Born Bad by Marnie Riches – Blog Tour Exclusive Guest Post ‘Born Bad’s Manchester’ #BornBad


Welcome to the start of the #BornBad blog tour, in which we celebrate the start of a new gritty series for Marnie Riches. Hooray! Marnie is back on the blog today talking about Manchester, the setting for Born Bad.

Born Bad is published on 9 March 2017 by Avon and is available to buy here

What is Born Bad all about, you say?

A powerful, darkly comic novel set in the criminal underworld of Manchester from bestselling author Marnie Riches.

The battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

Born Bad’s Manchester – City of Gritty Dreams

by Marnie Riches

With the first three George McKenzie thrillers already under my belt, when my publisher, Avon approached me, asking what I’d like to write next, I had initially wondered if I should be penning standalone thrillers. I knew that I definitely wanted to publish more George McKenzie stories. I love George and Van den Bergen, and the series has a loyal following of readers. But what else could I turn my hand and my imagination to? The wise folk at Avon suggested I write a series about Manchester. Why not? I am a Mancunian, born and bred. Leaving home at eighteen to go to university, I did spend some fourteen years living abroad and in the southeast. But I returned home to the northwest in the mid-noughties. It’s a city I know and love so very well, and there’s definitely Mancunian blood running through my veins – my family has lived here for generations in north Manchester and Salford. I’ve got the obligatory webbing between my fingers (not really, though that would help, given the weather). So, I said yes.

My imagination was immediately all fired up. Naturally, given Manchester has a reputation for being the most violent city in the UK, it made sense to write about gangsters, in a similar vein to Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers. I realised, having grown up in north Manchester and now, living south-side, I wanted to create a series based on north vs. south conflict, since the two halves of the city are so very, very different. Born Bad was conceived.

So, who would run the south side? Paddy O’Brien and the O’Brien clan cover the south, from the fictitious area of Parsons Croft (adjacent to Moss Side) out towards Bramshott (a fictitious slice of footballer-belt on the north Cheshire/south Manchester border). Like a hefty chunk of Manchester’s population, Paddy would have an Irish heritage, and it made perfect sense to me that his brother, Frank, would be an erstwhile musician – part of Manchester’s legendary musical hall of fame – who now runs a super-club, called M1 House that is inspired, in part, by the fabled and much-mourned Haçienda. Where Paddy is a ruthless psychopath, wanting to distance himself from the abject poverty and violence of his childhood, Frank embodies that typical Mancunian friendliness and happy-go-lucky nature. The two brothers couldn’t be more different but in them, we have that quintessentially Mancunian mix of music, drugs and gun-power.

And who runs the north side? Well, north Manchester has very large thriving minority ethnic communities. I grew up on a rough estate near Strangeways and went to school in Cheetham Hill, so those areas – filled with bustling small businesses, devout Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Hassidic Jews, liberal Jews, Eastern Europeans, Africans, people of Caribbean descent and plenty of aspiring flash-Harrys, driving around in blinging premium cars, hoping that with a lot of hard work, they’ve escaped the poverty of their forefathers for good – were the perfect stomping grounds for my Boddlington Gang bosses, Jonny Margulies and Tariq Khan. The two childhood friends run their nefarious business from the commercial area behind Strangeways prison, using a legitimate company that imports and exports fancy goods as a front.

The glue between north-side and south-side is found in Gloria Bell and her son Leviticus. Gloria, an ex-cleaner, consummate hypocrite but one of life’s grafters, lives in Chorlton and is an elder at a gospel church in Parsons Croft. She is also the business partner of Sheila O’Brien, Paddy’s ex-model wife. Together, they run a cleaning company staffed by trafficked women. But Gloria’s estranged son, Lev, is a low-level dealer for the Boddlingtons. He lives on the beleaguered Sweeney Hall estate – a fictitious area of north Manchester that will ring with authenticity to anybody familiar with Higher Broughton and the parts of Cheetham that inspired it. Sheila, Lev and Gloria are central to the plot of Born Bad, where the stakes are impossibly high and the price of losing to your enemy is death.

Clearly, in real life, not every legitimate business man or woman, north or south, runs their company as a front for criminal activity. Manchester is chock full of caring, law-abiding citizens who bear the frequent rain and overcast skies with a fortitude and humour you often only see in the northwest. But it’s still a city of violence, drugs, gangs and shifty goings on. Our men’s prison – Strangeways, aka HMP Manchester – and Styal women’s prison are both bursting with folk who will bear testament to that. Very often, their crimes have been committed through poverty and desperation. Breaking the law might have offered a way out of the ghetto and an alternative to facing a lifetime of fruitless struggle and lack of opportunity.

So, it has been the true stories of many Mancunians’ daily struggles and very real areas of the city, where those people live hard lives, that have inspired the fiction of Born Bad. Manchester has always been a city that evokes tall tales about saints and sinners. It is a city of musical and sporting heroes. It is a city of ruthless killers and feral gangs. It is a city where many inhabitants face difficult choices; running the gauntlet in tough areas that are morally as grey as the skies that hang over us. For my part, as a crime-writer, Manchester is a gritty city of dreams. Born Bad is the first story in which I have tried to put my vision and version of my hometown into words. I hope readers will enjoy the highs, the lows and the laughs!

Check out my review of Born Bad Born Bad – Marnie Riches

Say hello to Marnie Riches on Twitter

Find Marnie Riches’ website

Buy the book on Amazon UK

Check out all of the blog tour for more #BornBad #Badchester love!

Blog tour (1)

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Cursed – Thomas Enger #blogtour #review


Cursed was published on 21st January 2017 by Orenda Books and is available to buy here

What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Taut, chilling and unputdownable, Cursed is the fourth in the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned by always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and marks the return of one of Norway’s finest crime writers. FOR FANS OF Stieg Larsson, Gunnar Staalesen, K.O. Dahl, Jorn Lier Horst, Johan Theorin and The Bridge

My thoughts

Nordic noir is always welcome here. Thomas Enger brings us the fourth in his highly successful Nordic series, featuring investigative journalists, Henning Juul and his ex-wife Nora.

Jumping into Cursed without having read the previous three books in the series is not advised. I would have preferred to have engaged more strongly with the Henning side of the novel. I found myself struggling at times to work out what had driven Henning and Nora apart, as well as why he was so strongly following up leads on the terrible fire in his flat. Therefore I recommend getting your hands on the first books and devouring them.

Cursed introduced me to Henning Juul. Henning was working as a journalist, but is on sick leave. He is struggling to come to terms with the death of his child. This seems to be longstanding and unhealthy. As the book plays out, we see that his life has been devastated by the murder. He has lost everything. He appears damaged and rather reckless. He is prepared to take risks to discover the truth. He wants justice. His ex-wife Nora seems slightly more stable. She has moved on emotionally from Henning and is in a relationship with his colleague, Iver. She becomes involved in a missing person case, of someone she knew years ago. Hedda Hellburg has gone missing, having not returned from a retreat. How does it all link to the death of a Swedish man in the woods?

With a captivating storyline, a couple of rather curious protagonists with their tragic history and some sharp and bleak writing, it is easy to whiz through Cursed. It was a surprise to see journalists at the forefront, with a very different perspective on the missing person case. These were investigative journalists, with a keen sense of ferreting out the truth. No one can read this book without getting a profound understanding of the death of a child, for Hennings and Nora. Their relationship had a gorgeous sense of realism, as they still cling onto each other. Their story was as fascinating as finding out the truth about Hedda Heldburg.

This is Nordic crime to appreciate. A bleak world to devour. A beautiful puzzle to unravel!


Thomas Enger’s website

Thomas Enger is on Twitter

Buy your own copy on Amazon here

See what other bloggers have to say …#CURSED

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Born Bad – Marnie Riches


Born Bad is published by Avon on 9 March 2017 and is available to buy here

‘Gritty and gripping’ – Kimberley Chambers, No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller

‘Fast-paced and enthralling’ – C.L. Taylor, author of THE MISSING

A powerful, darkly comic novel set in the criminal underworld of Manchester from bestselling author Marnie Riches.

The battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

Previous books by Marnie Riches include: The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die which you really should have read by now!

My thoughts

Marnie Riches gained my attention with her rather excellent George McKenzie series. Now she is back with gritty tough Manchester noir. This is the sort of read that will put hairs on your chest. If you thought Manchester was all constant rain, 1990s Madchester music and Coronation Street, you were very wrong. Manchester is so much darker than that.

Born Bad introduces a new side to the northern city. We discover the criminal element, the organised crime and two gangs competing for dominance. On one side we have ageing gangster Paddy O’Brien and his downtrodden wife, Sheila. Paddy is a shady character, who thinks nothing of beating up his wife or engaging in a spot of casual adultery. On the opposing side, Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies aka The Boddlington Gang rule. Paddy O’Brien plans to retire to Thailand and sell his crooked business to the opposition. Sheila is opposed to this move. This is mostly because of her success at running a crooked cleaning company.

Things do not go to plan, as Paddy has a health scare. Conflict starts to errupt between the two gangs. This leads to death and violence, with innocents caught in the crossfire. The Boddlington lot bring in their one man killing maching, The Fish Man. Ace name. Two gangs with escalating suspicion and tit for tat dealings, sounds like a recipe for disaster. Nothing is what it seems. People are being played. These are not very nice folk, in case you were wondering. You would not want to bump into any of them, in the pub or down Sainsburys. They are involved in drugs, guns and illegal traffiking. Foreign women are used and abused, as forced prostitutes. Anything illegal goes.

Slowly we get to know and understand these Manchester folk, with their strange sense of right and wrong. Plus Marnie Riches presents this subculture in a very accessible, slightly humorous way and twisted way. Dark humour maybe. Definitely maybe! I was particularly fond of Sheila and how she grew and developed. She has me very worried for a while!

Born Bad puts the bad in Manchester, a sort of Badchester. With the kind of ending that makes you sit up and spill your cuppa, I can see a few more adventures might be in store for these criminal classes. Seedy, dark and devilishly twisted. Recommended.



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Quieter Than Killing – Sarah Hilary


Quieter Than Killing is published by Headline on 9th March 2017 and is available to buy here

Sarah Hilary, winner of the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, returns with a new DI Marnie Rome novel, QUIETER THAN KILLING. For fans of Val McDermid, Alex Marwood and Claire Mackintosh

‘Hilary is my drop-everything writer; always original, always bang-on psychologically, always gripping. I am a huge fan’ Alex Marwood

‘Tremendous’ Ian Rankin

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

My thoughts

Sarah Hilary stormed onto the UK crime scene just a few years ago. Now DI Marnie Rome and her sidekick DS Noah Jake feel like they have been around forever. We have taken them to our hearts. Quieter Than Killing is book number four.

One of the highlights of this series is the twisted relationship between Marnie and her strange psychotic foster sibling Stephen. The more this is revealed, the more engrossed I become. I wish we could have more. Stephen was responsible for the death of Marnie’s parents, six years ago. He has a lovely skewed perspective.

This story is mostly about revenge and families, including those of Marnie and Noah. There appears to be a case of nasty vigilantism in the city. Three people have been badly assaulted, ending up in hospital. At the same time, a ten year old boy has been kidnapped and is being held in a house. Somehow this all links to Marnie. But how and why?

Sarah Hilary once again gives our favourites detectives a hard time. Noah has to deal with a younger erratic brother in trouble. Plus he gets himself hurt, in the action. Poor Noah. Marnie is forced to visit Stephen again, like Clarice Starling meeting Hannibal Lecter. Events conspire that she must return to the place where he committed his crimes. The home she grew up in, with all its memories. 

Quieter Than Killing hits all the right notes. Chilly and chilling. Powerful and terribly sad. A social commentary on how families can be hidden places of abuse. I actually felt sorry for the killer when revealed. It looks like there will be more to come with the wonderful Stephen/Marnie storyline. The end of the book hinted at trouble to follow. Terrific. I cannot wait! 

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The Killer – Susan Wilkins


The Killer is published by Pan Macmillan on 23rd March 2017 and is available to buy here

A glossy and gripping crime thriller about survival and vengeance, it puts the pedal to the metal as it hurtles through contemporary London, from the glass towers of the super-rich to the down and dirty backstreets of organized crime and blackmail.

She was a woman, so they thought she’d be easy to kill . . .

Kaz Phelps is on the run – from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.

Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met’s best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she’s responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci’s biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.

Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

My thoughts

Alert! Stop everything now! The final part of the Kaz Phelps trilogy has arrived! We have the answers to that shocking ending in The Mourner.

The Killer is the third instalment and sadly the last part of the dark and gritty Kaz Phelps series. It follows on beautifully from Susan Wilkins’ other two novels, The Informant and The Mourner.

For those of you who have somehow missed out on this series, where have you been? Background wise, you really need to have read the other two books to understand Kaz and her relationship with her dysfunctional family and Nicci Armstrong. The trilogy is as much about Nicci as it is about Kaz. Kaz comes from a tough family, of organised crime and violence. We have followed her as she tried to escape this terrible legacy, in witness protection. Kaz has returned to London, has lost a former lover and now a close family member has been murdered. Trouble seems to follow Kaz. Nicci is ex-police, working in private security for the mega rich. She is trying to cope with the demons from her past. She is the only one who seems to want to understand Kaz.

The end of the trilogy places Kaz in danger. She knows that she is a target. She is a marked woman, with international enemies on her tail. It is hard to know who to trust. Even people who appear to be friendly may have hidden agendas. We see her under fire and totally alone. She is determined not to let the police drag her back to prison. She has a choice, kill or be killed. Kaz handles it all brilliantly, with a certain style that you would expect from her. No one should even try to get the better of her. She is a match for anyone. What a woman!

Kaz fans, you will LOVE this! I guarantee it. Susan Wilkins has given us a magnificent and utterly gripping conclusion to the trilogy. I could hardly tear myself away from The Killer. I just love how Nicci has developed as a character, over the course of the series. Seeing Kaz back in action was definitely worth the wait. As well as turning this genre on its head, with strong gutsy women, Susan Wilkins has given us some truly memorable characters. This is a stunning finale to Kaz’s journey.

Totally and utterly recommended.

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Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey


Let the Dead Speak is published by Harper Collins on 9 March 2017 and is available to buy here

In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Jane Casey, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth…

A murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.

A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?

A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…

My thoughts

Welcome back Maeve and Derwent! You have been missed SO much!

Let the Dead Speak is the latest in the exciting Maeve Kerrigan series, written by Jane Casey! Well it’s more Maeve and the gorgeous Derwent, the dynamic crime solving duo. I’d give them equal billing. He is gorgeous, isn’t he? Who doesn’t find Derwent that little bit attractive, in a bad boy way? Moving on…

The story starts with a bang, and with one of the best introductions to a crime scene ever. Someone arrives home to a horrific blood bath. The house shows evidence of a deadly fight and blood literally dripping everywhere. There is no body. This turns a nice neighbourhood, inside out. Curtains twitch. Neighbours puzzle. People get nervous. Where is the victim? Who knew her? What are her secrets? Derwent and Maeve are on the hunt for a killer, as well as a body in suburbia.

This was fun! Lots of gloriously twisted family relationships, a dollop of religious extremism thrown in and secrets a plenty. Josh Derwent and Maeve are on top form, with their razor sharp banter and lively approach to crime. Maeve even has a newish sidekick to dislike, in the form of a young pretty Detective Constable. And we have wit and subtle humour lurking beneath every surface.

Jane Casey is on top form in Let the Dead Speak. When does she ever disappoint us though? I’ve loved every instalment of Derwent and Maeve’s adventures so far. This time, I was left literally crying for more. I laughed, I glared at the suspects and cheered at the cleverness of the author. I wanted to stay hidden beneath the covers of the book forever.

Crime to die for! Recommended.



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My Sister and Other Liars – Ruth Dugdall


My Sister and Other Liars is published by Thomas and Mercer on 1st May 2017 and is available to buy here

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

My thoughts

With Ruth Dugdall, you are pretty much guaranteed a strong, intelligent and emotional storyline. Her latest novel is no exception. My Sister and Other Liars is rather a brilliant mystery, with an uncomfortable dark side.

It is a story of two sisters, Sam and Jena. Sam is locked away in a mental health unit, undergoing treatment for anorexia. It is clear that she is dealing with some tough emotional baggage by refusing to eat and to see her family. She is angry. She is confused. We see her pain and hear her mixed up adolescent thought processes. Slowly she begins to open up to her psychiatrist about her past, in the hope that she will gain her freedom. The question is though what drove Sam to this? What is she refusing to acknowledge?  Jena is Sam’s older sister, a woman in her twenties. Jena was brutally attacked, some eighteen months ago. This devastated the whole family. Only Sam seems to want to find out the truth behind this.

This is truly powerful stuff. The story of Sam is one that it is easy to believe in. A girl wasting away, within a psychiatric unit and a mystery surrounding her. We meet a bunch of teenage patients who want to be as thin as possible. We see the healthcare workers who are trying to make sense of these children, on the verge on life and death. No one can possibly hear about Sam and not feel compassion for her or the other girls in the unit. This is just one aspect of Sam, as we get to know her and see her inner strength and determination. Dugdall captures the small eating disorders psychiatric unit beautifully, with the almost strained and complex relationships between the mental health workers and their patients.

Check out Ruth Dugdall if you want a complete breath of fresh air from the psychological crime genre. My Sister and Other Liars was marvellous and slightly disturbing!

Highly recommended!


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