Monthly Archives: May 2018

Review – Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

The Blurb

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

My Thoughts

‘I could probably have been an actress. It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?

Liz Nugent is back with her much anticipated third novel, Skin Deep. Anyone who regularly reads my reviews will know that I have had a bit of a hard time with psychological thrillers recently, but I’m pleased to say that Nugent has re-kindled my love affair with them. Skin Deep is, in true Liz Nugent style, deliciously dark.

Of course, it has that killer first line that we now expect from Nugent and the prologue drags you in as we are introduced to Cordelia Russell. Delia is beautiful but bad. And when I say bad I mean Bad with a capital B! From a small island off the coast of Ireland, to say Delia’s childhood was unconventional would be an understatement. Nugent takes us through Delia’s history in order for us to see how she has got to the position we first see her in in the prologue. Skin Deep is addictive and fascinating as we act as voyeurs through the course of Delia’s life. The saying ‘All that glisters isn’t gold’ is proved correct as we discover the dark core of Delia’s perfect exterior.

Very much a character focused thriller, Delia is despicable, her behaviour is repugnant and it makes Skin Deep oh so compelling. Always fascinated by the nature-nurture debate, it has you wondering how much of Delia’s personality is due to her upbringing? Nugent tells Delia’s story through first person narration via Delia’s perspective, but we are given glimpses of the perspectives of others as every now and again the point of view switches for a chapter which works perfectly. Delia also reflects on the stories that her father told her during her childhood all of which have a moral edge to them and the picture of Delia and her off-kilter moral code is built up perfectly. Skin Deep is the budding psychologist’s dream. Delia is utterly detestable and I loved her for that!

Nugent’s writing is fantastic as she gets you to the very core of Delia. Her portrayal of manipulation and deception is fantastic and I wonder what goes on within Nugent’s mind. The tone is heavy and dark throughout and Nugent uses words like weapons in order for them to stun and shock you. Unable to second guess what will happen next, Nugent has this amazing ability to ensure you are always taken off guard.

Nugent never lets me down and Skin Deep is yet another accomplished novel by this talented author. She has weaved another twisted tale to perfection ensuring her place at the top of my list of favourite authors. Skin Deep takes you for a walk on the darker side of life and it is delectable. An absolute must read for fans of psychological thrillers.

Skin Deep was published on 5 April 2018 by Penguin Ireland. You can get your copy HERE.

A huge thank you to Liz Nugent, Pengiun Books and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.

Author Influences with Robert Scragg

After a month long hiatus I’m pleased to be back with Author Influences. This week I’m delighted to be welcoming author Robert Scragg to Bloomin’ Brilliant Books. Robert’s debut novel What Falls Between The Cracks is out now on Kindle (more information on the book later) and Robert will be attending one of the panels at this year’s Newcastle Noir. So, let’s crack on and find out about the books that have impacted on Robert.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I’ve still got the copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that I had as a kid. Lost count of the number of times I’ve read them over the years. I also had a series of kids classics, that I also have in the loft (I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to book!) That includes titles like Treasure Island, Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe.

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I was ok I guess – usually top half of the class, but never the star pupil. I enjoyed English Language more than Literature and took that up to A-level.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love crime fiction, and that’s absolutely influenced my choice of genre to write in. Around 90% of what I read is crime, although I’m trying to branch out more. Read a couple of fantasy/sci-fi recently, which is a genre I used to be into in a big way. Also trying to read at least one non-fiction book every month to broaden my horizons a bit!

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’ve got plans to try my hand at children’s books at some stage. There are a few ideas bubbling around, but I want to get my feet under the table with crime first for the next few years, and then we’ll see. Having been encouraged to read as a kid, and loving books from an early age, I’d love to be able to help inspire those same feelings in the next generation of readers.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
If I look back at who I was reading in the run up to putting pen to paper myself, it’d be the likes of Jeffrey Deaver. He’s still a shoe-in on my TBR pile, but love some of his earlier stuff in particular, like The Devil’s Tear Drop and The Coffin Dancer. As for why, I’m a sucker for a plot that keeps twisting back on itself, keeping me guessing all the way to the end, at which point I still find that I had it pegged wrong. He’s a master at that. Harlan Coben is another. I love how real and vivid his characters are. His books helped me realise that some readers will come back for the character first, and plot second (not that there’s anything wrong with his plotting either!).

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
That’s a list that seems to get longer every year. It’s a mix of homegrown names, and international writers such as Mark Billingham, Mari Hannah, Howard Linskey, David Mark, Pierre LaMaitre, Greg Iles, Harlan Coben, Jeffrey Deaver. There’s more, but I’ll stop there!

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 Natchez Burning trilogy by Greg Iles – an absolutely epic trio of books. The sheer scale of the plot is quiet something to behold; the kind of thing you’d have to take up an entire wall to map out. His characters are so real they practically jump off the page, and when I reached the end of every one of them, there was that amazing mix of ‘what a book’ at the same time as ‘damn, didn’t want it to end.’

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Not yet, but I’ve had a few friends request people they’d like to see in a body bag in future books, so you’ll have to wait and see.

Massive thanks, Robert, for taking part. Great answers and I concur with your list of authors you have to buy!

Robert’s debut novel What Falls Between The Cracks was published on eBook and hardcover on 19  April 2018 and is out on paperback on 20 September 2018. Here’s what it’s about:

Did she slip through the cracks, or was she pushed?

When a severed hand is found in an abandoned flat, Detective Jake Porter and his partner Nick Styles are able to DNA match the limb to the owner, Natasha Barclay, who has not been seen in decades. But why has no one been looking for her? It seems that Natasha’s family are the people who can least be trusted.
Delving into the details behind her disappearance and discovering links to another investigation, a tragic family history begins to take on a darker twist. Hampered by a widespread fear of a local heavy, as well as internal politics and possible corruption within the force, Porter and Styles are digging for answers, but will what they find ever see the light of day?

About Robert Scragg

Robert Scragg originally trained as a solicitor, then had a random mix of jobs before taking the dive into crime writing; he’s been a bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor and Football coach. He lives in Tyne & Wear, is a founding member of the North East Noir crime writers group and is currently editing the second Porter and Styles novel, as well as working on a standalone set in the North East.

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