Monthly Archives: August 2017

Blog Tour – Kill Me Twice by Simon Booker *Review and Author Influences*

After really enjoying Simon Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace (read my review HERE), the first in the Morgan Vine series, I was eager to read the next book in the series. I’m really chuffed, therefore, to be on the blog tour for this much anticipated second novel, Kill Me Twice. Not only do I have my review but Simon has also taken part in my Author Influences feature for today’s blog tour post.

The Blurb

Karl Savage is dead.
He must be. His ex, Anjelica, is in prison for murdering him in an arson attack. Multiple forensic experts testified to finding his charred remains.
So when Anjelica begs investigative journalist Morgan Vine to prove her innocence, it seems an impossible task. It doesn’t matter that Karl was abusive. That Anjelica has a baby to care for. That she’s petrified of fire. The whole world knows Karl is dead.
Then he turns up outside Morgan’s window . . .

My Thoughts

Kill Me Twice is the second in the Morgan Vine series following on from Booker’s debut thriller Without Trace. I really enjoyed the first book and really looked forward to this one. While I have the benefit of having read the previous book in the series, Kill Me Twice stands up as a novel that can be read on its own.

What really appealed to me about this series is the fact that Morgan is an investigative journalist rather than a detective which gives this series a different slant and it, therefore, comes from a different perspective. In Kill Me Twice we meet with Morgan following the success of her book Trial and Error: A History of Miscarriages of Justice as she is setting herself up to help those who have been wrongfully convicted. This leads her to assist in the case of Anjelica Fry, a mother currently in prison for the murder of her partner and baby’s father Karl Savage. But is Karl Savage actually dead?

Booker has created great characters for this series. Morgan is an independent, tenacious single mother who will not give up on what she believes to be the truth even when those around her doubt her. Lissa her twenty-year-old daughter again plays a large part in this book. I’m not keen on Lissa, she is not particularly likeable and comes across as a bit of a spoilt brat although I sense a vulnerability about her that I don’t yet fully understand. This adds to the series in that it gives you a contrast of characters and Lissa, while I don’t like her, would be a miss as she adds to the trouble that Morgan faces and I feel that there is more to learn about her.

I always like it when we gain an insight into the antagonist and the writer gives them depth making them a fully rounded character. Booker has written the character of Karl Savage in such a way that while he is utterly despicable you understand why and how he ended up being this way and at points I did feel a degree of sympathy for him. This adds an additional layer to Kill Me Twice.

Kill Me Twice took me on a journey I really wasn’t expecting, I had read the blurb (and actually remembered what the synopsis of the book was, which is pretty amazing for me!) and, I guess, I was expecting a certain plot direction. Kill Me Twice’s trajectory ended up being far, far removed from the average storyline. While Morgan expects to be assisting in a miscarriage of justice case her relationship with Anjelica ends up in her discovering a seedy underground business that relies on vulnerable women to propel it forward and, ultimately, becomes very personal.

Booker’s use of short, punchy sentences in the first chapter are incredibly effective in building up tension, a sense of unease and ensures that the atmosphere and tone of the book is set. You just know that Booker is going to take you to some dark places.

A complex story that is well written and well plotted, Kill Me Twice takes you on one hell of a ride. The ending shocked me and had me muttering ‘oh my God’ to the book. A deliciously dark read that has me eagerly awaiting the third in the series.

Published on 24 August 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre.

Simon now takes over to tell you about his author influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was hooked on Sherlock Holmes from the age of 10.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
My ‘best’ subject. I wrote and performed plays too, which gave me my first taste of applause. Been hooked ever since.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of crime but it can become a busman’s holiday.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve written rom coms for TV (as well as crime), including Perfect Strangers starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel. A good rom com is a work of genius, but they’re few and far between, eg, When Harry Met Sally and The Apartment.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Conan Doyle, for the reason above.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Sarah Waters is unmissable.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
More films than books (see above). If I could have written When Harry Met Sally, Little Miss Sunshine or Sideways I would die a happy man.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My heroine Morgan Vine is obsessed by miscarriages of justice, and so am I. True story: my ex wife is now married to a man who spend 26 years in a US prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Thank you for taking part Simon!

You can get a FREE Morgan Vine short story and find out more about my books Kill Me Twice and Without Trace at simonbooker.com

Follow me on Twitter @simonbooker

A huge thank you to Simon Booker and Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Follow the rest of the tour…

 

Author Influences with Anita Waller

Psychological thriller writer Anita Waller joins me today to talk about the books and authors that have influenced her life and writing.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Enid Blyton. I am currently re-reading her ‘Adventure’ series – Sea of Adventure, Circus of Adventure etc. I loved all her books.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Loved it, and always top marks. It started in my primary school, and continued all my life. I eventually took my A level in English when I was 42!

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Psychological thrillers, horror, supernatural. I write psychological thrillers as a rule, but I have written one supernatural, Winterscroft.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I don’t think I could because murder would creep into it, whatever it may have started out as!

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
No, the need to write has been there for always. I clearly remember attempting to write novels when I was only eight years old. I did attempt to write romance, and I actually have six romance novels already written, but I was always looking for a way to bring crime into them, and that’s when I realised I was writing in the wrong genre. Now I am happy!

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
J D Robb, Camilla Lackberg, and, until his death, Henning Mankell. And Stephen King, of course (that goes without saying).

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The Hidden Island, by Angela Corner. The descriptive passages are superb, and the location sounds awesome. I loved this book. The plotline, although brilliant, was almost secondary to the quality of the writing, and as I finished it I immediately thought, I wish I had written that.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
My current WIP is based on a true-life story told to me. I am changing things to protect the innocents (me) but it’s a fantastic storyline.

A huge thank you Anita for taking part. 

Anita’s latest book Strategy was published on 31 July 2017 by Bloodhound Books. Here is what it’s about…

How much can one family take? 

Jenny Carbrook murdered three people to make it look as though there was a serial killer at work in Lincoln, when the only person she wanted to kill was Ray Carbrook, her father-in-law, who had raped her the week before her marriage to Mark, Ray’s son.

Jenny wrote letters detailing her crimes in order to protect everyone she loved, but was forced to go into hiding before retrieving the evidence against her.  Not only did she leave the letters behind but also her young daughter, Grace.

Now Jenny has a plan, a strategy, to get the letters back. But it’s not only the letters that Jenny has in her sights…

About Anita Waller

My name is Anita Waller, and I was born in Sheffield, UK, way back in 1946. I have been married for just over fifty years to Dave, and we have produced three amazing children, all now grown up and flown.
I have always written and my first published book, Beautiful, was taken on by Bloodhound Books and launched in August, 2015. It soon became apparent that I needed to write a sequel, and so Angel was launched in May, 2016. I had already started writing 34 Days immediately after Beautiful, but put it to one side until I completed Angel. I then resurrected it, and 34 Days launched in October 2016. This was a massive seller, particularly in the United States. In the UK it reached 26 in the top 100 paid charts.
By this time, I was already re-writing a lost manuscript I wrote back in 1990 or thereabouts, so I completed Winterscroft and Bloodhound launched it in February 2017. Number five is now about to be launched, and it is the much-requested sequel to 34 Days, called Strategy. This will be released on 10 August 2017. It has been an amazing two years with the publication of five books.
I have now started my sixth book, as yet unnamed, and still in the psychological thriller genre.
I write about murder, necessary murder.

Website: www.anitamayw.wixsite.com/anitawaller

Twitter: @anitamayw

Facebook: @anitawaller2015

Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Anita-Waller/e/B014RQFCRS/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1496767924&sr=8-2-ent

 

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett – Launch Giveaway!

I am delighted to be taking part in the launch celebrations of The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett today and have a brilliant giveaway for you! Lilly’s new book is out on the 18th August 2017 and published by HarperImpulse. What’s the book about? I hear you ask … here is the all important blurb:

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett.

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!

Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face when you check into the hotel that’s full of dreams…

Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

To celebrate Lilly is giving away a personally inscribed edition of The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square. Here’s the details…

You’re warmly invited to the Wedding of the Century with all your favourite friends. It’s the most vintage fun you’ll have this year!

To WIN a personally inscribed paperback of this gorgeous book, simply sign up here:

http://eepurl.com/b96-Yz

Winners will be randomly selected and notified on August 18th via the email used to sign up.

Good luck everybody!

Author Influences with Jack Steele

Joining me for this week’s Author Influences is crime thriller novelist Jack Steele. Grab a cuppa and be prepared for your TBR list to grow as Jack tells us about his favourite authors and books.

Hi Abbie, thanks for the invite, it’s great to be here! 

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Roald Dahl was a favourite author of mine. The two books I really loved were James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I would read these over and over again.
I enjoyed the ‘Peanuts’ collection of books by Charles M Shultz eager to read every one of the cartoon stories involving Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang.
The frequent visits to the library meant that other books that were temporary occupants on my shelf were The Cat in the Hat by Dr Suess, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis, The Railway Children by E.Nesbit and The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Yes, I loved it. I have a vivid imagination probably due to growing up as an only child. I would read all the time and make up my own stories. If only I hadn’t lost them! Just to be able to reminisce on my thoughts back then.
My English Teacher, Bernard Phillips, was able to add drama to the readings in his class. He would encourage us to emphasis the sentences especially those written by Shakespeare. That’s why The Merchant of Venice is such a favourite of mine and had such an impact on my writing. Through the eyes of Shylock, what he wanted was justified, but to everyone else it was an outrage.
The final scene of my crime thriller Long Shot has the perpetrator of the crimes justifying their actions to Detective Joe Stone who is trying to come to terms with the events and the person who did them.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I enjoy most genres – comedy, science fiction, horror, dystopian, supernatural, dark fantasy but crime thrillers are my favourite. I started to read the Alex Cross series by James Patterson and found them an easy read with short chapters and this style of writing had an impact on my style. Fast – paced page turners with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I have a few unfinished stories which are dystopian. Set in modern day but with events about to turn for the worst. It was mainly about fending for oneself when all about you is falling to pieces.
I have always had dreams/nightmares about being chased or I am doing the chasing! Probably watching too many movies/ TV programmes like The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Divergent, Mad Max and I am Legend.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Definitely James Patterson focused my attention to writing crime thrillers. I had the stories rattling around in my head for what seemed an age but I never found the time to sit down and write! When I watched a few TV programmes that were vaguely similar to my stories it was then that I decided to write not one but a series of books, providing the response was there! Thankfully I was encouraged to write the sequel and now I have the first draft of book 3 down!

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
James Patterson obviously but I have also started to read his Women’s Murder Club stories as well.
I have the good fortune to meet up with other authors at events like Harrogate’s Crime Festival and other local get-togethers. I really enjoy reading Barbara Copperthwaite, Tara Lyons, K.L.Slater and Shalini Boland books.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
That has to be Brighton Rock by Grahame Greene. I loved the gangster element and all the characters in the book. When the ending had a twist that was the moment I thought Wow!

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Thankfully no Abbie!
I had sent ARC’s to my reading group and readers who enjoyed my debut novel Loose Cannon. A few weeks later as the great reviews were coming in, I read in a Sunday Newspaper article that the government was considering forming a new anti-terrorist unit. This was one of the themes in Long Shot and despite being a work of fiction, parts of it could actually become fact.

A huge thank you Jack for taking part. I really enjoyed reading your responses!

 

The first two Detective Joe Stone novels Loose Cannon and Long Shot are out now! Here’s what they are about …

Loose Cannon

Detective Joe Stone has worked hard to reduce crime in and around London’s East End. The London Mafia had been instrumental in the operation; but is now being targeted by a serial killer. Stone is in a race against time to find and stop the psychopath before a gangland civil war breaks out.

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

Long Shot

Detective Joe Stone and his team investigate a major terrorist attack on one of London’s most iconic buildings. They soon draw up a list of suspects who are highly respected members of the community and government. When most of his team is attacked, it soon develops into a war of nerves and a race against time before a deadly weapon is unleashed with horrific consequences.

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

About Jack Steele

I was born in Hackney, London and grew up on the Bannister House Housing Estate in Hommerton. I now live in Nottinghamshire and married with two grown up children who now have lives of their own, leaving me time to indulge in my favourite passions, reading and writing. I still work full-time in the printing industry which is where I have been for the past 40 years. On many occasions it interferes with my writing, working extra hours or weekends, so it can be a balancing act but one I seem to manage along with an understanding wife of course.

I spent five years researching books, magazines, documentaries, movies and internet articles on various subjects as well as completing a creative writing course and attending workshops run by the Nottingham Writers Studio.

It was a great achievement in 2016 when I published my first Crime Thriller novel Loose Cannon with great reviews. It was the first in the Detective Joe Stone series and I was encouraged to write the sequel Long Shot which is due for publication on July 29th 2017.

My writing style is a fast-paced page turner with cliff hangers, moral dilemmas and believable characters.

I would like to thank all my readers, editors, bloggers and Crime book club friends who like you Abbie have been so supportive through this process. Your encouragement drives me on to write the next book in the series.

Aww Jack, it’s a pleasure!

Website: http://www.jacksteeleauthor.com/
Social Media sites:
Facebook: Jack.steele.31508
Twitter: JackSteele1961
Instagram: Jack_steele1

Cover Reveal and Prologue – Broken Bones by Angela Marsons

I am beyond excited tonight to be able to reveal to you the cover for the next DI Kim Stone novel by Angela Marsons and … wait for it … I also have a teaser for you as I am able to share the prologue! EEEEEKKKK!!!!!

So, what’s Broken Bones all about?

They thought they were safe. They were wrong.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As three more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light.

A gripping new crime thriller from the Number One bestseller – you will be hooked until the final jaw-dropping twist.

Oh my God, how good does that sound??? And the cover for Broken Bones looks pretty damn good too…

You can pre-order Broken Bones now and get it sent straight to your Kindle on publication day by following these links:

UK: http://amzn.to/2wwkvci
US: http://amzn.to/2vDLPsP

And if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, here’s a sneaky peek at the prologue…

Black Country
Christmas Day

Elaine Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid on to her bare feet dangling over the edge.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over.

By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection.

From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean.

Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and placed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No-one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queens speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a bottle of Gin in her hand.

But at least Elaine had this. Her one piece of heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan. She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.

Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Elaine took a deep breath and exhaled.

In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her.

Sounds like it’s going to be another absolute belter!

About Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons is the author of the Amazon Bestselling DI Kim Stone series – Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines, Dead Souls and now Broken Bones. Her books have sold more than 2 million in 2 years.

She lives in the Black Country with her partner, their cheeky Golden Retriever and a swearing parrot.

She first discovered her love of writing at Junior School when actual lessons came second to watching other people and quietly making up her own stories about them. Her report card invariably read “Angela would do well if she minded her own business as well as she minds other people’s”.

After years of writing relationship based stories (The Forgotten Woman and Dear Mother) Angela turned to Crime, fictionally speaking of course, and developed a character that refused to go away.

She is signed to Bookouture.com for a total of 16 books in the Kim Stone series and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Her last two books – Blood Lines and Dead Souls – reached the #1 spot on Amazon on pre-orders alone.

https://www.facebook.com/AngelaMarsonsAuthor/
@WriteAngie https://twitter.com/WriteAngie

http://angelamarsons-books.com/

 

Review – Our Country Nurse by Sarah Beeson and Amy Beeson

The Blurb

All seems tranquil as newly qualified Health Visitor Sarah motors into a small Kentish hilltop village in her new green mini. She’s barely out of the car when she’s called to assist the midwife with a bride who’s gone into labour in the middle of her own wedding reception. And so her adventures begin…

As a health visitor Nurse Sarah is as green as grass but she puts her best foot into wellies and braves the mad dogs, killer ganders and muddy tracks of the farming community. Despite set-backs young Sarah is determined to help the mums she meets, from struggling young mothers in unmodernised farmhouses, to doyennes of the county dinner party set who slave over stuffed olive hors-d’oeuvres.

Village life in 1970s isn’t always quite the Good Life Sarah’s been expecting; her attempts at self-sufficiency and cider making lead to drunk badgers and spirited house parties – but will it be the clergyman, the vet or the young doctor that win Sarah’s heart. During her first year in Kent, Nurse Sarah Hill get stuck in – reuniting families and helping mums in the midst of community full of ancient feuds, funny little ways and just a bit of magic.

My Thoughts

Our Country Nurse is quite different from the genre of books I normally choose to read, but I’m always happy to broaden my horizons and after reading so many crime/thriller books recently I was ready for a change. As they say ‘a change is as good as a rest’ and Our Country Nurse was certainly a welcome break and perfect for a lighter summer read.

The story follows the true experiences of health visitor Sarah Beeson in 1975 as she moves from London to Totley village in Kent. Our Country Nurse is the follow up book to The New Arrival, however, it works well as a standalone. With a new setting and, therefore, new characters you do not feel as though you are missing any threads of the story.

I really liked the characters within the book. Sarah is a fairly young health visitor and her compassion for the job shines through. She is the kind of health visitor you would love to have visiting you and your child – non-judgemental, warm, full of appropriate and good advice, and caring. I also enjoyed the mix of periphery characters; from the glamorous Hermione to the somewhat sour Mrs Jefferies.

While the move from London to a quieter village is a big change for Sarah, and would appear on the surface to be, perhaps, an easier option. However, she meets a whole mix of characters in the families she works with who each face their own issues and difficulties. As an ex social worker who used to work alongside health visitors, it was particularly interesting to me to see how things in relation to child protection procedures have changed. I loved the way in which Sarah was able to assist her families in a timely manner around issues such as housing, without being as strangled by the current procedures I suspect current day health visitors are affected by. The setting and the time period gave me a real sense of the community within the village which appears to be, sadly, lacking in today’s cities and this made Our Country Nurse a really enjoyable read. Not everything is rosy though, as Sarah discovers, and difficulties within families alongside attitudes of the time ensure that Sarah is kept busy and challenged. Being transported back to the seventies also brought back fond memories (and less fond memories when it came to the state of some of the housing Sarah’s families reside in). Beeson has portrayed the era really well.

Our Country Nurse is a warm and enjoyable read with Beeson mixing heart-warming stories with the more moving stories in a way that works really well. Those who enjoy Call the Midwife I have no doubts will enjoy this book.

Published on 25 August 2016 by Harper Element.

A huge thank you to Sarah and Amy Beeson for my copy in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.


#AroundTheUKIn144Books book 9. County: Kent

Blog Tour – Unforgivable by Mike Thomas *Guest Post and Review*

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Unforgivable by Mike Thomas. I’m chuffed to bits to be a part of this and to be sharing my review AND I have a brilliant guest post from Mike on his three favourite supporting characters in his novels. I will hand you over to Mike and then check out the blurb and my review of Unforgivable…

The Three Favourite Supporting Characters in My Novels

It’s always enjoyable writing your protagonist’s story and pushing them around on the page – go here, you swine! – but what I often find more entertaining, certainly if my hero or heroine is having an off day, is writing supporting characters. They’re often great fun, because they’re not really as important (but they’re still very important), and therefore the pressure’s off and there’s more freedom to do things with them that you couldn’t do with your main character. They also act as a counterpoint to your protagonist, and a means to demonstrate your main character’s personality or behaviour without doing the old ‘telling’.

Just look at Saul Goodman in ‘Breaking Bad’, or Bunk in ‘The Wire’, or The Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And what about Ron and Hermione in the Potter books? All of them, fully-formed and interesting supporting characters that add further depth and shade to the protagonist and the story itself.

So who are the three favourite supporting characters in my novels? Which of them were the most interesting and gratifying to write? Let’s take a look…

1. DC Warren Harrison – rotund, perpetually eating and wrapped in a fug of smoke, ‘Wazza’ is the ‘senior man’ – in age, not rank – on the team of CID officers who feature in the MacReady novels, ‘Ash and Bones’ and ‘Unforgivable’. An old sweat who has seen it all, he’s world-weary but has a mischievous sense of humour, not least in his choice of footwear: he refuses to wear shoes and turns out for duty every day in socks and sandals. The inspiration for Warren was an ex-colleague who could regularly be found wandering the corridors of the police station looking like a lost German tourist who’d raided the nearest vending machine. Lots of older real cops end up like Wazza: nothing fazes them, they couldn’t care less about anything other than their approaching pension, and they think all new officers are utterly useless. Often they’re not wrong.

2. FLUB – real name David Murphy, FLUB is the elder PC on the elite public order team in my 2014 novel ‘Ugly Bus’. His nickname, gifted to him by his colleagues on the van, is an acronym for Fat Lazy Useless Bastard. Given that FLUB likes food and moving slowly – his favourite line is ‘I may not look like I’m busy most of the time but on a molecular level I’m a hundred fuckin’ miles an hour’ – he was happy enough to shrug and accept the moniker. Like Warren Harrison above, FLUB is the old sweat, but while Wazza is a spiky individual, David Murphy is an anything-to-keep-the-peace sort – which backfires spectacularly for all concerned at the climax of the novel. I love old FLUB, he’s a lot like I used to be towards the end of my career – especially his penchant for disgracefully unhealthy takeaway food on night shifts.

3. PC Frank MacReady – or ‘Frankie’ or ‘The Frankster’ as ‘Pocket Notebook’s protagonist (I hesitate to call him a hero) Jacob Smith calls his best buddy. Frank is a specialist firearms officer, working alongside Jake, and is Jake’s only true friend – he’s patient, wise, loyal, and long-suffering – but Jacob even manages to lose him, in the most despicable manner possible, during a house party where far, far too much alcohol is consumed. Without Frank anchoring him our protagonist is finally doomed, and we see it happen in real time during the latter part of the book. I always think of Frank and Jake as mirroring my wife and I during this period in our lives: she was the strong sensible, caring one who had to support me while I lost my marbles writing this crazed debut novel…

Brilliant post, thank you so much Mike. I love Wazza too!

The Blurb

Bombs detonate in a busy souk, causing massive devastation.
An explosion rips apart a mosque, killing and injuring those inside.
But this isn’t the Middle East – this is Cardiff . . .

In a city where tensions are already running high, DC Will MacReady and his colleagues begin the desperate hunt for the attacker. If they knew the ‘why’, then surely they can find the ‘who’? But that isn’t so easy, and time is fast running out . . .

MacReady is still trying to prove himself after the horrific events of the previous year, which left his sergeant injured and his job in jeopardy, so he feels sidelined when he’s asked to investigate a vicious knife attack on a young woman.

But all is not as it seems with his new case, and soon MacReady must put everything on the line in order to do what is right.

My Thoughts

The second DC Will MacReady novel is totally explosive … and that’s not just because of the bombs that go off in the book! Unforgivable totally lived up to all of my expectations with Thomas proving that this is one hell of a crime series!

If you haven’t read the first in the series, Ash and Bones, don’t worry as Unforgivable works as a standalone. Thomas perfectly gives enough information in order for you to be able to follow how MacReady and his colleagues got to where they currently are without deflecting from the new plot. However, trust me when I say you will want to read Ash and Bones!

I was expecting from the blurb a fairly straightforward story about the police investigating a terrorist attack. Unforgivable delivers more than this, however, with Thomas turning the theme of terrorism on its head. Thomas taps into the rise of Islamophobia and far-right groups across the country resulting in Unforgivable being incredibly current.

You are dragged into the story from the start. Unforgivable starts with a bang (literally!) and the pace is unrelenting from there on. The vivid descriptions within the first few chapters place you directly in the middle of the action, experiencing everything that is going on, and all its horrors. This is a book that you struggle to put down as its pace and plot beg for it to be read quickly and it becomes all absorbing.

I was pleased to spend time with MacReady et al again and Unforgivable takes up where we last left off a few months down the line. While MacReady is no longer the new boy within his team, he is still treated as such especially following events that occurred during Ash and Bones. He has a new partner in the completely unlikable Paul Echols who isn’t making his life any easier! MacReady’s personal life remains complicated which adds another layer to the book. I really like MacReady; he is intelligent, plucky and on the ball.

Thomas’s first-hand experience of police work shines through and his writing remains authentic. He doesn’t shy away from describing the less than glamorous side of police work and in Unforgivable the impact of austerity cuts enforced by the current government are starkly visible. While as a civvy you are aware that the cuts have an impact, Thomas brings the actual realities straight into your consciousness as resources to investigate the murder of a young woman are scant following the terrorist attacks. This true-to-life approach is one of the things that really appeals to me about Thomas’s books.

Unforgivable is a fantastic, high-adrenaline, close-to-the-bone read and the DC MacReady books are now firmly placed on my list of favourite and highly recommended detective series’.

Published on 27 July 2017 by Zaffre Publishing.

A huge thank you to Mike Thomas and Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre for the advance copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can read my review of Ash and Bones HERE and Mike’s Author Influences HERE!

Be sure to catch the rest of the tour for more reviews and brilliant guest posts by Mike … they really are worth reading!

Blog Tour – Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee *Review and Author Influences*

I am really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for M. Jonathan Lee’s Broken Branches today, sharing my review AND Jonathan’s Author Influences. I adored this beautiful book which is published Hideaway Fall … judging by the quality of their first publication, Hideaway Fall have an exciting future ahead of them!

The Blurb

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, where to start with this review? An inheritance, a marriage on the rocks and a curse all combined with gorgeous writing make Broken Branches a beautiful and emotional read.

I was completely swept along by the first chapter in which we first meet the main character, Ian Perkins, and his property Cobweb Cottage. We learn of a family tragedy that has resulted in Ian and his family moving into the cottage and also a possible inherited curse. With gorgeous descriptions of the cottage and the imposing Sycamore tree that stands outside the front of the house Broken Branches promises an intriguing, somewhat gothic, tale and it continues to deliver.

Ian is an interesting character who is trying to prove that the curse his family have talked about through the generations exists. We meet him in the midst of his failing marriage to Rachel and, for a reason of which we are unaware, Ian believes that establishing there really is a curse on the Perkins family will save his relationship. Broken Branches is told largely from Ian’s perspective; switching between the present day in which he is completing his genealogical research and his childhood growing up in the cottage he is again inhabiting. I was really touched by his teenage experiences – his sense of loneliness, the difference in the way he is treated compared to his older brother and the difficulties in his relationship with his family members – and his love of reading resonated with me, bringing back memories of my own worn and underlined copies of Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Ian’s desperation in his search for the truth about his family grows and becomes more apparent as Broken Branches unfurls. I was with Ian throughout his journey and felt his emotions and sense of urgency.

Punctuated with brief glimpses of Rachel’s point of view later in the book, the reader begins to question Ian’s version of events adding to the captivation of the novel. This really enhanced my interest in the story that was unfolding.

Broken Branches has a quietly disconcerting feel to it which stays with the reader throughout the course of the book. There are a few seemingly supernatural elements that send delicate shivers down your spine. Lee’s prose is stunning and he uses nature to maximum effect to create atmosphere. The ominous Sycamore tree plays a large part and that, along with the other references to nature, gives it that gothic feel I spoke about at the beginning of the review. The imagery Lee presents gives Broken Branches a thoughtful perspective and an added layer that is compelling and irresistible.

Part mystery, part gothic novel Broken Branches is a gorgeous book about grief and guilt that will stay with me for a long time. Simply wonderful!

Published on 27 July 2017 by Hideaway Fall Publishing.

A huge thank you to M.Jonathan Lee and Hideaway Fall for my advance copy in exchange for my review and to Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

I will now hand you over to Jonathan to tell you about his author influences.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Roald Dahl was and always has been my favourite. I love everything that he has written. I read the short stories and Unexpected Tales over and over again.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
It was by far my best subject. As a ten year old I was sent to the headmaster for writing a story where the lead protagonist met his end half way through the story and a second character became the main character. I was told that type of writing was inappropriate.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read a lot of true crime. I am an obsessed with what makes somebody do something horrific to another human being, though I don’t like reading any of the actual grisly details. I read anything that interests me though, and usually switch between fact and fiction. I do think that it has an impact on my novels. I actually think that everything around me in life has a tiny input into what I read.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I hate sci-fi. Anything that ‘couldn’t happen’ in real life is not my thing. However, I do have this crazy sci-fi idea about a company that trades in death which comes to the forefront of my mind from time to time. Maybe I’ll write it one day.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think Mark Haddon and Joseph Connolly had the biggest impact. A Spot of Bother and Summer Things respectively.

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Not really. I’m the same with music. I am obsessed and there are numerous bands I adore, but I tend to buy books and music when the mood takes me as opposed to waiting for something to come out. I’m a massive Stephen King fan, and haven’t read anything by him for about five years. Last week, I suddenly thought “I fancy some Stephen King,” and went online and bought four recent novels. I’ve read three.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Ha. So many times. Misery sticks in my mind as one.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes absolutely. I observe everything around me and I am always taking note of little snippets of conversations or mannerisms that I hear. So in that sense all my books have a bit of reality in them. A Tiny Feeling of Fear (my third novel) is very personal to me, and there is more in there which reflects reality than people may think. I’d recommend people watching my documentary short, Hidden (on YouTube) for more information.

Thank you Jonathan for taking part!

About M. Jonathan Lee

M. Jonathan Lee is based in Yorkshire and is the author of several award-nominated novels. He began writing seriously in 2006 shortly after the suicide of his brother, Simon, who had been struggling with depression. Jonathan is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness. He has written for Mind and Rethink charities and has a regular blog on the Huffington Post. He is divorced and now remarried, between them they have five children, two cats and a dog.

Twitter: @MJonathanLee

Follow the rest of the tour…