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)

 

CTG Reviews: NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child [out in paperback today!]

NEVER GO BACK cover image

NEVER GO BACK cover image

Reacher fans will be delighted to learn that NEVER GO BACK is out in paperback today (27th March) in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and on Tuesday 1st April in the US and Canada.

Plus, as an added bonus, the paperback edition also features a quick peep at the next Reacher book – PERSONAL – that’s due for release later this year. Today you can also read it online by hoping on over to http://leechild.com/books/personal.php 

NEVER GO BACK was one of our favourite books of 2013 and here at the CTG blog we’re counting down the days until PERSONAL is released – especially now we’ve read the teaser on leechild.com

But, in the meantime, to get your Reacher fix check out NEVER GO BACK.

Here’s our review …

NEVER GO BACK – What the blurb says: “After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington DC, the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had. Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind Reacher’s old desk isn’t a woman. Why is Susan Turner not there? What Reacher doesn’t expect is what comes next. He himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn’t expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’ Will he be sorry he went back? Or – will someone else?”

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

So I’m not going to discuss the plot further than that because, quite frankly, you need to discover it as you read and I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

What I will say though is that this book is a little different to the majority of the others in the series due to the depth of connection between Reacher and Major Susan Turner. Reacher isn’t alone. Sure, you might say that in previous books he’s always teamed up with someone (often a woman) to sort out whatever situation he’s uncovered. But this is different. With Susan Turner the connection is way more than professional and way more than physical. This isn’t a knight rescuing a damsel in distress. This is a pair of knights, a partnership of equals, a meeting of minds, bodies and souls. And it makes for some gripping reading.

It also shows elements of Reacher that have been less touched upon in other books. Yes, sure, there’s still the great action sequences at the series is famous for, and Reacher is just as tough and able to win a fight (even with his hands behind his back) and he’s super smart at thinking through the complex problems that he encounters. But this time the personal stakes are higher, and so is the tension.

In this book, more than any other, Reacher has the chance to put down roots and, for the first time, it seems like he’s really considering it. Question is, after so long on the road, will he?

Highly recommended.

 

[I bought my copy of NEVER GO BACK from Waterstones book shop]

CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas (part 2): Action Thrillers

The holiday season is fast approaching, and along with it the search for the perfect gift. But there’s no need to panic. Hardback, paperback, audiobook or eBook, whatever your preferred format, books make a fabulous gift.

So, if you’re looking for a few ideas for the crime thriller lovers in your life (or you’re dropping a few hints about what you’d like in your Christmas stocking) here’s a recap of some of my favourite reads from 2013 …

Today’s picks: Action Thrillers

Action thrillers top my list of the many sub-genres within crime fiction. 2013 has been a great year for them, and some of my top picks are:

GHOSTMAN cover image

GHOSTMAN cover image

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

From the opening page this story hurtles along at a breathless pace. Jack is a mysterious character. Able to change his appearance, his voice and his persona in a moment, he is a true master of disguise.

At the start of the novel Jack reluctantly agrees to sort out the aftermath of a bungled casino heist as repayment of an old favour to the criminal mastermind Marcus. His brief is simple – find Marcus’ missing man and find the stolen cash.

This rapid paced, nail bitingly tense action thriller has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. This is a distinctive debut by 24-year-old novelist Roger Hobbs.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/02/10/review-ghostman-by-roger-hobbs/ 

The Blood Whisperer cover image

The Blood Whisperer cover image

The Blood Whisperer by Zoë Sharp

CSI Kelly Jacks has the skill and instinct to read a crime scene to rival that of Dexter Morgan (of the series, DEXTER) but without any of his serial killer tendencies. Having served her time for a crime that she still has no memory of committing, she’s picked up her life and has a job as a specialist crime scene cleaner, cleaning up the crime scenes that she once used to be working. Slowly she’s getting her life back.

But when Kelly and her work partner, Tyrone, are called in to clean a bathroom where a suicide has taken place, Kelly finds evidence to suggest foul play was involved. She questions whether the police should re-look at the scene. They don’t. But from then on bad things start to happen.

High on suspense and tightly plotted, the pace moves ever more rapidly as Kelly unravels a tangled web of lies, greed and deception that will take her from the streets of London to the world of horse racing via seedy warehouses, end-high escorts, plush offices and swanky apartments. I love this book for the pulse pounding action, the artfully woven conspiracy, and the fabulous characters.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/12/06/ctg-reviews-the-blood-whisperer-by-zoe-sharp/

NEVER GO BACK cover image

NEVER GO BACK cover image

Never Go Back by Lee Child

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/11/01/ctg-reviews-never-go-back-by-lee-child/

UK cover image

UK cover image

DOWNFALL by Jeff Abbott

DOWNFALL is the third book in the Sam Capra series and begins with ex-CIA agent, Sam, living in relative peace, working for The Round Table and enjoying his cover life as owner of a chain of bars across the States. He wants a normal life, and this is as close to it as he’s had in a long while. But his peace is shattered when a young woman fleeing two male attackers rushes into the bar and begs for his help. Sam leaps to her aid, and in the process kills one of the men. As well as bringing him unwanted attention from the police and the media, this brings Sam to the attention of Balias – a master criminal who can make a person’s dreams come true, for a price.

As readers of the series will have come to expect, the story charges along at a breakneck pace. The stakes are high and the constant raising of the tension makes the story compulsive reading. A real page-turner of a story.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/08/01/downfall-by-jeff-abbott/

[Watch out for the next installment of CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas: Crime in Colder Climates]

CTG Reviews: NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child

NEVER GO BACK cover image

NEVER GO BACK cover image

What the blurb says: “ After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington DC, the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had. Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind Reacher’s old desk isn’t a woman. Why is Susan Turner not there? What Reacher doesn’t expect is what comes next. He himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn’t expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’ Will he be sorry he went back? Or – will someone else?”

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

So I’m not going to discuss the plot further than that because, quite frankly, you need to discover it as you read and I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

What I will say though is that this book is a little different to the majority of the others in the series due to the depth of connection between Reacher and Major Susan Turner. Reacher isn’t alone. Sure, you might say that in previous books he’s always teamed up with someone (often a woman) to sort out whatever situation he’s uncovered. But this is different. With Susan Turner the connection is way more than professional and way more than physical. This isn’t a knight rescuing a damsel in distress. This is a pair of knights, a partnership of equals, a meeting of minds, bodies and souls. And it makes for some gripping reading.

It also shows elements of Reacher that have been less touched upon in other books. Yes, sure, there’s still the great action sequences at the series is famous for, and Reacher is just as tough and able to win a fight (even with his hands behind his back) and he’s super smart at thinking through the complex problems that he encounters. But this time the personal stakes are higher, and so is the tension.

In this book, more than any other, Reacher has the chance to put down roots and, for the first time, it seems like he’s really considering it. Question is, after so long on the road, will he?

Highly recommended.

 

[I bought my copy of NEVER GO BACK from Waterstones book shop]

CTG reports from Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival: Day 3

the big screen in the Albert Halls

the big screen in the Albert Halls

Onto Sunday, and it was hard to believe that the festival was almost over. But there wasn’t time to feel sad as I was booked into a full day of sessions.

The morning started with So You Want to Be a Crime Novelist? A bunch of eight brave writers pitched their novels to the panel – agent Mark Stanton, editor Alison Hennessey, and last year’s winner (and bookseller) Joseph Knobbs. All the participants pitched brilliantly and showed nerves of steel. Massive congratulations to the winners – Alex Cox and Dan Stewart – who both won a gorgeous Toshiba tablet.

Next was the Masters of the Dark session with Mark Billingham and Stewart Neville (chaired by Peter Guttridge). Both writers talked about how freeing it could be to write a standalone novel after focusing on a series, and touched on their research methods (like going out in a patrol car with a couple of Police Officers for the night shift). They also discussed the art of the plot twist – when it works, when it doesn’t, and when there are just too many of the damn things.

After lunch I headed to the Craig Robertson & Chris Carter session (again chaired by Peter Guttridge) entitled Chasing Serial Killers. They discussed where their ideas for stories begin – a murder scene, a motivation, or a character – and the strange places they can suddenly get ideas. Chris Carter talked about being on the beach when one of his story ideas popped into his mind.

In the final session of the day, At the Top of his Game, the ever-sparkling Peter Guttridge chatted to the ever-charismatic Lee Child with an audience packed to the rafters listening in. Peter focused the interview more on Lee than on Reacher, asking him about his own experience growing up, whether Reacher’s fighting techniques, including the head-butts,  are skills Lee himself honed (answer:  yes!), and what his plans are for the series (answer: three more books agreed, after that he’ll see if people want more – I expect that we will!). Of course Lee’s new book NEVER GO BACK was discussed, but as to whether Reacher finally gets to visit with ‘the woman with the great voice’ that he’s been travelling to meet for the past couple of books, well, I guess you’ll just have to read the story to find out! [No spoilers here!]

And then it was over.

All that remains is to say a huge thank you to Dom Hastings and his amazing festival team. Their friendliness, great festive spirit and endlessly positive responses to queries both before and during the festival made for a warm and welcoming atmosphere that I’m sure will bring people back to Bloody Scotland for 2014 and beyond.

[hop on over to www.bloodyscotland.com to check out the early bird offers for Bloody Scotland 2014]