loud, bright, dirty, magical, shiny. A place of many contradictions!

It’s super hard to pick just ten cool things as in truth it was a whole week of cool, but I’ve had a go at picking out just a few highlights in words and pictures …

  1. Watching the hilarious IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE panel with the brilliantly funny Mark Billingham, Laura Lippman, Martyn Waites and Alex Marwood and chaired by John Connolly
  2. Hanging out on Bourbon Street with the most wonderful group of UK crime writers
  3. Drinking a ‘Hand Grenade’ cocktail – like rocket fuel, but with more bang!!
  4. Music, music everywhere!
  5. Seeing Darth Vader dancing in the street
  6. Being on the Continuous Conversations panel chaired by the lovey Austin Lugar
  7. Seeing Jeff Abbott (one of my thriller writing heroes) on the YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE panel
  8. Singing with THE SLICE GIRLS (SJI Holliday, AK Benedict, Alexandra Sokoloff, Louise Voss, Harley Jane Kozak) at the legendary HOUSE OF BLUES
  9. Playing up to the fabulous (and masterfully stern) Heather Graham on stage at HOUSE OF BLUES as she sang When You’re Good To Mama
  10. Seeing the genius that is Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville and Doug Johnston performing live at the HOUSE OF BLUES

Next year Bouchercon is being held in TORONTO. I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to be there!

Visit the website to find out more www.bouchercon2017.com/registration/

And check out the fantastic article written in The Independent by Andy Martin on the Bouchercon experience here

Confessions from #TheakstonsCrime (Part 2): The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2016

Val McDermid - Life Time Achievement Award Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016 Clare Macintosh - Winner Best Crime Novel of the year (c) Charlotte Graham/Guzelian

Val McDermid – Life Time Achievement Award (on left) and Clare Macintosh – Winner Crime Novel of the Year 2016 (on right) Photo credit: Charlotte Graham/Guzelian

 

The annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate happened last weekend and, as always, it was an amazing weekend of crime fiction, bookish antics, parties, and awards. It was a time to rub shoulders with like-minded types who write and read crime fiction, and to catch up with friends and meet new ones.

Here’s one of the highlights from the weekend …

The first big event was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2016 ceremony. Sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd and supported by WHSmith and The Radio Times the award is one of the most hotly contested crime fiction prizes and had a stellar shortlist.

After introductions from the festival organisers and sponsors, each of the six shortlisted authors was presented with a silver tankard and invited to speak about their novel. The shortlist was:  Time Of Death – Mark Billingham (Sphere), Career Of Evil – Robert Galbraith (Sphere), Tell No Tales – Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker), Disclaimer – Renee Knight (Black Swan), I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh (Sphere), Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail).

Then the winner was announced … Clare Mackintosh for her outstanding debut novel, the psychological thriller I LET YOU GO. I Let You Go was one of the fastest selling books of 2015, a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard & Judy Book Club winner. Clare was presented with the award by Simon Theakston and broadcaster Mark Lawson. On winning, Clare said: “I first came to Harrogate as an unpublished author so to win this award tonight is a dream come true. I would like to thank my publishers and agent for supporting me, everybody who has read and recommended I Let You Go, and the crime writing community for their endless encouragement.”

During the ceremony, a special presentation of the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award was made to the fabulous Val McDermid. Mark Billingham paid a heartfelt tribute to Val saying: “It’s fitting that Val should receive this award at a festival she was instrumental in starting, and it’s one that is richly deserved. She has represented this genre quite brilliantly all over the world, both in person and through her novels, which have earned her legions of fans and a place among the very greatest crime writers of all time. She is the Queen of Crime, and long may she reign over us.”

On receiving the award, Val said: “It’s an honour and a thrill to receive this award. The community of writers and readers at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is unlike any other in its warmth and generosity and so this means a huge amount to me. This year sees the publication of my 30th novel and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that.”

It was a fabulous high energy kick-off to the festival, and afterwards everyone spilled out to the bar and the lawn to congratulate the winners and much fun (and drink) was had!

CTG’s TOP TEN “MUST PACK” #CrimeFiction SUMMER READS

 

 

If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!

But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.

And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.

**drum roll**

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If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.

Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!

Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink

 

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If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.

It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.

Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings

 

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If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.

Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!

Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham

 

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If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.

It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.

Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter

 

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If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.” I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.

You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR

 

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If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.

At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!

Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh

 

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If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.

This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.

Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks

 

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If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).

Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict

 

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If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.

The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.

Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

 

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If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.

This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.

Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday

 

So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!