Monday, 12 July 2021

Revenge of the TideRevenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Full-blown Five stars from me! I love a writing style that's fresh and bright and makes me feel what's happening is 'real', rather than one where it seems the author is trying to make the writing sound original, thereby pulling me away from the immediacy of the action. This story has plenty of energy and drive and plonked me right in the midst of it - sweeping me away into uncertainty and jeopardy.

I loved Into the Darkest Corner by the same author, so I'd highly recommend that book alongside this one. 'Revenge of the Tide' has more atmopshere and colour in the settings (anyone who knows my writing knows I love the otherworldly richness of stories set on canals, lakes and rivers). The dingy night-club contrasts with the open-air homeliness of the canal boat. This book also has less psychological menace, which makes it a Murder Mystery, rather than a Pyschological Thriller. An excellent read.

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Saturday, 4 April 2020

Cut you Dead: Behind the Scenes Interview

Here's a recent Interview I did for a local book group about Cut you Dead [don’t worry, no spoilers!]:

 

Can you tell us, in just one sentence, what Cut you Dead is about? 

It’s a psychological thriller about a serial killer who snips off pieces of women’s hair, then kills them seven days later. Woah – sounds creepy! Tell us about your Lead Character: Samantha Willerby is a feisty, jump-in-at-the-deep-end psychologist, who doesn’t always play by the rules. Readers have said that having a psychologist as the ‘amateur sleuth’ puts a refreshing new slant on police procedurals, where the lead character is often a detective. Sam looks at cases from a different perspective, focusing on ‘why’ and not ‘how’ a serious crime is committed, and putting together pieces of a puzzle that others don’t see.

Sam joins the police in a different way this time, is that right? 

In her last adventure, Perfect Bones, Sam helped the Met catch a killer in a grisly murder case. For Cut you Dead, an author friend of mine suggested I investigate cold cases. I loved this idea! I knew Sam would jump at the chance to try her hand at police profiling. So, in Cut you Dead, the Met bring Sam in to examine a batch of closed murder files to see what she can pick up that everyone else has missed. Using every avenue she can think of, and disobeying direct orders on the way, she starts to uncover a trail of clues that lead her right into the path of the killer.

What sparked the original idea for Cut you Dead? 

While I was mulling over ideas for the book, I came across a BBC podcast about delusional behaviour. As a former psychotherapist, I was fascinated by the case histories described in the programme. One of the oldest involved King Charles VI of France, who believed he was made of glass and who used to dress in reinforced clothing to protect himself. There were recent cases, too, such as the woman who felt she was being pursued by the producer of a reality TV show. It got my brain ticking over and I decided I’d like to write about a serial killer who suffered from some form of grandiose delusion – but not quite in the way you’d expect.

What kind of cold cases does Cut you Dead explore? 

From the list of police cold cases, Sam picks out a couple of murders that show similarities with a recent death police think is accidental. The victims all had pieces of their hair hacked off several days before they were killed. The ‘hair-cutting’ idea arose when I was researching something else on the Internet (browsing the Net is a necessary indulgence for any writer!). I accidentally came across an intriguing court case involving a magistrate’s ruling on a man who cut off a girl's ponytail. The man (an ex-boyfriend) was acquitted at first, as the court came to the conclusion that the hair growing out of a person's head was by its nature dead and therefore couldn’t be harmed. I thought this was outrageous! Anyone who feels their hair is their crowning glory would be devastated to find a chunk of it missing. Thankfully, the High Court overturned the decision on grounds of the emotional damage caused.

What’s new and different about this book? 

Many readers will have come across thrillers where the victim’s hair is cropped off, but in Cut you Dead there’s something different. The hair is not a trophy at the crime scene. To find out exactly what the killer does, you’ll have to read the book! Is it true that there’s a romantic element in the book? I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of readers told me they wanted Sam to finally meet someone – I shall just leave you with that!

Where is the book set and why? 

Cut you Dead is set in the heart of London just after Christmas, when there’s snow and ice on the ground. Sam wants to get into shape, so she takes to the city streets to jog after dark. I love writing about London, it gives me an excuse to revisit it, in all its technicolour pizazz, in my mind! It was also the perfect setting for Cut you Dead; that fabulous combination of crowded places, where a silent perpetrator can slip into the shadows and secluded side streets, and danger can strike out of sight. There’s also the River Thames; majestic and brooding, especially at night-time – and treacherously fast. Sam is probably up against her most devious adversary yet, in this thriller. I found it very gripping to write and I hope you love reading it as much as I loved getting Sam’s story down onto the page!






Sunday, 15 March 2020

Book Review: The Silent Patient - Alex Michealides

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't given a book 5 stars in a while, but this one is a deserving candidate. I romped through it, transfixed by the unusual angle of the storytelling, as the therapist attempts to coax a silent and hostile patient into revealing exactly what happened in the lead up to the murder she's accused of commiting.

But it isn't as simple as that.

Hidden undercurrents lurk as we observe the therapist getting in deep and overstepping the boundaries in order to peel away layers of the truth - and what the patient might be able to recount.

There's a sense right at the start that things are not all as they seem and it becomes clear that the lens through which we see everything has been tilted by the author! It is very clever and a great tale with plenty of twists - especially the cracker at the end! Highly Recommended!

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Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Mini Book Review: When the Lights go out: Mary Kubica

When the Lights Go OutWhen the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully written, compelling and intense. We follow the narrative of two fraught women: one desperate to discover her identity, another desperate for a child. Poignant denouement - I have to admit the last sentence made me cry!

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Monday, 23 December 2019

Mini book Review: I, Spy by Claire Kendal

I SpyI Spy by Claire Kendal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a polished, intelligent read with a fabulous sense of increasing jeopardy. I always love the author’s refined, poised and elegant writing style with flecks of detail that make it truly special. The MI5 spy-theme is a clever touch and brought a new angle to this kind of domestic noir psychological thriller. Highly recommended!

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Monday, 25 November 2019

Mini Book Review: I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

I Thought I Knew YouI Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow – what a tour de force! I’ve enjoyed all Penny Hancock’s books, (especially my favourite, Tideline), and this is right up there. 'I Thought I Knew You' is a psychological thriller in its purest and most brilliantly executed form. There are subtle shifts in direction as we hear two mothers’ voices; first Holly’s, then Jules', laying a trail of skewed perceptions, assumptions and judgements, one after the other. It’s like observing an intricate game of chess as the small group of interconnected characters make unexpected moves across the board. I kept having to stand back to look again at the whole picture – because with every chapter, the situation changes.

I love the author’s writing style, giving us delicate details about the setting and atmosphere. The depiction of the fens, the remote detached flatness of the area, drew me in completely. The story is a slow burn at the start, which those who favour quick-skim page-turners may find a challenge, but stick with it. That tiny flicker of a fuse sneaks across the floor, gathering momentum on its way, until it builds into a ginormous explosion. It’s all about action and reaction. Underpinned with ambiguity and the limitations of trust. Throw in several lies and misunderstandings and by the end the author ignites fireworks that are sufficiently dazzling they will blow your socks off. Fabulous! I loved it!


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Monday, 11 November 2019

Mini Book Review: Tell No One - Harlan Coben

Tell No OneTell No One by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved the film (French) when it came out, years ago now - in fact it's up there as one of my all-time favourite films. The premise that someone has been long gone and suddenly seems to re-appear in covert circumstances is SO good! The book is a great page-turning read with Coben's trademark succinct character portraits - giving tiny (often scathing) details which make the players come to life in just a few sentences. There's always a brush of humour there, too - amidst the angst. Reads as an adventure/mystery/thriller. Highly recommended.

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