The Thrillers That Inspired ‘Lies’ by T M Logan #blogtour

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tm-loganThrillers that inspired LIES

Who can say where stories come from? For me, they start with a tiny core, a single idea. Maybe a character or a single situation, a point of crisis or a relationship I want to know more about. Wrap a few more ideas around the core, then a few more, check its pulse to make sure it’s starting to live and breathe. Then sit down and start writing.

The core idea of LIES came to me while we were driving to Brittany for our summer holiday. I was supposed to be navigating but got so caught up with the idea – and scribbling it down in my notebook before it disappeared – that we got lost. We had to go on a bit of a magical mystery tour to pick up our route again, but the story of LIES was already starting to live and breathe (in my head, at least).

Like everyone else, though, I’ve been inspired and influenced over the years by thrillers that I’ve loved and the people who have written them. My favourite authors include Michael Connolly, Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Tana French, Lee Child, Sophie Hannah, Bernard Cornwell, Peter Swanson, Stephen King, Gillian Flynn and Ken Follett. I’ve missed lots out, but that might give you an idea of the kind of stories that I love to read – and write.

In no particular order, here are a few of the stories that inspired LIES:

I remember being bowled over by Harlan Coben’s Tell No One. It was the first time that I’d read one of his thrillers and it featured his trademark combination of a cracking story, great dialogue, compelling bad guys and a protagonist you’re rooting for from page one. Coben is also adept at bringing in technology and making it a turning point in his story, as when the hero sees an image of his wife – supposedly dead for eight years – on his computer screen.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was one of many great recommendations from my wife, Sally. I loved this book. The slow unravelling of the truth about Amy Dunne takes the story in ways you can’t predict. Is she alive or dead? Is her husband involved in her disappearance? Is the truth simply what we believe it to be? The blurring of fact and fiction, the creation of different versions of the truth, feature strongly in LIES.

I have lots of favourites by Stephen King but Misery is at the top. It’s so simple, basically two characters in a house for 95 per cent of the story, and yet he manages to make it utterly gripping and terrifying. Stephen King is the master at that sense of ‘creeping doom’, at building the tension slowly, as Paul Sheldon comes to realise that there is something very, very wrong with the situation in which he finds himself.

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith grabbed hold of me in such a way that it became like an addiction. A real high concept premise – three guys find a bag full of money in the woods – but so many twists and turns that it was impossible to put down. At its heart it’s about the terrible things people will do in pursuit of what they think is right, and the crimes they will justify on the way.

Last but definitely not least (and not a book, either), I tip my hat to Les Diaboliques, a French film about betrayal, obsession, and murder. Check it out if you ever get the chance. It has a killer twist – when it was shown in cinemas, a title screen appeared at the end of the movie asking the audience not to reveal it to others, so they wouldn’t spoil the surprise. I hope the twist at the end of LIES has a similar impact!

What are your favourite thrillers? Let me know @TMLoganAuthor

lies

 

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? 

When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

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The Step-Mother – Claire Seeber

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Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.

No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.

And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.

Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending… doesn’t it?

 

As an unofficial (but officially as of next year) step mother I’m always keen to read novels about blended families, as whilst my own situation has been an easy one to accept due to the age of my fiancé’s son when we met, it’s still a subject close to my heart. So when I was offered an advance copy of The Step-Mother, the latest novel by an author of whom I have long been an admirer, I accepted it with glee.

As I said I’ve been an admirer of Claire Seeber’s novels for a long time, but have to say that The Step-Mother is a fantastic step up in her skills, and deserving of all the advance praise I have been seeing on GoodReads, and from other reviewers.  I was hooked from the very beginning, and immediately all I wanted for Jeanie was the happy ending she was desperate for.

Told alternately between the narratives of Jeanie and her sister Marlena, it is an ingenious web of intrigue, so cleverly and intricately plotted that you’ll constantly change your mind as you who is up to no good, go through just about every possible culprit and still be left guessing by the end of it all.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the profound emotional response I felt towards the characters as I was reading.  I wanted to scream at Matthew for being a useless dick, shout at her sister for being to wrapped up in her own problems, and felt every moment of shock, fear and helplessness of Jeanie as her happy ever after unraveled before her.

It’s a gem of a book that I read in just two sittings, and that was only because I had to go to bed.  It’s highly recommended by me.

 

The Lie – C.L. Taylor

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imageI know your name’s not really Jane Hughes….

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary, and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been, but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier, Jane and her then best friends went on holiday, but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.

Frightening, tragic, uncomfortable & addictive…

Opening with Jane in her quiet new life, settled and trying to put the past behind her, the narrative splits in two once we discover, along with Jane, that somebody knows her secret. The first remains with Jane, as she tries to uncover who sent her the message that has threatened her fragile new existence. The second set five years before detailing the frightening and tragic tale of their trip together, the adventure of a lifetime that became the holiday from hell.

One of the things I like to see with authors I have read before is progression, and after already enjoying Taylor’s previous novel The Accident (Published as Before I Wake in the US) it was a delight to me to uncover a distinct step up in storytelling and style with The Lie. It has a far more addictive story line, and although I found it quite uncomfortable reading at times, I raced through it in just a single sitting.

I say uncomfortable, because of the excellence with which the friendships of the girlfriends are portrayed. I found that the fractures, faults, and issues in their relationships were so well written that I couldn’t help but reflect on my own friendships as I read. Particularly those that, whether missed or not, I have lost over the years, and to me that reaction alone marks The Lie as an outstanding read and one that will linger with me for some time.

How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

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imageThey told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied?

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor, and the police tell you, don’t you?

My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago it was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve week old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric institute for my crime and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my shattered life.

This morning I received and envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I believe he’s truly dead?

If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

Last week feeling under the weather, more than a little sorry for myself, and wrapped up in bed having a duvet day, I picked up Jenny Blackhurst’s debut novel How I Lost You and finished it in one sitting.  It was ideal, a perfect lazing by the pool / rainy day read, it is intriguing, engrossing and will have you flipping the pages quickly.

There are two main threads in How I Lost You, the first is the story of Susan, what happened to her when her son was murdered, her suspicions and beliefs surrounding the mystery of what really happened, and her re-evaluation of her previous life and the relationships within it.  The second is set twenty years earlier, and tells the story of the lives and misdemeanours of a group of privileged boys as they grow up and go to university together.

It takes a little while to reconcile these two strands, trying to work out where the characters from one fit within the other, but once the pieces slot into place the story moves on apace.  Susan teams up with journalist Nick, as they attempt to discover the reality of what happened to baby Dylan, and what, if anything, it has to do with the past life of her ex-husband Mark.

My only niggle with the book is that for a convicted killer released on parole, Susan appears to be incredibly naive and far too trusting of others, but if you can suspend that little bit of disbelief for a while then How I Lost you is a thoroughly enjoyable read, with a culprit that few will see coming.

The Ties That Bind – Erin Kelly

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imageCould a soul once sold, truly be redeemed?

Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story, when he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – Until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea.

Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal turned philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.

Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nyes murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene?

Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger.

Absolutely brilliant.

For me a new Erin Kelly book is a much-anticipated event where as soon as I get hold of my copy I find quiet and comfortable space and lock myself away from the world so I can read in pure, uninterrupted pleasure, knowing when I’m finished, I will be able to close the book with a satisfying thud.

Delightfully, The Ties That Bind, has done nothing to change that feeling either. As a reader, I love to see growth in a writer, and in her fourth book, for me, Kelly has clearly bloomed. It’s also a pleasure to say that the book hangover I suffered when I finished was purely because I enjoyed the story so much, rather than because the author had left strands of story thread dangling in the wind.

There are some great characters in there too, I loved both gangster gone good, Joss Grand, and ex-journalist now cuttings library keeper Sandy. My particular favourite however, Was Jem, Luke’s controlling ex-boyfriend, who was so well written he really gave me the creeps at times.

The plot was as tightly done as ever with plenty twists and turns I didn’t see coming and a couple I did. Enough to make me enjoy getting those parts right, while also managing to ensure I was completely wrong about where things were going at the same time.

It’s a cracker of a read that I’d happily recommend to anyone looking for something refreshing in their crime fiction thrillers.

The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne

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imageOne of Sarah’s daughters died. But can she be sure which one? A terrifying psychological thriller that will chill you to the bone.

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

Not a book for an early night…

I picked The Ice Twins up to read one night, just as I was getting into bed, which wasn’t one of my best ideas because 3 hours after picking it up, my eyes, despite being somewhat more droopy, were still firmly glued to the screen of my Kindle. A quick glance at my reading statistics showed that I was already beyond halfway through the book, I was amazed, but not at all surprised. It is simply brilliant.

Following the death of one of their daughters, Angus and Sarah are a typically broken couple, creating more problems than they are solving by their lack of communication as they each grieve for a different child.  Their remaining daughter is grieving too, and every day in the mirror must look at the face of the sister she lost.  As the three of them stumble separately through the aftermath of the tragedy that haunts this family we discover that all was not as it seems.

Although they were identical twins, Kirstie and Lydia were remarkably different children, and both Angus and Sarah had their own favourite.  Is this why their remaining daughter claims to be the other? In turn, lies, omissions and the solitude of her new home have thrust Sarah into a world of confusion, could this affecting her daughter and be why Kirstie believes she is Lydia or is there a more sinister reason yet to be uncovered?

Haunting, spooky, melancholy and with tragedy at its heart, this is not a book you want to read if you’re planning an early night, because even if you manage to put it down, The Ice Twins is one book that just won’t let you go.

The Liars Chair – Rebecca Whitney

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imageRachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David’s darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar’s Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney’s debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from … 

A definite winner…

I thought 2014 was a fantastic year for debut novels, but already it seems that whilst we are barely into 2015, this is shaping up to be an even better year.

Rebecca Whitney’s debut has, for me, firmly established her as a writer of fabulous dark psychological thrillers, this is an amazing depiction of what can happen when one person relinquishes control, and how explosive and destructive the results can be when the balance of power in a relationship changes by even the smallest amount.

The Liars Chair is a totally addictive book, and I found reading it was like watching the most uncomfortable and disturbing piece of TV you can imagine and being unable to tear your eyes away from it.   You know you don’t want to bear witness to, or to be part of Rachel’s complete unravelling, but you cannot do anything except carry on reading and watch her complete breakdown, all the while praying for her salvation.

Rachel’s husband David is a completely vile character who immediately sets your teeth on edge with his controlling behaviour and all the way through the novel, as he becomes more and more loathsome all you want is for him to get his ‘just desserts’. That said Rachel is in no way a particularly likeable character either, the uncomfortable sense of her own complicity in the poisoning of her marriage and her totally selfish actions at the time of the accident, never quite leave you even though you feel sympathy for her situation, and find yourself willing her to find a way out of it.

The Liars Chair is a fantastic first novel that had me wanting to scream and shout at its characters, then forced me to throw it down in frustration, before immediately picking it back up to find out what happened next, and to me any book that can provoke such a strong emotional response is a definite winner.