Not long to go: Vote for the CWA’s Dagger in the Library award


Library (Photo credit: thejester100)


The Dagger in the Library award is one of the Crime Writers’ Association highly prized dagger awards. It’s a unique prize that allows readers, reading groups, and libraries to nominate their favourite crime authors to go forward to a panel of expert judges made up of UK librarians.


The prize is for an author’s whole collection rather than a specific book. In previous years, recipients of the Dagger in the Library have included Mo Hayder, Steve Mosby and Stuart MacBride.


It’s a great chance for readers to recognise their favourite authors and also to honour the work of our UK libraries. But you’ll have to be quick, the closing date for nominations is 1st April 2013.


So, hop across to and nominate your favourite British crime writers. You’ll also be in with a chance to win £200 worth of books from Random House Publishers.


Book to Film News: Wentworth Miller to adapt Scare Me for the screen

cover image: Scare Me

cover image: Scare Me

Exciting news just out of Angry Robot: Exhibit A HQ tells me that Relatively Media have acquired the film rights to Richard Parker’s psychological thriller Scare Me and have asked Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller to adapt the novel for the big screen.

Scare Me tells the story of a wealthy businessman who receives a phone call in the middle of the night asking him, ‘When did you last google yourself?’ He does just that, and discovers a website with photos of his own home, along with six other houses he’s never seen before. One photo shows a gruesome murder.

Sounds like it’s going to be a must-watch film.

For more details head over to

My Guest Review for the Mean Streets blog: The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway

cover image

cover image

A high-action, atmospheric procedural with plenty of twists and turns

What the blurb says: “Declan Cleary’s body has never been found, but everyone believes he was killed for informing on a friend over thirty years ago. Now the Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains is following a tip-off that he was buried on the small isle of Islandmore, in the middle of the River Foyle.

Instead, the dig uncovers a baby’s skeleton, and it doesn’t look like death by natural causes. But evidence revealed by the Commission’s activities cannot lead to prosecution. Inspector Devlin is torn. He has no desire to resurrect the violent divisions of the recent past. Neither can he let a suspected murderer go unpunished.

Now the secret is out, more deaths follow. Devlin must trust his conscience – even when that puts those closest to him at terrible risk.”

Compared to the majority of police procedurals that I read, what struck me most about this story was the action-packed, fast paced style. Despite the tip-off that Inspector Devlin is following being about a murder conducted over thirty years previously, the story feels immediate and pacy right from the start. As the plot unfolds, and Devlin starts to uncover the many activities – both within and outside of the law – that Declan Cleary was connected to, he realises that this was not the straight-forward revenge killing that he had originally believed it to be.

The isle of Islandmore, or Isle of Bones as it has come to be known locally, is an atmospheric setting that adds to the brooding tone of the novel. That Islandmore is also the site of a ‘cillin’ – an unofficial burial site for unbaptized babies – adds to the sense of sadness and loss. As the story progresses, Devlin discovers that what took place at Islandmore all those years ago, still has a huge impact on the local community.

The subject matter covered in the story is evocative and main all the more chilling and heartbreaking by its closeness to real life events. When the bodies of seven children are uncovered as part of the dig for Declan Cleary’s body, Devlin wrestles with the action he believes to be right – to investigate their deaths, versus the constraints of the law by which he is bound – that no bodies found as part of a Commission’s dig can be investigated. This personal struggle shows the human, family man that Devlin is, as well as his strong commitment to the community and personal values.

This is the first of the Devlin novels that I’ve read – The Nameless Dead is the fifth in the series – but I’ll certainly be looking out for the others.

Highly recommended.


The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway is available now, published by Pan Books.

Check out this and other great reviews over on the Mean Streets Crime Fiction Blog at

On Pre-Order: DOWNFALL by Jeff Abbott

Jeff Abbott at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, A...

Jeff Abbott at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so hands-up, I’m a huge Jeff Abbott fan.

I love both his standalone thrillers like FEAR, TRUST ME, and RUN along with his Whit Mosley series and now his newest series featuring Sam Capra.

The first two novels in the Sam Capra series – ADRENALIN and THE LAST MINUTE – are just the type of breathlessly paced, page-turning action thrillers that got me hooked on the genre in the first place. So, I’m really excited to have discovered that the third book in the Sam Capra series – DOWNFALL – is scheduled for release on July 16th 2013.

I really can’t wait.

How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark

How Not to Write A Novel cover image

How Not to Write A Novel cover image

For those of us aspiring to write a published novel, ‘how to’ books that help us learn the craft can be a great resource, but how do you choose which ones to buy from all the many available?

Well here’s one with a difference.

Rather than focusing on ‘how to’, Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark focus instead on ‘how not to’. The result is this hilarious and entertaining book, that also drives home 200 different things to avoid in your work-in-progress.

It has sections covering plot, character, style, world-building, and also how (not) to approach agents.

With examples of each type of mistake clearly shown, this book is both fun to read and also really educational.

If you’re an aspiring author it’s well worth checking out.

Review: Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson

Tortured Spirits cover image

Tortured Spirits cover image

A guest review by YA Science Fiction Author, Imran Siddiq

What the blurb says: “The sign on Jake Helman’s office door says Private Investigator, but this ex-cop’s profession is more complicated than spying on cheating spouses. Over the course of two years, Jake has battled demons, zombies, even a cosmic monster—and he has paid dearly, both physically and emotionally, for his exploits.

Now on a quest to save his best friend’s soul, Jake embarks on his greatest and most terrifying odyssey yet: from the streets of New Orleans to the nightclubs of Miami to the jungles of Pavot Island, where undead slaves harvest narcotics for a ferocious dictator.

But this time Jake isn’t alone. Maria Vasquez, a beautiful NYPD homicide detective, joins him to rescue her former partner. With no backup and limited resources, Jake and Maria battle voodoo overlords, military troops, and an army of zombies. What will prove deadlier to Jake: the addictive drug called Black Magic, the return of an old enemy, or a vengeful demon plotting against him? Tortured Spirits is an action-packed, gore-soaked, supernatural thrill ride that will leave horror fans gasping for Jake Helman’s return.

This is my first read as part of the Jake Helman Series, and although Tortured Spirits is #4, the method of delivery gives enough for a newbie not to feel out of their depths or lost within the detail.  The author, Gregory Lamberson, guides the reader around what Jake already knows teases us with glimpses of the past. Sufficient backstory at relevant stages never feels like an infer dump and made reading this rather comfortable.

Jake Helman is a maverick of a one-man-band whose style is admirable when being considerate, but highly expressive when he needs to deliver the smack on goons and zombies. Heck – did i just mention zombies? Indeed; Tortured Spirits is a Supernatural Crime novel, but don’t let the supernatural aspect put you off.

Back to Jake – he can be described as a James Bond (likes the ladies) crossed over with Nathan Drake (of Uncharted Games due to his sense of adventure) and a bit of mystery solving Columbo (the glass eye). Scenes of extensive dialogue, although sometimes difficult to follow as to who is speaking, are rich with personality and bring across the risks associated within the novel … like zombies … and hellacious witchcraft. A fun part was Jake’s relationship with Edgar, his friend who’s been turned into a Raven. Again, don’t be put off by the supernatural aspect, because the human nature of caring for and carrying the bird around everywhere that he goes was a nice touch.

My only criticism is in places I received too much detail about the clothing Jake wore, and that zombies are referred to as zonbies. It takes some getting used to.

The crux of the novel is how Jake finds himself having to uncover a plot to save a man he cares little about in exchange for a solution to return the Raven back into Edgar (human form). What follows is gore of immense blood-appeal with scenes that will have you turning quicker than you can make contact with the page. Take out the supernatural aspect and this novel possesses a guest cop chase of uncovering crime, and some of the exchanges between the good and the bad took me back into top shows like NYPD and CSI. This isn’t your average Buffy – let’s grab some holy water and down these zombies – oh no, Jake needs to be cunning to win and … survive. Believe me, the author puts Jake is some gut-wrenching situations.

Gregory delivers a well written novel that is worthy of a read by any Crime/Thriller enthusiast, and adds his own spin on age-old notions; like using DNA from simply handing over a business card to place Jake under the control of witchcraft.

Overall, the world created and the glimpses into past events makes me want to read the previous entries to the series.


Tortured Spirits by Gregory Lamberson is available now.

About the Reviewer: Imran Siddiq seeks comfort at his desk with writing, drawing, blogging and socialising. His debut YA Science Fiction novel: Disconnect is on release now. To find out more, please visit:


A Perfect Mug for Book Lovers

Isn’t it lovely?

This Emma Bridgewater china mug is part of the ‘Black Toast’ range, and perfect for all book lovers (and coffee drinkers!).



With thanks to the wonderful Novelicious blog, who featured this mug as one of their top five mugs for readers. You can check out the full blog post here:

Review: The Circus by James Craig

The Circus cover image

The Circus cover image

What the blurb says: “When the body of journalist Duncan Brown is found in the back of a rubbish truck, Inspector John Carlyle is thrown into the middle of a scandal that threatens to expose the corrupt links between the police, the political establishment and the hugely powerful Zenger media group.

Hunting down Brown’s killer, Carlyle finds himself going head-to-head with his nemesis, Trevor Miller. A former police officer turned security advisor to the Prime Minister, Miller has dirty money in his pockets and other people’s blood on his hands. Untouchable until now, he is prepared to kill again to protect his position, and having failed once already to dispose of Carlyle, he is not prepared to slip up again …”

I couldn’t help but warm to Inspector Carlyle. He’s a good bloke, battling a heavy workload in order to do a good job and solve his cases. And he’s got a lot on his plate, a targeted bomb that kills a teenager, a missing girl, and the murder of journalist Duncan Brown.

As Carlyle digs deeper into each case, he discovers a web of crime and corruption that stretches far into the halls of power in London. What made the story seem especially realistic for me is that it covers a number of themes that mirror much of what has happened in recent times, like phone hacking, and doesn’t shy away from showing a rather seedy side to journalism, politics and police work.

This is the fourth book in the bestselling Inspector Carlyle series. It’s a gritty story, set in a sinister London, and one that will have the reader trying to puzzle out both who did it and why did it.

I think fans of police procedurals will certainly enjoy this one.


The Circus by James Craig is out now, published by C&R Crime.


CRIMEFEST welcomes SHERLOCK to Bristol



Wow, this is huge!

CRIMEFEST, the fabulous crime writing festival held in Bristol, UK,  is all set to host a panel with the makers of the simply wonderful crime drama SHERLOCK.

The panel will include Mark Gatiss, actor (Mycroft Holmes), author and series co-creator, producer and co-creator Steven Moffat, and producer Sue Vertue.

The panel is scheduled for Saturday, 1 June, 1.40pm – 2:30pm.

Attendance of the panel is included in the Full and Saturday CRIMEFEST passes, and a limited number of £15 tickets are available for just the panel.

If you want to be there pop over to the CRIMEFEST website and bag a ticket fast at

I’ve got my ticket!