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The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

I thought this was a great book. Set in the small rural village of Briganton, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and 20 years after you have moved into the village, you are still an incomer. The backdrop is Hadrian’s Wall – a lasting reminder of Northumberland’s tempestuous and rich history.

Set against this unspoilt wilderness and the moor where you can walk for miles without seeing a soul, the tranquility of this beautiful countryside is abruptly ruptured.

‘It began with the bodies….’ – such a great opening line. Isla Bell’s life was shaped the day that, aged 15, she discovered three bodies artfully posed against the wall. Running home for her dear life, she chants to herself that her father can fix this; he can handle the death and devastation that this event will wreak on the small village community.

20 years and 6 dead bodies later, Isla is working as a forensic psychologist, spending her days studying brains and mapping in particular the brains of psychopaths. Driven by the need to understand what makes a psychopath and why they kill. One in particular has a special significance for Isla and she is drawn to interrogate his brain more closely than any of the others

Her father, Eric Bell, is basking in the glory of having captured the serial killer, Heath McGowan and has been cock of the walk in the village and surrounding area since then.

Then out of the blue, the killings start again. Posed in the same way; carrying every sign of the first series, police are baffled as to whether this is a copycat or was there an accomplice who was never found?

As the body count rises, and police struggle to work out whether there is a connection between any of the victims, Briganton again is under the shadow of a merciless serial killer.

This is Emma Kavanagh at her best. The writing is richly atmospheric, the tension is palpable and the characterisation excellent. With such a small cast of characters, there are sufficient red herrings to keep you guessing, but even if you do spot the perpetrator, the quality of the tension that Kavanagh creates, alongside the taut prose and excellent plotting, create a book that is highly enjoyable and not a little scary.

Thoroughly recommended.

 

The Killer on the Wall is published by Arrow on April 20th 2017

The Killer on the Wall

Jo Nesbø at Aye Write

I was thrilled when I heard that Jo Nesbø would be doing an author chat under the Aye Write banner. Jo Nesbø is a bestselling Norwegian author and musician. He was born in Oslo and grew up in Molde. Nesbø is primarily famous for his crime novels about Detective Harry Hole, but he is also the main vocals and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. In 2007 Nesbø also released his first children’s book.

Even better, it turned out that he was going to be interviewed by Denise Mina, author of The Long Drop, an outstanding read and a very strong contender for my book of the year.

I was introduced to Jo Nesbø by my sister, an excellent judge of good writing and have been addicted to the Harry Hole books ever since.  The Thirst appears as a Harry Hole book after a 4 year drought.

The Thirst continues the story of Police, Harry Hole’s last outing in 2013, which saw the maverick cop protecting those closest to him from a killer wreaking revenge on the police. The Thirst sees Harry drawn back to the Oslo police force when a serial killer begins targeting Tinder daters with a signature killing method that leads Harry on the hunt of a nemesis from his past. It is the eleventh Harry Hole book in the series.

Denise began by asking Jo if Harry Hole is addicted to misery. This made Jo laugh. He said that while not necessarily addicted to misery, Harry is certainly a man who seeks out the blues. Like Nesbo himself, he seeks out danger and is drawn to sadness.

Why the long break between Hole novels? Simply because although Jo had had lots of ideas for stories, they were simply not cases for Harry, just other stories that have to be written.

Sometimes ideas just come to him – he told a story about some colleagues asking him to suggest a title for a film they were making. He thought about it and suggested The Snowman. Yes, they said, it is a good title, but there is no snowman in the film. Well, said Jo, perhaps there should be. And from that title alone, Jo went on to write the novel, The Snowman.

One book, The Devil’s Star, was written after he bought a new waterbed to aid some problems he was having with his back in the late 90’s. He failed to put enough chlorine in it to kill all the potential bacteria and his bed started to make noises. As it did so, he started to think about what could be in there and that was enough to spur him into writing that crime novel.

He is driven by ideas – he says they are his boss and he has to stay true to them. He feels he has no choice, he has to write inspired by his ideas; these are stories that he has to get out.

Jo talked a bit about coming from a family where stories were told all the time – usually stories from memories of things that had happened and which were re-told every time they met as a family. Listening to these stories, he realised that they were told slightly differently each time, with a new detail, or something he had not heard before, which was when he realised that it isn’t about the punchline, it’s about how you get there.

He said that writing lyrics for his band was probably the best training he could have to be a novelist. When you write, he says, you have to trust the reader to fill in the blanks, to make the chain connection after the writer has pointed you in the right direction. He talked about the relationship between the writer and the reader being like a dance – the writer has to offer the reader a fair chance to work out where the writer is trying to go – almost a social etiquette.

He told other great stories in response to audience questions. The one I liked best was when he described his attic room. He has a custom designed desk, a state of the art coffee machine, a great view of Oslo and his music all set up. And it’s the one place he just can’t write! So he takes his laptop to a nearby coffee shop and bags a comfy seat, then plugs in his earphones and writes away.  That’s a story that I’m sure will resonate with loads of writers.

He talked a bit about his re-working of the Macbeth story for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, with Macbeth as a young policeman and Lady Macbeth as a cougar running the local casino. She wants to become respectable, hence she is driving Macbeth to greater ambition.

It was a fascinating evening, very well conducted by Denise Mina, and a rare privilege to hear directly from a master of the genre.

The Thirst is published by Harvill Secker on 20th April 2017

The Thirst

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

This book is certainly highly charged and very tense in parts. With a dual timeline alternating between events which start in 1999 and the present day, the book’s narrators are Kit and Laura, two young lovers who are pretty much soul mates from the first time they meet and decide to make their lives together.

Kit is an academic young man, a scientist who is fascinated by solar eclipses and who will travel the world to get the best study vantage point for them. Kit and Laura travel to the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. They are at a hippy festival where there is to be an eclipse. Kit and his twin Mac, a wayward but attractive young man, have set up a drinks stall at the festival to help them pay their way.

What happened during the festival when they come across Beth and Jamie will set off a chain of events that will follow them through their lives for the next 20 years.

Erin Kelly weaves a beguiling story, shot through with tension and highly charged emotions. She shows how the best of intentions can lead to lies that will impact on those closest to those who tell them and alter the course of their lives forever.

The book is suffused with twists and turns, leading the reader to wonder who can be relied upon for the truth, until it becomes clear that each of the four protagonists has something to hide.

Kelly has produced a deeply thought provoking book which tackles a difficult subject and raises quite a few important questions about the way in which rape is treated in our courts and how and whether the victim is believed. It also creates some very tense moments as Laura worries about what is happening in court while she waits to give her evidence.

But this is not just a book about a rape trial; rather it looks at the consequences of relationships in which everyone is being less than honest and how small lies can produce far bigger consequences than those intended.

Kelly unfolds the truth behind her characters as the darkness that they have created slowly enfolds them until they live in fear and are compelled to hide from the world, erasing their identities lest they be discovered.

This is a powerful psychological thriller that will stay with me for quite some time to come.

He Said, She Said is published by Hodder and Stoughton on 20th April 2017

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

I knew, just from listening to Helen Fields, where she was at Aye Write with Daniel Cole and Chris Brookmyre that I was going to love her books. Readers of this blog will know that I am partial to an especially grizzly serial killer, and here Helen Fields has delivered in spades.

It was a real pleasure to be introduced to D.I. Luc Callanach, Police Scotland’s newest D.I. who has come to Edinburgh straight from Interpol and a bit of a troubled past.

It is not long before he is hurled into his first murder inquiry– to be quickly followed by another missing person where the MO seems to be very similar.

What’s especially interesting about this book (apart from a dark, sexy, troubled Frenchman) is that the reader knows from the beginning who the killer is, how he is doing what he does and why he is so far getting away with it.

This book turns investigation on its head as we have all the answers and we are judging Luc and his colleagues on the strength of their investigative techniques and their ability to follow through on the smallest of clues.

No gory details are missed here in spelling out the killer’s methodology, so this one is not for the faint of heart, but I did like the strength of the women in this book, from Ava, his fellow and extremely capable D.I., to the women whom the killer seeks out.

Very well plotted, with good multiple storylines, this was an addictive book that I read from start to finish over 2 days, it was so compelling.

I understand there’s a second book due out in July – I’m off to sign up for it now.

 

Perfect Remains was published by Avon on 26 January 2017 (and is on kindle today for only 99p)

Amazon

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

I like Lisa Scottoline’s books, and so was keen to sit down and have a good read of her latest, a stand-alone.  One Perfect Lie is set in a small town – the kind of small town where everyone is a good neighbour and most have secrets in their domestic lives that they struggle to hide from the world. Into this town walks Chris Brennan, our protagonist, newly arrived to take up the post of Government teacher and baseball coach.

He sets out to identify his targets: three teenage boys. Evan Kostis is rich and spoilt;  Raz Sematov and his mother and brother are struggling to cope with his father’s recent death; and Jordan Larkin, a nice, quiet boy who is being brought up by is attractive, single, mother.

In a classic piece of misdirection, we think we know who Chris is and have a pretty good idea of what he is up to, but it is not until well into the book that his motivation and reasons for his actions becomes clear.

Perhaps because of this, the characterisation feels a little thin, and the plot a little more perfunctory than I would expect from a writer of Scottoline’s calibre, though there are some nice twists and a bit of love action thrown in for good measure.

It’s not that the book is not enjoyable – it is a decent read in the suburban noir meets terrorist genre – but it is almost as if having thought up the plot device, the rest of the story can coast to its conclusion.

I was a little bit disappointed that there was not more complexity and more robust character building, but overall it was still worth reading.

One Perfect Lie is published by St Martin’s Press on 11 April 2017

Amazon

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

 

Detective Erika Foster can never be accused of setting out to win friends and influence people. In her personal life, she shies away from making emotional commitments and in her policing career she is so bluntly spoken to her superior officers that the promotion ladder doesn’t exactly beckon.

 
And she does not suffer fools gladly, so when Andy Sparks is promoted to Superintendent above her, she doesn’t fail to let him know that she thinks he is not up to the job.

 
Erika is frustrated in her current role on the Projects, where she is drowning in statistical reports. So when D.I. Peterson is called out to a murder scene, Erika goes with him, on the fragile excuse that the weather is delaying D.I. Moss from getting there quickly, so she can help out in the meantime.

 
When she sees the bloody corpse of a young woman, she is determined that she will fight her way onto the case, whatever it takes.

 
After she is successfully assigned a temporary role in the case, a surprising turn of events leads her to take the lead on it. It soon becomes clear that this is not the first murder this man has committed and through thorough police work they establish that this is a killer who uses social media to track and profile his victims and dating sites to lure them in.

 
I loved the way that he detailed how this could be achieved and was somewhat appalled by how easy it is. I thought I knew the pitfalls of social media, but this was quite an eye opener.

 
In keeping with his ability to use social media to ensnare his victims, this killer is also acutely aware of how best to cover his tracks, so Erika and her team have real difficulty in pinning down his identity, even after they discover what colour of car he drives.

 
The reader, however, does know who the killer is and we are invited into his world and treated to his gruesome plans as he lines up more women for his perverted pleasure.
As Erika and her team battle to save his next victim from losing her life, we are made aware that things in Bromley nick are undergoing real change and not everyone is going to like the outcome.

 
I really enjoyed Last Breath. Bryndza has a way of making his characters authentic and likeable without smoothing their rough edges.

It’s good to see Erika Foster coming more to terms with her situation and needing the comfort and support of friends. I also like the way that her team have really gelled.

A first rate addition to the D.I. Foster cannon.

Last Breath is published by Bookouture on 12 April 2017

Amazon

Vengeance by Roger A. Price – Publication Day

Jack Quintel is a hit man. When a job comes in to kill the Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police Jim Reedly, he contracts it out to a new guy, Charlie Parker…

Watching in the shadows, Quintel sees Parker shoot out Reedly’s windscreen, then drag him into the woods and thinks the job’s been done.

But when Parker tries to pass off a pig’s heart as Reedly’s, things start to go very wrong. Jack’s right hand man Jason kills Charlie, who it turns out is an undercover police officer.

Detective Vinnie Palmer is with the Preston police. He was called in when they received the information about the impending hit.

Now he has to figure out how to clean up the mess.

And he wants whoever killed Parker bad. He finds the man who put Parker in touch with Quintel, a low life hood named Dempter, living in an estate in Preston.

He doesn’t know much, but motivated by money, agrees to be an informant for the police.

Christine Jones is a TV reporter. She and Vinnie had worked together before, chasing a serial killer.

They meet again at the warehouse where Charlie was killed, and realise their relationship could be more than professional.

But first, Christine wants to know what’s happening. Christine is working on a documentary about positive discrimination against non-Catholic officers in Northern Ireland since the peace process. She makes contact with a former police officer in Northern Belfast named Paul Bury, who feeds her some of the information she needs.

Meanwhile, as the bodies start to pile up in Preston, there’s another attempt on Reedly’s life, when a grenade is thrown at him at his brother-in-law’s funeral.

As Vinnie fights to keep Reedly alive, suddenly Christine’s life is in danger.

And they both start to wonder if the contract against Reedly has anything to do with her documentary on Northern Ireland. But how could it?

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Meet the author

My name is Roger A. Price a crime fighter turned crime writer. I used to right the wrongs but now I write the wrongs. Ok, enough with the puns, but I do love language and playing with it, I guess all writers do.

I spent over thirty years in the police retiring as a detective inspector in charge of a covert undercover drugs unit which achieved national acclaim. I served on various units and squads and saw service across the UK, Europe and beyond. I can’t write about those events but I can base my crime fiction writing from my many experiences of them. Some of which were good, some not so good.

My first two novels are in the ‘Burrows and Lee’ series; ‘By Their Rules’ and ‘A New Menace’ and chart the adventures of Jane Lee and John Burrows in their work for the secretive ‘Special Projects Unit’ where they take on the bad guys with no rules of engagement.

‘NEMESIS’ is the first in the new ‘Badge and the Pen’ series which follows the fortunes of detective inspector Vinnie Palmer who finds an unlikely ally in TV news reporter Christine Jones, as they chase common threats but from very different agendas. This book was an Amazon Bestseller for a while in Canada and Australia and has received rave reviews in the UK.

‘VENGEANCE’ is the second outing for Vinnie and Christine in the ‘Badge and the Pen’ series where they both face the most unlikely of threats, as they race to save lives.

I’m pleased to introduce  a Q&A  with the author, Roger A. Price. If you have ever wondered what the process of Publication Day is like for an author, here’s the skinny:

So, your book is being published in paperback!

Woo hoo!!

How do you spend publication day eve and the actual day?

With being published digitally first, there is no real fanfare, as such beforehand, and when the paperback comes out three or four weeks later, although this gives you chance for a second launch, the book is already out there. That all said, I think more and more authors are starting to concentrate on the virtual launch as opposed to the traditional physical ones. Unless you are very, very famous of course; though I did read recently that Jeffrey Archer was one who was now concentrating more on the digital side. 

Who do you spend the day with?

Usually alone as release days are usually a working day and everyone is at work.

What do you spend the day doing?

Concentrating in getting the word out there via social media and the various online groups of which I am a member, and sending a newsletter out to my mailing list of readers who have signed up.

Is publication day one the same as publication day two? And so on?

The first will always hold an extra special place in my heart, but that is not to say I don’t feel excited on each and every publication day, as I do. It’s a little surreal in some ways that the long-awaited day has actually arrived.

Do you have any rituals?

I’d like to say that I hop on one leg or around and around a maypole semi-naked, but nothing that interesting in reality. You just hope and pray that folk like the book.

This post is part of a blogtour; you can see the other posts and reviews on the sites below.

Vengeance BT Banner

Vengeance was published in digital form by Endeavour Press on 27 February and will be out in paperback shortly.

You can buy Vengeance here:

Amazon UK  Amazon US Amazon CAN  Amazon AUS

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