CTG REVIEWS: THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER by SUSI HOLLIDAY

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Here’s the blurb: “It looks like a regular advent calendar. Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors… and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one. The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years. But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station? As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…”

I’ve never read a serial killer book set at Christmas time before, but there’s something creepily macabre and don’t-you-dare-look-away compelling about the combination of Christmas tunes, tinsel and blood splatter.

In The Deaths of December, Susi Holliday introduces a great new police pairing – DC Becky Greene and DS Eddie Carmine. Becky is fresh into the job and as enthusiastic as she is tenacious. Eddie has more experience, and is more measured, thorough – or at least he believes he always has been. They make for a great duo, not always seeing eye-to-eye, but getting on and recognizing each other’s strengths nonetheless. And that’s important, because the case they’ve been assigned is a tricky one.

How do you catch a serial killer who’s been killing for twenty years undetected? He doesn’t have a specific victim ‘type’ and he kills in different ways, in different towns, on different days. The only thing that seems to connect the crimes is the gruesome advent calendar he sent to the police – but why send it?

As Becky and Eddie investigate the case it takes them away from their loved ones just as the festive period is beginning in earnest. They’re focused on the case, on catching the killer before he strikes this Christmas. They assume that there’ll be able to spend time with their families afterwards. But will they? Because the closer they get to the killer, the closer he gets to the ones they love…

Peppered with sharply observed Christmas holiday and habit references, this is a sparkly and blood-splattered read. It’s the perfect antidote to too much turkey and Christmas pudding – creepy, tense and twisty-turny as hell. I loved it!

Fans of police procedurals are going to want to make sure they’ve got a copy of The Deaths of December in their Christmas socking.

THE DEATHS OF DECEMBER is out on 16th November.

You can pre-order it from Amazon HERE

And find out more about Susi Holliday and her books by hopping over to her website and blog HERE

Book Launch Thursday! Quentin Bates, AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough & Steve Cavanagh

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The Ambassador of Iceland, Quentin Bates, and Mel Hudson

Last night I was invited to not one but two book events. Unable to choose between them – both were for fabulous books and great authors – I decided to try and get to both! Here’s how it went …

The first launch of the evening was for Thin Ice by Quentin Bates at the Embassy of Iceland. In the grand surroundings of the Embassy, Quentin’s agent, Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency, spoke about how Officer Gunnhildur’s no bullshit approach had attracted him to Quentin’s first book, and that it was one of the things that made the series a hit.

The Ambassador, H.E. Mr Þórður Ægir Óskarsson, proved he’d already read Thin Ice by saying he was pleased to note his home town – Akranes (about an hour’s drive north of Reykjavík) is mentioned three times in the story, and said that he hopes the next novel might be set there. And Quentin spoke about Thin Ice, and introduced Mel Hudson, reader of the audio books, who read a gripping extract from the story.

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Ayo Onatade and Susi Holliday in the cab

After a bit more chatting to all the fabulous crime writerly types, and a quick cup cake (made by Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and delivered by editor West Camel) it was time for me to make a quick dash across town to the second book launch of the night.

Joined by crime writer Susi Holliday and reviewer Ayo Onatade, we flagged down a cab outside the Embassy and hoped we’d get to the next event on time.

Just a few minutes late, we piled out of the cab outside Waterstones Piccadilly, hurtled across the road, and up to the fourth floor of the bookshop to the launch of AK Benedict’s Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts and Sarah Pinborough’s 13 Minutes. It was standing room only for the panel session with AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough and Steve Cavanagh (author of The Defence) who were all on great form talking to W!zard FM about their books and the process of writing (sadly no wizards were present).

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W!zard FM interviewing AK Benedict, Sarah Pinborough & Steve Cavanagh

Steve Cavanagh revealed that he’d not been to New York when he wrote The Defence, but got a sense of the place from films and television, and Google. This caused great surprise from the audience as he evokes such a strong New York vibe in the book – a testament to his great writing. Sarah Pinborough spoke about how writers draw on their own experiences and emotions as they write, and AK Benedict spoke about writing a character who chooses not to see (Maria, one of the main characters in Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts, wears a blindfold after having surgery to restore her sight, therefore the way she experiences the world is though her other senses). AK mentioned that she has Synaesthesia – a neurological condition where experiencing something through one sense (for example, vision) results in an automatic experience in another (for example, sound) and that this had made describing how Maria experienced the world one of the easiest things to write about. There was then a lot of laughter as Sarah held out her arm and asked AK what she smelt like. AK sniffed her and replied, ‘the sound of A Minor’.

All the fabulous books mentioned above are out now. Here’s the blurb, and the links to buy them:

Thin Ice by Quentin Bates

Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter… When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik’s premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season. Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, Eiríkur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day’s shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire. Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages…

Click here to buy Thin Ice from Waterstones

 

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts by AK Benedict

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 knew. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.

Click here to buy Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts from Waterstones

 

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I was dead for 13 minutes. I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal. They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it? 13 MINUTES is a gripping psychological thriller about people, fears, manipulation and the power of the truth.

Click here to buy 13 Minutes from Waterstones

 

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

It’s been over a year since Eddie Flynn vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial – and win – if he wants to save his daughter. Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

Click here to buy The Defence at Waterstones

 

Events Alert: BritCrime 2015 – a free online crime fiction festival on 11-13 July!

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BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime organiser and author, Helen Smith

BritCrime 2015 is a brand new sparkly crime fiction festival that will run for the first time from 11 – 13 July 2015. Instigated by author Helen Smith, the festival will feature more than forty crime authors taking part over the three-day festival.

The free festival – yes, that’s right – FREE – will take place entirely online. There’ll be live Q&A panel discussions on the BritCrime Facebook page as well as ‘Meet us in the (virtual) Bar’ sessions for late night chat and japes.

In the run up to the festival there’ll be lots of exciting things going on – giveaways, video sessions and interactive Google Hangouts. You can also sign up to get the festival email updates – and be entered into the draw to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

Participating authors include Quentin Bates, Jenny Blackhurst, Rebecca Bradley, Graeme Cameron, Steve Cavanagh, Tammy Cohen, Mason Cross, Julia Crouch, Eva Dolan, Steven Dunne, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Paul Finch, Helen Giltrow, Sarah Hilary, Susi Holliday, Jane Isaac, Amanda Jennings, Emma Kavanagh, Anya Lipska, Colette McBeth, M J McGrath, Fergus McNeill, Clare Mackintosh, Michael J Malone, Ava Marsh, Alex Marwood, K T Medina, Daniel Pembrey, J F Penn, Nick Quantrill, Marnie Riches, Craig Robertson, Mel Sherratt, Alexandra Sokoloff, Helen Smith, C L Taylor, Simon Toyne, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Sarah Ward – that’s A LOT of authors!!

Author, Mason Cross

Author, Mason Cross

And you can ask them anything! Want to know what sparked the idea for a book? – you can ask them; want to learn how to pick locks or how to turn your teenage diary into a murder story? – there’ll be tips for that too; wondering what it’s like to go from real life detective to crime fiction writer? – that’s something you can ask as well.

On Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th July the live Q&A sessions will run from midday to 10pm (UK time) with the ‘Meet us in the Bar’ sessions live after the panels from 10pm to midnight.

On Monday 13th July there’ll be highlights from the BritCrime Festival, a report from ThrillerFest (New York), BritCrime authors on tour: looking forward to Harrogate, Bloody Scotland and Bouchercon, and ‘What’s next for BritCrime? – more exciting stuff to come.’

Author, Eva Dolan

Author, Eva Dolan

So whether you love murder mysteries, police procedurals, private investigators, thrillers, romantic suspense or domestic noir (or all of them!) by getting online and involved, you’ll be able to take part in this fantastic new festival wherever you live – and FOR FREE!

So be sure to follow @BritCrime on Twitter, and then hop on over to the festival website at www.britcrime.com to find out more, register, and start thinking of all the questions you’d like to ask the authors …

See you at BritCrime!