#CTGGIVEAWAY – RT for a chance to win a book bundle of MY LITTLE EYE by me, THE LYING GAME by Ruth Ware and THE BONE KEEPER by Luca Veste #freebookfriday #friyay


Phew it’s Friday!

To celebrate the start of the weekend I’m running a competition via my @crimethrillgirl Twitter and giving away three paperbacks – The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste and My Little Eye by me (writing as Stephanie Marland).

For a chance to win all you need to do is press the Twitter button to tweet the link to this post, or retweet one of my tweets about the competition. Oh and make sure that you’re following me on Twitter!

The competition closes at 8pm on Sunday 13th May and I’ll draw the winner at random.

Good luck!



The sun is shining, spring is springing, and the easter holidays are here – sounds like a good time for a bookish giveway…

… so everyone who subscribes to my Crime Thriller Club will be automatically entered into a prize draw with the chance to win one of these two fabulous book bundles plus some easter chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (pictured).

Book Bundle 1:

  • Die of Shame by Mark Billingham
  • Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb
  • I See You by Clare Mackintosh
  • Mask of Shadows of Oscar de Muriel
  • Evil Game by Angela Marsons
  • Hotel Chocolat Hop! and Chirp! chocolates

Book Bundle 2:

  • The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  • Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb
  • The Escape by C. L. Taylor
  • Black Wood by S. J. I. Holliday
  • The Follower by Koethi Zan
  • Hotel Chocolat Hop! and Chirp! chocolates

By signing up to the CTG Crime Thriller Club you’ll get access to my eNewsletters with exclusive subscriber competitions, content and will be the first to hear about my book news and events. I only send a few newsletters a year, so you won’t be bombarded!

It only takes a moment, so CLICK HERE to sign up now to be in with a chance to win!

** This competition closes at 9pm on Sunday 23rd April 2017 **

 (1) One entry per subscriber (2) Open to current and new subscribers (3) The winners will be drawn at random (4) No cash alternative (5) The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into




If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!

But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.

And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.

**drum roll**


If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.

Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!

Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink



If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.

It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.

Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings



If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.

Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!

Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham



If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.

It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.

Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter



If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.” I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.

You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR



If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.

At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!

Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh



If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.

This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.

Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks



If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).

Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict



If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.

The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.

Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav


Willow Walk cover - medium

If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.

This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.

Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday


So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!


CTG Reviews (over @DeadGoodBooks): THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware




Shush, *don’t tell anyone*, but today I’m moonlighting over at the awesome http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk and talking about Ruth Ware’s new psychological thriller THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 – it’s a pacey page turner, packed with suspense and twisty with tension; a fabulously contemporary locked room mystery.

To find out more hop over to Dead Good Books and check out my review here

*tell everyone*



CTG Interviews: Ruth Ware about her psychological thriller IN A DARK, DARK WOOD


The night I called Ruth Ware was suitably eerie. Torrential rain and high winds were causing the branches of a tree to bash the window I was sitting next to, and the security light outside kept going on and off ‘for no reason’. All in all it seemed a fitting context for the call to discuss Ruth’s brilliant psychological thriller IN A DARK, DARK WOOD.

If you’ve not read this fantastic thriller, here’s the blurb to give you a flavour: “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, and the secrets begin to flow, and a hen do for an old school friend begins to take a sinister turn …”

So, to the interview …

I found Nora a hugely compelling character – likeable, genuine, and self-doubting, yet refusing to be beaten by everything thrown at her. What was your jumping off point for creating her?

I like to think of Nora as being vulnerable on the outside but with a core of steel on the inside. The idea for IN A DARK, DARK WOOD came about from a conversation with a friend. They said they’d never read a thriller set on a hen night, and I knew instantly that I wanted to write that book (and luckily they didn’t!).

In the beginning I knew that Nora would struggle with accepting the invitation, and wanted to create an atmosphere of claustrophobia and threat. I think most people, unless they’re real extroverts, find being in a group of relative strangers for a long period tiring. I wanted to bring this out.

Through working with my editors I explored the reclusive, introverted side of Nora’s character, but I also strongly wanted to keep an ‘everywoman’ feel to her. I felt this was important, and it lets the reader ‘tread the path’ with the character – which is something I enjoy to do in a thriller.

The book tells both the modern day action of the hen party, and the past events that led to Nora and Clare not speaking for ten years. Did one of these timelines come to you before the other, or did they develop alongside each other as you wrote?

I always had the sense that there was a lot of history between them, you know the weight of shared experience – good and bad – you have with people you’ve known a long time. And I knew there was a big reason in their past that made Nora reluctant to accept the invitation.

I knew the incident where things all kick off would happen a long way into the book, so the hospital timeline and hen night timeline were really important to get all the players in place first, and for the reader to get to know them. I always find it more interesting to start from a place where you know something dreadful has happened – it’s an easy way to show something bad is coming, without having to do a lot of tedious signposting.

What I especially loved about the book was the uneasy dynamic between the friends at the hen party, and that they felt so incredibly real. When you’re writing do you use actors (or real people) when you picture your characters and how they’ll react in a scene?

I tend to keep everything in my head. I do keep a few notes on basic stuff – eye colour, height if that’s relevant to the plot – but that’s it really. There are quite a few scenes where the guests at the hen are all together, but without any other characters, so that made it easier to flesh them out. Also, the set up [of them meeting on the hen] meant they could introduce themselves, and allowed them to talk about themselves.

I’ve been on a few hens, and I think you start to notice archetypes. In fact, I’ve probably been all of them at one time or other over the years – the organiser, the bride, the new mum – so you could say the characters are all different aspects of me. The alpha girl was also a lot of fun to explore!

The glass house in the forest is chillingly cut off from civilisation, yet the glass allows those outside to see in. It’s creepy and adds an added layer of tension to the story – what gave you the inspiration to create such a setting?

I’ve always been fascinated by forests. Pine forests are always so dark, because they’re evergreen and never lose their leaves. And I love the Scottish forests that go on and on for miles. So setting the story in a forest was a bit of wish fulfilment!

The glass house I pinched from all those American horror films – the ones where the people are going round the house checking all the doors are locked, but you know it’s too late! I thought about the time of day, as it gets dark, when windows stop being a way of looking out, and become a way for people to look in – that’s when I close the curtains! But when I see houses with huge walls of glass, like on Grand Designs, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in a house like that – where you can’t have curtains.

One of the themes of the book is exposure – exploring the face we choose to present to others and the face we choose to hide. In a way, the glass house is like a physical representation of this.

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD has been likened to the sort of locked room mystery Agatha Christie would write if she was writing crime novels today. Are you a Christie fan, and what other crime novels do you count among your favourites?

Yes, I’m a Christie fan, although I didn’t set out to write that type of novel – my agent was the first person to say the story was like a modern Agatha Christie. I read a lot of Christie’s books when I was a teen. She was a great plotter and I’ve always loved books which have intricate workings and red herrings. Gone Girl is a lot like that – the plot locks together in a really satisfying way.

I worked in the publishing industry for a long time so I got to read a wide variety of genres and authors, and I still have a magpie reading habit now! I’ve just read the non-fiction book that the movie Pitch Perfect was based on – which was great. I love psychological thrillers – books like Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree, Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, and Tammy Cohen’s When She Was Bad (which is incredibly scary!)

What would you say your favourite part of the writing process is?

I love the ideas stage, that point where you’re nudging at an idea and letting in take shape. It’s like an unscratched lottery ticket – it could be the most wonderful book ever written. It’s like being in the early stages of a love affair – full of possibility.

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD is your debut thriller, can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?

I wrote YA books before, but this feels very different – the types of events you do, the amount of exposure you get. It’s very nerve racking, putting yourself out there, and it definitely felt like a risk, trying something out of my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I did. If I’d sat down to write a fantasy wish list, then I think the top three things would have been getting onto the New York Times Best Seller List, the Sunday Times Best Seller List, and achieving a film deal. I would have been over the moon to get any of those – I still can’t quite believe that IN A DARK, DARK WOOD has done all three.

You mentioned the film deal, can you tell us a bit about that?

Yes, it’s still at an early stage at the moment, but very exciting. It’s been bought by New Line (part of Warner Bros) and Reese Witherspoon, who produced Gone Girl, is attached to the project.

Will you be involved in the writing of the screenplay?

A part of me would love to be involved, but I know about books not film, so it’s best to leave the screenplay to those in the film industry I think.

And how have things been since IN A DARK, DARK WOOD was announced as one of the Richard & Judy Book Club Spring Reads?

Surreal! I knew when it was on the shortlist, and that was really nerve racking. Being chosen is a dream come true. The Richard & Judy Book Club persuades people to take a punt on an author they’ve not heard of, because it’s Richard and Judy saying ‘try this, you might like it’. It feels incredibly special to be part of it.

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

Well, I’ve just finished the structural edits on my next book. It’s called The Woman in Cabin 10, and I’ll be spending the next few months doing the copy edits and proof reading on it. Then I’ll start writing the third book. I’ve got a skeleton outline of the plot already, and a cast of characters – I’m in the love affair stage of writing!


A huge thank you to Ruth Ware for letting me interrogate her for the CTG blog.

The fabulous psychological thriller IN A DARK, DARK WOOD is out now. You can buy a copy from Waterstones here  and from Amazon here 

Be sure to check out Ruth’s website at www.ruthware.com and follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter

And you can read my review of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD here 


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]