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Posts tagged ‘crime fiction’

After You Die by Eva Dolan

This book showed me that I just do not read enough crime/detective fiction. I was hopelessly hooked on this story and it made me feel a real physical hunger for the truth!

 

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The fact that I have not yet read the other books in this series did not affect my reading or enjoyment of this book one bit – it is a fantastic story in and of itself.

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 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?

This book is so topical – not only does it deal with the ongoing stigma of disability, but it also explores the ever-increasing problem of harassment on social media and online. It brings detective fiction into the 21st century with a powerful impact and sucks the reader in helplessly until you can do nothing but binge-read it to the end!

I honestly had absolutely no idea who the killer would be right until it was revealed: Eva Dolan carries you with DI Zigic and DS Ferreira down every avenue of enquiry and each one is tense, full of mystery and intrigue. The expert language grips you; makes crime scenes so vivid and creates such real and convincing characters that it feels like you’re inside the village itself and on edge about who the real killer could be. Each suspect – an anti-euthanasia activist; a young, rejected and angry teenaged boy; a frustrated ex-husband and his new wife; a string of casual lovers – has a motive so convincing that it’s difficult to know what you believe. The introduction of each new and relevant piece of evidence is so subtle that when it all slots into place it really makes you realise how talented a crime writer Eva Dolan is.

As well as all of this, I have already developed a strong loyalty and love for the main characters, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira. Learning about their pasts in the book and the contrast of their personal problems adds a whole new fascinating dimension to the novel. I will definitely be going back to read the beginning of this series. A job really, really well done.

Thank you to Eva Dolan – you can follow her on Twitter @eva_dolan – and publishers Harvill Secker for my review copy of this book. I really appreciate it!

 

 

The Crooked Beat by Nick Quantrill

The Crooked Beat

When Joe Geraghty’s brother finds himself in financial trouble, it’s only natural that he turns to the Private Investigator for help. But when it relates to a missing consignment of smuggled cigarettes, it’s not so easily sorted. Drawn into the murky world of local and international criminals around the busy port of Hull, Geraghty knows the only way to save his brother is to take on the debt himself. As he attempts to find a way out of the situation, the secrets and conspiracies he uncovers are so deeply buried in the past, he knows he’s facing people willing to do whatever it takes to keep them that way.

Writing this book review will be a little bit harder than others as I sailed through it so quickly I forgot to stop to make notes or highlights! So this review will be from memory.

First off, I should say I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read a book set in my home town of Hull (if you hadn’t guessed from many of my other posts that that’s where I’m from!) It’s also a little bit surreal. I’m used to having to picture and build locations in my own head from my imagination, but in this case I just had to picture places that I have known my entire life. Perhaps that’s part of what made it such an easy read (other than its readability, of course!)

What is interesting is that, conversely, it also showed me a side of Hull that I could never have imagined by myself: a world of private investigators and violent gangsters. It shone a light on how easy it can be for people to be unaware of the dangers that could be surrounding them.

The beauty of this book is that even though there is plenty of gangster-style action, which allows the book to keep a good pace and keep the reader gripped, interwined with this is real emotion, real love and loyalty especially between family members, and real depth. It is not violence or grittiness for the sake of it. Nick Quantrill makes the story real and convincing by making us really feel for his characters – and that includes both hating them or loving them. And another intriguing thing about the whole story is that no character is straight-up morally black or white. Good people make mistakes, bad people redeem themselves and some characters hide their true colours under masks that fool other people. I won’t give away which characters are which, as part of the magic of the book is discovering this as you read through.

I saw a hell of a lot of myself in Joe Geraghty, which is why I think I’ve grown to love him as a character. He has so much love and loyalty for his family, that he would literally sacrifice anything for them. Nothing is too much if it means he can protect them. He also has a very sharp mind, which makes the mystery and detective work all the more gripping. He isn’t infallible, however, and that is made clear too, which only makes him more human.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Nick Quantrill is big on the literature scene for a reason. His work is getting noticed. His books are brilliant to read. You would not regret giving this one a read, especially if you’re a crime fiction fan. I fully recommend it!

Introducing Helen Smith, Author and BritCrime Online Literature Festival Founder

The lovely Helen Smith

The lovely Helen Smith

A couple of months ago, I was extremely lucky to be asked to be part of BritCrime, an incredibly successful online literature festival which saw 45 crime writers come together on social media to discuss their work and writing crime fiction. I made a lot of new friends at the festival and feel privileged to have been part of something that is part of a growing phenomenon – the online festival. These are growing in popularity – see my interview with Sam Missingham – and I was so lucky to be involved in such a successful one. Here Helen Smith, Author and BritCrime Founder, discusses Britcrime and its successes.

Please introduce yourself and give us a brief overview of your career.

My name is Helen Smith and I live in Brixton in south London. I had my first book published in 1999. Since then I have written poetry, plays, children’s books and screenplays, but at the moment I’m making a living writing novels. I’m currently writing a mystery series featuring an amateur sleuth called Emily Castles. It’s a lot of fun to write.

Can you explain what BritCrime is?

We are 45 British crime writers and one American who are collaborating to put on free online crime fiction events to connect with readers around the world. Our first event was a three-day festival in July 2015. Our next event will be a Christmas Party. We have another festival planned for next summer.

How did the idea of BritCrime come about?

The authors involved in BritCrime love attending crime fiction festivals, but we often hear from readers who are disappointed they can’t attend. I offered to set up an online festival to see if it would be a good way to connect with readers around the world while protecting our writing time.

How did you go about marketing BritCrime and generating interest for it?

I set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a website and a mailing list. Our publishers were very generous about donating books as prizes so I set up several giveaways to promote the the festival. We also held a draw for a Kindle Paperwhite for new subscribers to our newsletter. Interestingly, the buzz began as soon as the website, Twitter and Facebook pages went up as people in the industry speculated who was behind the idea. Once we shared the idea with readers and book bloggers, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the festival. We gained a lot of new followers very quickly.

What was your method for getting authors on board? Did you already personally know the authors, or did you have to approach them to get them on board?

It was self-selecting. I put up a post on Facebook saying that I planned to set up a one-day online crime fiction festival and needed twelve writers to join me. A couple of minutes later my friend Alex Marwood responded with an enthusiastic yes… and we were off! I tried to cap the numbers at 30, then 36… Within about 24 hours we had 41 writers involved and the date set for a three-day festival. I liked the serendipity of it. Had I approached writers individually, it would have taken weeks to set up. Also, as everyone involved had approached me and asked to join, it meant they were engaged with the project and they were fun to work with. As time went by, we were approached by various creative partners and I said yes to all of them for the same reason, and the partnerships were productive because they were all so keen to be involved.

BritCrime-Logo

What were the challenges of hosting an online festival? How much work goes into the logistics of hosting an online festival?

It was all quite straightforward, really. We used the free platforms that were available. There was a quite a bit of of work involved in planning and programming the festival – which I enjoyed – and a lot of admin involved in getting the information for 41 authors and their books up on our website and blog. The other authors helped out promoting it and running the Twitter and Facebook accounts, but I worked non-stop for six weeks, 15-19 hours a day to set it up and make sure it worked properly.

For the festival itself, we hired two assistant producers. One of them, Stephanie Cox, is asking these questions. I wanted them to be involved in the creative/logistics side of the festival and to have fun while they were doing it, so I kept them away from the admin and gave them clearly defined creative roles that were challenging and interesting and took advantage of the skills they had to offer. It was really useful to have a dedicated resource to help me that weekend.

What were the highlights, for you?

The creativity and the collaboration: I loved creating the virtual world where our online festival would be held, including The Slaughtered Author pub and the BritCrime Readers’ Cafe. Making the opening ceremonies and thank you videos was fun. I loved the “Our Authors Prepare” and “BritCrime Writing Dens.” photo galleries we created on Facebook. Working with the other authors was wonderful. If you get 41 creative people collaborating on a project, something exciting is going to happen.

Do you see the online literature festival as a concept that will grow in popularity?

Yes!

What were the biggest lessons or insights learned from the experience?

I was reminded how much fun it can be working on a creative project for the hell of it, with no expectation of any financial reward. I knew there would be a lot of work involved in setting this up, but I hadn’t appreciated how much love I would get back, from authors and readers – and publishers, too. I got a lot of love for doing it. It was humbling and gratifying.

Have you received positive feedback from it?

Yes! The readers, bloggers, authors and publishers involved have all been really enthusiastic. We surveyed everyone who participated. The feedback was all positive. As soon as this festival ended, people started asking when we were going to do the next one.

What’s next for BritCrime and the BritCrime team?

We’re currently planning our Christmas party, the BritCrime Ball, which will take place Sunday 13th December, with a Twelve Days of Christmas Treasure Hunt in the run-up to it. It will be completely different from the summer festival and should be fun for everyone who participates! There will also be a festival next summer, with more authors involved.

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She’s the founder of BritCrime.
Website: http://helensmithbooks.com
Blog: http://emperorsclothes.co.uk
Twitter: http://twitter.com/emperorsclothes
Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorhelensmith
BritCrime website: http://britcrime.com
BritCrime blog: http://britcrime.blogspot.com
BritCrime Twitter: http://twitter.com/britcrime
BritCrime Facebook: http://facebook.com/britcrime

Do you have any questions for Helen? Please post them below and I’ll make sure she gets back to you!

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