Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

Other People’s Secrets – Louise Candlish #20booksofsummer

Book 7

Contemporary Fiction 3*s
Contemporary Fiction
3*s

A boathouse by Lake Orta sounds the most wonderful place for a holiday, and it is a break from life that Ginny and Adam Trustlove need. They have recently had a stillborn son and need to reconnect and find a way forward from this terrible tragedy. The boathouse seems to be the perfect place to do so, peace and quiet and a beautiful blue lake.

The couple have only just begun to settle in when the peace is shattered by Bea and Marty Sale and their three children, Dom, Esther and Pippi who have come to stay at the main villa. Noisy and full of life the couple are spending a last holiday together with their adult and teenaged children before the last, Pippi flies the nest.

The clue to this story really is in the title. All of the holidaymakers are hiding a secret of one sort or another, some easy to discern, other’s less so. From successful Marty who has promised to take a well-earned break from their clothing line who is only too glad to widen the party to include the less outgoing Trustloves to Pippi and the young man she draws into the circle hoping for a summer romance.

The book follows the summer break of both parties though the days of the holiday, and we get to see how the newcomer to the group, Pippi’s find Zach fits in. Because, yes you’ve guessed it he is also hiding a secret!
This book lets us examine each of the characters but the two that stand out for me are Bea who is questioning the intervening years since she was fully involved in what has become Marty’s business and Pippi who is an entitled spoilt little rich girl who is totally unused to getting what she wants.

There are some big themes in this story, notably grief and adultery but there are some other aspects of relationships that are less often explored in this type of books – I can’t tell you what because it’s a secret!!

Louise Candlish is excellent at setting the scene, I had no trouble picturing the setting at all but I wasn’t quite so convinced by the characters in this book as I have been in other books by this author. Part of the problem is the speed, all within a two-week holiday, that all the secrets come tumbling out, the characters are so busy reacting to the latest bombshell for them to feel like people you’d know. It isn’t so much that their actions were unrealistic, more that I didn’t have a baseline as a starting point. I wasn’t overly convinced that Bea and Ginny would have shared their innermost thoughts quite so readily, the women came from different worlds and didn’t really have an awful lot in common because of that. But hey this was a holiday and we all know anything can, and does happen then.

Although maybe not as suited to my reading tastes as the other books by this author this is an entertaining read which is entirely suited for holiday reading where you can be transported to another life which is, hopefully, far more hectic than yours.

First Published UK: 2010
Publisher: Sphere
No of Pages 372
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books by Louise Candlish
The Sudden Departure of the Frasers
The Disappearance of Emily Marr
The Swimming Pool

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Laidlaw – William McIlvanney

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I read this book on Fiction Fan’s recommendation since this book was gave this her FictionFan Crime Thriller Award Winner back in 2013, yes I know, I don’t like to rush to read promising books!!

Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw is investigating the rape and murder of pretty young Jennifer Lawson who was recently reported missing by her father. Detective Constable Harkness is there to assist him, newly transferred he has been warned about Laidlaw’s unorthodox methods. But the police aren’t the only ones investigating this crime – Jennifer’s father is determined to find the killer first.

Set in 1970s Glasgow hardly a page is turned that doesn’t have a snarl or a raised fists which alongside the nervousness of the women all reinforce the menace that stalks through this book. Times are hard in Glasgow with the national industries closing down and so these hard men need to make their mark on the world in the way they know best, through violence.

Unsurprisingly since this book was originally published in the 1977 the sense of time is shockingly well done including the bigotry that ran rife in Glasgow at that time. I’m not sure that poor Jennifer would have put up with the way her father ruled her and her mother quite as meekly in this day and age. His uncompromising manner had meant that there were hints of a secret boyfriend after she chose someone unsuitable in his eyes a while earlier, but was her murder committed by someone she knew, or was it perhaps a chance killing. That’s what the maverick that is Laidlaw intends to find out. But, he is considered unusual for a policeman in those macho times, because he cared about the causes of crime as a fellow officer commented:

“You’ll have to wear wellies when you work with him. To wade through the tears. He thinks criminals are underprivileged.”

Whilst the mystery itself is fairly run of the mill when you discount that this is the first of the genre now known as ‘Tartan Noir’ the beauty of this book is in its language. It is a joy to turn the page and find something pretty much quotable on practicably every page.

Sunday in the park – it was a nice day. A Glasgow sun was out, dully luminous, an eye with cataract. Some people were in the park pretending it was warm, exercising that necessary Scottish thrift with weather which hoards every good day in the hope of some year amassing a summer.

Partly because of the lyrical language this reads quite unlike most crime fiction; it isn’t a book to be devoured to find out whodunit because we know who the perpetrator is fairly on, the question is who will get to them first, the police or local justice? This is book to savour to think about the views of all involved even those who are apparently viciously elbowed out like Jennifer’s mother by the men determined to find their man and make him pay.

The one element which worried me ahead of reading this novel was the inclusion of the dialect; I’m not a big fan of dialect in a book but I honestly didn’t struggle with the inclusion in this one either in terms of meaning or with the inevitable slow-down it usually causes adapting to unfamiliar letter patterns which tend to pull me outside of the story. This was one book where those short and infrequent bursts of dialect did add rather than detract from the story particularly when I worked out Laidlaw’s use of it himself gave a pointer to the type of person he was conversing with!

An all-round enjoyable read which I’m delighted to have finally read – the next two in this trilogy are now on the wishlist and I don’t intend leaving it quite so long to get around to reading them.

First Published UK: 1977
Publisher: Cannongate Books
No of Pages 304
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters #20booksofsummer

Book 6

Little Stranger
Historical Fiction 4*s

It is so difficult to fit this book into anyone genre. It could be historical, being set just after World War Two in post-war Britain but it has far stronger elements of the supernatural than I would contemplate if it were other author, and there is a bit of the psychology of the characters to boot.

Dr Faraday first visits Hundreds Hall in rural Warwickshire as a young boy where he accompanied his mother to the elegant mansion. We first meet him though when he returns as a General Practioner to visit a young servant girl who is laid up in bed who mentions something strange which Dr Faraday swiftly dismisses. However, it isn’t long before he becomes a more frequent visitor over time when he becomes bewitched by the household, and by Hundreds Hall itself.

The wonderful storytelling is enacted through the eyes of this disappointed middle-aged GP, Dr Faraday, who has got to the stage in life where he wonders quite how everything has passed him by. He still lives in cramped rooms, never having the means or the need to invest in anything more. He has his close friends which are married but little else, beyond his work to fill the hours of his day but a family of his own has eluded him.

Normally I am very anti anything supernatural in a book, something I wonder if Sarah Waters was aware of, because although this is for those who want it to be, a ghost story, it can almost be read as a series of events which it is perhaps easiest to blame on the supernatural. Well that’s my justification for enjoying this book quite as much as I did – the rest of you can all enjoy a super scary ghost story to frighten the bejeebers out of you!

The household consists of the elderly Mrs Ayers, her son Roderick who has recently returned from the war and her daughter, the spinsterish Caroline. It is clear from the outset that this is a household who have fallen upon hard times. The Hall is much diminished since the days when Dr Faraday’s had that childhood visit, the retinue of staff have fallen away leaving just a housemaid Betty and Mrs Rush, the daily woman. With many of the rooms locked up those that remain in use are literally disintegrating around the family, with wallpaper peeling and the rain finding holes to drip through the roof. Ultimately this is a character driven novel, set at a particular point in history and the tale that unfolds is disturbing in the extreme as small events become more frequent causing disquiet to spread to every nook and cranny of Hundreds Hall

As is her trademark the lives of all involved in this tale are detailed to the minutest degree, the only author I know who can make each action, gesture and speech add something to the story when put into the hands of many, would promote a grumble about filling rather than substance from me. Instead this author makes these small details add something, not only in terms of raising the tension, but telling us more than would appear about each one of the story-dwellers. The tension she promotes raises steadily right until the end, an ending that I didn’t suspect, but now I’ve read it was most fitting.

Whilst this isn’t my favourite of this author’s books, there was so much to enjoy in all those little details, although I was glad to be reading it in the bright sunshine, rather than on a gloomy winter’s evening.

 

Publication Date UK: 28 May 2009
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages: 499
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 19)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week my opener comes from Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A Victorian Murder Mystery Solved by Paul Thomas Murphy.

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane

Blurb

A page-turning true-crime narrative forms a thrilling reconstruction of a brutal Victorian murder, in which Paul Thomas Murphy identifies, after 144 years, the killer responsible for the slaying of Jane Maria Clouson.
In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near Greenwich found a girl dying in the mud – her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull.
The girl was Maria Jane Clouson, a maid for the respectable Pook family, and who was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of the 20-year-old Edmund Pook, alleged father of the dead girl’s unborn child, were discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case.
Paul Thomas Murphy recreated the drama of an extraordinary murder case and conclusively identifies the killer’s true identity. NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER ONE
LET ME DIE

He stumbled upon her at 4:15 on Wednesday morning, April 26, 1871, half an hour before the sun rose, just as definition and colour began to bleed into the amorphous black and grey. Donald Gunn, a police constable of R, or Greenwich Division of the London Metropolitan police, was at the extremity of his beat, which had taken him from Shooter’s Hill southwest through the smaller town of Eltham, and then northeast to this deserted road flanked by market gardens and bisected by the little rivulet-Kid Brook-that gave this road its name – Kidbrooke Lane. Kidbrooke Lane provided a direct route between the Kent countryside and the metropolis, but few carriages or wagons travelled that way, as it was muddy, rutted-nearly impassable. The lane’s adjoining footpath, however was drier, and during the day the route was well frequented by pedestrians, particularly in the evenings: then, the area around Kidbrooke Lane became a well-known haven for lovers, the surrounding fields offering the perfect space apart for lovemaking, just minutes from the bustle of southeast London, but a world away from the relentless attention of the city, and particularly from prying parental eyes.

This extract comes from a proof copy

So what do you think? Quite a long lead-in but I think it is giving us a very good picture of the place of the murder.

Please leave your thoughts and links in the envelope below!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Death Comes Knocking – Graham Bartlett with Peter James

Non-Fiction 4*s
Non-Fiction
4*s

Death Comes Knocking is a non-fictional look at policing in Brighton, the place which is where the fictional Roy Grace carries out a similar role to that of the author of this book, Graham Bartlett worked his way up through the ranks to the position of Brighton’s Police Commander and during the course of his career has dealt with crimes and criminals of all shapes and sizes.

Sometimes policemen who turn their hand to writing go for the fictional genre, and can woefully overburden the reader with how different real-life work is to those of the fictional characters we all love. I think what Graham Bartlett along with Peter James, have produced is far more interesting because the real and the fictional feature alongside each other celebrating the similarities but adding a side-serving of realism to the proceedings.

In nineteen chapters the book follows Graham’s life through his career picking out cases which definitely appealed to this reader. The books starts hard when one criminal gang decide to pull the trigger at a fellow Police Officer, but there are also tales of stolen gems, drugs, murder, bent policemen and the strategic policing of events like football games and demonstrations. Many of these tales reference back to episodes in the twelve Roy Grace books written by Peter James.

The stories told are interesting because the authors concentrate on the characters involved as well as the crimes being committed. There is one very touching story about a man who got involved in drugs and other’s where the authors meet up with some of the named criminals and victims years later which provides far more than a list of facts, procedure and policy but gets to the real truth of how these crimes can have consequences many years down the line.

Bravely the author also documents his private life, telling us how, unlike Roy and Sandy Grace, his marriage has stayed strong despite life’s misfortunes and the unpredictability of working hours in the force. Only on a very few occasions, oddly enough when the author was describing some of his colleagues, did the writing style feel a little on the stilted side. It didn’t put me off reading the book but I did wonder if he was aware that they would be eagerly reading the book to see what he’d said about them?

Of course with a career that lasted for thirty years Graham has seen lots of changing in policing. Some of the changes he documents are the obvious ones such as the advent of DNA and the increase in CCTV and later other technology to help in the solving of crimes, but other less obvious to those of us on the outside have also changed over the years.

I am sure that this book will appeal to both those who enjoy ‘true-crime’ but don’t want to dwell on the infamous criminals, which these books usually focus on, and of course to lovers of Peter James’s Roy Grace series. The latter category of readers can hear a little about the real people who inspired, and gave their names too, some of the fictional characters in the books and more description about the actual places detailed in these novels.

Death Comes Knocking has a very informal feel for a non-fiction piece of work in this genre because of the links to the fictional but that was exactly what kept me reading. I was worried that it would be too dry for my taste but far from it, I was eager to hear about a forging operation run out of Brighton as much as I was the poor woman who was the victim of a stalker, the variety alone felt astonishing until you remember how many different crimes Graham must have worked on over his time in the police force.

My copy of Death Comes Knocking was sent to me by Midas PR on behalf of Pan Macmillan, the publishers. This unbiased review is my thank you to them, and the authors.

Publication Date UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages 327
Genre: Non-Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 17)

Weekly Wrap Up

Mont Orgueille
Mont Orgueil Castle –  Photo courtesy of Man Vyi

Well on the home front I’ve continued to be under siege at work, but I’m battling through.

Yesterday we visited the wedding venue to meet the ‘flower lady’, counted the number of steps the bride-to-be is going to have to climb in her finery and debated whether the odd-shaped conveniences were going to pose an insurmountable problem. Then did lots of arty crafty stuff, which went better than I anticipated.

Last Week on the Blog

This week got off to a cracking start with my review of Lying In Wait by the fabulously talented Liz Nugent Who can resist a book that starts with this line?
‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

To round off this review Liz Nugent also pointed out the following – I’m thrilled!

Tuesday Post featured the first paragraph was from Death Comes Knocking by Graham Bartlett and Peter James – my tenth non-fiction read of 2016 already beating 2015’s total.

On This Week in Books I reaffirmed my vow to read the ninth in my pile from my 20 Books of Summer 2016 Challenge, A Testament of Youth. I’m proud to confirm I have started it and I’m enjoying it enormously.

I was thrilled to be invited to pose a list of questions to James Henry to celebrate the publication of his latest book, Blackwater. You can read his good humoured responses here.

Friday I finally got around to posting another review; I Found You by Lisa Jewell which was another brilliant read from this talented author, and her darkest yet.

And the second half of my 20 Books of Summer 2016 was published yesterday. By rights this should mean I’ve read all ten of the first set which sadly isn’t the case, but I’m aiming to read as many of these as I can before the end of the challenge.

Stacking the Shelves

This week two books I won in a prize on Portobello Book Blog arrived through my letterbox from Black & White Publishers. This is the second time I’ve been a won something through Portobello Book Blog, one that is worth checking out as it is full of hidden gems, such as The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin.

The Judge's Daughte

Blurb

Spanning three decades, this is the moving story of three women and how one great love changed their lives forever.
With her whole life ahead of her, beautiful young Grace’s world changes forever when she’s married off to a much older judge. Soon, feeling lonely and neglected, Grace meets and falls in love with an Indian doctor, Vikram. He’s charming, thoughtful and kind, everything her husband is not. But this is the 1950s and when she becomes pregnant, the potential scandal must be harshly dealt with to avoid ruin.
As soon as she has given birth, Grace is sent to an asylum by the judge and a conniving aunt. Vikram is told that Grace died in childbirth and returns, heartbroken, to India. But it’s not the end of the story. Thirty years later, with the judge dead, his estranged daughter Emma returns home, full of anger and resentment. There she finds Grace’s diaries and begins to uncover a mystery about her mother that she had never suspected. Meanwhile, in India, Vikram is planning a long-awaited trip to Ireland with his much-loved niece, Rosa, who has heard all about Grace and her uncle’s long lost love, so that he can stand, at last, at the grave of the woman he loved. Goodreads

Along with this book, came another by the same author; The Ballroom Café.

The Ballroom Cafe

Blurb

Sisters Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan haven’t spoken for decades, torn apart by a dark family secret from their past. They both still live in the family’s crumbling Irish mansion, communicating only through the terse and bitter notes they leave for each other in the hallway. But when their way of life is suddenly threatened by bankruptcy, Ella tries to save their home by opening a café in the ballroom – much to Roberta’s disgust.
As the café begin to thrive, the sisters are drawn into a new battle when Debbie, an American woman searching for her birth mother, starts working at the Ballroom Café. Debbie has little time left but as she sets out to discover who she really is and what happened to her mother, she is met by silence and lies at the local convent. Determined to discover the truth, she begins to uncover an adoption scandal that will rock both the community and the warring sisters.
Powerful and poignant, The Ballroom Café is a moving story of love lost and found. Goodreads

And then to almost the opposite of the nice-gentle-read range, I came across this review for The Unspeakable Crimes of Dr Petiot by Thomas Maeder on His Futile Preoccupations blog. Guy’s review states:

It’s impossible to create a spectrum of cruelty when it comes to murderers, but Dr. Petiot is right up there with the worst–not just for the numbers involved but for the way he capitalized on fear, preying on the most vulnerable people.

So I’m forewarned that this might be too much for me, but fortunately I know someone else who will love this if it is.

The unspeakable crimes of dr petiot

Blurb

Was he a sadistic mass killer who lured innocent people to their deaths in his mysterious triangular room, or a hero of German-occupied Paris who liquidated members of the Gestapo and helped persecuted Jews and underground fighters escape from tormented France? This was the question as one of the twentieth century’s most sensational murder cases came to trial in Paris in 1946, and Dr. Marcel Petiot savagely fought for his honor and his life. Here Thomas Maeder meticulously reconstructs one of the most horrifying true stories in the annals of crime: the vile murders themselves (presumably Dr. Petiot dismembered his victims, then buried them in a lime pit), an incisive psychological portrait of the doctor, and a re-creation of his Daumieresque trial, in which he was charged with luring twenty-seven people with the promise of escape, then murdering them for plunder. Just how the crimes were committed was a secret Dr. Petiot took to his grave; why he committed them remains to this day a chilling mystery. In a century in which murder became almost commonplace, Dr. Petiot’s story is an alarming chapter in the saga of sadism. With 16 pages of black-and-white photographs. Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last post I have read just 2 books and gained 3 but fortunately found a read book in the physical book pile so the total this week is now standing still  at 175 books!
89 physical books
68 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016

20 Books of Summer 2016! Part II #20booksofsummer

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2016 and running until 5 September 2016, and I’ve decided to join her.

As I’m competitive I signed up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own before the end of the challenge. I’m on book nine at the moment (although only up to review number five) and as I only chose the first ten books at the start, I promised I’d add the second set half way through the challenge – so here we are books eleven to twenty!

Books 11 to 20 Summer 2016

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

They Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth

Standing In The Shadows by Jon Stasiak

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight

Tea by the Nursery Fire by Noel Streatfeild

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I have been joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer. Each of my posts for this challenge have the logo and the number of the book attached.

Like last year there is a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted.

So what do you think of the second half of my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

I Found You – Lisa Jewell

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Lisa Jewell is an author you can absolutely depend upon to provide you with a story to lose yourself in and I Found You was no different. Those of you who think that this is shelved under light reading, you are wrong. There are dark aspects to this story which rival the best of the ‘grip-lit’ that adorn bookshop’s shelves the world over.

Cold and wet and staring out to see stands a man with no name. Well of course he has a name but he can’t remember anything. He hasn’t the faintest clue who he is or where he is. On the other side of the beach, behind a rain-streaked pane of glass stands Alice Lake. Alice is watching the man, all morning and into the afternoon when she is moved to take him a spare coat. Alice is a kind-hearted, if one who fate hasn’t handed her the best of luck. She has three children ranging from mid-teens to five-year old Ronnie and they all have different fathers but her luck has turned and she now has a good friend Derry in Ridinghouse Bay, East Yorkshire. Derry tells her to leave the man on the beach to his own devices, but Alice isn’t terribly good at following advice and she longs to know more about him.

In Surrey in a newly built flat Lily Monrose has lost her husband of three weeks. She has rung his mobile but there is no answer. Lily has only just landed in the country following their wedding in Ukraine and she knows no-one. With Carl missing Lily has to become resourceful if she’s to track down her husband.

These two storylines continue at parallel for part one of the book and then we slip back in time to 1993 and join a family holiday in Ridinghouse Bay. Coincidentally they are staying in the same house that Alice and her family inhabit in the present day. This turns out to be a holiday that no-one will forget.

This book, like so many of Lisa Jewell’s previous books captured me from the start. I wanted to know more about the man on the beach, I wanted to be free-spirited Alice’s friend, I put myself in Lily’s shoes and marvelled at her persistence and ingenuity in a foreign land and would happily have chatted to the family holidaying in Ridinghouse Bay. All the characters feel totally authentic and act in a realistic way which lends a great deal of depth to what turns into probably the darkest of all Lisa Jewell’s novels. I was gripped from the beginning and if there was a word for gripped more, then I was that from part two which resulted in total grippedness by the last pages of this book, which had me shedding a small tear or two for all that had gone before.

Reading this novel felt like meeting an old friend, or few; the writing style is ‘friendly’ and the first person present tense gives the feeling of immediacy which made me feel like I was at worst an onlooker although at times I really believed I was there as I came up with my own wild theories as to what was going on.

I Found You was published on 14 July 2016 by Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of this book and this unbiased review is my thank you to them.

Publication Date UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• I Found You (2016)
The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

Posted in Author Interview

Q & A with James Henry Author of Blackwater

Blackwater book jacket

Back in March I received a copy of this book from the author and simply couldn’t wait until closer to publication date to read it – yes my strict scheduling was broken for this author who also wrote the prequels to the Inspector Frost series, which he executed with the spirit of R D Wingfield.

You can read my review to Blackwater here and even better it’s published today!

I’ll start with the obvious question:

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Did you write stories as a child?  

I never thought about writing until the opportunity presented itself (with First Frost), and then it was more to see if I could, rather any burning passion to do so.

What were your five favourite childhood books?

Richard Scarry’s The Great Pie Robbery, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Fantastic Mr Fox, Comet in Moominland, Moominland Midwinter.

Oh yes! All of those were in our house too!

You wrote the three excellent prequels for R D Wingfield’s Inspector Frost series: Were you asked to or did you volunteer?

Thanks. I volunteered. I am a fan, the TV had drawn to a close and the author had sadly passed away. It is a rare privilege to be associated with the great R D Wingfield and his fantastic creation, Jack Frost.

Blackwater is set on the Essex shoreline particularly around Mersea Flats and your writing really evokes the sense of place. Is it somewhere that you have spent a lot of time?

Yes, I love it there. I have been windsurfing off West Mersea for over twenty-five years, but also visit on still days to walk on the sea wall at Cudmore Grove.

Where did the inspiration for DI Nick Lowry come from? Is he based on someone you know?

He’s not based on anyone I know (though like Lowry I keep my sherry in the fridge, but that’s where the similarity ends). His name is borrowed from the writer Malcom Lowry, a favourite of mine.

How would you introduce Nick Lowry at a party?

He’s not the party type!

Being a teenager in the 1980s I particularly enjoy stories set at this time so what one thing best evokes the 80s to you?

The music. A lot of it was truly dreadful, but on the other hand it was undeniably a varied decade, if you think about it.

It was indeed and there are some bars of music (good and bad) that instantly conjure up that time for me.

I felt quite sorry for WPC Jane Gabriel at the beginning of the book since she really is subject to the male whims of her colleagues who either dismiss her or see her as a sex object? This aspect of the book really did hammer home quite how far attitudes have changed. Was it a deliberate choice to make her quite so attractive to highlight this?

Yes – that and I wanted a new recruit from another industry/environment. Gabriel was a model and so was familiar with the drawing stares – the fact that she cannot escape this even behind a uniform made it an appealing attribute to her character.

Which book set in the 80s would you recommend to me?

It would have to be A Touch of Frost.

The pace of this thriller is far faster than Frost’s more meandering way at solving a case; which is easier to write?

Frost was easier to write, as there are (very good) precedents. Although the prequels aren’t by any means the same, the originals provide a guide to follow, with regard to structure.

Do you have a writing schedule? Perhaps you have a target of a set number of words per day?

In a way – I know how much I need to do in a month…and have deadlines (which I consistently miss).

With Colchester being a garrison town some of the members of the armed forces are under observation in relation to suspected drugs smuggling. How much research did you have to do to get the scenes where the Police force and the armed forces have different priorities right?

I didn’t research too deep, as that would have affected how I drew the characters and how they might interpret situations. That said I did get a general overview from people who were there at the time, and the whole book is influenced by stories I picked up on by dint of living in the area. For example in the 1930s Colchester Police had a boxing team that won the European Championship. The team was run by a Chief Constable who was keen to recruit sportsmen like Sparks in Blackwater. Whether they actually sparred with the army, I have no idea, but it seems feasible from a fictional point of view.

Where do you write?

On the train when I commute into London, and in very untidy room in Essex.

Are there any more books in the pipeline and do they feature DI Lowry?

There are. I’m just about to start…

The information I received with Blackwater says you work in publishing and enjoy long lunches? What do you do? Are there any openings as I like long lunches too!

Ha, yes I do work in publishing as an editor. The long lunches are infrequent now, but enjoyable when they occur… shout when you’re in town and we’ll what we can do!

James Henry_MG_5361

Thank you James for answering my questions with such good humour, I wish you every success with Nick Lowry and look forward to that book you are about to start…

Publication Date UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: riverrun
No of Pages 496
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Frost Prequels
First Frost
Fatal Frost
Morning Frost

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (July 13)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

The book I’m reading at the moment is Death Come Knocking by Graham Bartlett with Peter James. This really is a really interesting look at real life policing in Brighton and cleverly linking to key plot-lines or character traits of the Roy Grace series.

Death Comes Knocking

To read an extract and the synopsis, please see yesterday’s post.

I’ve just finished I Found You by Lisa Jewell which was an excellent tale of a man who had lost his memory and wound up on a beach cold and wet. A book full of questions, just like I enjoy and much darker than you might expect.

I Found You

Blurb

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’
East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.
Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel. Amazon

Next up I am going to read A Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain which got rescheduled a few weeks back due to a lack of time. I’m going to be honest, I’m not really sure that I have time for it this week either as my life is full of work and wedding bits for my daughter – she has my whole weekend planned for me and hasn’t factored in this massive book! But I’m going to do my best to get started.

Testament of Youth

Blurb

In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time, and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933. Amazon

What are you reading this week? Fancy any of these? Please share in the comments envelope below