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’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.

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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!

 

#ThePlea Blog Tour: Guest Post by Steve Cavanagh – Influences. I’ve had a few.

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Huge thanks to CTG for letting me have a guest spot on this great blog. I’ve chosen to talk a little about my influences, and how they may have affected the books that I write, or even the way that I write. Style. That’s the word. At my first ever event as an author I remember being asked by Colin Bateman what I would say my “style” of writing was like. At the time, I’d written my first book, I’d been lucky enough to get a book deal, and I was working on my second novel, The Plea. My answer must’ve been disappointing, but it was honest. I said, “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I have a style.”

To me, other authors that I’d read and loved for years, had style. The likes of John Connolly – who writes in beautiful, poetic prose. His Charlie Parker novels are essentially gothic detective novels, but they are shot through with humour, warmth, and a good dollop of the supernatural. Raymond Chandler had style. His language was at times strange and wonderful especially in those extended metaphors. Michael Connelly has an almost journalistic style – a beautiful, unadorned simplicity that somehow transports you straight into the heart of Los Angeles and into the passenger seat beside Bosch. I also love the stripped back genius of Lee Child – with those tripping, declarative sentences that are almost musical. Speaking of music, Elmore Leonard played a tune in dialogue that few others could even get close to – perhaps only Ian Rankin is Leonard’s equal.

So having read all of those authors, and more, what kind of style did I have? At the time, I couldn’t see it. I think that it takes a few books to emerge. At the time I began writing, I never once thought about my style of writing or even trying to create one.

It’s difficult to determine how those authors I’ve mentioned above have influenced me or the books that I write. In asking myself that question, I can only think of one answer. All of them tell brilliant stories. And those stories are told in uniquely brilliant ways.

A style, I suppose, is the sum total of its different parts. So it’s every author that I’ve read, filtered through me. And no-one else can sound like that. If you asked me today what my style is, I’d still have to give a bit of a vague answer. I only know what I like to write. I like stories that start quickly, that move with enough speed to keep the reader hooked, and while all the fireworks are going off, I like to try and make the reader think. My language is fairly simple because I like it that way. I do aim for a twist or two, because as a reader I enjoy twists and turns. Most of my style probably comes down to character. If I can get my characters to tell the story, rather than me – the writer, then I think I’m going in the right direction.

Influences are like parents, you can’t really choose them. I’ve been lucky in that the writers that have influenced and inspired me the most are some of the greats of the genre. There’s not a bad book in any of them. Apart from the pleasure I get from their work, they also drive me to try and be a better writer.

That’s really all the influence you need.

 

A big thank you to Steve Cavanagh for making the CTG blog today’s stop on his blog tour.

THE PLEA is out on May 19th in Trade Paperback, eBook and Audio. It’s a tremendous read and an absolute must for all thriller fans. Here’s what the blurb says: “When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con-artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to secure Child as his client and force him to testify against the firm. Eddie’s not a man to be coerced into representing a guilty client, but the FBI have incriminating files on Eddie’s wife, and if Eddie won’t play ball, she’ll pay the price. When Eddie meets Child he’s convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the plea, Eddie must find a way to prove Child’s innocence while keeping his wife out of danger – not just from the FBI, but from the firm itself.”

Pre-order THE PLEA here from Waterstones or from Amazon here

To find out more about crime writer Steve Cavanagh hop over to his website at www.stevecavanagh.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @SSCav

 

 

CTG Interviews: Brooke Magnanti about writing #TheTurningTide

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Today I’m delighted to welcome the fabulous Dr Brooke Magnanti to the CTG blog to talk about her crime novel THE TURNING TIDE.

Brooke is the writer behind the best selling Belle de Jour books, and has a PhD in Forensic Pathology which she uses to great effect in THE TURNING TIDE – her first crime novel. Having read the book (it’s awesome), I couldn’t wait to find out more about how the story and characters were developed and all about Brooke’s writing process.

So, to the interview …

Welcome, Brooke. The Turning Tide is your first thriller, can you tell us a bit about it?
The story starts in Molesey near London, where a woman named Erykah MacDonald finds out the husband she was about to walk out on has just won the lottery. What she doesn’t know yet is that the money comes with significant strings attached. The very careful, anonymous life she struggled to rebuild after a scandal in her teens is about to be blown apart. There’s also a dodgy new political party trying to establish its roots on Scotland, and a decomposing body that washed up on the beach there – Erykah has to quickly learn who she can and can’t trust before she ends up getting killed too.

Erykah is a great female anti-hero; resourceful, determined and dynamic. What was the catalyst for creating her as a character?
Initially, Erykah wasn’t the main character – the story was told more or less as it is now, but from the point of view of the radio station intern, Kerry. And much as I loved the plot and the characters something about that just wasn’t working out. I realised that I was still trying to write as a twenty-something, someone who was the age I was when I wrote the Belle books. That’s not where I’m at now and writing twenty something when you’re forty something doesn’t really ring true. And there was this already existing character, Erykah, who was someone closer to my age, with more experience of life than Kerry, and who had more at stake, more to lose when things went wrong. As soon as I rewrote the book to put her at the centre of the story it all made sense.

In the book you have some great mortuary scenes and forensic details. How did your PhD in Forensic Pathology and experience in a mortuary laboratory help influence your fiction?
It was a huge influence. The layout in the Cameron Bridge mortuary is patterned like a smaller version of the Sheffield Medico Legal Centre where I studied, though a little bit smaller and a lot older. The techniques and equipment being used, as well – all the things that were used day to day at the MLC. While none of the cases I saw during my time there were exactly like the bodies in this book, I did lean pretty heavily on the many decompositions I did see in my time there to try to put together something that would be both realistic and unusual.

The story also covers social media use (and abuse) and tracking people through technology. How did you go about researching these aspects of the plot?
Nearly all of the social media parts were either something I have done, or seen people do on the internet. For example, getting someone to click on a link to a domain you have control over, to find their true identity… that’s been a strategy to unmask anonymous abusers since long before Twitter. When I was anonymous, I had to be very aware of what technology people might be using to unmask me, and to avoid getting trapped. It helped that I had a background in computer science and web design. A lot of other people have tried to be anonymous and didn’t realise what clues they were unwittingly leaving behind, so were quickly unmasked. Even when fashions in social media change the basic investigating techniques really don’t.

Brooke Magnanti with her book The Turning Tide

Brooke Magnanti with her book The Turning Tide

There’s a lot of ruthless political shenanigans in The Turning Tide. How did you go about setting up this element of the story?
I started writing the book before the Scotland referendum, and of course with no idea how that would turn out, had to follow the news very closely to keep up with all the incredible developments. Once you get your eye in with politics, though, it’s tough both to craft a story that isn’t too close to reality – you don’t want to libel anyone – and that won’t be overtaken by real events. This is almost universally the case in political trillers: the last season House of Cards is not remotely as gruesome as the current US election, and The Thick of It seems a lot like a documentary at times. It was a very strange thing to be writing about, but I loved it.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot the story out first, or do you start writing and see where it takes you?
A bit of both. I like to start with a big idea – in this case, it was how much the media controls what we think of other people, and how it feels to survive that – and then start putting characters in that world. From there, I try to keep to a chapter by chapter plotting plan. Though sometimes the characters speak up for themselves, and end up doing things I wouldn’t have expected. That was a fun experience with writing this. I really didn’t know, until the end, what would happen to Erykah.

For those people aspiring to publication as crime writers, what advice would you give?
Write every day. I can’t tell you the number of amazing elevator pitches I’ve heard from people over the years, but 99% of them never sit down and write the damned thing. Start writing, keep writing. You wouldn’t believe the number of unpublished manuscripts I have sitting on my hard drive. It’s all experience.
But also, you know, don’t forget to live life. You can tell the difference when someone is writing from what they know versus just going through the motions. Clare Macintosh’s I Let You go rang absolutely true because she had been in the police, it really stood out a mile. Books and expert sources can fill some gaps but you do the best research by living an interesting life.

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?
I’m currently working on a follow up to The Turning Tide. It’s not a straight sequel, but it’s set in the same world. You’ll definitely see more of the mortuary staff, and there will probably be a few other cameos as well. After that? I’d love to stay in Scotland, and I’d love to stay with thrillers. So we’ll see!

Massive thanks to Brooke for letting us question her about her latest book – THE TURNING TIDE – and her writing process.

The Turning Tide is out now, published by Orion Books, and it’s great read. You can buy it here from Waterstones, or here from Amazon.

To find out more about Brooke, like her page on on FaceBook and follow her on Twitter @belledejour_uk

To read my review of The Turning Tide click here

CTG Reviews: THE TURNING TIDE by Brooke Magnanti

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What the blurb says: “Erykah Macdonald has a nice life – the kind of life you’re meant to want. But on her twentieth wedding anniversary, she’s about to cross a line. Several hundred miles away in the shallow waters of a Hebridean island, a body is found. It’s been in the water long enough to make identification tricky but it’s clear this is no accidental death. Erykah knows she’s about to make a choice you can’t reverse – but she’s lived with secrets most of her life – she thinks she’s ready. The trouble is, there are far worse secrets than her own about to emerge. From the gurney of a morgue in the Highlands, to the media circus of the national press, and from the seemingly calm suburbs of London to the powerplays in Westminster, a net is tightening. And those that find themselves caught are willing to kill to get out with reputations intact. Erykah must work out what she’s capable of if she’s going to keep her head above water – she must leave behind her comfortable life and start breaking rules. She knows she should be scared … but sometimes, stepping over the line is the first step to freedom …”

Erykah Macdonald has spent over twenty years hiding from her past. She wears the right clothes, says the right things, and moves in the right social circles to hide in plain sight; but it isn’t enough. Her outwardly perfect life, and outwardly perfect husband, are not at all what they seem. Erykah feels trapped and has plans to break free, but on the day she decides to put her plan into action something unexpected happens, plunging her into a dangerous world of fraud, politics and murder.

What’s great about Erykah is that whereas a lot of people would have given up in the terrifying situation she finds herself in, she decides to use it as an opportunity. Smart and determined, she sets out to discover exactly what her husband has got them caught up in. As she digs further, she finds connections between her situation, the dead body washed up on a Hebridean island, and a wider political agenda.

Erykah is a great female anti-hero – she’s resourceful, determined and dynamic, and I couldn’t help but root for her.

Fast paced, with some fabulously witty observations, this is a gripping first thriller from Brooke Magnanti. Gritty and well researched, it touches on the 24 hour news culture, the trend around hounding and ‘outing’ people on social media and, through a vibrant cast of characters, explores just how far people will go to get what they want.

Packed with conspiracy, intrigue and political shenanigans THE TURNING TIDE is a cracking read and perfect for thriller fans.

 

THE TURNING TIDE is out now. You can buy it from Waterstones here and from Amazon here

To find out more about Brooke Magnanti hop on over to her website at www.brookemagnanti.com and follow her on Twitter @belledejour_uk 

 

CTG Reviews: JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS by A.K. Benedict

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What the blurb says: “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.”

Every once in a while you read a book that enthrals you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book.

Set against the backdrop of an atmospheric and familiar, yet at the same time unfamiliar, London, the story is both a gritty police procedure and the story of two people discovering, and learning to accept, who they really are.

DI Jonathan Dark is a unique and fascinating detective, committed and undeniably great at his job, he’s reeling from the break-up of his marriage, the loss of his home, and is struggling with self-acceptance. As the story progresses, and he is offered help on his case from some unexpected sources – ghosts – the world he lives in continues to shift and change, causing him to question all that he believed he knew.

Maria King is an assured young woman who knows a secret London. To her the lack of sight is a gift, and the world without it a rich and sensual place that she knows through sounds and smells and touch. Now that her sight has been restored she wears a blindfold in order to remain in the world that so enchants her. But when she becomes the stalker’s target her sightlessness makes her increasingly vulnerable. Refusing to give in to the stalker’s threat, she works with DI Jonathan Dark and his team to try to discover the stalker’s identity. As her and Jonathan become closer, the stalker gets angry, and those around Maria start to pay the price.

Beautifully written, one of the many things that stand out about this book is the lightness of touch and originality in the prose, and the use of acute observations that gives the everyday a supernatural twist.

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.

A stunning read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is, quite simply, marvellous.

 

JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS is out today. You can buy it here from Waterstones and here from Amazon.

To find out more about AK Benedict visit her website at www.akbenedict.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @ak_benedict

 

Orion Crime Night: The final word …

Brooke Magnanti with her book The Turning Tide

Brooke Magnanti with her book The Turning Tide

Last week I was super excited to be invited along to the Orion crime night – The Final Word in Crime Writing – where Orion publishing were showcasing all the fabulous new books they’ve got coming out this year. Held in the swanky bar ‘Christopher’s’ it was a fun night of books, bookish chat and wine!

As part of the evening, each of the featured authors pitched their upcoming book – timed to one minute by Orion’s Head of Publicity, Angela McMahon. Reviewers and bloggers were given a ‘dance card’ with each author’s picture and name on, and challenged to get a signature from each one. Once the dance card was full, they were entered into a draw to win an iPad mini! It was lovely to chat with all the authors and to hear more about their next books. Here’s a little taster of what to expect from each of them …

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

The sixth book in the PC Peter Grant series takes Grant back to London and facing up to the terrifying legacy of London’s hangings. Out in hardback on 16 June 2016. Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Aaronovitch

Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts by A.K. Benedict

This gloriously quirky and chillingly creepy crime novel has supernatural elements, and will ensure that you never look at London the same again! It’s out in Trade Paperback on 25 February 2016. Follow Alexandra on Twitter @AK_Benedict

AK Benedict and Ayo Onatade

AK Benedict and Ayo Onatade

The Dead House by Harry Bingham

The fifth novel in the darkly unique DC Fiona Griffiths series is out on 28 July 2016 in Trade Paperback. A police procedural with a twist, this is one not to be missed. Follow Harry on Twitter @Harryonthebrink

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black

The critically acclaimed serial killer thriller The Killing Lessons is out now, and not for the faint hearted. You’ll have to wait until later this year for the second in this spine-chilling series, but put 17 November 2016 in your diary now as that’s when it’ll be out in Hardback.

The Defence/ The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

It’s a great spring for Steve Cavanagh fans – his debut legal thriller The Defence is out in paperback this month, and it’s not long until the second book in the Eddie Flynn series – The Plea – comes out in Trade Paperback on 19 May 2016. Follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

The Samaritan/Winterlong by Mason Cross

It’s a great spring for Mason Cross fans too! Richard & Judy spring reads pick, The Samaritan, is out in paperback now, and the third book in the Carter Blake thriller series is due out on 30 June 2016 in Trade Paperback. Follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks

Mason Cross talking about The Samaritan

Mason Cross talking about The Samaritan

The Turning Tide by Brooke Magnanti

An intriguing thriller about secrets and lies written by the anonymous author of the award-winning blog Belle de Jour and Doctor of Forensic Pathology, Brooke Magnanti. The Turning Tide is out in Trade Paperback on 25 February 2016. Follow Brooke on Twitter @belledejour_uk

Blood, Salt, Water by Denise Mina

The fifth book in the Alex Morrow series will be released in paperback on 24 March 2016. A chilling tale of crimes and secrets set against the picturesque scenery of Helensburgh and Loch Lomond. Follow Denise on Twitter @DameDeniseMina

I Know Who Did It by Steve Mosby

The return of a woman seemingly back from the dead sparks a dark journey of innocence, guilt and retribution. Out in paperback on 1 July 2016 the next book from Steve Mosby sounds scarily intriguing. Follow him on Twitter @stevemosby

Hear No Lies by Robert Wilson

The next book in the acclaimed Charlie Boxer series sees Boxer uncovering trafficking, political corruption and crime on an international scale. Look out for it on 6 October 2016 (Trade Paperback) and in the meantime follow Robert on Twitter @RobWilsonWriter

Steve Mosby talking about I Know Who Did It

Steve Mosby talking about I Know Who Did It

A big thank you to Orion for inviting me along to this fab event. Look out for all these great books over the coming months and be sure to follow @orion_crime on Twitter and check out their Murder Room blog at www.themurderroom.com for all the latest news.