Posted in Put A Book On The Map

Put A Book On The Map #BookOnTheMap #EastAnglia

british-isles-eastanglia

I am delighted to welcome Katherine Sunderland who blogs at  Bibliomaniac and Mary-Jane Riley to put the very first book on the map in East Anglia.

The Bad Things and After She Fell form the first two books in the Alex Devlin series which uses the back drop of Norfolk and Suffolk to these crime thrillers with a strong psychological edge. Susan from The Book Trail has also created maps for these two books on her site so you can hop over to see her for an East Anglian extravaganza

norfolk-county-map

For those of you not from the UK, or like me whose geography is a little on the weak side Norfolk is a county on the East of England, it borders the counties of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire which together with Norfolk make up the region known as East Anglia and is about 100 miles north-east of London. As Alex Devlin does a fair bit of travelling as the journalist turned investigator, it seemed appropriate to give her the whole region of East Anglia rather than a mere county or town.

Although I’ve visited Norwich many times as Owen went to Norwich University of the Arts, and we’ve had family visits to Norwich Castle, walked around this picturesque town and had a wonderful and hilarious evening in the Revolution Cuban Restaurant Bar,sadly I haven’t explored further afield and so I was delighted that Katherine and Mary-Jane have bought the places mentioned in these two excellent books to life!

 

Mary-Jane Riley – Author

mary-jane-riley-twitter-pic

I like to think my earliest memory of East Anglia is of me as a two-year-old, running across the beach at Mundesley, laughing. Perhaps I can remember the sparse luxury of the converted railway carriage in which we stayed. Or maybe it’s when I’m a little older, sheltering from the cold east wind inside a tent on the same beach with my father, eating ham sandwiches while my brothers sand-surfed. I know I can remember walking around Sheringham on a treasure hunt, looking for the clues in shop windows. And the time we went to the Summer Theatre at Southwold – though I can’t remember what we saw.

Some years later, quite by chance, I came to live in Norfolk with my new husband. We’ve moved around Norfolk and Suffolk once or twice, moves dictated by children and jobs, but for more than half my life now I have lived in this wonderful area of England.

I love it here. I love the isolated villages, the desolate salt marshes and reedbeds, the mysterious forests, the sandy beaches, the crumbling cliffs. The sky is wide and often grey, the air is crisp, the winds sharp from the North Sea.

mary-jane-riley-ea-4

East Anglia, with its contrasts and edginess is the perfect place to set a crime novel – as many writers have discovered – P.D.James, Ruth Rendell, Nicci French, Dorothy L Sayers to name only four – so what better place for me to use for my first crime novel?

mary-jane-riley-ea-1

With children and dogs, we have spent many hours trudging along beaches in summer and winter. The seaside has a very different feel about it in the cold months, and that is what I wanted to capture with The Bad Things. I didn’t want the light and sunny feel of a town in the summer, I wanted people huddled in coats, waves crashing on the shore, grey sky meeting grey sea. I wanted isolation, desolation. But I wanted a family place too, where a family should be happy, but where dark secrets lay just below the surface. Southwold was perfect, only it would be known as Sole Bay to enable me to play around with the geography (and not upset people!). It has beaches, a harbour lined with wooden sheds selling fresh fish, salt marshes and a wide horizon. In the winter the cold sea can be cruel – breaching sea defences, eroding the beaches and the coastline, flooding buildings.

 

I wanted the ‘Fine City’ of Norwich to play a part too… the vibrant market that sells everything from artisan bread to foam pads for cushions, the Forum building that houses the Millennium Library and is ultra-modern in design, juxtaposed with the beautiful old St Peter Mancroft Church. Scenes set in the city also gave the book a space to breathe, before plunging back into the events happening in Sole Bay.

Absolutely perfect.

mary-jane-riley-ea-3

It was on a visit to North Norfolk that inspiration struck for my second book, After She Fell. On a lovely day we took a trip to the village of Happisburgh (known as Hallow’s Edge in the book). Over the years, I had written many news stories about coastal erosion in the area, and I wanted to see it for myself. We walked along the edge of the cliff, and came across a road that ended in – nothing. It had fallen into the sea. I peered over the edge, and down below were the granite rocks that were supposed to protect the cliff, then there was the sea. When I looked to my left, I saw a beautiful Arts and Craft house.

That was it. I had always wanted to write a book set in a boarding school – blame too much Enid Blyton and a lonely childhood for that – and in my imagination I saw that house as a private school. What if a pupil from the school fell off the end of the road? I also wanted to explore the realities of youngsters living in an isolated village, and the tensions between private school pupils and local teenagers. There is also a beautiful lighthouse in the village, perfect for…. you will have to read the book to find that out.

And then, just down the road is Mundesley…. of course my characters had to go there. It is still a typical Norfolk seaside town, with cafes that do tea and coffee and shops that sell buckets and spades and windmills, and beautiful, golden beaches. I thought it would be somewhere where the characters could breathe – just for a while. It would also serve as a suitable contrast to the claustrophobic village and school.

It was also a chance for me and my husband to eat fish and chips on a bench near the town’s tiny museum and to walk on the beach and picture that two-year-old me, laughing.

 

mary-jane-riley-ea-2

THE BAD THINGS out in ebook and paperback: getBook.at/TheBadThings
AFTER SHE FELL out now as ebook and paperback: getBook.at/AfterSheFell
Mary-Jane Riley @mrsmjriley
Katherine Sunderland of Bibliomaniac – Blogger
 katherine-sunderland

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked by my Book Blogger Heroine Cleo to take part in her new series of blog posts which looks at the setting and location of reader’s favourite novels.

I’m going to talk about Norfolk. The best place in the world!

Book: Mary Jane Riley “The Bad Things

Location: Suffolk and Norfolk Coast

We have been going to Norfolk at least 3 or 4 times a year for the last ten years. I love the huge skyline that stretches on forever, the never-ending flatness of the countryside and the sense of remoteness and isolation as you travel along the winding lanes. There is also an immediate sense of having to slow down, sometimes very literally when you get stuck behind a tractor on the meandering single lane roads but I think it’s also because of the simplicity of the horizon and the unspoilt coastline. My husband loves it because of the patchy mobile reception and temperamental WiFi meaning he can become unreachable for a few precious days!

beach-norfolk

Every beach along the North Norfolk coast line is different. There are the popular sandy beaches and seaside resorts; there are the lesser known sandy beaches, there are beaches framed with colourful beach huts and then there are the marshlands that stretch as far as the eye can see until the grassland merges into the murky water. There are beaches which are good for surfing, swimming, building sandcastles, flying kites, epic walks and crab fishing.

 

beach-norfolk-2-ks

For us, Norfolk has always been one of “The Good Things” in our family, but that said, a busy beach, a crowded resort, an isolated headland and sinking marshlands are all prefect locations for stories about crime, mystery and tragedy – how many times has your mind envisaged missing children, a drowning, a devastating argument……

 

And what’s better than a beach at winter? I love the bleakness of the coast line and the exposure to the chilling wind. What of Norfolk’s eroding coastline -it’s unable to protect itself so how will it protect you? And those marshlands with their unpredictable tides – the way the water feeds in along its many invisible rivulets, weaving its way in and out of the higher land until before you know it you are completely cut off and cast adrift into the sea. Oh yes, a perfect setting for a novel!

When we were in Norfolk last year, I read a few thrillers set in the area. I was attracted to Mary Jane Riley’s book because the font cover reminded me of Holkham beach. It could have easily have been a photo from my album with my children wandering off to play while I put my head in a book!!

ks-children-and-book

Although the setting for “The Bad Things” is a fictional town based on Southwold in Suffolk, the coastline is very similar to Norfolk and I think Riley has used elements of Norfolk towns in her writing.  I enjoyed Riley’s novel because her descriptions of Suffolk/Norfolk are so vivid and incredibly easy to picture. They lend themselves perfectly to the atmosphere of the story and Riley uses the location to increase the tension and suspense in “The Bad Things“. I suppose reading a gripping thriller, with the most terrifying premise for any parent, which is set in a place where you always feel relaxed and safe should make me feel more unsettled, but it didn’t spoil my break at all and actually I just enjoyed being able to really “see” the novel.

If in doubt, make sure you have chosen to read your novel at one of the many friendly, bright and cheerful cafes that are sprinkled throughout the county!

cafe-norfolk-ks

Thanks so much Cleo for letting me take part in your #PutABookOnTheMap! To read my full review of “The Bad Things” by Mary Jane Riley please click here:

Bibliomaniac’s Review of The Bad Things

For a list of other books set in Norfolk click here:

Bibliomaniac’s Norfolk Reading Suggestions

You can find Katherine on twitter @KatherineSunde3

The Bad Things Book Reviews from the blogosphere

The Bad ThingsThe Bad Things by  Postcard Reviews and can be found on twitter @TracyShephard

The Bad Things by Grab This Book who can be found on twitter @grabthisbook

The Bad Things by The Book Review Café who can be found on twitter @ReviewCafe

The Bad Things by Cleopatra Loves Books – that’s me, I can be found at @cleo_bannister

 

After She Fell Book Reviews from the blogosphere

after-she-fell
After She Fell by The Book Lover’s Boudoir who can be found on twitter @pscottwriter

After She Fell was written by Lizzie Hayes of Promoting Crime Fiction, this review can also be found at the wonderful resource for crime fiction lovers Mystery People

After She Fell by Relax and Read Book Reviews who can be found on twitter @callejajos

 

And Claire Knight has provided a review of both books at Crime Book Junkie  she can be found on twitter @ClaireKreads

 

the-booktrail-logo

Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan The Book Trail to see the details of the book settings on her wonderful maps.

 

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to East Anglia as much as I have and there are lots more wonderful destinations full of crime coming up on Put A Book On The Map.

Thank you so much to Mary-Jane Riley for writing two (five star) reads set in this great destination, and to Katherine for providing a piece and her pictures which illustrates how a setting that we know well, can add a special something to the reading experience.

All books featured in this #BookOnTheMap project will get a place on the master page listing crime fiction by their destination with links to the wonderful collaboration between authors and bloggers.

Please email me at cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com if you would like to participate in this feature.

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

The Bad Things – Mary-Jane Riley

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

A story with two threads, both successfully executed is the stuff that makes this crime fiction lover’s heart sing. Mary-Jane Riley pulled off both complex story-lines so well that I was frequently incredibly reluctant to part with my kindle, I just had to know how things played out. And yet this was a book that snuck up on me, not that it started badly, far from it, but the more I turned the pages, the more immersed in the story I became, as the plot wound tighter and tighter, and would not let me go!

Alex Devlin is a reporter, she submits pieces to magazines, using whatever inspiration she can find. Fifteen years before Alex’s sister Sasha’s twins, Harry and Millie Clements went missing. Although Harry’s body was found a few days later, no trace of Millie was ever found. Two people were convicted for their murder; Martin Jessop who had committed suicide a little way into his sentence and Jackie Wood who provided him with an alibi. When the news breaks that Jackie Wood has just been released from prison due to the expert witness in the case being discredited Alex desperately wants to give her sister some closure because Sasha still faces a daily battle to keep going. Her marriage to the twin’s father disintegrated in the aftermath and she has a history of self-harming. Then Alex hits on the idea to interview Jackie Wood to see if she can find out the truth…

With a bit of detective work Alex finds Jackie living in a caravan in Sole Bay in Suffolk which isn’t too far from her home in Norfolk. With the scenes set out of season, the descriptions of the seaside were about as far from the picture postcard variety as you can imagine. This works perfectly as a background of a meeting filled with suspicion, recrimination and a dash of hope – but which emotion belongs to which woman?

In the second strand of this tale we meet Detective Inspector Kate Todd who was starting out in her career when she found Harry Clements’ body and no matter how successfully she’s built her career or her long-standing relationship with Chris, she has never forgotten that day. Watching the release of the woman who was involved, only serves to bring the memories back to the forefront of her mind as she ponders how the family of those two small children are faring.

A good crime fiction novel often doesn’t actually depend on the murder that is at its heart, it depends on the character’s reactions, the plotting and the outcome and Mary-Jane Riley delivers on all three and cleverly avoids dwelling on the death of Harry although of course both children are at the forefront of many of the exceptionally well-drawn character’s minds. What sets this above many other crime fiction books is that the book reveals the complex emotions that many of the characters experience, and we get all that by watching them in action. This author hasn’t fallen into the trap of soliloquies full of woe, instead we see how Alex reacts when she goes to check on her sister Sasha. We also see her switching roles, from sister, to mother to reporter and in another superb twist, the object of one crime reporter’s particular interest in the case. With the clues to what really happened all those years ago coming from different viewpoints, I honestly couldn’t put this book down, it is that well-plotted with enough red-herrings and mysterious incidents, to keep even the keenest of crime fiction readers on their toes.

This is quite an emotional read and not just because of the tender age of the victims. I found myself sympathising with both Alex and Kate and also surprisingly Jackie. The author has made it easy to put yourself in each of these very different character’s shoes, and eloquently builds a picture of their lives after the crime was committed.

After reading The Bad Things, I had to purchase the next in the series After She Fell which is currently available at the bargain price of 99p on Amazon.

First Published UK: 27 August 2015
Publisher: Killer Reads
No of Pages: 332
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 23)

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 Mary-Jane Riley’s first book in the Alex Devlin series, The Bad Things which has been on my kindle for over a year, so long that the publication of the second book has already been and gone!

The Bad Things

You can read the synopsis and an extract in yesterday’s post

I have just finished They Did it With Love by Kate Morgenroth which shockingly was one of my 20 Books of Summer 2016 – I’ve promised myself I will finish the list before the end of the year! Only one to go!

They Did it with Love

Blurb

Secrets lurk under the smooth surface of a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, until a murder reveals all
Sofie and her husband have left Manhattan in search of a more tranquil life in the suburbs. But when a member of Sofie’s new neighborhood book club turns up dead, things get messy. She discovers that everybody has something to hide, including her own husband. Her neighbor Priscilla has been married to Gordon for fifteen years, but the love left their marriage a long time ago. Susan is Priscilla’s biggest supporter until she has to choose between loyalty to her friend and telling the truth. Ashley is eager to fit in, but her youth and status as a second wife keep her on the outside. She may know more than they think she does, though. Julia seems to have it all?the perfect house, job and husband. But her untimely death has people questioning how perfect her life really was. Through this swamp of suburban secrets, Sofie must wade to find the truth behind Julia’s murder and the state of her own marriage. “They Did It with Love” is a delightful, twisty, and twisted exploration of the things we?ll do for love. Amazon

Next up as part of my commitment to clearing up the NetGalley reads that are past their publication date I am going to be reading The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy.

house-of-birds

Blurb

Oliver has spent years trying to convince himself that he’s suited to a life of money making in the city, and that he doesn’t miss a childhood spent in pursuit of mystery, when he cycled around the cobbled lanes of Oxford, exploring its most intriguing corners.
When his girlfriend Kate inherits a derelict house – and a fierce family feud – she’s determined to strip it, sell it and move on. For Oliver though, the house has an allure, and amongst the shelves of discarded, leather bound and gilded volumes, he discovers one that conceals a hidden diary from the 1920s.
So begins a quest: to discover the identity of the author, Sophia Louis. It is a portrait of war and marriage, isolation and longing and a story that will shape the future of the abandoned house – and of Oliver – forever. NetGalley

So that’s my week sorted – What are you reading this week? Do share your links and thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 22)

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 opening chapter this week comes from The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley which was published in 2015 by HarperCollins, the first in the Alex Devlin series

The Bad Things

Blurb

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us? Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO

The stench was overpowering. Katie squatted on her haunches and pulled at the zip. The material tore; the metal teeth nicked her finger. Thoughts flashed through her mind: should she wait Could this be evidence?

NOW

1

The day Alex Devlin’s life imploded for the second time was one of those bleak February days in Suffolk when the light never got above murky and spring seemed months away. Outside, whey-faced men and women were hunched inside their coats, trying to get their business done and move on. Shopping, working, maybe just passing the time in a warm coffee shop on the High Street. The streets of Sole Bay could be unforgiving.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The section from fifteen years ago has been cut short but given the synopsis I’m sure you can work out what Katie found… I’m keen to read more about the release of the woman jailed as an accessory in the children’s murder though and I think those few sentences set the scene quite nicely.

So… would you keep reading? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (November 21)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last three weeks!

First up I have a copy of The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, whose debut novel The Wicked Girls was a huge hit with me!

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second fifteen years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…
Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable ‘ripped from the headlines’ novel that you will want to talk about with everyone you know. NetGalley

The Darkest Secret will be published on 7 January 2016

I also have a copy of No One Knows by J.T. Ellison because I found the synopsis intriguing and as you all know I am a sucker for a psychological thriller!

No One Knows

Blurb

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on. She just wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Who anonymously sent Aubrey her favorite cocktail at the bar where Josh stood her up? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
As her heroine faces the possibility that everything she thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, and her husband is a lie, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. In a masterful thriller for readers who love Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins, Ellison pulls you into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows. NetGalley

Publication date for No One Knows is 22 March 2016

And when I spotted Moon In a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier I simply had to get a copy. Following my review of Boxes by the same author this was widely pronounced by his fans to be his best book.

Moon In a Dead Eye

 

Blurb

Given the choice, Martial would not have moved to Les Conviviales. But Odette loved the idea of a brand-new retirement village in the south of France. So that was that. At first it feels like a terrible mistake: they’re the only residents and it’s raining non-stop. Then three neighbours arrive, the sun comes out, and life becomes far more interesting and agreeable. Until, that is, some gypsies set up camp just outside their gated community. NetGalley

I also purchased one e-book, The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a former BBC Journalist. I came across this book on Postcard Reviews, a blog well worth checking out for as Tracy features some fabulous books, and the review of The Bad Things was so good it made me weaken!

The Bad Things

Blurb

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us? Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR I have read 6 books, discarded one as a DNF, and gained 4, leading to a grand total of 170 books!

81 physical books
71 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?