Your chance to WIN: SKINJOB by Bruce McCabe #bookgiveaway

SKINJOB cover image

SKINJOB cover image

Published in paperback this week, those lovely people at Corgi have given me a copy of SKINJOB to give away to one lucky winner. Here’s some more about the book …

The Prize: SKINJOB by Bruce McCabe

What the blurb says: “A bomb goes off in downtown San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet. Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and the Bureau’s latest technological weapon. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber – before he strikes again. In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private …”

This is one of the best techno-thrillers I’ve read. Reminiscent of the great Michael Crichton, this is a great read: a cracking high-adrenalin story filled with intrigue and high on action, set a future world that might make you think a little more about just where technology might lead us.

So, to the competition …


For a chance to win a copy of SKINJOB all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway. [You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win]. Rules
(1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Sunday 1st February 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

CTG Reviews: SKINJOB by Bruce McCabe

SKINJOB cover image

SKINJOB cover image

To celebrate the paperback release of Bruce McCabe’s excellent techno-thriller – SKINJOB. Today I’m re-running my review …

What the blurb says: “A bomb goes off in downtown San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet. Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and the Bureau’s latest technological weapon. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber – before he strikes again. In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private …”

Bruce McCabe has created a darkly fascinating future world. It’s similar to the world as we know it, but with many elements taken to technology-enabled extremes. Like the hand-held lie detectors that allow FBI ‘plotters’ to determine the truth of a crime at faster rates than ever before, and the new, utterly lifelike sex dolls – ‘skinjobs’ – that look, feel and act like real people (although, creepily, can’t speak), and the dramatic rise in politically active religions lobbying against their use. It’s a world where secrets are outlawed, and good law officers can lose their jobs at the beep of a device. And, as a result of this new technology, careers and fortunes can be made and lost at an increasingly rapid rate.

‘Plotter’ Daniel Madsen is part of the new world. He’s hard-working to the point of extreme, super-smart, and determined to find the truth and get justice in all the cases he works. When he’s called in to work with the local cops after a bomb goes off in one of the ‘dollhouses’ – a place men can go to have sex with dolls – he approaches the case as he would any other. But this one is different. The forensic evidence doesn’t tie up with the CCTV footage. Under increasing pressure to generate leads and suspects, Daniel works around the clock trying to unravel the truth. But there is more to this case that first appears, and some very powerful people whose reputations (and fortunes) will rise or fall on the outcome.

But the story isn’t just about technology. As well as Daniel’s quest for the truth, what makes the story even more human is the internal conflict of Shari Sanayei, local PD Viddy Ops specialist (video surveillance), who is in charge of analysing the CCTV footage, and has to watch the police officer she was having a secret affair with enter the building where the bomb detonated just moments before it happened. If she declares the relationship, she’ll be removed from the case, and she doesn’t want that. Not only is she the best at viddy ops, she’s also determined to bring her lover’s killer to justice. Even if withholding their affair costs her the job she loves.

This is one of the best techno-thrillers I’ve read. Filled with intrigue and high on action it pulls you into an artfully crafted future world and has you follow Daniel Madsen as he searches for the person responsible for the bombing. With a cast of interesting characters, and the puzzle of evidence that doesn’t make sense, it had me trying to guess the killer’s identity all the way through and still managed to pack a great twist at the end.

Reminiscent of the great Michael Crichton, this is a techno-thriller with heart. A great read, a cracking high-adrenalin story, and a future world to make you think a little more about just where technology might lead us.

Highly recommended.


[Many thanks to Corgi for my copy of SKINJOB]

Event Alert: Peter May at Waterstones Piccadilly on 27th January 2015

Runaway cover image

Runaway cover image

On Tuesday 27th January 2015 Peter May, author of the best selling Lewis Trilogy and the fabulous standalone Entry Island, is going to be visiting Waterstones Piccadilly to talk about his new standalone novel RUNAWAY. Sounds like it’s going to be a great evening.

Here are the details …

PETER MAY talking with Barry Forshaw (crime reviewer for the Financial Times)

Venue: WATERSTONES PICCADILLY – 203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD

Tickets: £5/£3

Tel for tickets: 020 78512400  Website:

And a bit more about RUNAWAY …

What the blurb says: “The decision for five teenage boys to leave their homes in Glasgow in 1965 and head to London is led by Jack Mackay when he is expelled from school. His friends need little incentive to run away from their abusive families and dead end jobs to pursue fame and fortune as a band. However, the boys find their dreams to be devastatingly different from reality, and within less than twelve months of their departure, only three of them return home, their lives irrevocably damaged.

Fifty years later in 2015 a brutal murder takes place in London and the three men, who are now in their sixties, are forced to return to the city to confront the demons which have haunted them and blighted their lives for five decades.”

Your chance to win: FACE OFF – stories by Lee Child, Peter James, Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin and more (ed. David Baldacci) #bookgiveaway

FACE OFF cover image

FACE OFF cover image

It’s not due to be published in paperback until the 29th January, but this week those lovely people at Sphere have given me a copy of FACE OFF to give away to one lucky winner. Here’s some more about the book …

The Prize: FACE OFF

What the blurb says: “Twenty-three of the world’s best-selling crime writers and your favourite series characters FACE OFF in eleven original short stories. Never before has such a glittering array of the world’s bestselling crime writers brought their series characters together in a collection of co-written short stories … FACE OFF includes the first meeting of Ian Rankin’s Rebus and Peter James’ Roy Grace; a case for Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, as well as a page-turning mystery starring Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller. Edited by international bestseller David Baldacci, this exclusive page-turning collection is one of a kind.”

It’s a fantastic book of short stories, each one just perfect for reading over breakfast, or taking with you to read at lunchtime as you eat your sandwiches, or for a sneaky bit of procrastination when you should be doing something else!

The character pairings and full list of authors are:

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher + Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller

Ian Rankin’s John Rebus + Peter James’ Roy Grace

Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch + Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie

Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme + John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport

Linwood Barclay’s Glen Garber + Raymond Khoury’s Sean Reilly

Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper + Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani

Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone + James Rollins’ Gray Pierce

Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren + MJ Rose’s Malachai Samuels

T. Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona and John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt

Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn + F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack

Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child’s Aloysius Pendergast + R.L. Stine’s Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy



So, to the competition …

For a chance to win a copy of FACE OFF all you need to do is tweet the link to this post (using the Twitter button below) OR retweet one of the CTG tweets about the giveaway. [You’ll also need to follow us on Twitter, so that we can send you a direct message should you win]. Rules
(1) One entry per reader (2) UK residents only – due to postage costs – sorry! (3) We will draw the winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Sunday 25th January 2015 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Good luck!

CTG Reviews: BETTER OFF DEAD by Tom Wood

Better Off Dead cover image

Better Off Dead cover image

What the blurb says: “A hitman must be anonymous, amoral … and alone.

Victor is the face in the crowd you don’t see, a perfect assassin with nothing to live for. But when an old friend turns to him for help he finds he can’t refuse. For once his objective isn’t to kill, but to protect.

Hunted through the streets of London by ruthless enemies, Victor needs to be more than just a bodyguard … but his every move leads danger closer to the very person he’s vowed to defend.”

This is the first Victor the Assassin book I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last! Hooking me in from the every first page, author Tom Wood has crafted a novel with terrific pace, a contemporary, gritty feel and, rather unexpected for a novel whose protagonist is an assassin, a real depth of heart.

In this story, Victor is called by an old contact, now enemy – Russian crime boss Norimov – and asked to protect his estranged daughter who is being targeted by an unidentified gang. At first Victor refuses, he owes Norimov nothing, but finally agrees to find and protect Gisele in honour of her dead mother – Eleanor – who was Victor’s friend.

In London, Victor realises that finding Gisele may be more problematic than he’d first anticipated. As he researches her last known movements, he encounters a number of challenges from local muscle, and tries to piece together who the threats are coming from. When he locates Gisele things aren’t any clearer. She has no idea who is after her, and is highly reluctant to go with Victor. He manages to persuade her, and that’s when the serious attacks begin.

Forced to rely on his instincts and training, Victor battles to keep Gisele safe as they try to unravel the real motive driving those that are targeting her. With some fabulous action sequences, and ever increasing tension, this is a breath-taking read from start to finish.

The bond that grows between Gisele and Victor makes them an engaging pair, and although Gisele has no special training aside from a few self-defence classes, she’s a fast learner and a brave co-protagonist. She’s also adept at challenging Victor, acting rather like a moral compass in the more violent moments.

This pacey, exciting seat-of-your-pants read, as a must read for all thriller fans.

Highly Recommended.


[with thanks to Sphere for my copy of BETTER OFF DEAD]

Hot Tips: crime fiction debut authors to watch out for in 2015

Over the past few months I’ve been really privileged to get early reads of three fabulous novels that will be coming out later this year and I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about them …

SJI Holliday

SJI Holliday


If you like psychological thrillers then Susi Holliday’s debut BLACK WOOD is one to watch out for in March. Twenty-three years on from the incident in Black Wood that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars, a man walks into the bookstore where Jo works bringing the memories, and the desire for vengeance flooding back. Sergeant Davie Gray is hunting a masked man who has attacked several women near the disused railway line – is there a connection between Jo’s visitor and the attacks? As DS Gray unravels the shocking secrets, broken friendships and festering resentments hidden beneath the surface of the sleepy village of Banktoun, he finds himself in a battle against time to solve the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands. Keeping you guessing to the very end, this masterfully unsettling thriller will have you on the edge of your seat and stay with you long after you’ve finished reading – a must-read for all fans of psychological thrillers.

Follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday and check out her great blog at



JS Law

JS Law


With over a decade working on Nuclear Submarines, JS Law brings a gritty authenticity to the unique setting of TENACITY. The story follows military Special Investigator Danielle ‘Dan’ Lewis as she’s called to investigate the circumstances of an alleged suicide on board the nuclear submarine TENACITY. Only she knows what might have motivated him to take his life, but as she starts to puts together the pieces of the puzzle surrounding the dead man’s last days, she realises all is not as it first seemed. Determined to delve deeper, she makes herself a target as she battles the hostility of the ship’s company and gradually starts to unravel the secrets protected by them. Steadfast in her quest for the truth, Dan is brave and resourceful, and with much of the action taking place inside the confined quarters of the submarine, this military police procedural takes the ‘locked room’ mystery to a new level of suspense. High tension and high drama make TENACITY a gripping must-read for thriller and police procedural fans. Look out for it in July.

Follow JS Law on Twitter @JSLawBooks



Rod Reynolds

Rod Reynolds

Rod Reynolds – THE DARK INSIDE

Fresh out of the City University Creative Writing MA (Crime Fiction) Rod’s novel – THE DARK INSIDE – is a perfect slice of American Noir. It follows New York reporter Charlie Yates as he travels into the deep South to cover a spate of horrific murders where the targets are couples parked up in date spots. Set in the 1940s Texarkana, a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas, it’s an atmospheric and dark tale with Charlie very much the outsider in the unwelcoming and claustrophobic-feeling small town. Despite the hostility of the locals, Charlie finds himself drawn into the case and compelled to help the beautiful Lizzie – the sister of the only victim who survived one of the killer’s attacks. But as Charlie digs into the evidence he starts to uncover secrets that many people in Texarkana want to keep hidden – at any cost. A page-turner from start to finish, with twists that’ll take your breath away, THE DARK INSIDE is an absolute must-read for all crime thriller fans. Look out for it in September.

Follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR


AND, there are three more debuts that I’m really looking forward to reading:

Sarah Ward’s IN BITTER CHILL published in July. Hop on over to to see Sarah’s fantastic crime fiction blog and find out more about IN BITTER CHILL. Follow her on Twitter @sarahrward1

Rebecca Bradley’s SHALLOW WATERS is out now on Kindle (so, I know, technically not a 2015 debut, but as it published in December 2014, I’m counting it!). Pop over to to find out more about SHALLOW WATERS and follow her on Twitter @RebeccaJBradley

Paul E. Hardisty’s THE ABRUPT PHYSICS OF DYING which is out now on Kindle and will be published in paperback in August by Orenda Books. To find out more about THE ABRUPT PHYSICS OF DYING hop over to Twitter and follow @OrendaBooks and @Hardisty_Paul

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins



What the blurb says: “Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train.”

This is such an unsettling read. It’s dark, complex and really unnerving – in a good way!

But reviewing the book is rather tough, because spoilers are almost impossible to avoid! What I can say is that it masterfully uses a non-linear timeline and alternating points of view, to create maximum suspense. This is a story that once you’ve started reading defies you to put it down. It lurks in your mind when you’re doing your daily chores, whispering at you to read on (or so I found!).

There’s a closeness to the narrative that plugs you right into the heads of the point of view characters – Rachel, Megan and Anna – and lets you see the situation as they do and experience their emotions blow-by-blow. It doesn’t mean that you like them, though. In fact, I don’t think I ‘liked’ any of the characters in this book, although at times I could certainly empathise with them. But, the fact that I didn’t like them didn’t make them any less compelling to read about.

Grounded in the realities of a crumbling marriage, the inability to move past betrayal, and the secrets they’re hiding – from those close to them, and from themselves – this is an up close and personal view into the three women’s worlds as they fracture apart in the aftermath of a violent and brutal incident.

An absolute must for fans of psychological thrillers.

Highly recommended.

[with thanks to Transworld for my copy of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN]



CTG Reviews: AND SHE WAS by Alison Gaylin


AND SHE WAS cover image

AND SHE WAS cover image

What the blurb says: “When Brenna Spector was a child, her older sister stepped into a strange car never to be seen again. This traumatic event triggered in Brenna a rare neurological disorder that enables her to recall every detail of every day of her life, except – cruelly – that dark day when her sister disappeared.

Nowadays Brenna puts her unusual skill to use as a missing persons investigator and it’s while she’s trying to find local woman Carol Wentz that she discovers connections to another child’s disappearance, ten years earlier. Before too long a link to her own past emerges. Could this be the answer she’s been hunting for all these years?”

Brenna Spector is a truly unique investigator – smart and dedicated to her work as a missing persons investigator, and very human in her struggle to balance the demands of her job while trying to make quality time for her daughter. She also has a rare neurological disorder that lets her recall every detail of every day since it developed.

Brenna’s latest job is to find Carol Wentz, a resident of the small town – Tarry Ridge. Hired by Nelson Wentz, Carol’s husband, Brenna starts to piece together Carol’s movements in the days leading up to her disappearance. It’s not easy, Nelson is far from forthcoming, and the town holds many memories for Brenna which cause her mind to plunge her back into the aftermath of when the young girl – Iris Neff – was taken; a case which caused Brenna to visit the town ten years previously.

Then a body is found.

With the Police looking to make a quick arrest and Brenna’s client – Nelson Wentz – firmly in the frame, Brenna finds herself out of a job. But things don’t feel right to Brenna, and she keeps digging, discovering the dead woman’s increasing obsession with the child who was abducted many years before.

Much of the book focuses on the residents of fictional small town – Tarry Ridge – and the secrets they’ve kept from each other. It explores loss, and guilt, and the devastating consequences a single decision has both in that moment and across a decade.

Brenna is a resourceful and engaging protagonist. She juggles life as a single-parent with her job, and maintains good relationship with her ex-husband and his new wife even though the memories of the good times force her to relive her loss of him every time they meet.

I especially liked the growing relationship between Brenna and Detective Nick Morasco of Tarry Ridge PD. Both sense something more is going on in the small town than at first appears, and although initially neither is sure whether they can trust the other, they build at first a truce and then a partnership that helps both their investigations reach the truth.

Beautifully written, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader perched on the edge of their seat, this is a fabulous start to a fantastic new series. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Highly recommended.

[with thanks to Sphere for my copy of AND SHE WAS]

CTG Reviews: TELL NO TALES by Eva Dolan

TELL NO TALES cover image

TELL NO TALES cover image

What the blurb says: “The car that ploughs into the bus stop early one morning leaves a trail of death and destruction behind it.

DS Ferreira and DI Zigic are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to handle the investigation but with another major case on their hands, one with disturbing Neo-Nazi overtones, they are relieved when there seems to be an obvious suspect. But the case isn’t that simple and with tensions erupting in the town, leading to more violence, the media are soon hounding them for answers.

Ferreira believes that local politician Richard Stotton, head of a recently established ring-wing party, must be involved somehow. Journalists have been quick to acclaim Stotton, with his Brazilian wife and RAF career, as a serious contender for a major political career, despite his extremist views, but is his party a cover for something far more dangerous?”

Eva Dolan’s debut novel LONG WAY HOME was one of my favourite books of 2014, so I was super excited to get an early copy of the second book in the DS Ferreira and DI Zigic series – TELL NO TALES.

Ferreira and Zigic are assigned to investigate the hit and run, but what at first seems a fairly straightforward case soon turns out to be far more complex than they’d originally thought. Alongside the hit and run, they’re still struggling to find suspects in a chain of recent murders. The brutal, racially motivated attacks have already claimed two victims, but Zigic’s boss wants the motive for the murders downplayed.

The attackers are well prepared and ruthless, beating their victims to death and even playing up to the CCTV cameras they know are filming them. But even with video and forensic evidence, the detectives are no closer to identifying the killers. And things are going to get worse, a lot worse, before they get more leads. With tensions rising, and violence escalating, the two investigations begin to blur, and Ferreira and Zigic find their skills, and their resolve, tested to their very limits.

As in the first book, Ferreira and Zigic make a great duo, with Ferreira’s bold ‘tell it as it is’ attitude perfectly off set by Zigic’s more steady, measured, but no less determined approach. As the investigation progresses they deal with the challenges and try to cope with the shocking brutality of the cases in their own individual ways, but despite their differences, and Ferreira’s reservations about the additional officers assigned to Hate Crimes to support them, they work well together to unravel the complex and interwoven connections that have led to these extreme acts of violence taking place in the town.

What I especially liked about this novel was the characterisation. All the characters are so well drawn, from the witnesses and victims who are withholding information, to the suspects who refuse to talk, and the increasing political posturing and media manipulation from those looking to use the violence to whip up more unrest.

A compelling story, beautifully crafted, TELL NO TALES has tension crackling off every page. This is a must-read for police procedural fans.

Highly recommended.


[with thanks to Harvill Secker for my copy of TELL NO TALES]


CTG Reviews: Dead Man Walking by Paul Finch

Dead Man Walking cover image

Dead Man Walking cover image

What the blurb says: “DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is back and facing his most challenging criminal yet in unfamiliar territory. But tracking down a psychotic serial killer with the upper hand isn’t the only issue – it’s knowing who you can trust.

Consigned to a remote valley in the Lake District, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is getting used to a quieter life – a far cry from the bloodbath of his former division, the Serial Crimes Unit. But wherever Heck goes, trouble is never far behind.

Unknown to Heck, ‘The Stranger’ has returned. Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, this prolific serial killer has found a new home. As a dense, frozen mist descends on the Lakes, The Stranger returns to his old ways, starting with two young women lost high on the hills. Only one girl is ever found – barely alive – but able to confirm Heck’s worst fears.

As The Stranger lays siege to the remote community, Heck helplessly watches as the killer plays his cruel game, letting off his trademark call before viciously picking off his victims.

And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck has no choice but to play ball …”

Heck has started to build a new life for himself away from the stresses and unrelenting pressure of the Serial Crimes Unit. He’s got a new woman in his life – Hazel Carter, owner of The Witch’s Kettle pub – and a keen and resourceful work partner in DC Mary-Ellen O’Rourke. Things are looking good, but that’s all about to change!

This is a rollercoaster of a read from the get-go. Using the beautiful yet remote setting of the Lake District to the maximum, The Stranger waits until severe weather descends, cloaking the community and surrounding hillsides in freezing fog. One by one, the killer picks off their victims – first those dwelling outside the main village, then becoming bolder – targeting police officers, cutting off power and telephones, and isolating the community from the outside world.

As the body count rises, Heck has to grapple with an added complication. DSU Gemma Piper – his previous boss, and former lover – was a member of the original team assigned to catch The Stranger before he disappeared ten years earlier. When she hears that the killer has returned, she travels from London to the Lake District, pitching up in Heck’s new life and bringing all the memories, and the tensions, from before with her.

Told through multiple points of view, the reader follows Heck as he tries to alert the residents to the danger in their wake and then, as the killer closes in, seeks to get them to safety; you also get a wider perspective of what’s happening in other parts of the small community through the eyes of Gemma, Hazel, and a number of other villagers (and victims).

The sense of isolation and disorientation caused by the fog ramps up the tension as the killer stalks their prey. As the loyalties and motivations of those close to him are called into question, Heck has to decide who he can trust, and who he can’t. If he makes a mistake it’s likely to be fatal.

Packed with atmosphere, and super-charged with action, this is a creepy, unsettling and suspense-filled read.

Highly recommended.


[many thanks to Avon for my copy of Dead Man Walking]