CRIMEFEST is here!



Hurray, today is the start of CrimeFest – a wonderful crime writing convention held in Bristol, England.

I’m heading there today and will be soon be enjoying the great panels, interviews, and other writerly goings on from Thursday to Sunday this week.

If you spot me be sure to come and say hi.

Oh and watch this space for updates …

Review: Crocodile Tears by Mark O’Sullivan

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What the blurb says: “DI Leo Woods’ life is a mess. Work keeps him sane. More or less. On an ice-cold winter morning in an affluent Dublin suburb, he stares down at the bloodied corpse of a property developer. Dermot Brennan’s features, distorted in terror, are a reflection of Leo’s own disfigured face. Life does that kind of thing to Leo. Makes faces at him.

With the help of ambitious but impetuous Detective Sergeant Helen Troy, Leo uncovers a frosted web of lies, where nobody is quite who they seem. But who ever is? A host of suspects emerge: Brennan’s beautiful but aloof wife, Anna; their estranged son; two former business associates bearing grudges and secrets; a young man convinced Brennan has ruined his life; an ex-pat American gardener; and an arrogant sculptor who may or may not have been having an affair with the dead man’s wife.

As ice and snow grip Dublin, Woods and Troy find themselves battling forces as malevolent as the weather: jealousy, greed and betrayal. Can they identify the murderer before things get even uglier?”

Mark O’Sullivan is already an award-winning author having published three pre-teen, four Young Adult and one adult novel. Crocodile Tears is his debut in literary crime fiction.

It’s a beautifully crafted and gripping story as you follow fifty-six-year-old DI Leo Woods on the hunt for a killer.

As the blurb says, there are a lot of suspects in this story, all with secrets to hide, and all with potential motive and opportunity to have killed Dermot Brennan.

What I loved about this book is the way that the investigation gradually revealed clues to the killer’s identity without making the final truth clear until the end. Add into the mix the atmospheric setting, Leo’s rather complicated personal life, and his need to keep the investigation (and his bosses) on track and on site despite the sometimes rash actions of his talented, eager but on occasion impetuous Detective Sergeant, Helen Troy, and you’ve got an engrossing story and a web of relationships and secrets that will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.



[With thanks to Transworld Publishers for my copy of Crocodile Tears]


Review: Trespasser by Paul Doiron

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Now, as regular visitors to the CTG blog will know, we’re big fans of Paul Doiron and his Mike Bowditch series. Guest reader Sally Fallon dived in to the latest book to see what was next in store for Mike …

The blurb says: “Paul Doiron’s riveting follow-up to his Edgar Award–nominated novel, The Poacher’s Son.

While on patrol on a foggy March evening, game warden Mike Bowditch receives a call for help. A woman has reportedly struck a deer on a lonely coast road. When he arrives on the scene, he finds blood on the road—but both the driver and the deer have vanished. Her body is found the next day, brutalised in a way eerily similar to a case seven years ago, when a jury sentenced Erland Jefferts to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of a college student.

So was Jefferts framed?  When Bowditch begins to investigate he receives a warning from state prosecutors to stop asking questions. but for Bowditch, doing nothing is not an option.  And as he closes in on the truth, he  suddenly discovers how dangerous his opponents are, and how far they will go to prevent him from bringing a killer to justice.”

Although this is the second novel in a series, it is a stand-alone fast-paced, contemporary thriller.  You gradually get drawn into a small but spread out community in the cold state of Maine.   You can feel the beautifully described cold, mud and mist seeping into your bones as the story unfolds and winter gradually thaws.

Warden Mike battles not only with his demanding job, the elements and the range of characters in his community.  He also has to deal with tensions in his current relationship and the ghosts of his relationship with his parents, in particular his father.  It is easy to read but has a surprisingly complex cast of characters, including the possible trespassers of the title.  Mike becomes increasingly embroiled in the case, and he becomes increasingly injured.  The reader becomes desperate for Mike to solve the case before he gets even more damaged.

You can expect the next in the series (Bad Little Falls) to be equally fast paced and detailed.


[With thanks to C&R Crime for our copy of Trespasser]

Book Launch of The Twelfth Department by William Ryan

The Twelfth Department

The Twelfth Department

I was thrilled to be invited to the launch of author William Ryan’s new novel The Twelfth Department. The event was held on Tuesday at the gorgeous bookstore Goldsboro Books by invitation of Pan Macmillan and Goldsboro Books. It was a fabulous evening.

The Twelfth Department is the third novel in William Ryan’s Captain Korolev series set in 1930s Russia.

I’ll be posting a full review shortly, but to whet your appetite here’s the blurb: When an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin, police investigator Captain Korolev is ordered to find the killer. But when another scientist is murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev realises that he’s caught in a dangerous battle  between two warring factions of the NKVD. Then his young son Yuri goes missing … 

The Twelfth Department is published by MANTLE today, 23rd May 2013.

Watch this space for my review …

Review: Dark Dawn by Matt McGuire

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What the blurb says: “Acting Detective Sergeant John O’Neill stands over the body of a dead teenager. The corpse was discovered on the building site of a luxury development overlooking the River Lagan. Kneecapped, then killed, the body bears the hallmarks of a punishment beating. But this is the new Northern Ireland – the Celtic Tiger purrs, the Troubles are over, the paramilitaries are gone. So who is the boy and who wanted him dead?

O’Neill quickly realises that no one else seems to care about this kid’s identity – his colleagues, the politicians, the press – making this case one of his toughest yet. O’Neill needs to crack this one, his first job as Principle Investigator, or risk ending up back in uniform. Disliked by the Chief Inspector and with his current rank yet to be ratified, O’Neill is in a precarious position …”

McGuire’s debut is slick and fast paced.

A police procedural told from several point-of-views, it shows not only the world DS O’Neill inhabits, but also that of the old and new generations and the changing face and frictions within the crime world.

The story grabbed me right from the opening chapter. O’Neill, a man with an unhappy past and a Chief Inspector out for his blood, is given the lead on a case which no one seems to care about, to solve the murder of a person who they can’t identify. With characteristic commitment to his job, O’Neill sets about solving the mystery, investigating leads that take him high into the political circles of the city and out into the criminal underworld, and in the process makes himself a target with a price on his head.

The stories of two young upstarts in the drug world – Marty and Petesy – and Lynch, recently released from prison and trying not to get drawn into the underworld, add to the gritty setting and show the tension on the streets. The way the different point-of-view characters’ stories weave together is artfully done and sets up a cracking finale.

Fast paced, and with plenty of twists and turns, I think this is a must-read for fans of police procedurals.

Highly recommended.

[Many thanks to C&R Crime for my copy of Dark Dawn]

Events Alert: Nordic Noir announce first ‘Nordicana’ expo

Nordicana logo

Nordicana logo

If you’re a fan Scandinavian crime thriller fiction and film this could be an event for you.

Run in association with Arrow Films and the literary network English Pen, the first Nordicana expo is scheduled for 15 – 16 June 2013 and will be held at The Farmiloe Building – 34-35 St. John Street, London, EC1.

The event will bring fans of Nordic noir together for a two-day celebration of fiction and film, featuring author panel discussions, signings, exclusive screenings, talks and much more.

To find out all the details and how to book, check out the Nordic Noir website at

Review: The Ranger by Ace Atkins

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What the blurb says: “Northeast Mississippi, hill country, rugged and notorious for outlaws since the Civil War, where killings are as commonplace as in the Old West. To Quinn Colson, it’s home – but not the home he left when he went to Afghanistan.

Now an army ranger, he returns to a place overrun with corruption, and finds his uncle, the county sheriff, dead – a suicide, he’s told, but others whisper murder. In the days that follow, it will be up to Colson to discover the truth, not only about his uncle, but about his family, his friends, his town, and not least about himself. And once the truth is discovered, there is no turning back.”

The Ranger is the first book in a new series featuring Quinn Colson, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Edgar Best Novel Award 2012. It’s the first of Ace Atkins’ books that I’ve read, and I have to say, I loved it.

It’s a classic western re-imagined into contemporary life. Atkins builds a three dimensional world bursting with dynamic characters, like the brave Deputy, Lillie Virgil, who is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to the Sheriff, and showing modern challenges like property development in rural areas, the struggle of backwater towns as the wealth, and jobs, move to the cities, and the basic desire to protect family.

Quinn is a modern twist on the archetypal lone ranger. A man of few words and great action, he lives by a strong moral compass and a determined streak to see things though.

As the story progresses, Quinn discovers that the place he left behind when he become a Ranger has changed. Good and bad are no longer clear, and people he once respected have formed alliances with those more corrupt. When Quinn starts to uncover the truth he is warned off. He ignores the threats, and the uneasy tension builds until lawless violence erupts. It’s hard to write a review that doesn’t give away spoilers, but the showdown at the climax of the novel is spectacular and highly cinematic.

If you’re a fan of action thrillers, this should definitely be on your reading list.

Highly recommended.

[With thanks to C&R Crime for my copy of The Ranger]

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award – longlist announced

Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year logo

Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year logo

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award celebrates the very best in crime writing. Run in partnership between Harrogate International Festivals and WHSmith, the award is open to British and Irish authors. The 2013 award is open to novels which have been published in paperback between 1 May 2012 – 30 April 2013.

And the 2013 long-list is …

  • The Guilty One – Lisa Ballantyne (Piatkus)
  • Finders Keepers – Belinda Bauer (Transworld)
  • Rush Of Blood – Mark Billingham (Little Brown)
  • Dead Scared – S J Bolton (Corgi, Transworld)
  • The Affair – Lee Child (Transworld)
  • A Foreign Country – Charles Cumming (Harpercollins)
  • Safe House –  Chris Ewan (Faber and Faber)
  • Not Dead Yet – Peter James (Macmillan)
  • Siege – Simon Kernick (Bantam Press)
  • Prague Fatale – Philip Kerr (Quercus)
  • The Rage – Gene Kerrigan (Vintage)
  • Birthdays for the Dead – Stuart MacBride (Harper)
  • The Dark Winter – David Mark (Quercus)
  • The Lewis Man – Peter May (Quercus)
  • Gods And Beasts – Denise Mina (Orion)
  • Stolen Souls – Stuart Neville (Vintage)
  • Sacrilege – S. J. Parris (Harper)
  • A Dark Redemption – Stav Sherez (Faber and Faber)

For the next stage, a shortlist of six will be announced on 1st July 2013.

Then, to decide the winner, a public online vote will open on 4th July 2013 at along with the deliberation of an expert judging panel.

The winner will be announced at the 2013 award ceremony on 18th July at the opening night of the fabulous Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, England.

Many congratulations to all of the long listed authors, and best of luck for the next round.

CrimeFest announce their 2013 Awards Shortlists



There’s not long to go before the annual CrimeFest crime writing convention running from 30th May – 2nd June in Bristol, England.

A highlight of the event is the CrimeFest Awards, and this week the shortlists for 2013 have been announced.

First up, is The Audible Sounds of Crime Award. This award celebrates the best crime audiobook published in both print and audio in 2012. Shortlists and winning titles are selected by, the UK’s leading producer of downloadable audiobooks.

And the shortlist is:

– Michael Connelly for The Black Box read by Michael McConnohie (Orion Audio)

– John Grisham for The Racketeer read by J.D. Jackson (Hodder & Stoughton)

– Peter May for The Lewis Man read by Peter Forbes (Quercus)

– Jo Nesbø for Phantom read by Sean Barrett (Random House with Isis Publishing)

– Ian Rankin for Standing In Another Man’s Grave read by James MacPherson (Orion Audio)

Next up is The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award. This award is for the best humorous crime novel of 2012. The shortlist and winning title are selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Colin Bateman for The Prisoner of Brenda (Headline)

– Simon Brett for The Corpse on the Court (Severn House)

– Declan Burke for Slaughter’s Hound (Liberties Press)

– Ruth Dudley Edwards for Killing The Emperors (Allison & Busby)

– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May and the Invisible Code (Doubleday, Transworld)

– Hesh Kestin for The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats (Mulholland Books, Hodder & Stoughton)

The next up is the eDunnit Award. This award recognises the best crime fiction ebook published in 2012 in both hardcopy and in electronic format. The shortlist and winning title are selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Andrea Camilleri for The Age of Doubt (Mantle, Macmillan)

– Ruth Dudley Edwards for Killing The Emperors (Allison & Busby)

– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May and the Invisible Code (Transworld)

– C.J. Sansom for Dominion (Mantle, Macmillan)

And finally, the H.R.F. Keating Award. This award is for the best biography/critical book related to crime fiction ebook published between 2008 and 2012. Again, the shortlist and winning title has been selected by a team of British crime fiction reviewers.

The shortlist is:

– Declan Burke & John Connolly for Books to Die For (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012)

– John Curran for Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks (HarperCollins, 2009)

– Barry Forshaw (editor) for British Crime Writing: an Encyclopaedia (Greenwood World Publishing, 2008)

– Christopher Fowler for Invisible Ink (Strange Attractor, 2012)

– Maxim Jakubowski (editor) for Following the Detectives (New Holland Publishers, 2010)

– P.D. James for Talking about Detective Fiction (The Bodleian Library, 2009)

Now the shortlist has been announced, the nominees have to wait it out until the winners of each award are  announced at CrimeFest’s annual Gala Dinner on Saturday 1st June. With so many great books on the shortlists it’s going to be a tough call.

I’ve got my ticket and I can’t wait to find out who the winners are.

To find out more about CrimeFest hop on over to

Just Finished Reading: Hamelin’s Child by DJ Bennett

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What the blurb says: “Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him. 

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.”

Set in the seedy world of London’s drug and prostitution rings, this is a harrowing and gritty story. However, as brutal as parts of this novel are, I found that I kept reading on, wanting to find out if Mikey could turn things around, get out of the horrendous situation he found himself in, and get some of his old life back.

This is a well written, fast paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. It’s gritty and has adult content, but is never gratuitous.

If you’re looking for hard-hitting realism, this could be well worth a read.

[With thanks to the author DJ Bennet for my copy of Hamelin’s Child]