Blurb is the word #2 – Robert Bryndza

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It took me a while to ‘warm up’ to ‘frosty Foster’ but she’s a cracking character and this is a brilliantly written thriller, that will keep you guessing right to the end.

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

 

Jeepers of all creepers! This one will have you double checking all your doors are locked at night.

Another twisting , turning, tale that will keep you enthralled from the moment you pick it up.

If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

My favourite of the series so far, and yet another step up in style, these books just keep getting better and better.  

This time round, it’s a cold case for feisty DCI Foster, who is doggedly determined to find the culprit, but just for once she might have bitten off more than she can chew…

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

Melody Bittersweet & The Girls Ghostbusting Agency – Kitty French

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Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet

She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 
Waking up lonely on her twenty seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change. 

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there’s the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

Take some Janet Evanovich, mix it up with some classic Scooby-Doo mysteries, throw in some Ghostbusters, some of M Knight Shyalaman’s Sixth Sense along with a pair of devilishly handsome but totally inappropriate suitors, and you’ve got your next funtastic read.  If anything can take a grey, miserable time and turn in on its head into one filled with smiles and laughter, this book can do it

Melody Bittersweet is a hilarious narrator, and absolutely adorable, you can’t help but fall for her charms as she converses with ghosts, translates their thoughts and words to the “I-don’t-see-dead-people” folks, and solves mysteries, all while caught between an outrageous ex-boyfriend and an all too desirable complete non-believer out to discredit her at all times.

Her sidekick’s are just as much fun, and I’m really struggling to decide who I like the most.  Feisty Italian descended Marina, loyal and innocent Artie, Melody’s interfering family or LeStat the pug, there’s so much to look forward to from this interesting bunch that I’m already keen to find out what’s next.

With an interesting and tragic family mystery to solve, there’s plenty in here to keep the cosy crime fanatic in you enthralled, just enough romance to spice it up, and some great wisecracks, and while you let yourself go in the company of Melody Bittersweet, I will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment…..

 

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.

 

#BRYANTandMAY #LONDONSGLORY the tour, with Christopher Fowler

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IMG_2282The latest instalment in Christopher Fowlers brilliant Bryant & May series is out now.  London’s Glory is a collection of eleven Bryant and May short stories, filling in gaps and covering cases mentioned in passing over the years.

In the spirit and brevity of a short story, when I got the chance to ask a few questions of Chris, I asked simply, about the genesis of Bryant & May, where in London fans could visit for a feel of the books, and what Bryant and May would think of book tours and blogging.  Here’s what he had to say.
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Many years ago I fell in love with the Golden Age classic mysteries I found in the library, with their academic eccentricities and timeless view of an England that never really existed. There was just one problem; they badly needed an update because of outmoded attitudes to sex and race. I thought; wouldn’t it be interesting if you took the structure of the Golden Age mysteries and put them into our recognisable modern world?

If you’re going to describe the investigation of a crime, you might as well have fun with it. How does a writer create a detective? I started with a matchbox label that read “Bryant & May – England’s Glory”. That gave me their names, their nationality, and something vague and appealing, the sense of an institution with roots in London’s sooty past. London would be the third character; not the tourist city of guidebooks but the city of invisible societies, hidden parks and drunken theatricals, the increasingly endangered species I eagerly show to friends when they visit.

Every night, my detectives walk across Waterloo Bridge and share ideas, because a city’s skyline is best sensed along the edges of its river, and London’s has changed dramatically in less than a decade, with the broken spire of the Shard and the great ferris wheel of the London Eye lending it a raffish fairground feel.

By making Bryant & May old I could have them simultaneously behave like experienced adults and immature children. Bryant, I knew, came from Whitechapel and was academic, esoteric, eccentric, bad-tempered and myopic. He would wear a hearing aid and false teeth, and use a walking stick. A proud Luddite, he was antisocial, rude, miserable, erudite, bookish, while his John May was born in Vauxhall, taller, fitter, more charming, friendlier, a little more modern, techno-literate, and a bit of a ladies’ man. Their inevitable clash of working methods often causes cases to take wrong turns.

Then I threw every modern subject I could think of at them, from refugees to banking scandals, and let them sort out the dramas using old-fashioned (and vaguely illegal) methods. The result is, well, unusual!

The easiest locations to visit in the books are Waterloo Bridge, where the detectives walk most nights, and King’s Cross, where their unit is based, but in ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ there’s a list of all the pubs they visit in the books at the back. And all of the locations I use are real, so everything can be looked up and explored on Google maps!

I think John May would like blogging but Arthur Bryant would probably crash entire systems because he has a warped understanding of the internet!

Crime & Publishment 2016 – Book now!

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On the 26th – 28th February 2016, Crime and Publishment returns with its fourth edition.  This fantastic writing course has seen no less than 5 of its previous attendees awarded publishing contracts and it aims to help you improve your writing, improve your pitches and teach you the networking skills you need so you can go out and get yours.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by those involved in this course from the first event, and in my opinion just one of the things that makes this course so special is that when you say goodbye to the friends you will make over the three days and leave The Mill Forge, your weekend, your course and your lessons are far from over.

The support network I have watched grow over the last three and a half years has been amazing.  Previous attendees will return, to help ‘newbies’, and as the year unfolds and you meet up more and more (and you will meet up again) across both the crime fiction festival calendar and other more informal get togethers and gatherings, it’s an amazing opportunity.

Crime and Publishment always has a great line up of authors and industry insiders signed up to share their knowledge and experience with you.  The 2016 weekend is no exception, with the likes of thriller writer Tom Cain (a pseudonym of David Thomas), action writer Matt Hilton and ex Hollywood screenwriter and successful author Alexandra Sokoloff

Once again taking place at The Mill Forge, Gretna Green, there are several package options available to choose from, from single day passes, to full weekend passes including accommodation (and from numerous visits I can tell you the place is beautiful and the staff are delightful).  Full details of costs along with how to book your place can be found on the Crime & Publishment website.  Places are limited so if you want to secure your place then do make sure you book up soon.

Fancy a sneak peak at the programme?  Then cast your eyes below…

Friday 26th February
10.00-10.30am
Induction and introductions

10.30 – 1.00pm
Group A – Writing your Fights Right – Matt Hilton
Thriller author, ex-cop and 4th Dan Kempo Ju-Jitsu martial artist Matt Hilton, will both discuss and demonstrate ways to write believable fight and action sequences, while also dispelling some myths often found in fiction.

Group B – Structuring your Story – Alexandra Sokoloff
Former Hollywood scriptwriter Alexandra Sokoloff will explain the black arts of story mapping and the three act structure

Lunch

2.00 – 2.30pm
Networking for Authors – Graham Smith
Graham Smith will briefly revisit his 2014 session on networking and show ways in which authors can create opportunities to network both online and face to face

2.30-5.00
Group A – Structuring your Story – Alexandra Sokoloff

Group B – Writing your Fights Right – Matt Hilton

Saturday 27th February
10.00 – 12.30pm
Group A – Fact in Fiction – David Thomas (Tom Cain)
David Thomas (Tom Cain) has set his novels against such real events as the London Riots, the death of Diana: Princess of Wales, and the Holocaust. Listen as he gives practical advice on blending fact and fiction to enthral your readers.

Group B – Synopsising your Novel and Preparing your Pitch – Sara Hunt
Who better than a publisher to teach you how to pitch your novel? Sara Hunt of Saraband Publishing will teach attendees on the best way to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. She will explain how to grab their attention with a professional pitch and well thought synopsis.

Lunch

1.30 – 4.00pm
Group A – Synopsising your Novel and Preparing your Pitch – Sarah Hunt

Group B – Fact in Fiction – David Thomas (Tom Cain)

4.30 – 5.30pm
1-2-1 Surgeries – Various Speakers
Pick the brains of our speakers on a 1-2-1 basis to solve that thorny problem with plotting, characters or setting with advice and insight from an experienced professional.

Sunday 28th February
10.00am
Pitch session – Sara Hunt
Sara Hunt from Saraband Publishing will be accepting pitches from all attendees. Wow her with a well delivered pitch about your unique novel and you could be on the way to literary stardom.

Optional Extra
Friday 26th February
8.00 – 10.00pm
Nurturing your Characters – Graham Smith & Michael Malone
Graham & Michael will examine some well known literary characters and identify some of the traits which make them so memorable and will also discuss ways to make your characters stand out from the crowd.

N.B. This workshop is not included in the overall price and would be charged extra.

 

 

Still not sure?  Then cast your eyes over the testimonials featured on this page, along with founder Graham Smith’s page on the 2014 event here, and returning attendee Ann Bloxwich’s article on the 2015 weekend here.  Maybe next year it will be you writing a feature for LifeOfCri.me?  Who knows? There’s only one way to find out…

Further updates on the 2016 event can be found via twitter, just follow  @GrahamSmith1972 and @CrimeandPublish

Asked and Answered – Jason Starr

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41lhRv2HMRL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Jason Starr’s latest release Savage Lane is a dark thriller that highlights the pervasiveness of fantasy, the unconscious and risky desire of release by those guilty of deceit, the costs of unaddressed ‘friendly’ banter & rumour, the belief of children that adults don’t lie and the consequences of it all…

Savage lane, is a savage place and I would NOT want to live there.  Truth is a misnomer, whilst fantasy and ego, hidden behind a ‘High Paid Father” and “Soccer Mom” society is the norm. With neighbours like these? I’d run the other way..

Today, LifeOfCri.me recommends Savage Lane as a great read, and says Thank You to Jason Starr for taking time out of his launch schedule to answer a few questions…

LOC: Can you tell us a little about Savage Lane, and your inspiration for the story?

JS: It’s a dark domestic thriller about a group of dysfunctional people in an affluent submit of New York. A recently divorced woman is at the center of the story. Unknown to her she is the object of affection of an unhappily married man, and she also becomes the target of twisted psychopath. It’s a tense thriller, but there’s a lot of satire in it too.

LOC: We’ve all lost ourselves in the occasional fantasy, yet your characters seem to take this to another level, how challenging was this to write?

JS: I wanted to make the characters as real and identifiable as possible. Yes, their behavior is heightened, partly because I wrote the book from a close third person point of you. I wanted readers to be privy to the darkest, most intimate thoughts of each character, to amp up the psychological tension. The challenge was in keeping the momentum of the story moving forward and still tell a story that is very behavioral. When I’m writing I love to push myself, though; that’s a big part of the joy I get from writing.

LOC: So what is your writing space like, and do you have a regular writing routine?

JS: I don’t have any writing space! By design actually. I much prefer to leave my apartment to write, so my “office” is a combination of coffee bars in Manhattan.

LOC: What are you working on at the moment / What’s next for you?

JS: I’m at work on a new psychological thriller, a TV pilot that I’m co-writing, and a new comics project. I prefer to work on a few projects at once–keeps things fresh and I’m more creative under pressure. I love deadlines.

LOC: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve every received?

JS: Good question! Ronald Ribman, a family friend who is a successful playwright, once advised me to always say “Yes” to opportunities. I didn’t take this to mean to take on projects that don’t excite me, but in general it’s a huge mistake for a writer to turn down work because they think they are too busy. Say yes and find the time.

LOC: Who inspires you?

JS: Everyone who ever rejected me or didn’t get behind my career.

LOC: In between projects how do you like to relax / enjoy your spare time?

JS: Spend time with my daughter, family and friends. Read, see movies and plays, a day at the racetrack.

LOC: What’s the strangest sentence you’ve written/read this week?

JS: Haven’t written much this week–been mainly traveling a promoting Savage Lane!

For the LifeOfCri.me quick fire round

Fact or Fiction? fiction

Film or TV? TV

Book or E-book? Book

Cats or Dogs? Dogs

Early Mornings or Late Nights? Both

Hot or Cold? Huh?

Relaxing or Adrenaline Fuelled? Relaxing

 

Savage Lane is out now in paperback, e-book and as an audible download…