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: THE DAMSELFLY by SJI HOLLIDAY

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What the blurb says: “Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She’s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie’s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie’s death. And it’s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother’s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…”

THE DAMSELFLY is the third book in the Banktoun series, and a real firecracker of a read.

Series favourite, DS Davie Gray is back, joined by DC Louise Jennings to try and work out who killed local teenager Katie Taylor, a resident of the rather ill-fated Banktoun in Scotland.

As always with this series, I found myself hooked fast and pulled deep into the small town whisperings and curtain-twitching claustrophobia of the small Scottish town. Katie is a compelling character, and although she is only alive for a short time on the page, she is a constant presence within the book, one that has you willing DS Gray and DC Jennings on in their search for her killer.

But they don’t have an easy task. Banktoun is a place of many secrets, and getting them uncovered is a difficult job. With the police no closer to an arrest, and the outrage in the town growing by the hour, it isn’t long before social media is used to incite townsfolk to take matters into their own hands. Someone is playing an evil game. Question is, who?

As DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings are soon to find out, in a town plagued by lies and resentments, danger can be far closer than you think.

I loved this book. It’s a brilliant page turner of a read with and a twisting, turning story that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s also gut-wrenchingly emotive, with vivid characters, and a creepy and stiflingly intense location.

An outstanding police procedural that had me captivated from the very first page to the jaw-dropingly shocking finale, THE DAMSELFLY is a must read for all crime fiction fans.

THE DAMSELFLY is out today. You can buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to pop over to SJI Holliday’s blog here and follow her on Twitter @SJIHolliday 

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

CTG’s TEN (+1) COOL THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT BLOODY SCOTLAND

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Slice Girling it up at Crime in the Coo! [L-R: Louise Voss, CTG, AK Benedict]

Bloody Scotland (9-11 September) was, once again, bloody brilliant!

It’s a super friendly and dynamic festival with a brilliant team of organisers and volunteers.

It’s hard to pick just ten things, but I’ve done my best and cheated slightly by adding an additional thing (so technically it’s now eleven cool things!!) – and added a bunch of photos to show the rest …

  1. Getting picked up from the station and chauffeur driven to the hotel by lovely crime fiction blogger @GrabThisBook after being on a delayed train for over 10 hours
  2. Raising a glass to celebrate Craig Robertson’s brilliant new novel MURDERABILIA and catching up with all my crime writer and blogging friends
  3. Hearing Daniel Pembrey read from his debut novel THE HARBOUR MASTER in front of a massive crowd at the Albert Halls
  4. Laughing till I cried at the (NOT) BORN IN THE USA panel with Steve Cavanagh, Mason Cross, Gordon Brown and Catriona McPherson
  5. Singing with THE SLICE GIRLS (Alexandra Sokoloff, AK Benedict, SJI Holliday, Louise Voss) at The Curly Coo bar as part of the Crime in the Coo event
  6. Marvelling over the mouthorgan playing genius of Stuart Neville (at Crime in the Coo)
  7. Cheering at the bravery of the pitchers at the PITCH PERFECT event
  8. Being fascinated by Neil McKay and Alexandra Sokoloff (chaired by Alexandra Benedict) talking about the nature of evil
  9. Watching a piper shoot fire out of his bagpipes on every top note in Stirling town centre
  10. Sitting back and enjoying the conversation between top-of-their-game crime writers Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine
  11. The England crime writers team beating the Scotland crime writers team at football (with some great moves – chesting the ball – by Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books; the only lady player).

Find out more about this brilliant festival at www.bloodyscotland.com and be sure to book your ticket for next year – I just know that it’s going to be fantastic.

You can buy Daniel Pembrey’s THE HARBOUR MASTER here

You can buy Craig Robertson’s MURDERABILIA here

Check out the GRAB THIS BOOK blog here

Check out THE SLICE GIRLS on Facebook here

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Confessions from #TheakstonsCrime (Part 1): Things CTG did for the first time …

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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.

Over the next few days I’ll be blogging all about it, and today I thought I’d share four things I did over the weekend for the first time …

 

 

 

1. Got a photo of the iconic ‘chalk outline’ at the front of the Old Swan Hotel

Okay, so I had to word this one very carefully. I couldn’t use the words ‘Took a photo’ as technically that isn’t true. I did see the chalk outline – it’s one of the iconic features of the ‘scene setting’ for the fabulous Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. I just didn’t photo it! Big thanks to crime writer Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) for taking the picture!

 

2. Sat in one of the Green Chairs

Another of the iconic fixtures at Harrogate is always the fabulous green chairs. They’re huge. High also (as I discovered). And almost impossible to get into in a ladylike fashion when wearing a long dress. I say ‘almost’ impossible, as with a bit of improvisation using a white plastic garden chair, and a few well timed instructions from the helpful chap already sitting in the other green chair, I was able to scale the chair-face in a relatively elegant way. I have the picture to prove it – here’s me and crime writer Susi Holliday (@SJIHolliday), sitting proudly in the chair. Photo curtesy of crime writer Rosie Claverton (@rosieclaverton) – who also provided the garden chair and removed the evidence!

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CTG (looking a bit grumpy – it was hot!) and Susi Holliday (looking much cheerier!)

 

3. Watched a panel from the front row reserved seating

The first two rows of the massive festival room are VIPs only. The room (well, two rooms joined together) that’s used for all panels and interviews is so huge that there are big screens halfway down it – same as at the O2 arena, or Wembley and the like – just so everyone has a good view of the action on the stage. Anyway, as I was looking for some seats to watch my mates on the New Blood panel (having arrived just moments before the planned start), a very lovely man from Theakstons said he had space up the front and I was welcome to sit there. So I got to view the panel from the front row (and what a brilliantly fun and interesting panel it was – more to come on that in my next post). Fabulous.

 

4. Sang live in a gym

Technically this happened in The Cairn Hotel rather than at the festival, but it’s in Harrogate so I’m counting it! On Friday and Saturday morning, The Slice Girls had band practice. We don’t get to practice together in the same place that often, and with performances coming up in September at both the Bloody Scotland Crime Festival, Stirling, and Bouchercon, New Orleans, we needed to try out some new songs and practice our routines. The best place for this was the gym at The Cairn Hotel. It has great acoustics and (as it used to be a lounge bar) it still has the bar in place – so we could get up on it and practice our moves. It was a lot of fun practising with my fellow Slice Girls – Susi Holliday, AK Benedict (@ak_benedict), and Louise Voss (@louisevoss1) and our dynamic maestro Alexandra Sokoloff (@AlexSokoloff). But it might have been less fun for the poor male crime writer (who will remain nameless) who had to run on the treadmill for over an hour to the sound of us singing our new number for Bloody Scotland!

 

Pop back tomorrow for the next instalment in my confessions from Harrogate …

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!

 

CTG Reviews: WILLOW WALK by SJI Holliday – out today in paperback!

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Happy paperback publication day to the lovely SJI Holliday and WILLOW WALK. To celebrate, I’m re-running my review …

What the blurb says: “When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight? When a woman is brutally attacked by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s increasingly bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he comes to realize that there has to be a link between Marie and the man on the run. It’s the only thing that makes any sense. But he also knows that if he confronts her with the truth, he risks losing everything. As a terrified Marie is pulled back into a violent past she thought she’d escaped, she makes a life-changing decision. And when events come to a head at a house party on Willow Walk, can Gray piece together the puzzle in time to stop the sleepy town of Banktoun being rocked by tragedy once again?”

Having really enjoyed SJI Holliday’s debut novel – BLACK WOOD – I was delighted to get an early read of 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.

Sergeant Gray is a fantastic character. In WILLOW WALK we find out more about his personal life, and about his relationship with Marie. When she becomes increasingly distant and her behaviour erratic, he struggles with what to do to makes things better. As he joins the search for the missing psychiatric patient, Sergeant Gray starts to see connections between the different areas he’s grabbling with – professionally and personally. As he follows the evidence, and begins to piece together the truth, he realizes that this case might be a lot closer to home than any other before.

A twisty, turning police procedural with a strong psychological twist, the tension ramps up page by page from the outset. Tackling some controversial issues, this is a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape.

Chillingly nuanced, pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s a great second book in the Banktoun Trilogy and totally unputdownable.

WILLOW WALK is out in paperback today. Click to buy it here from Waterstones or from Amazon here

You can find out more about SJI Holliday and her books here and follow her on Twitter @SJIHolliday