CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas (part 1): Psychological 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: Psychological Thrillers

There have been some cracking psychological thrillers out this year, a few of my favourites are:

THE NEVER LIST cover image

THE NEVER LIST cover image

The Never List by Koethi Zan

From the very first page, no, the very first paragraph, this story had me hooked. I don’t know if it was the terrifying premise – three women imprisoned in a cellar by a man they thought that they could trust; the unwavering loyalty to her friend Jennifer that the protagonist, Sarah, maintains despite the danger that in puts her in; or the three women’s determination, against all odds and all that had happened to them, to succeed in their quest for justice and uncover the shocking truth. Whatever it was, I just couldn’t put it down.

A chilling, page-turner of a psychological thriller with one hell of a twist at the end: a real must-read for all fans of the genre.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/09/04/the-never-list-by-koethi-zan/

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood cover image

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Holiday friendships: sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t. But they’re usually fun while they last, and don’t usually involve murder, unlike the holiday friendships made in Mark Billingham’s standalone thriller RUSH OF BLOOD.

A cross between a police procedural and a psychological thriller, this high-tension, fast paced, character driven story is masterfully plotted and flawlessly told. It’ll also make you think twice about striking up a conversation with the people sitting round the pool or beside you on the beach next time you’re on holiday! Fabulous.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/09/12/rush-of-blood-by-mark-billingham/

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cover image

cover image

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

“She’s gone and it’s your fault. You were supposed to be watching your best friend’s 13-year-old daughter, and now she’s missing.”

Lisa’s life is beyond hectic. With her family, her job at the animal shelter, and the demands of her friends she rarely has a minute to herself. It’s easy to empathize with her, and it’s easy to understand how she might overlook the odd detail. An odd detail that leads to her worst nightmare coming true.

I finished this book in 24 hours, unable to put it down until it was finished. It also made me want to go and adopt another animal from the local shelter. If you (or the person you’re buying a gift for) enjoy fast-paced psychological thrillers with an emotional kick, then this is for you.

You can check out my full review here https://crimethrillergirl.com/2013/05/02/review-just-what-kind-of-mother-are-you-by-paula-daly/

Coming next in CTG’s Xmas Gift Ideas [part 2] – Action Thrillers …

DOWNFALL by Jeff Abbott

UK cover image

UK cover image

What the blurb says: “’Help me.’ When a young woman rushes into Sam Capra’s San Francisco bar and whispers these desperate words, Sam feels compelled to help. A moment later she is attacked by two killers. With Sam’s aid she manages to overpower the men, saving his life in the process before vanishing into the night. On discovering that one of the attackers is no mere thug, but, shockingly, one of the most powerful investors in America, Sam searches for the beguiling young woman who asked for help and unearths a deadly network run by some of the most powerful and influential people in the world …”

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. Using first person narration for main character, Sam Capra, as he sets out to discover who this mysterious network is and why they are after the young woman, and third person narration for the other main point-of-view characters, Abbott weaves the stories of Diana – a young woman who has discovered a terrible secret about her mother, Janice – a mother who will protect her daughter at any cost, Holly – a woman enchained by the choice of her ex-husband, and Belias – a man who thirsts for power and control at the highest level – between Sam’s. The stakes are high for all of the principle characters; the question is who will succeed and who will fail.

This constant raising of the tension made the story compulsive reading. DOWNFALL is an action thriller and so as you’d expect there are a lot of action sequences and fight scenes. Abbott is a master at the fight scene – they’re dynamic and tense with a real cinematic quality, making the reader feel like they’re in the scene ducking the punches along with the characters. What I especially like about his books, and this one doesn’t disappoint, is the locations these scenes often take place in – for example a child’s bedroom in a suburban house (the child is at school) – creating a great juxtaposition and additional conflict between Sam’s desire for domestic normality and the nature of his job.

Tight plotting, high stakes and high action make this page-turner of story a must for fans of action thrillers.

Highly Recommended [As are books one and two – ADRENALINE and THE LAST MINUTE].

[I bought my copy of DOWNFALL]

Interview: Author David Khara talks to us about The Bleiberg Project

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cover image

Today, I’m pleased to welcome David Khara, author of The Bleiberg Project, a new conspiracy theory action thriller from France.

The Bleiberg Project is an adrenaline-pumping conspiracy thriller and the first in the Consortium Thriller series by the French writer David Khara. Are Hitler’s atrocities really over? This thriller full of humour and humanity was an immediate sensation in France, catapulting the author to the ranks of the country’s top thriller writers. It is now available in English.

Before we get started with the interview, here’s a little taster of the book (please note contains strong language):

Excerpt

“Besides work and getting high, what do you do all day?”

No answer. You’re out of luck, pal. I’m pig-headed. “The journey will seem shorter if we talk, don’t you think?”

He sighs. “When I’m not on an assignment, I paint.” I can’t help laughing. “You think that’s funny?”

“I’m picturing you on a stool with your palette and brush, gazing at a green valley or a snowy mountaintop. Sorry, but with your look and build, it’s funny!”

“If you’re just going to make fun of me, the trip is going to seem very, very long.” He clams up.

“There’s no harm in a little fun. OK, I’ll stop,” I snort, laughing even louder. Why do giggling fits always hit at inappropriate times?

“What about you? Besides driving home from clubs dead drunk, what do you do?”

Bastard. That’s below the belt. On second thought, I guess I deserved it. “I try to survive. I thought about blowing my brains out, but I’m too much of a coward. So I drink. I smoke like a chimney. Every day, I destroy myself a little bit more.”

“Suicide isn’t a sign of bravery, but of giving up. We all make mistakes. You don’t judge somebody by the number of blows they can give.”

“What do you judge somebody by, Mr Freud?”

“The number of blows they can take.”

His words hit home. “You’ve taken a lot, right?” I ask. A long, long beat.

“More than you can ever imagine.”

Why am I not surprised? This guy’s been around the block. I’d bet my life on it. “How do you do it?”

“Pardon me?”

“Blowing guys away like that. How do you do it?”

“Who said it was easy?” He sighs heavily. A long awkward silence.

(Excerpted from The Bleiberg Project by David Khara. First published in French as Le Projet Bleiberg, ©2010 Editions Critic. English translation ©2013 Simon John. First published in English in 2013 by Le French Book, a digital-first publisher specializing in best-selling mysteries and thrillers from France.).

And now, for the interview

Author David Khara

Author David Khara

So David, your new book, The Bleiberg Project, is a thriller with links to World War II. What was it that inspired you to write a novel along that theme?

The whole idea for The Bleiberg Project idea came while I was driving to my office, listening to the news. A pharmaceutical company was doing research on an orphan disease that touched fewer than 100 kids in Europe. A man said that the study was being ended because the budget was 50,000 euros short. I was stunned. These companies make tons of money, amazing profits, and 50,000 euros is a drop in the ocean. When I got to my office, I started looking into the subject and found articles establishing links between Nazi and Japanese scientists during WWII and pharmaceutical companies. I also found information about how Allied governments were interested in the results of immoral and incredibly cruel human experiments. Through my research, I realized the world we live in rose up from the ashes of war, and was built on the corpses of 60 million victims. I wanted to write about it, through entertainment to make it more bearable.

What research do you do to ensure the atmosphere, locations and characters feel authentic?

The answer is pretty easy: 1000 hours listening to survivors, watching documentaries over and over again, and reading biographies. The point was not for me to merely tell the stories. I needed to get in the minds of both victims and criminals. I wanted to be there with them. This inspired many of the characters of the series, even those set in the present day. And everything that happens in the past is, at one point or another, is based on the truth.

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you drive right in and see where the story takes you?

It is a very delicate mix of both. I’ve got a few dots I need to link together to get the whole picture. I do not use notes, nor do I write an outline. I know what I’m going to write, and since the novels are built as puzzles with chapters taking us back in time, I have everything in mind before starting. That means I constantly think about it. There is just no day off when I start working. Still, the absence of a written script gives the characters some space to explore unplanned directions. My job is then to make sure they don’t stray too far from the plot and my goals.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

My writing day is a well-established ritual. I write in my garden, a cup of coffee on the left side of my computer, and my cigarettes (bad, I know) on the right side.  I put sunglasses on, then headphones because I need music to keep me in the mood of each chapter. With that, I’m ready for 6 to 8 hours of intensive writing. I usually work from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening, with a break for lunch. When I’m not in the mood for writing, I go back to my research.

And what’s next for you, are you planning your next novel, or already well into the writing of it?

The Morgenstern Project, the third book in the Consortium thriller series, was just released in France, so I’m traveling a lot for book signings and interviews. My next novel is planned, and I’ll start writing it pretty soon and it is about time because I’ve had it in mind for three years now and lots of readers ask for it. The Bleiberg Project movie production should move to a new phase soon, which will have a direct impact on my schedule. 2014 will be a very busy year, believe me.

A big thank you to David Khara for dropping by to talk to us. To find out more about David and The Bleiberg Project, you can check out the link below:

Web page: http://www.thebleibergproject.com

The Bleiberg Project is out now and available via Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Fancy doing an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Thriller Novels?

English: City University The City University d...

English: City University The City University dates back to 1894 when it was founded as the Northampton Institute (being located in Northampton Square). It achieved university status in 1966, as an independent institution outside the University of London federation. It has always had strong links with the City of London and the Lord Mayor is the university’s chancellor. This attractive sign stands outside a rather less attractive concrete building on Spencer Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever thought of doing an MA in Creative Writing? How about one that specializes in crime thriller novels?

Well, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea, this could be the perfect course for you …

City University, London, added a Crime Thriller Novels strand to their already hugely popular MA in Creative Writing in 2012. I’m lucky enough to be one of the first cohort of students, and I’m having a fantastic time. It’s lots of work, lots of reading, and it’s challenging and encouraging all at once. I’d certainly recommend it.

Sound like it’s something you’d be interested in?

If so, you can find out more over at the City University website at: http://www.city.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/creative-writing-novels

Also, there’s an open evening on Wednesday 19th June from 5pm – 7pm, so you can meet the tutors and ask questions about the course.