Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 15)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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

I am currently reading another book for my Mount TBR Challenge which I’m pleased to say is still on track! I purchased A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup on 8 September 2016 and I’m working my way through all the poisons with delight!

Blurb

Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie’s extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. Amazon

Before that I finished Boundary by Andrée A. Michaud which will be published on 23 March 2017.

Blurb

It’s the Summer of 1967. The sun shines brightly over Boundary lake, a holiday haven on the US-Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Hours tick away to the sound of radios playing ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’. Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air. Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blond Lolitas. Life seems idyllic.

But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over… Amazon

Next up is A Life Between Us by Louise Walters whose debut novel Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase wowed me.

Blurb

Tina Thornton’s twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister’s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died. Who, if anyone, did kill Meg?

As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.
A Life Between Us is a beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries. Amazon

What are you reading? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 14)

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.

My opener this week comes from The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey the third in the DI Grace Fisher series which will be published on 6 April 2017.

Blurb

A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose shocking account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was wrapped up too soon? Scotland Yard would certainly prefer Grace to make it all go away.

As Grace uncovers the secrets and lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to the ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


1

Detective Inspector Grace Fisher heard an owl hoot as she got out of the car. It was somewhere off in the thick darkness of the woods on the opposite side of the road. The faintest whisper of a breeze in the night air rustled the treetops and brushed her cheek as she inhaled the dry, earthy smell of last winter’s leaf litter.

‘What genius thought it would be a good idea to stop there?’ she asked, shaking her head at the two marked cars pulled up on the verge beside a five-bar gate. ‘Right where the perpetrator might have left a vehicle if they had one.’

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I like Grace Fisher’s no nonsense approach and I’m really looking forward to reading more.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century – Peter Graham

Non-Fiction
4*s

New Zealand on a fine wintery day in June 1954 a woman, her daughter and her daughter’s best friend took a walk in nearby Victoria Park. The little group stopped at a tea kiosk for refreshments and then walked further into the park. The next thing Agnes Richie, owner of the tea kiosk knew was that the two girls turned up screaming that Pauline’s mother Mrs Rieper had fallen, and there was lots of blood. There was no fall, Mrs Rieper had been bludgeoned to death by the two fifteen year old girls.

Peter Graham takes a forensic look at the circumstances that led up to the killing of Mrs Rieper, soon to be known as Honorah Parker, in the newspapers, because if the indignity of being the victim of matricide wasn’t enough, Bill, Pauline’s father had to disclose that the couple had never married despite having had four children together. The natural place to start is the friendship between the wealthy Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, especially as the rumours were that the two girls were in a lesbian relationship and the author takes us through a comprehensive look at the facts, mainly supplied by Pauline’s diary but supplemented by the stories the two girls wrote and a few comments from contemporaries. He doesn’t leave it there the circumstances of both families are examined with microscopic detail to look for clues on where the seeds were sown for such an unnatural crime. Indeed rates of matricide, a fairly rare crime in itself, but when split by gender exceptionally so. Indeed those who commit this particular crime tend to be adult women living with elderly mothers, not teenage girls.

The book is fascinating, it starts with the scene of the crime and then looks backwards into the family details before moving onto the questioning of the girls and their eventual trial. If anything a lot of the details about Henry’s work as a scientist seemed a little superfluous but if nothing else it gave context, and indeed contrast, between the lives the two girls lived. The author tries, and in my opinion fails, to come up with an underlying mental illness for either girl, but as in the examination of their family set-ups, he doesn’t ever impose his views, rather gives the facts and lets the reader come to their own conclusion.

The big difference in this account is that we know what happens after the trial, after the two girls were released mainly because one of them became a famous author, of crime fiction. Her identity was discovered when in 1994 Peter Jackson directed the film Heavenly Creatures about this crime, then thirty years after the event. Anne Perry was alive and well, living in Scotland having succeeded in becoming a successful author. It is hard to put out of your mind the stories to the two friends wrote together, heavily inspired by the films they watched and their fertile imaginations. Pauline Parker was also tracked down by keen journalists, she also no longer lived in New Zealand but had settled in England under a new name.

This was a fascinating read although it is often the truth that as much as we want to, we learn little from murderers through true crime. The two girls in this instance, hatched a plan without any idea of what killing someone really entailed and as a result were quickly caught. Their plans to go to America and meet the film stars and become writers, didn’t come true… but for one of them it almost did.

I chose to read this book when I learned that Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge was inspired by this crime which was front page news around the world at the time. I thought that I would follow up with a book by Anne Perry herself, but to be honest I don’t have the stomach for that at the moment, but I have bought a copy of Heavenly Creatures to watch.

First Published UK: 2013
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
No of Pages: 325
Genre: Non Fiction – True Crime 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 12)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

I had a fantastic blogging week with a blog tour and three five star reviews; and yes, three five star reviews even though I’ve been following my slightly stricter criteria!!

On Monday G.J. Minett wrote a guest post on Writing Characters which gave some very sound advice as part of his blog tour to promote Lie In Wait which is now out in paperback.

My excerpt post came from a book that I’m very excited to read; A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

This Week in Books included a murderous trio of books by Leigh Russell, Peter Graham and Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

My first five star review was for the long awaited Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey, the seventh in the Maeve Kerrigan series.

The second review was for an equally thrilling Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary, the fourth in the chilling DI Marnie Rome series.

And lastly, but no means least, my review for Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister explains why this  psychological thriller was an unexpected delight.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison a psychological thriller. The opening paragraph explains that I am cutting back on this genre which I find amusing because I’m still saying that now – maybe my addiction runs deeper than I thought!

This domestic noir thriller is about Aubrey whose husband went missing on his best friend’s stag night but Aubrey is convinced he is still alive. With a likeable chief protagonist this avoids some of the clichés of the 2016 domestic noir output, although it had enough surprises to keep me thoroughly entertained.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Aubrey Hamilton has been mourning her missing husband for five years, despite being even while she was considered the prime suspect in his murder. But when he is officially declared dead, there are still more questions than answers: Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered, or did he run away? And who is the new, mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly appearing in Aubrey’s life? And has she finally lost her mind after years of loneliness and confusion? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Another restrained week for me, probably helped by the fact that Jersey has suffered from fog so we had no mail for a few days!

Jersey Evening Post

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Stranger by Saskia Sarginson chosen because I really did enjoy The Other Me by this author.

Blurb

We all have our secrets. Eleanor Rathmell has kept one her whole life. But when her husband dies and a stranger arrives at her door, her safe life in the idyllic English village she’s chosen as her home begins to topple.
Everyone is suspicious of this stranger, except for Eleanor. But her trust in him will put her life in danger, because nothing is as it seems; not her dead husband, the man who claims to love her, or the inscrutable outsider to whom she’s opened her home and her heart. NetGalley

And I bought a copy of A Time for Silence by Thorne Moore because one of the bloggers I’ve followed for the longest,  BookerTalk, suggested this one for an upcoming Put A Book on The Map post and it sounded so good that I couldn’t resist – this will be the first entry for Wales on the map!

Blurb

When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon

What have you found to read this week? – do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so the grand total is hurtling in a downward direction to 187
Physical Books – 109
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 14

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

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Everything But The Truth is a psychological thriller but not of the ilk that you might be expecting from the genre. This superb read is a quieter more thoughtful book with moral dilemmas at its heart rather than the fast paced action packed books that is now the norm for books marketed under this heading. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t gripping, far from it!

Rachel is pregnant, one that wasn’t planned, well there was hardly enough time for that in her new relationship with Jack, but the pregnancy isn’t a disaster, both are thrilled about the baby on the way and Rachel is delighted to have found ‘the one.’ Rachel works in a law firm as an administrator having left her job as a paediatric doctor while Jack is working as a journalist in Newcastle having moved for a temporary role from his hometown of Oban. All is going well although the couple have yet to move in together in readiness for the forthcoming baby.

Then late one night Jack’s iPad lights up and half-asleep Rachel reads the email sent which mentions an event that she knows nothing about. Rachel begins to wonder how well she knows Jack especially when the short reply he gives the next morning, isn’t wholly convincing.

The book then follows Rachel and Jack forward from this moment where Rachel is determined to find out the truth whatever the cost, but is she right to keep digging? And what is she going to do if she ever finds out? We also see what Rachel’s life was like before Jack, when she was working I the hospital, this strand takes a while before the relevance of this becomes clear, but all is revealed later Beyond that I can’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else.

There is no doubt that Gillian McAllister knows how to weave a tale that is complex and has space built into the narrative that allows the reader to put themselves into the character’s shoes, and yes to make judgements on that tricky morality scale. All the characters are exceptionally well drawn, Rachel and Jack behave in ways that felt absolutely realistic, but so do the secondary characters who are varied and memorable in their own right. I often think that social situations are the hardest to transfer to the page, after all those family walks where in reality no-one says anything particularly scintillating are rarely found in books, but when Jack and Rachel went for a walk with Jack’s parents and brother, it was an evocative scene full of Scottish mist with convincing everyday ordinariness.

One of the strands of Everything But The Truth linked to a personal experience of mine which meant that this is one of those magical books that really ‘spoke to me’ . In this part I had predicted the outcome, but that made it no less devastating to read the words I didn’t want to see on the page. Yes, this book had me sobbing, but it also entertained me, made me think and painted a picture of a young couple that imprinted themselves onto my memory. I won’t forget this book in a long while it had that big an impact on me. There is so much packed into this book that I really do think that there are going to be few readers that are not drawn into some aspect of this clever, fresh-feeling addition to the genre.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book for review purposes from Penguin Books and this honest review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 420
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Quieter than Killing – Sarah Hilary

Crime Fiction
5*s

Quieter than Killing starts with a chilling prologue; a young boy listens to the sound of a car being washed, carrots being chopped and a boy in a red bedroom surrounded by a girl’s possessions. This outwardly domestic scene has an unfathomable undercurrent that let me know from the first short sentence that the latest book in the DI Marnie Rome series, her fourth outing, was going to be a real treat.

So starts another brilliant outing for DI Marnie Rome and her partner DS Jake Noah in a race against time to work out what links what appears to be violent attacks on people who have previously been convicted of crimes as disparate as kidnapping and assault. Then the new perpetrator goes too far and one of their victims dies. Who is picking these latest victims and why won’t they reveal who is hurting them? With crimes that seem to take no account of age, sex or years since the original crime, finding the killer is going to need the sharpest of detectives. Meanwhile Marnie is left shaken when her parent’s former home is burgled and her tenants badly hurt at the same time and are in the hospital.

During earlier books in this series we’re aware of the crimes committed by Marnie’s foster brother Stephen and his mischief-making is still ongoing, as are Jake’s problems with his younger brother who has been embroiled in the local gangs. This mixture of police investigation with their personal problems is one of the aspects I really enjoy and the two worlds are becoming too close for comfort for both officers. The pair find themselves investigating the gangs and their increasingly young recruits. And then things seem to get personal and with Marnie’s boss, and chief protector and supporter, off work with a serious illness, Marnie has to learn to confront attacks both personal and professional without him at the same time she has to prove herself to the woman drafted in to lead the Murder Investigation Team.

The plotting as ever is exquisite with perfect pacing which takes us down more than one blind alley, each time the tension rises to a new height. This is the twistiest of the series yet, but the author keeps a handle on the strands so that at no time did I consider any revelation, one too many. It is refreshing to be able to relish a story without feeling as if everything is positioned just to confuse, but that these events are not only possible, but likely to happen.

Of course the most engaging of plots wouldn’t get far without great characters and whilst the two detectives are already well-defined, they show parts of their characters that haven’t been quite so obvious before and they are joined by a great supporting cast. To Sarah Hilary, it doesn’t matter if you are a goodie or a baddie, she will add layers to both surprise and delight.

So we have plot and characters and even better Sarah Hilary adds a brilliant turn of phrase to the trinity. For anyone who is under the misapprehension that crime writers can produce a great book without knowing their crime as it is all about the whodunit and less about the well-crafted phrase, all I can say is read this book and experience how great a read can be when all three come together.

I am very grateful to the publishers Headline who allowed me to read an advance copy of Quieter than Killing ahead of publication of 9 March 2017.
Previous books in the DI Marnie Rome Series:

Someone Else’s Skin
No Other Darkness
Tastes Like Fear

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey

Crime Fiction
5*s

Eighteen year old Chloe Emery left her father’s house and made her way home to her mother and in these earliest scenes I was left in no doubt at all that something awful is about to happen as her neighbour, Oliver Norris, offers her a lift and drops her home. She dashes inside the house out of the rain and then slowly, very slowly, she realises that all is not as it should be. The house smells funny and there is mud everywhere, only it is not mud, it’s blood.

Maeve Kerrigan has been promoted and she is now a DS, eager to prove herself in the new role and determined that Josh Derwent is going to realise she doesn’t need him treating her like a junior anymore. The pair are called to the Emery house where despite the lack of a body, a murder investigation is launched; Chloe’s mother Kate is nowhere to be found and all her belongings are still at home. This could prove to be a PR disaster for the police if Kate is not dead, but an equal one if they don’t treat it seriously enough.

Right from the off I had masses of questions, was Chloe really as slow as she seemed, and if so why was her bright younger neighbour, Bethany Norris so keen to spend so much time with her? With Chloe reluctant to tell the officers exactly where she’s been since she left her father’s house, or even why she left without saying goodbye, the police are sure they are missing some vital information. But, at least Chloe is safe staying with the Norris’s while the house is a crime scene.

We have a new younger woman on the team too, Georgina who it’s safe to say isn’t a hit with Maeve and so her efforts to impress fall somewhat flat but it takes her a while to cotton on. This is just one example of how Jane Casey gets the tone exactly right. Maeve may well not take to Georgina, but she tries. She doesn’t go for the all-out put downs but tries to temper them with some helpful advice, that way when Georgina screws up, we all know who to blame.

This is, like all the other books in the series, action packed with life-threatening moments coming not just where you expect them, at the end of the book. The pacing is immaculate, once I started this one, I really was terribly reluctant to put it down. There is intrigue as well as all the deadly sins, none as deadly as those inflicted on those who should be closest to us, our family. The casual lies, betrayals and greed are sewn deep into the very fabric of this book, and few of the minor characters come away with anything like an intact reputation which gives plenty of suspects to be suspected!

Now if you want taut plotting and a cast of characters to delight, then you don’t need to look any further, Jane Casey delivers on both. Even better there is an undercurrent of humour which serves to deflect from any of the horrific pictures your imagination may serve up, and believe me, there are plenty of such opportunities.

I was extremely lucky to be given a proof copy of Let The Dead Speak by the publishers ahead of publication date of 9 March 2017!

The Maeve Kerrigan Series in Order

The Burning
The Reckoning
The Last Girl
The Stranger You Know
The Kill
After The Fire

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 8)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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

March reading has started well with a couple of cracking books that will be published later this month but my This Week in Books is starting with a break from the new and shiny and making sure I keep reading those from my (extensive) pile of books that I have bought with my hard-earned pennies!

I am currently reading Cut Short by Leigh Russell which I purchased on 16 February 2014 – yes three patient years it has been waiting to be chosen!

Blurb

When DI Geraldine Steel relocates to the quiet rural town of Woolsmarsh, she expects to find her new home to be somewhere where nothing much ever happens; a space where she can battle her demons in private. But when she finds herself pitted against a twisted killer preying on local young women she quickly discovers how wrong she is…

By day, the park is a place for children’s games, for people walking their dogs or taking a short cut to avoid the streets. But in the shadows a predator prowls, hunting for a fresh victim. When an unwitting bystander comes forward as a witness she quickly becomes the next object of his murderous obsessions. . .

DI Geraldine Steel is locked into a race against time, determined to find the killer before they discover yet another corpse. But can she save the lives of the town’s young women – or will Geraldine herself become the killer’s ultimate trophy? Amazon

I have just finished the deeply disturbing Anne Perry and The Murder of the Century by Peter Graham, in it the author grapples to find an explanation why two teenage girls would murder one of their mothers.



Blurb

On June 22, 1954, teenage friends Juliet Hulme–better known as bestselling mystery writer Anne Perry–and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honorah. Half an hour later, the girls returned alone, claiming that Pauline’s mother had had an accident. But when Honorah Parker was found in a pool of blood with the brick used to bludgeon her to death close at hand, Juliet and Pauline were quickly arrested, and later confessed to the killing. Their motive? A plan to escape to the United States to become writers, and Honorah’s determination to keep them apart. Their incredible story made shocking headlines around the world and would provide the subject for Peter Jackson’s Academy Award-nominated film, Heavenly Creatures.

A sensational trial followed, with speculations about the nature of the girls’ relationship and possible insanity playing a key role. Among other things, Parker and Hulme were suspected of lesbianism, which was widely considered to be a mental illness at the time. This mesmerizing book offers a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial and shares dramatic revelations about the fates of the young women after their release from prison. With penetrating insight, this thorough analysis applies modern psychology to analyse the shocking murder that remains one of the most interesting cases of all time. Amazon

Next up something gentle? No, but it is something that looks very good indeed; The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Blurb

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next? Amazon

So even for me that is a week full of murder and mayhem!

What are you reading this week – do share in the comments below!

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 7)

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 book choice is A Life Between Us by Louise Walters, author of Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase which was a huge hit with me. A Life Between Us will be published on 28 March 2017.

a-life-between-us

Blurb

Tina Thornton’s twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister’s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died.

Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.

A Life Between Us is a beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

PROLOGUE

JULY 2014

Lucie wandered from room to empty room. The house whispered to her, echoing with the sounds and colours of days gone by. The removal men hovered outside. The taxi she’d booked had arrived, and the driver tapped his steering wheel, looking hopefully at the house, the engine of his car ticking over. They could all wait. In the small bedroom at the back of the house she gazed for the last time at the green fields, the clouds gathering in the distance, the summer hedges in full flow. The cows grazed as they had always grazed, the sun shone over the fields like it had always shone and always would. She crept into the room that had once been her parents’, then her mother’s, then for many years her brother’s. It was a particularly barren room, scarred by the removal of its furniture. The wallpaper had faded to a forgettable off-white, where it had once been a rich cream scattered with tiny rosebuds. This was a house that breathed its history; it sighed and whispered of those tragedies, of which there had been two. Unforgivable events that could not be undone, like all tragedies. But Lucie hoped they could now, at last, be forgotten.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I don’t usually choose my excerpt from the prologue but I think this one gives us a real flavour of what brought us to this point and if I’m honest it was hard to put this aside and read the book currently on the go.

Would you keep reading?

Posted in Blog Tour

Lie In Wait – G.J. Minett #BlogTour #Author Post

Lie In Wait

On 9 March 2017 Lie In Wait by G.J. Minett is being published as a paperback and looking inside the front cover I can see that I’m not the only reader to heap praise on this novel

lie-in-wait-inside-cover

So I was thrilled to be asked to kick off the blog tour to celebrate the paperback publication especially as the author was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, which includes submitting book three to the publishers, to write this exclusive post about writing characters!

Writing Characters

All authors have to choose a starting point that works for them and for me it’s the central character. That doesn’t mean to say that potential plots don’t occur to me from time to time – they do, and I tend to shut them away for future reference because until I have a character I want to work with, there is no story to tell. Once I do, I can then look for that character’s Achilles heel and choose a situation that is going to test her/him to the limit. But it’s character first.

In The Hidden Legacy, Ellen sprang out of an exercise we did for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. We were given a comprehensive checklist which we had to use to ask our character questions ranging from which newspaper she read to what her deepest fear would be. I took ages over fleshing her out and carried her around with me for months, even asking myself how she would react to news items on TV. Not far off schizophrenic maybe but very useful for getting to know your character.

In Lie In Wait Owen was a composite of a handful of children I’ve taught over the years who seem to have the words ‘natural victim’ stamped into their psyche. Very often they are different but they are made more so by the reaction of those around them who exclude them from everything.

Writing is not just about central characters though and I’ve come up with three tips which work for me when developing the cast of supporting actors who help to bring the novel to life. In no particular order they are:

• Avoid extremes if possible. Not many people are without flaws and no one I’ve met is entirely without redeeming features. Try to make sure you throw in a few little surprises which show a different side to your characters or there’s a danger they’ll be too wooden and stereotypical to be interesting. It’s always better to challenge the reader’s expectations.

• Get the dialogue right. We all speak slightly differently from each other with a variety of hesitations, digressions, favourite expressions that, you know, we seem to kind of throw in every other sentence . . . basically. Know what I mean? Listen to people around you, borrow extensively from them. In an ideal world, it should be possible for a reader to listen to a dozen or so examples of speech from one character in your novel and know exactly who it is without being told. And the listening part is important too – try taping an extended piece of dialogue you’ve created and playing it back to see what it sounds like. If it clunks, change it.

• Test your characters. You won’t want (or have time) to do this with all of them but with half a dozen or so who appear relatively frequently, try to come up with a situation which will put them under pressure and bring out a different side to them. Characters when pressurised behave in ways that surprise us and readers tend to like being caught on the hop. At any social gathering, I don’t suppose I’m very different from anyone else in seeking out the individuals who are interesting, entertaining and informative and readers are the same. If we can make a character that little bit more interesting, we’re winning the battle for the their attention.

I did say these work for me. It doesn’t mean they will for everyone but if there’s even one small suggestion there that helps, I’ll be delighted.

Many thanks to Cleo as usual for the opportunity.

Thank you Graham, and one of the things I’ve loved most about both books is how realistic the characters are, for me it is the mixture of redeeming, and not so redeeming qualities which tends to convince me but I can see that by employing all of those tips, there is nothing to doubt about how life-like a character is.

gj-minett-author-pic

G.J. Minett’s first book A Hidden Legacy was published by Twenty7 Books then a new imprint of Bonnier Publishing, specialising in debut fiction from every genre. They are incredibly passionate about supporting the best new authors and finding innovative ways of bringing their books to readers across the world.

Lie In Wait
has been published by Bonnier and has already amassed an impressive quantity of five star reviews on Amazon.

You can visit Graham’s author page on Facebook at G.J.Minett author or on Twitter @GJMinett

Lie in Wait

Synopsis

A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect…

Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back – and what’s more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called – and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit – not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

Owen’s always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems – least of all Owen Hall…

A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott. Amazon