CTG Reviews: BLACK WIDOW by Chris Brookmyre


What the blurb says: “Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing. Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairy-tale romance. But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairy-tales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow …”

This psychological thriller is very difficult to review without giving anything about the story away!

What I will say is that this is one of those books that has you guessing right to the end about what really happened, keeping you locked into the suspense of the story, hooked by the intrigue, and trying to work out who did what, and why they did what they did.

Diana Jager is a fascinating character – strong and driven on the outside, while vulnerable and hurting on the inside. As the story unfolds, revealing that the fairy-tale romance between her and her husband, Peter, wasn’t everything the papers led their readers to be believe, it becomes clear that Diana and Peter were hiding dark secrets of their own.

Jack Parlabane is wrestling with his own demons. A talented but now disgraced investigative journalist, he’s not afraid of digging deep to find the truth behind a story, but his empathy and own desires start to cloud the issues, and have the potential to put him far closer to danger than he’d ever have imagined.

This is a story where nothing is quite as it seems and the characters all have something to hide. It’s also the first Chris Brookmyre novel I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last, and although it’s part of the Jack Parlabane series I found it worked well as a standalone.

Masterfully plotted and brilliantly observed, with a touch of dark humour and a cracking pace, this intricate thriller will have you captivated right to the final page.


To buy BLACK WIDOW on Amazon click here

To buy BLACK WIDOW from Waterstones click here

To find out more about Chris Brookmyre and his books pop over to his website at www.brookmyre.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @cbrookmyre


[With thanks to Little Brown for my copy of BLACK WIDOW]




CTG Interviews: Chris Brookmyre about his latest novel BLACK WIDOW


Today I’m delighted to be joined on the CTG blog by crime writer Chris Brookmyre. Chris, a former journalist, is one of Britain’s leading crime novelists and more than one million copies of his Jack Parlabane series have been sold in the UK alone. He’s kindly agreed to answer some questions about his latest book in the Jack Parlabane series – BLACK WIDOW – and talk about his writing process.

So, to the interview …

Welcome, Chris! Your latest book BLACK WIDOW is published today, can you tell us a bit about it?

It’s about how the most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves. It’s about a surgeon who has given the best years of her life to her career and is beginning to think that maybe the price was too high: she doesn’t have anyone with whom to share her life and is fearing that the time to have a husband and a family may have passed. Then out of the blue she has a whirlwind romance with a hospital IT tech: within six months they are married, and within six more he is dead. The question is: did she kill him, and if so, did she have a very good reason.

Surgeon Diana Jager is a fascinating character – strong, successful and willing to speak out for what she believes in, yet inwardly vulnerable – what was it that inspired you to create her and tell her story?

My wife is an anaesthetist who has worked in the NHS for twenty years. She saw a lot of her colleagues in the same situation as Diana in terms of giving so much of themselves to their careers. She observed a great deal of sexism in medicine, overt sexism in terms of how people are treated and spoken to, but also a more insidious, pervasive covert sexism in terms of how it is made a lot easier for male doctors to have both a career and a family. They are seldom forced to choose, or judged for their decisions. The other inspiration was the way I’ve seen women abused on social media for being even the slightest bit outspoken. I wanted to create a character who would be an acerbic and divisive blogger in order to show what the fall-out might be like for a woman who dared to stick her head above the parapet.

How does a story idea start for you – with a character, a theme, a plot, all three, or something different?

I honestly can’t remember. By the time I’ve finished writing a book, there has been so many processes gone through that the seeds are lost in this miasma of inter-tangled ideas. It’s different for every book. With Black Widow I wanted to write about how we are inclined to trust people early in a relationship because we are desperate for it to work out, and that can blind you to danger signs. I’ve touched upon this in previous books: how we tend to intellectually rationalise our fears in order to convince ourselves everything will be okay, when in fact we should listen when our instincts are telling us to run.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot your novels out in advance, or dive right in and see where the story takes you?

These days it’s more the former, but in the past it was the latter. I would come up with outlandish ideas that excited me, and before I knew it I was mired in them. I would end up drawing upon my wife to help work out a way of pulling all the threads together into a satisfying conclusion. A good example is All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye, where I came up with the concept of this very law-abiding and dutiful grandmother who gets drawn into a world of espionage. The possibilities were so intoxicating that the book just got longer and longer, but in recent times I have been plotting my books very carefully. Not too much because you don’t want it to seem like your characters are on a rail, but with something like Black Widow, which is very twisty turny, if you want to misdirect the reader, you have to control the information and be very conscious of how much the reader knows at any given time. In order to do that, you need to know where it’s all going. As a character says in the Sacred Art of Stealing, you won’t know anything until you know everything.


So, what’s next for Jack Parlabane? Do you have another series book planned and, if so, will things start to look up for him in his private life?

I’ve actually just finished the first draft of the next Jack Parlabane book, and having in recent novels been wrestling with the implosion of print journalism, at the start of the new one he is finally turning things around. He bags a job at a very forward-thinking news website, and one of the characters remarks to him that Jack is so used to things going wrong, he finds it hard to accept it when things are going right. Parlabane replies that this is because when everything is going right, that’s usually the sign that a meteor is about to strike, which of course it soon does.

As crime writers are also usually avid crime readers, can you tell us what’s your favourite crime novel and why?

Strangely enough, perhaps my favourite crime novel is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I always loved Douglas Adams’ work, and when he decided to write a detective story, it was of course an entertainingly bizarre detective story. As soon as I finished it I went back to the beginning and read it again because it was a novel that read completely differently second time around, once you knew what was really going on. Since then it has been my ambition to write a novel that would have readers to that, and hopefully I have realised that ambition with Black Widow. The best twists aren’t merely a surprise: the best twists change the meaning of everything so that you can go back and read the same chapters again and it’s like seeing the same events through different eyes.

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

I will be polishing up the next novel, which is entitled Want You Gone, and I am also writing another science fiction novel. It won’t be outlandish far-future science fiction: I am hoping to take my crime readers with me because the plan is that it will be a crime novel that just happens to be set in space.

Huge thanks to Chris Brookmyre for stopping by the CTG blog today and letting me grill him.

BLACK WIDOW is out today.

To buy it from Amazon, click on the link here 

To buy it from Waterstones click on the link here

You can find out more about Chris and his novels by hopping on over to his website here and following him on Twitter @cbrookmyre


And, I’ll be reviewing his fabulous new book – BLACK WIDOW – here tomorrow so don’t forget to stop by then!


CTG Reviews: DEAD PRETTY by David Mark


What the blurb says: “Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days. One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done. But some people have their own ideas of what justice means …”

The latest book in the DS McAvoy series is one hell of a read.

DS McAvoy has been haunted by the missing girl Hannah Kelly ever since her disappearance was reported. Unable to get the case from his mind, he’s taken to visiting the last place she was seen on his days off, taking his wife, Roisin, and his young family along with him.

Meanwhile, his boss, DSU Trish Pharaoh, is battling troubles of her own. The high-profile release of Reuben Hollow from prison after the Court of Appeal overturned his murder conviction is bringing her professional reputation into disrepute, and some dodgy-looking thugs are hanging around her home looking to call in favours that her now disabled husband can’t deliver on.

When another young woman is found murdered, and McAvoy and Pharaoh are called in to run the investigation, the pair become ever more disturbed as they start to spot parallels with earlier cases. But as the evidence mounts up – sending the duo in different directions – the case becomes increasingly personal to both of them. As they unravel the sequence of events that led to murder, the danger to them and their families increases with dramatic consequences.

The two main characters – the gentle family man of a Detective Sergeant, Aector McAvoy, and determined, outwardly confident, yet internally doubting, DSU Trish Pharaoh, really make this book something special. The close third-person perspective gets the reader deep into their thoughts, and the present tense narration gives the action an immediacy that had me flying through the story.

As well as a twisty-turny plot and some great characters, there is a poetic, gritty darkness to David Mark’s writing – it’s brutally unflinching yet really rather lyrical – which makes this book a real delight to read.

Perfect for fans of police procedurals.


DEAD PRETTY is published on the 28th January 2016 (tomorrow!). To buy a copy from Amazon click here

To find out more about David Mark and his books hop over to his website here and follow him on Twitter @davidmarkwriter


[With thanks to Mulholland Books for my copy of DEAD PRETTY]

CTG Reviews: Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square by William Sutton


To celebrate this marvellous historical crime story being re-published by Titan Books in advance of the second book in the series launching later this year, I’m re-running my review …

What the blurb says: “Murder. Vice. Pollution. London never changes. London, 1859. Novice detective, Campbell Lawless, stumbles onto the trail of Berwick Skelton, an elusive revolutionary, seemingly determined to bring London to its knees through a series of devilish acts of terrorism. But cast into a lethal, intoxicating world of music hall hoofers, industrial sabotage and royal scandal, will Lawless survive long enough to capture this underworld nemesis, before he unleashes his final vengeance on a society he wants wiped from the face of the Earth? Lawless and The Devil of Euston Square is the first of a series of Victorian thrillers featuring London policeman, Campbell Lawless on his rise through the ranks and his initiation as a spy.”

This story is unlike any historical crime novel I’ve read before – it’s fascinating, witty and rather hilarious. Romping along at a jaunty pace, the story is filled with the sights, sounds and smells (and trust me, there are a lot of smells, many of them quite unpleasant!) of Victorian London, whisking you along for the ride.

Campbell Lawless is finding his feet in the detecting profession. He throws himself into his cases, determined to uncover the mysteries behind the ‘great spouts’ of water that spring up at strange locations across the city – outside the recently built Euston Station, at curtain call on a London stage to name a couple; why in a chain of seemingly impossible burglaries of wealthy houses little is taken, and who (and why) someone is stealing the workings of clocks.

Aided by super-smart Librarian, Ruth Villiers, Lawless works tirelessly to piece together the clues he finds, whilst staying on the right side of his rather grumpy boss, Wardle. In the course of his adventure, Lawless has encounters with the men behind the new underground system, newspaper editors, actresses, revolutionaries, and even a Prince. Each player in the story is a well-drawn and fabulously larger-than-life character.

Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square is William Sutton’s debut novel and the first in a series of mysteries featuring London policeman, Campbell Lawless. The next book in the series – Lawless and the Flowers of Sin – is due out in July.

I’m very much looking forward to the next one.


To find out more about William Sutton hop over to his website here and follow him on Twitter @WilliamGeorgeQ


The Even the Dead Blog Tour: Guest Post by Benjamin Black

Even the Dead cover

I’m delighted to welcome Benjamin Black to the CTG blog for today’s stop on his Even The Dead Blog Tour. Benjamin’s kindly agreed to talk about how Even The Dead came into being.

So, over to Benjamin …

The origins of a novel are deeply mysterious, or at least they are so for me. When I look back at the end of the writing I cannot remember setting out, but seem instead to have been always somehow already on my way, by some kind of rough magic. Nor do I retain any memory of the process of devising the plot: it always just seems to have been there, ready-made and waiting for me to flesh it out. Unlikely, I agree, yet that’s how it is.

I am convinced that the less research a novelist does, the better. This is, I know, a convenient attitude for a writer such as I, who believes in the supreme power of the imagination—and who has not the historian’s tolerance for old, or even new, dry documents. It’s one of the peculiarities of fiction, that what a novelist makes up is always more convincing on the page than what he takes from the actual world. Of course, the ‘actual world’ and the people in it constitute the only material the writer has to work with, or from, unless his métier is science fiction or fantasy: and even then . . .

The imagination, the concentrated act of imagining, gives life to character, plot, setting.

I am lucky in that my Quirke novels are set in the 1950s, when pathology was not the exact and intricately technical science that it is nowadays, with the consequence that my protagonist can get away with being such an amateurish professional.

‘Procedural’ novels bore me, and I would never attempt to write one. Quirke is interesting as a human being who happens to be a pathologist. And as for his old pal the Dublin detective Inspector Hackett, he could no more be a Sherlock Holmes or an Hercules Poirot than Quirke could don the white coat and rubber gloves of Patricia Cornwell’s admirable Dr Kay Scarpetta.

So where did Even the Dead originate? Search me—though the search would not turn up much. I suppose I must have started with the circumstances of a crime, and the idea of a shadowy Dublin fraternity determined to keep that crime hidden. I also had in mind an elderly chap I used to see about the streets of Dublin twenty or thirty years ago. His name was Michael O’Riordan, and he was the leader of the Irish Communist Party—a small party, as one might imagine—who as he passed me by used to roll a hard-boiled eye in my direction, seeming to know who I was. Perhaps he had read something of mine? He was generally reviled and ridiculed—I had an aunt who considered him the Devil incarnate—but I admired his fortitude and tenacity in an age of intolerance.

He it was who gave me the character of Sam Corless, Spanish Civil War veteran, leader of the Socialist Left Alliance Party, and the father of my murder victim. But by then, I was already on my way . . .

Big thanks to Benjamin Black for stopping by the CTG blog today.

EVEN THE DEAD is out on the 28th January 2016. Here’s what the blurb says: “Two victims – one dead, one missing. Even the Dead is a visceral, gritty and cinematic thriller from Benjamin Black. Every web has a spider sitting at the centre of it. Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play.The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite – secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web. Now he must wait to see what comes running out.”

You can pre-order it from Amazon here

To find out more about Benjamin Black hop on over on his website www.benjaminblackbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @BenBlackAuthor

And be sure to check out all the other fabulous tour stops on the EVEN THE DEAD Blog Tour …



The Big Coffin Road Blog Read: Part Seven – The Body [read and RT for a chance to #WIN a copy of COFFIN ROAD by Peter May]

Coffin Road book jacket

Today I’m delighted to be hosting part seven of Peter May’s Big Coffin Road Blog Read. Today’s extract is ‘The Body’. If you’ve not had a chance to read the first six extracts from Coffin Road, skip down to the bottom of this post for details of the fabulous blogs you can find the extracts posted on. Then, it’s onto ‘The Body’ …

The Big Coffin Road Blog Read Part Seven: The Body

It is with a great sense of dissatisfaction that I leave the lighthouse, finally, locking it up behind me and replacing the keys below the stone. I have learned nothing, least of all about myself. The first spots of rain whip into my face on the edge of a sudden squall, and as I hurry from the gate I see rain sweeping in from the south-west, a long trailing arm of it, darker even than the cloud from which it falls. I start down the steep concrete path, but realise I will never reach the boat before the rain hits. And it is too late to go back. Instead, I make a dash for the ruined chapel, which is just a short sprint away across the grass. Its roof of stone and turf has collapsed in places, but still affords a degree of shelter. I stoop beneath the lintel of the open doorway, and turn to look out and see the island vanish in the rain that sweeps across it like mist.

I move back, then, into the chapel and stumble on something beneath my feet, having to steady myself with outstretched hand on the cold, damp wall. There is very little light, and it takes some moments for my eyes to adjust.

At first I find it hard to believe what I am seeing. A man is lying spreadeagled on the floor, legs outstretched and twisted at an impossible angle. His head is half turned, and I can see where it has been split open, pale grey brain matter congealed in the dried blood that has pooled around it.

I feel acid rising in my throat, from shock and revulsion. I swallow it back, and find myself gasping for breath. My legs have turned to jelly beneath me and will hardly support my weight. After several long seconds, I crouch down, fingertips on the floor to steady me, and force myself to look at his face. He is an older man, grey hair thinning. Mid, perhaps late, fifties. Corpulent. He wears an anorak and jeans, and what look like relatively new hiking boots. If he is known to me, I have no memory of him. But it is clear that he has not been freshly killed. Certainly not today, and probably not yesterday. And since there is no decay that I can see, or smell, he cannot surely have been dead for more than a few days.

A crack in my mind’s defences opens up to allow in the unthinkable. Three days ago I was here. On this island. The next day I was washed ashore on the beach at Luskentyre, all memory lost in a cloud of black dread, knowing that something terrible had occurred.

I look at this man lying on the floor in front of me, his head smashed in, and I ask myself the question that has been clotting in my stream of consciousness. Was it me who killed him?

I close my eyes, fists clenching, sick to my stomach at the thought of it. But it is a thought that won’t go away, growing inside me like a cancer. Is this why I have blocked all memory of the past? I stand up too quickly, blood rushing to my head, and stagger to the door, supporting myself on the stone as I lean out into the wind and rain to throw up acid and coffee.

I am shaking, tears springing to my eyes with the burning of the acid. It feels as if the earth has opened up beneath my feet and I am falling helplessly into eternity, or hell, or both. A short way off, to the east, I hear the growl of the sea as it rushes into a deep cleft in the cliffs nearly 200 feet below. And I am startled to see a group of people in brightly coloured waterproofs, fighting their way up the concrete path towards the lighthouse, leaning into the wind and the rain. Tourists, I realise. A group almost certainly brought out on Seatrek’s inflatable RIB from Uig, and landed below just before the squall struck.

Now shock at the thought that I might have killed this man combines with fear of being caught. Blinded by panic, and robbed of all reason, I dash out on to the slope just as the rain passes and a momentary break in the cloud sprinkles sunshine across the island like fairy dust. The tourists have almost reached the lighthouse above me, and I don’t look back to register if I have been seen. Locked instead in my cocoon of denial, I slither down the wet concrete and run down the steps with an almost reckless disregard for my own safety.

Peter May pendant le salon Polars du Sud à Toulouse en 2013

Peter May pendant le salon Polars du Sud à Toulouse en 2013

Below me, Seatrek’s red and black Delta Super X RIB rises and falls on the swell, anchored a few feet away from the jetty. I see a man waiting aboard her for the tourists to return. He calls to me as I reach the foot of the steps as if he knows me, voice raised above the wind and the sea. But I ignore him, dragging my tender back down the steps and leaping recklessly into her, almost capsizing her in the process. I don’t even look in his direction as he calls again, pulling instead on the starter cord, almost frantic in my desire to be gone from this place. It coughs into life on the third pull, and I gun the throttle, banking away against the incoming waves to race out across the bay to where Coinneach’s Sundancer awaits me.

I nearly fall overboard as I transfer from one to the other, but scramble safely on to the stern, before hauling the inflatable aboard and tethering her. I fire up the motor and accelerate hard away to the south-east. I look back only once as I round the eastern tip of Eilean Tighe, and see the distant figure of the man who called to me still standing in his boat, watching me go.

Coffin Road by Peter May is out now in hardback (Quercus). Here’s the blurb: “A MAN is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive and borderline hypothermic. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road. He does not know where it will lead him, but filled with dread, fear and uncertainty he knows he must follow it. A DETECTIVE crosses rough Atlantic seas to a remote rock twenty miles west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. With a sense of foreboding he steps ashore where three lighthouse keepers disappeared more than a century before – a mystery that remains unsolved. But now there is a new mystery – a man found bludgeoned to death on that same rock, and DS George Gunn must find out who did it and why. A TEENAGE GIRL lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to learn the truth about her father’s death. Two years after the discovery of the pioneering scientist’s suicide note, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would wilfully abandon her. And the more she discovers about the nature of his research, the more she suspects that others were behind his disappearance.”

You can buy your copy here 

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN a hardback copy of COFFIN ROAD here’s what you need to do:

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 me on Twitter, so that I 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) I will draw the winner at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The competition closes for entries at 9pm GMT on Friday 22nd January 2016 (6) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.



And, don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous extracts on The Coffin Road Blog Read here …

The Big Coffin Road Blog Read Banner

The AFTER YOU DIE Blog Tour: CTG interviews crime writer EVA DOLAN

After You Die - flat

Today I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on Eva Dolan’s AFTER YOU DIE Blog Tour and to have Eva joining me on the CTG blog to chat about writing the fabulous Zigic and Ferreira series and to tell us more about the latest brilliant book in the series – AFTER YOU DIE.

Welcome, Eva!

So, to the questions …

Your latest book AFTER YOU DIE is published this month, can you tell us a bit about it?

After You Die opens with a gas explosion at a pair of cottages in an affluent commuter village, which reveals the corpse of a young mother and, upstairs, the body of her paralysed daughter who has died as a result of neglect. Zigic and Ferreira are called in to investigate after it becomes clear that the family have been subjected to months of harassment linked to the daughter’s activities as a prominent right to die advocate.

It’s a book about the grinding torment of online harassment and the expectations put on carers, but more than that it’s about what happens to a family in the aftermath of a personal tragedy.

AFTER YOU DIE is the third book in the Zigic and Ferreira series and takes the detectives out of Peterborough centre and into a smaller, village location – what prompted you to change the setting for this story?

Partly it was a desire to show a different side to Peterborough. I’d shown the worst of it in the first two books and it’s easy to believe that ‘nicer’ areas don’t suffer crime to the same degree as the inner city, and that was something I wanted to challenge.

Also, the nature of this crime, being motivated by a personal form of hatred rather than an overtly political one, gave me an excuse to examine how a murder can unbalance a different kind of community, one which sees itself as comfortable, more genteel, the kind of place people move to in order to escape from city centre criminality. I liked the idea of having this quite insular village where all the players are in close proximity and their shared history remains inescapable.

All your books stand out for me in that you seem to effortlessly blend hard-hitting social issues with engaging and fast-paced crime fiction. What is it that interests you in a story idea and what’s your process for turning that initial spark into a book?

Thank you very much! Because the series is set in a Hate Crimes Unit I don’t actually have total free range over the subject matter of the books – they have to be based on crimes which are motivated by prejudice over race, religion, disability, homophobia or transphobia, otherwise Zigic and Ferreira wouldn’t be investigating them. So it does automatically rule out quite a lot of storylines. But it’s a welcome limitation because it means I have to find crimes which are outside the ordinary.

In After You Die the initial inspiration was the case of Fiona Pilkington and her family who had been harassed and abused for years as a result of her daughter’s disability. They were ignored by the police, left to fend for themselves, until Fiona couldn’t take anymore. She killed her daughter and herself. It was a heart-breaking case and spurred me on into researching the rise of disability related hate crimes, which made for incredibly depressing reading. Mencap believe 90% of people with a disability have been victims of some form of hate crime, which is a staggering statistic.

The image of a mother and daughter under siege, stuck with me, and as I started working on characters Holly – the daughter – came through as a very strong voice, defiant despite the terrible injuries she’d suffered, a strong, opinionated young woman determined to fight off the bullies with her intelligence and eloquence.

(c) Mark Vessey

(c) Mark Vessey

Over the first three books of the series you’ve thrown a lot at Zigic and Ferreira in their personal lives as well as professionally. Do you have the series mapped out, or does the action unfold organically as you write?

I map out each book in quite a lot of detail but I prefer to let Zigic and Ferreira’s personal lives unfold organically. It’s more interesting for me to keep finding out new things about them as the series continues, and hopefully for the reader too.

So far I think they’ve got off fairly light for fictional coppers! Zigic especially has a calm and happy family life; I’m increasingly tempted to throw him a major curveball to see if it shakes him out of being such a good man. He’s been perfectly morally upstanding so far but I feel there’s a darkness in him which I haven’t quite drilled down into yet.

Just to contradict myself, I do know what’s coming up for Ferreira in personal terms. It wasn’t planned but she’s stumbled into a bad situation in book four and, even though she doesn’t realise it yet, the blowback is going to be pretty major!

As a reader of crime fiction, what authors and/or books have influenced or inspired you?

I’ve been rereading some of the early Rebus books lately and even though I’ve always cited them as a major influence I didn’t realise just how deep that went until I revisited the ones I was reading as a began my writing career. Without them and John Harvey’s books – both the Resnick and Frank Elder series – I wouldn’t have become a crime writer. They created the template for socially engaged, politically cynical crime fiction for me.

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

I’m currently finishing off book four – would like to give a little teaser about it but I’m way too superstitious to discuss work in progress. After that… editing and more writing and then I’ll be out promoting After You Die, which let’s be honest, is the best part of being a writer. I’m hugely looking forward to Essex Literary Festival and ChipLitFest, and there are a couple more events I probably shouldn’t mention yet but judging by previous visits, they will be loads of fun.

A massive thank you to Eva Dolan for popping along to the CTG blog today and chatting to us about her new book AFTER YOU DIE and her writing process.

AFTER YOU DIE by Eva Dolan is out now. Click here to buy it from Amazon 

And you can see Eva Dolan in person, speaking at Essex Book Festival, on Monday 23rd March at 7.30pm http://essexbookfestival.org.uk/event/sceneofthecrime/

Also, be sure to check out all the other fabulous stops along the AFTER YOU DIE Blog Tour …

AYD blog tour poster JPEG

CTG Reviews: AFTER YOU DIE by Eva Dolan


What the blurb says: “A gas leak in a picturesque Fenlands village leads to the discovery of two bodies – a mother brutally murdered, and her severely disabled teenage daughter left to die of neglect. Dawn Prentice was already known to the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, the previous summer she had logged a number of calls detailing the harassment she and her severely disabled teenage daughter were undergoing. Now she is dead – stabbed to death whilst Holly Prentice has been left to starve upstairs. DS Ferreira, only recently back serving on the force after being severely injured in the line of duty, had met with Dawn that summer. Was she negligent in not taking Dawn’s accusations more seriously? Did the murderer even know that Holly was helpless upstairs while her mother bled to death?

Whilst Ferreira battles her demons, determined to prove she’s up to the frontline, DI Zigic is drawn into conflict with an official seemingly resolved to hide the truth about one of his main suspects. Can either officer unpick the truth about mother and daughter, and bring their killer to justice?”

AFTER YOU DIE is the third book in the Zigic and Ferreira series, and a stunning addition to a crime fiction series that is going from strength to strength.

DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are a great duo, but the explosive events at the end of book two – TELL NO TALES – have left them scarred and battling doubts and fears that they both try to hide from those around them and, at times, from each other. Ferreira is determined to prove she’s fit and well enough to be working a murder case, and Zigic is feeling the pressure of juggling work with the demands of a young family and increasing concerns about his work partner’s ability to cope.

The murder of Dawn Prentice, and the knowledge that her teenage daughter was left to die alone, impacts them both and as they start investigating, and unravelling the complex layers of hurt, guilt and secrets surrounding what happened to Dawn and Holly Prentice, both detectives find themselves becoming more emotionally involved in the case than usual.

Beautifully written and grittily complex, through following Zigic and Ferreira’s investigation this sensitively nuanced story explores the impact of the events on the shocked community, while exposing a myriad of dark truths hidden behind closed doors and twitching curtains.

This gripping thriller shines a spotlight on very real issues – including cyber bullying and assisted right-to-die – in a way that it makes it impossible to look away. Emotive and powerful, AFTER YOU DIE is a stunning read that will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.

AFTER YOU DIE is police procedural crime fiction at its best – an absolute must-read.


AFTER YOU DIE is out now. To buy the book from Amazon click here

And find out more about Eva Dolan and the Zigic and Ferreira series pop on over to Random House’s website here and be sure to follow Eva on Twitter @eva_dolan


[many thanks to Harvill Secker for my copy of AFTER YOU DIE]

CTG Reviews: THE SAMARITAN by Mason Cross


To celebrate that THE SAMARITAN by Mason Cross is now out in paperback (and has been picked as a Richard & Judy Book Club Spring Read 2016) I thought I’d re-run my review, just in case you missed it the first time around …

What the blurb says: “When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows she’s seen this MO before – two and a half years ago on the other side of the country. A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for a decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer ‘The Samaritan’, but with no leads and a killer who leaves no traces, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt.

That’s when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He’s a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan’s next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they’re tracking. But as the Samaritan takes his slaughter to the next level, Blake must find a way to stop him … even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him.”

Since reading the first couple of chapters of The Samaritan in a teaser sampler I was dying to get my hands on this latest book by Mason Cross. And let me tell you, the wait was certainly worth it!

The Samaritan is packed with all the trademark heart-stopping action, break-neck pace, and twisting-turning plotlines that made Mason’s debut novel – The Killing Season – such a huge success.

In The Samaritan we also get to find out more about the past of mysterious ‘people finder’ Carter Blake (although don’t worry, he’s still pretty damn mysterious!). Jessica Allen is a great female lead – strong, determined and courageous in the face of extreme danger. She reluctantly accepts Blake’s assistance, but is less inclined to completely trust him. As they each follow their own lines of enquiry, gradually closing in on this most brutally sadistic of serial killers, they both become targets. Question is, can they get to the killer before the killer gets them?

Set in Florida and California, The Samaritan showcases some great locations (including one very creepy and atmospheric one that I can’t mention – sorry, it’d be too much of a spoiler) to create a vivid backdrop to the story.

With great characters, fab locations and a super-twisty plot, The Samaritan is an absolute page-turner. And I already can’t wait for the next Carter Blake novel – I think this is a series that’s going to run and run.

A fabulous must-read for thriller lovers – and one of my top reads of 2015  – I can’t recommend this book highly enough!


THE SAMARITAN has been picked as a Richard & Judy Book Club Spring Read 2016. To buy the book from WH Smith click here

To buy the book from Amazon click here

To find out more about Mason Cross and his books pop over to his website at www.masoncross.net and follow him on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks


[with thanks to Orion Books for my copy of The Samaritan]

CTG Reviews: IN A DARK DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware



What the blurb says: “Some hen parties are bad. This one’s going to be murder. Leonora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? As the champagne corks pop, the secrets begin to flow, and a hen do for an old school friend begins to take a sinister turn …”

This tension-fuelled page-turner is enough to put anyone off hen parties for good!

When Nora receives an invitation to her old school friend – Clare’s – hen party she’s not sure whether to accept. It’s been ten years since they spoke, and there are unresolved issues from that time that Nora would rather leave in the past. But, when she learns another friend, Nina, has been invited, they make a pact to go together. It’s a decision that will come back to haunt them both.

Organised by Clare’s new BFF – Flo – the hen party weekend has been meticulously planned to be the perfect party, with having fun made compulsory. But Nora isn’t having fun. From the isolated setting in the woods, to the forced need to enjoy themselves and peer pressure to fit it and do every activity, the tension within the group ratchets ever higher. The weekend isn’t off to a great start, but Nora could never have anticipated just how bad things will get.

In A Dark, Dark Wood has all the hallmarks of a classic locked room mystery brought bang up to date within a contemporary setting – a modern house in a remote location in the woods where there’s a patchy phone signal, only one route in and out, and no close neighbours. Nora is flawed and likable, and a character I couldn’t help but route for. In fact, all the characters are vivid and interesting (even if you might not want to be friends with them all!) and the relationships between them, and alliances that form as things go wrong, are fascinating to watch unfold.

With deeply unsettling undertones from the outset, In A Dark, Dark Wood is a real nail-biter of a read. Packed with twists and turns, it had me hooked right from the opening chapter through to the last.

It’s a brilliant debut and an absolute must-read for thriller fans.


IN A DARK DARK WOOD is a Richard & Judy Book Club Spring Read 2016.

To get the book from WH Smith click here

To buy the book from Amazon click here

To find out more about Ruth Ware pop over to her website www.ruthware.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter


[With thanks to Vintage for my copy of IN A DARK DARK WOOD]