My review of #RagdollBook – Ragdoll by Daniel Cole – in celebration of the publication #blogtour

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Finally the book that we have all been raving about is being published!

Ragdoll is out there in the world from the 21st February! You can buy your own copy. Are you ready for it?

Join 40 bloggers over three days all over social media and feel the love for #Ragdollbook

 

Ragdoll is published by Trapeze on 23 February 2017 and is available to buy here

Publisher’s description

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My thoughts

Ragdoll is the debut by Daniel Cole, that EVERYONE is talking about it. It definitely gets the seal of approval from me, with its twisted dark themes and comic undertones. I had masses of fun, following the escalating Ragdoll Killer case to its bitter conclusion.

The story introduces Wolf, a London cop with attitude. In spite of his silly nickname, Wolf is a man worth getting to know. The Cremation Killer was responsible for Wolf’s fall from grace and his mental breakdown at the Old Bailey. Wolf is now back; although he is no longer paired with his sidekick Emily Baxter or with his wife, television journalist Andrea. Someone has killed, dismembered and sewn the parts of six victims together. The victim is pointing in the direction of Wolf’s flat. Soon Andrea is sent a list of potential new victims of this Ragdoll Killer. The media interest intensifies and explodes, as the hunt is on. How does this all link to Wolf? Will the police save the victims on the list? Who is the Ragdoll Killer?

Who doesn’t love a story with a completely psychotic twisted killer and a race against time to catch him? This is crime with a massive dose of explicit terror, to send chills into the reader. Not for the squeamish or the delicate. Daniel Cole keeps up the frenetic fast pace and the tension, sending us on a journey with the delightful Wolf. The ending hits the right note. It left me wanting more. Well more Wolf, actually.

Stop doing whatever it is you are doing, grab a copy and be prepared to fall in love with Wolf! You won’t want it to end. Recommended!

 

What to do next….

Buy your own shiny copy of Ragdoll on Amazon

Say hello to Daniel Cole and follow him on Twitter

Posted in police, psychological | Tagged | 1 Comment

City of Buried Ghosts – Chris Lloyd

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City of Buried Ghosts was published by Canelo on 30 May 2016 and is available to buy here

Be careful what you dig up…

The atmospheric second crime thriller featuring Catalan detective Elisenda Domènech, for readers of Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves

Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the front of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.

Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying  close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.

Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?

In City of Buried Ghosts Chris Lloyd has written an utterly gripping crime story set in one of the most stunning parts of Europe. With its extraordinary heroine and unputdownable investigation, it is the perfect crime thriller for this summer.

My review of book one in the seriesCity of Good Death – Chris Lloyd

My thoughts

After reading the rather wonderful City of Good Death and feeling a little bit envious of Elisenda Domenech for living in such a gorgeous part of the world, I moved onto City of Buried Ghosts.

We return us to the Serious Crime Unit in Catalan, Spain. Elisenda works with her small team to tackle some of the more gory crimes taking place in the region. Events in the last book have left the team at rock bottom, seriously demotivated and shaken up. Elisenda is given a historical case to work on, by her superiors. A body is found at an archeological dig in El Crit (The Scream). A Sony Walkman found with the victim suggests that this murder took place in the early 1980s. The race is on to identify the remains and to trace everyone connected to a dig from that era. The discovery of the body has a knock on effect in the present day. A new horrific murder takes place. Can Elisenda help heal the wounds in her team and find out what on earth went on at the dig in 1981?

This is a story of the archeological world and its hidden dark side. It is all about stolen archeological artefacts, two murders committed over a thirty year span and greed. Luckily Elisenda is on the ball, as she untangles the secrets and lies from the past. It is good to see the team move on and heal from the terrible events in City of Good Death.

This series is maturing rather nicely; with an engaging lead in Elisenda, dark undertones and a distinct Spanish flavour. Elisenda is becoming a firm favourite! I found myself once again looking up key parts of Spanish history and some of the places mentioned. This did not detract from my love of the book. Chris Lloyd has a way of telling a great complex story at a beautiful pace, which really sparks your imagination.

Looking forward to seeing what Elisenda and her team get up to next. Excellent stuff! Recommended!

 

 

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The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

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Published by Hodder and Stoughton on 7 March 2017 and available to buy here

Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

My thoughts

I can’t remember the last time I read something that left me so conflicted. That is the power of The Roanoke Girls. It is the new Flowers in the Attic for generation Z. A book that lifts a lid on a horrifying taboo. It might be too much for some readers to deal with. You have been warned.

This is the tale of one family and their terrible legacy. We get to know Roanoke, through the eyes of Lane, a fifteen year old girl. Roanoke is the family home of one Yates Roanoke, a rich patriarch who lives according to his own rules. On the death of her mother, she finds herself relocating and moving in with her grandparents and cousin. Lane soon discovers the secret of the Roanoke Girls. Ten years later, Lane has left Roanoke and has made a life for herself. When her cousin goes missing, Lane returns to the family home searching for answers.

Engel delivers a haunting and sad story of abuse within the family. I was very drawn to Lane, with her coping mechanisms for living in a dysfunctional home. This is dark. Very dark! We learn the secrets of Roanoke. This is not the Waltons. There are no happy endings.

Uncomfortable and challenging. I might just need therapy, after reading The Roanoke Girls!

Recommended!

 

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The Good Daughter – Alexandra Burt

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The Good Daughter is published in the USA by Berkley on 7 February 2017 and is available to buy here on Amazon.com. It will be available in the UK from 23rd February from Avon.

From the author of Remember Mia comes the tale of a young woman in search of her past, and the mother who will do anything to keep it hidden…

What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…

My thoughts

The Good Daughter is the latest mystery to hit the bookshelves from Alexandra Burt. It is a slow burning character study of two oddball characters, daughter Dahlia and her mother, Memphis. Plus there are jars of creepy crickets thrown in for good measure! Yuck!

Different characters are explored in turn, as we hear from Dahlia, Memphis and a woman named Quinn. At the beginning of the book, it feels like you are thrown into the most complicated puzzle. Who is who? Who is Quinn? Who is Memphis? What does it all mean? With a little patience, it all knits together. This is a story of motherhood, unconventional family life and difficult choices. It is about Dahlia, a woman who has been brought up by her mother to live a life off the radar. Dahlia has no official records, no birth certificate or National Insurance number (or whatever the equivalent is in the US). She calmly accepts the jobs she must take are ones that continue to make her invisible in the eyes of the State. It seems odd, but this is the way she has been brought up and she is not the sort of woman to demand her rights. Certain things result in Dahlia beginning to question her rather odd little world. She feels drawn to a female jogger who has been attacked. No one knows who this woman is. Then her mother starts to decline mentally and starts to reveal information about herself. What are Memphis’s secrets? And how will Dahlia cope with the truth about the past?

This book requires a great deal of patience initally. It is worth it! We know very early on that there is something suspicious about this mother and daughter; how Memphis became the mother to Dahlia. It is also pretty obvious that something illegal has gone on. No one lives the kind of ‘cash in hand’ life, working in the most low skilled jobs unless they have no choice. No one moves around all of the time, unless they are living in some kind of fear. This is a slow reveal mystery. It is a case of how did this mother/daughter relationship happen? What made Memphis the kind of woman who is terrified of authority figures? What kind of woman is Memphis?

Complicated, eerie and distinctly odd; this is a book to savour. It will shock and disturb. I was desperate for Dahlia to just go to the authorities, to get paperwork, to be normal. I really was! This is one strange mother/daughter relationship, I won’t forget!

 

 

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The Trophy Child – Paula Daly

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Published on 26 January 2017 by Transworld Digital and available to buy here in the UK. In the US, The Trophy Child is published by Grove Atlantic and available here from 7 March 2017.

A doting mother or a pushy parent?

Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.

Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel.

But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point.

Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she?

My thoughts

Paula Daly turns her perceptive and witty gaze to the pushy parent in The Trophy Child. She deserves top marks for Karen Bloom, the step-mother from hell!

The Trophy Child focuses on the Bloom family. They have it all. Noel is a busy GP, married to his second wife, Karen. Karen is the kind of woman, who is ambitious and a social climber. She wants everything for her biological child, Bronte. She is less concerned with her other children. Both Noel and Karen have a child each from a previous relationship, the slacker and the one in therapy. Karen takes pushy parenting to extremes. The poor ten year old girl has no time to herself, doing one activity after another. Karen’s dreadful behaviour sparks chaos. Soon there is a missing child, a brutal murder and a spot of adultery.

Wonderful! I can honestly say that I adore Karen. She is a snob. She is arrogant in her opinions. She is loathed by all. She is completely deluded, about the talents of her precious Bronte. She is on Planet Karen. Karen is a nightmare. She is the kind of woman, you would cross the street to avoid. What a marvellous character!

Paula Daly brings her unique brand of humour, with a delicious mystery to The Trophy Child. I think we have all met a real life Karen, haven’t we? At the very least, we know they exist. An excellent read, with a few twists to throw you off the scent.

Recommended!

 

 

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Little Deaths – Emma Flint

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Published by Picador on 12 January 2017 and available to buy here

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

My thoughts

Little Deaths is one of those books that will make you rant a bit at the world and hold you enthralled from the first page!

This could easily be about 2017, about prejudice and discrimination. The book is actually set in 1965 Queens, New York; a working class neighbourhood. Ruth Malone is imprisoned for the murder of her two young children. Her children went missing from her appartment and were later found strangled. Is she guilty? Is she innocent? What happened to them?

Malone is a truly fascinating character. She is a working class woman, on the brink of divorce with an ex-husband who is determined to get custody. She has a tough life, balancing motherhood with dating and work. Once her children are missing, she continues to behave in ways that are considered entirely inappropriate. She goes out drinking, meeting men and sleeping around. She shops for new clothes, takes care of her appearance and does not cry in public. She should not be behaving in this way, they say. Why is she not grieving or sat at home?  It is Malone’s way of coping with loss, looking for love and companionship. She is judged by society. The assumption is that she must be guilty because her behaviour is unacceptable and immoral. She must be responsible for what happened to her children.

This is a story about prejudice in action, in particular of white working class women. It feels incredibly hard to read. This happens today, in exactly the same way. We look and we judge. How is the mother of the missing child acting? What is she wearing? Does she look sad enough? I get the feeling that Malone would get the same treatment, except it would be her Facebook profile that would demonise her in 2017. She would be mocked and misunderstood.

Little Deaths is intelligent and beautifully harrowing. Told from the perspectives of an obsessive journalist and Ruth Malone, this is incredibly dark. It is a social commentary on trial by media.

Recommended.

 

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Stasi Wolf by David Young blog tour -Exclusive Guest Post ‘How I plot my novels’ #StasiWolf

 

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On the publication day of the brilliant Stasi Wolf, I am pleased to welcome one of my favourite authors to the blog. The ever so clever David Young, author of historical crime novels set in Communist East Germany!

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David Young talks today about the wonderful world of plotting novels.

Stasi Wolf is published by Zaffre on 9 February 2017 and is available to buy here


How I plot my novels

by David Young

Readers of this blog will no doubt be very familiar with the terms ‘plotters’ and ‘pantsers’ – the former being writers who plan everything out before embarking on their first draft, the latter flying by the seat of their pants.

I’m very much a plotter, and that’s how it was with Stasi Child and now Stasi Wolf, and my as yet untitled Book 3 which I’m just about to start knocking into shape after receiving the first set of comments from my editor at Bonnier Zaffre.

So I’ll start with an idea, which might be nothing more than a line or a setting (with Stasi Wolf it was a story I heard about the Stasi taking over a baby deaths inquiry at a Leipzig hospital because they didn’t want news to leak out). I’ll then expand that idea into a very short synopsis of a few paragraphs, if my agent or publisher wants one.

Next I do a flow diagram – a series of idea bubbles about how things might pan out. At every stage, one idea often leads on to another, and I’ll pencil in those links. This might cover a page, or at most two, of A4 paper.

I’ll also try to do an action or tension graph of the novel – working out where the high points of drama might be. I did a bit of fell walking in my childhood and teens, and I always remember the frustration of false horizons on a walk. The moment when you think you’ve reached the summit, but there’s still another higher climb ahead. I try to have that sense of double climax in my novels – to me it makes things more satisfying. But my editor’s always telling me my endings drag on for too long!

Once I’ve got those ideas reasonably clear in my head, I’ll start constructing a scene or chapter list. The accompanying photo is an early chapter list for Stasi Wolf – originally called Stasi Babies by me, but that title was ruled out by both agent and publisher!

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As it contains spoilers, I’ve obscured some of it.

Because I’m using two separate narratives, I colour code the characters I’m telling it through.

I try to think up about sixty different scenes or chapters, working on the basis of an average of 1,500 words per chapter. Some will end up longer, some shorter, but that way I know that I have the skeleton or road map for a novel of around 90,000 words.

As you can see, each chapter has a sentence or two describing what happens (although I’ve obscured the actual descriptions).

Armed with this, I’ll set aside about eight weeks to write my first draft – usually aiming for around 2,500 words a day, sometimes hitting 5,000 or so a day if I need to catch up (although this summer I did an experiment where I managed to hit 10,000 words a day for four days in a row – but that’s another story for later in this blog tour).

So I’m very much a plotter. In fact, my writing is almost the equivalent of painting by numbers! I’m sure this won’t work for everyone, but it seems to for me. Once I’m in the swing of things, then some ‘pantsing’ does come into play. I might dream up new chapters, or abandon ones I don’t think are working. But my chapter list is still my road map.

Without it I’m as lost and confused as Oberleutnant Karin Müller is in the maze of nameless streets of Halle-Neustadt at the start of Stasi Wolf.


Stasi Wolf – Publisher Description

How do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions? The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Stasi Child.

East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.

But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town – the pride of the communist state – and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image.

Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

 

Check out David Young‘s Website here

Tell David on Twitter that you love Stasi Wolf here https://twitter.com/djy_writer

Buy Stasi Wolf on Amazon UK

My five star review is here Stasi Wolf – David Young

 

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