Saturday, 18 October 2014

Books to Look forward to from Atlantic Books and Corvus Publishers

The past never stays buried at Bliss House...Rainey Bliss Adams' perfect life came to an end one spring afternoon, when her husband was killed in an explosion that horrifically burned their fourteen year-old daughter, Ariel.  Desperate for a new start, she takes Ariel to live in the beautiful house in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Bliss family has lived for over a century.  Once there, Ariel starts to mysteriously heal.  But as a series of tragedies begins to unfold, it becomes clear that a darkness lurks behind the dignified facade of Bliss House - one which will drive both mother and daughter apart, as each is forced to confront its evil on her own...Richly Gothic, creeping and dark, Bliss House is a haunting tale of loss, love - and the secrets our houses can keep. Bliss House is by Laura Benedict and is due to be published in January 2015.

The purest kind of detective story involves a crime solved by observation and deduction, rather than luck, coincidence or confession.  The supreme form of detection involves the explanation of an impossible crime, whether the sort of vanishing act that would make Houdini proud, a murder that leaves no visible trace, or the most unlikely villain imaginable.  Virtually all of the great writers of detective fiction have produced masterpieces in this genre, including Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Dorothy L. Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, Dashiell Hammett, Ngaio Marsh, and Stephen King.  In this definitive collection, Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler selects a multifarious mix from across the entire history of the locked room story, which should form the cornerstone of any crime reader's library.  The Locked Room Mysteries is edited by Otto Penzler and is due to be published in January 2015.

In Saint Paul, Minnesota state investigator Kirk Stevens and his sometime colleague FBI
special agent Carla Windermere witness the assassination of a local billionaire.  The shooter flees the scene, but not before the pair see his face - and the blank expression in his eyes.  Stevens and Windermere investigate and are led across the country, down dead ends and into long-forgotten cold cases, until they finally discover a chilling clue: a high tech murder-for-hire website.  It's a break in the case but only the beginning.  Who is the dead-eyed shooter?  Who recruits the assassins?  And who profits from the fee?  It is a race against the clock, and the killer has his next target in sight...  Kill Fee is by Owen Laukkanen and is due to be published in February 2015.

Rome’s Lost Son is by Robert Fabbri and is due to be published in March 2015.  Rome, AD 51: Vespasian brings Rome's greatest enemy before the Emperor.  After eight years of resistance, the British warrior Caratacus has been caught.  But even Vespasian's victory cannot remove the newly made consul from Roman politics: Agrippina, Emperor Claudius's wife, pardons Caratacus.  Claudius is a drunken fool and Narcissus and Pallas, his freedmen, are battling for control of his throne.  Separately, they decide to send
Vespasian East to Armenia to defend Rome's interests.  But there is more at stake than protecting a client kingdom.  Rumours abound that Agrippina is involved in a plot to destabilise the East.  Vespasian must find a way to serve two masters - Narcissus is determined to ruin Agrippina, Pallas to save her.  Meanwhile, the East is in turmoil.  A new Jewish cult is flourishing and its adherents refuse to swear loyalty to the Emperor.  In Armenia, Vespasian is captured.  Immured in the oldest city on earth, how can he escape?  And is a Rome ruled by a woman who despises Vespasian any safer than a prison cell?"

Nothing Sacred is by David Thorne and is due to be published in February 2015.  A mother's nightmare: her children taken from her, unexplained injuries all over their bodies.  Her only explanation: an evil visitation, the work of malevolent spirits.  Desperate for answers, she turns to Daniel Connell, lawyer and old flame.  But the truth he uncovers is more disturbing than they ever imagined.  From the mountains of Afghanistan to the dark heart of Essex, Daniel finds himself in a terrifying world where monsters are real - and nothing is sacred.

2013: A bomb goes off in As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.  Veteran photojournalist John Hart and his beautiful Kurdish translator are caught in the blast – and the ensuing chaos.  1198: Johannes von Hartelius, ancestor of John Hart, discovers that the Copper Scroll, the most prized possession of the Knights Templar, has been stolen.  The code-written scroll is said to hold the secret of Solomon’s Treasures.  2013: Hart finds a secret message from his forbear inside the Holy Spear.  Is it possible that the mountain in Iran known as Solomon’s Prison holds the Copper Scroll?  Hart seeks to find out, echoing Von Hartelius’s epic battle, nearly one thousand years earlier.  The Templar Inheritance is by Mario Reading and is due to be published in April 2015. 

At a dive bar in San Francisco’s edgy Tenderloin district, Emily Rosario is drinking whiskey and looking for an escape.  When a mysterious and wealthy Russian approaches her, she thinks she has found an exit from her drifter lifestyle and drug-addict boyfriend.  A week later she finds herself drugged, disoriented and wanted for robbery.  On the other side of town, cop Leo Elias is broke, alcoholic, and desperate.  When he hears about an unsolved bank robbery, the stolen money proves too strong a temptation.  Elias takes the case into his own hands, hoping to find the criminal and the money before anyone else.  The White Van is the debut novel by Patrick Hoffman and is due to be published in January 2015.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Partying in “The Good Life”

One of the biggest literary events in the British Calendar this month was the launch of THE GOOD LIFE by Martina Cole, one of the UK’s biggest selling crime writers, from Headline publishing. Not surprisingly there was much to cheer from the assembled literary critics, booksellers, Martina’s agent Darley Anderson, her publishers, TV and film colleagues as well as her myriad friends and family - as THE GOOD LIFE hit the No 1 position in the UK Book Charts.

Clutching our invitations, we assembled out of the rain just off Regent’s Street, in London’s West End. There was high security as the launch of a Martina Cole novel is an event, and of course as she writes authentically about the lives of the London underworld and of the gangsters that populate that world, one has to take precautions. The guest list was eclectic with many of London’s top writers, literary critics and reviewers of crime and thriller fiction in attendance, such as Barry Forshaw, Chris Simmons, Mike Ripley, Denise Danks, Maxim Jakubowski [and his wife Delores] and many others including the Shots team of Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade and I.

One aspect of Martina Cole is her loyalty to those who have supported her since she started writing as a young mother. So her longstanding agent Darley Anderson as well as Jane Morpeth and colleagues from Headline Publishing were present as were her TV and Film colleagues. Martina’s family and friends were in attendance and we got chatting to some of her school friends

As is typical, Martina’s modesty is always admirable, so here she is welcoming all her guests to her party –

One aspect that is rarely mentioned about Martina Cole and her work, is how much compassion there is in her stories, like her refusal to be judgmental about the myriad aspects that make up human nature. Though she rarely talks about it, I would like to point out that Cole supports many charities as well being a patron of the arts. Martina works hard promoting literacy, as well as working to help those in prison to learn to read and write. Whenever I ask her about this, she always changes the subject and blushes.

She “tells it like it is”, a phrase that seems made for this gritty novelist who reveals the inner workings of the dark-side of the blue-collar world, a world that she understands and relays with an unflinching eye.

And to tell you a little about THE GOOD LIFE from the horse’s mouth, here’s Martina Cole introducing her new novel –

And here’s Martina at her publisher, Headline’s offices -


Cain Moran wanted Jenny Riley more than he had ever wanted anyone or anything before in his life. But loving Jenny Riley was the easy part; it was telling his wife he wanted a divorce that was going to be the killer...

Jenny is not just any girl. She cares nothing for Cain's hard-man reputation - she just wants to be with him.

But Cain is not a free man. And he's about to find out that when his wife Caroline said 'til death us do part, she meant it.

When Cain is sentenced to life in prison it seems that Caroline might have got her wish. All Cain and Jenny know is that if their love can survive such separation, then one day they will have a chance at the Good Life together again.

But there are greater trials ahead than either can foresee. They're about to learn the hardest lesson of all:


Shots Ezine would like to thank Louise Page, Martina Cole and Jane Morpeth of Headline Publishing for generously inviting the Shots Team for the launch of THE GOOD LIFE, and we are delighted to be able to offer Shots Readers a remarkable discount of this new work from our bookstore – click here to order 

[Below] with Jane Morpeth, her editor and Managing Director of Headline Publishing

Martina Cole Bibliography

Dangerous Lady [1992]
The Ladykiller [1993]
Goodnight Lady [1994]
The Jump [1995]
The Runaway [1997]
Two Women [1999]
Broken [2000]
Faceless [2001]
Maura's Game [2002]
The Know [2003]
The Graft [2004]
The Take [2005]
Close [2006]
Faces [2007]
The Business [2008]
Hard Girls [2009]
The Family [2010]
The Faithless [2011]
The Life [2012]
Revenge [2013]
The Good Life [2014]

So for a peep at the big literary party, we’re happy to post a selection of photographs

Mike Ripley and Denise Danks

Mike Ripley and Ali Karim

Mike Stotter and Darley Anderson

Mike Stotter with Denise Danks and Barry Forshaw

Mike Stotter with Darley Anderson and Martina Cole

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Black Noise Competition

Finnish author Pekka Hiltunen sets his thrillers in London. Black Noise is the second instalment in the Studio series which is an intelligent crime thriller pitting unlikely heroines against London's dark crime underworld ultra-violent videos of murder and torture are being uploaded to the internet. When bodies start showing up on the streets of London, it begins to seem that the videos may be real and that a gruesome, exhibitionist killer is on the loose. The news catches the attention of Mari and Lia.

Mari and Lia are two Finnish women living in London. Despite bonding over their shared expat identity, they have rather different backgrounds. While Lia is a graphic designer, Mari runs the mysterious "Studio," a private crime fighting organization that considers itself above the law. Taking matters into their own hands, they take on cases where the police have failed or are indifferent. Lia has slowly found her place in among this mysterious, morally motivated group of people who are not above employing underhand tactics to make sure that justice is served. Backed by high-tech gadgets and their team of fiercely loyal experts, the two women set about trying to stem the recent surge of violence and track down the murderer. But the stakes are high and Mari will have to risk much, even the lives of her companions, if she is to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Interested in reading Black Noise?  There are two copies of Black Noise and Cold Courage (the first book in the series) up for grabs!  To get your hands on a copy please send your name, email address and postal address to Don’t forget to put Black Noise Competition in the subject line!  Closing date is 30 October 2014.

 Best of luck!

Black Noise by Pekka Hiltunen is out on 17 October, £12.99 (Hesperus Nova)

More information about Pekka Hiltunen and his books can be found on his Facebook page.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Dead Women Sell Books

A girl is missing … a vulnerable woman is being stalked … a girl is found brutally murdered … Dead women sell books.

So should I really be adding to a genre that glamorises the violent and sadistic victimisation of women?

My answer is ‘yes’ because the fact that dead women DO sell books is very interesting.

Good Girls Don’t Die, my first crime novel, centres on the tense relationship between the police and the media during a big murder enquiry, and - as happened at Soham and Ipswich - the additional pressure that a highly competitive, 24-hour rolling news industry places on a police investigation.

Dead women, of course, also sell newspapers: the more lurid, titillating, gruesome and voyeuristic the details, the better. So, woven through my story is how and why dead women get served up by the media for avid public consumption.

On television, believe it or not, far more men get killed than women, just as they do in real life. But male characters tend to be blasted, blown away, the fallen comrades of either side. And they will almost certainly die fully clothed. When a man is the prey, he’s likely to be hunted down because of something he wants or has done, not simply for his male body. Female victims are presented very differently – as they are on book jackets – with the camera lingering over separate, helplessly exposed, body parts. Blood, bruised flesh, torn garments, sprawled limbs: why?

Perhaps it’s partly because, on a good day, only about 25% of TV writers (of which I am one) and directors are women. It’s even worse in film. Which means that, on screen, more than 75% of the time, men are left to speak for and about women. No wonder that so few Hollywood movies pass the Bechdel Test, which is that two female characters have to be in at least one scene where they talk to each other about something other than a man.

It matters that a balance of women’s voices is heard, especially when it comes to violence against women: thankfully, the gender mix in crime fiction is very much healthier.

Mary Beard has talked about the public voice of women, showing how, since the Odyssey, women have been told to shut up. Mary and I were undergraduates together (at an all-women college where she is now Professor of Classics) and we are of the generation who fondly believed that we had earned the right to be heard.

And of course we have. But this year Mary was targeted by online trolls making disgusting and extremely violent personal threats against her simply because she voiced her opinions. Assertive female executives still report being labelled as shrill, bossy or up-tight ball-breakers. Rape victims are asking for it because they dare to wear short skirts or get drunk. The message is clear: Good Girls Don’t Die.

I also wanted to write about the men who victimise and kill women. Murderers are seldom singular and intriguing serial killers; all too often they’re just sad blokes who suck up a misogynistic culture and assume that women should shut up and do what they’re told. Or are too inadequate to know how else to express their desperate need of women except by aggressive blaming and shaming.

I wanted to explore what such misogynistic attitudes really express; what kind of fear of  - or longing for – women they conceal; what miseries they cause to both sexes. And what it’s like for women to be expected to play roles dictated by a culture in which glamorised dead women provide entertainment.

I also had to work out how to give my central detective character, Grace Fisher, a compelling and attractive voice. The noir tradition of male detectives decrees that a brooding, wounded, hard-drinking loner is per se rugged and noble. He can rescue or avenge women and children simply because he’s a man, while a female detective’s motives are more closely examined, and her vulnerabilities risk making her either a recovering victim or just a bit sad and flaky.

I wanted to show how well, or badly, Grace Fisher deals with the difficulties she encounters, with the labels used to shame her, when, as a police officer, she can’t or won’t shut up.

Excitingly, an organic tradition of modern female detectives is now evolving thanks to all kinds of crime writers of both sexes, and I’m thrilled to add to their characters’ wonderfully different voices.

Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey is published by Quercus Books on 9 October, paperback and ebook £6.99

You can find more information about Isabelle Grey and her writing on her blog - You can also follow her on Twitter @IsabelleGrey

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Books to Look Forward to from Faber & Faber

No one is quite who he or she seems.  Missy's Story is the tale of Melisandre - rich, beautiful, possibly insane - who has to live with the knowledge of a devastating event in her past.  She has not seen her two daughters, now aged fifteen, and seventeen, in the ten years since the notorious family tragedy.  And her husband has moved on, married now to his personal trainer, and seemingly happy.  As Melisandre returns to Baltimore from South Africa, however, there are suddenly more mysterious deaths.  And quite what did happen all that time ago has never been clear - what role had each of the members of this unhappy family played?  And is anyone telling the truth?  Tess Monaghan, now the mother of a young girl herself, makes a return as the investigator who gets snared in the case.  A hugely powerful and emotive novel about parents and children - about destructive parents who think they love their children and good parents whose children are the centre of their lives Missy’s Story is by Laura Lippman and is due to be published in April 2015.

'Hello there.’  I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger's face.  'Do I know you?’  Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar.  Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched - but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it? Back in Boston, Ted's wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline.  But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?  A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing is by Peter Swanson and is due to be published in February 2015.

It is 1944.  The German Army crumbles before the unstoppable tide of advancing Soviet forces.  In the midst of the fighting, two Russian soldiers seek refuge in the crypt of a German church.  There, clutched in the hands of a skeleton priest, they find The Shepherd; a priceless icon thought to have been destroyed long ago.  When news of its discovery reaches Moscow, Stalin calls upon his most trusted investigator, Inspector Pekkala, once a favourite of Tsar and known to all of Russia as The Emerald Eye.  To unravel the secret of the icon's past, Pekkala traces its last known whereabouts to a band of self-mutilating radicals known as The Skoptsy, who were hunted to extinction years by the Bolshevik Secret Police.  Or so it was believed.  As Pekkala soon learns, the last survivors of this brutal sect have clung to life in the shadowy forests of Siberia.  With the reappearance of the icon, they have returned to claim the treasure they say belongs to them alone, bringing with them a new and terrible weapon to unleash upon the Russian people.  Unless the Emerald Eye can stop them.  Red Icon is by Sam Eastland and is due to be published in April 2015.

The Exit is by Helen Fitzgerald and is due to be published in February 2015.  Some people love goodbyes... 23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down - and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets.  One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat.  But Rose has dementia - so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway?  As Catherine starts investigating Rose's allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what's really going on before it's too late?

If my grandfather's letter had stopped at the comma, I would have tossed it in the trash...I would have mentally told the old man to stick it, if it hadn't been for the last three words.  If you can...Van Shaw was raised to be a thief, but at the age of eighteen he abruptly abandoned the illicit life and joined the US Army, leaving behind Seattle and the grandfather who taught him the trade.  But after ten years of estrangement, Van's grandfather has suddenly asked him to come home.  He does so, only to find his grandfather shot in the head and bleeding out on the kitchen floor.  While the police focus on Van as the prime suspect, he plunges back into an underworld he had vowed never return to, putting his criminal sensibilities back to work to ferret out the attacker and unearth the shocking secret of why his grandfather called him home after so many years.  But in a violent, high-stakes world where the lines between right and wrong are easily blurred, Van finds that the secrets held by those closest to him are the deadliest of all.  Past Crimes is by Glen Erik Hamilton and is due to be published in March 2015.

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, secrets and feuds go back generations.  The lone policeman in a small township on the sparse northern border, Henry Farrell expected to spend his mornings hunting and fishing, his evenings playing old-time music.  Instead, he has watched the steady encroachment of gas drilling bring new wealth and erode neighbourly trust.  The drug trade is pushing heroin into the territory.  There are outlaws cooking meth in the woods, guys Henry grew up with.  When a stranger turns up dead, Henry s search for the killer will open old wounds, dredge up ancient crimes, and exact a deadly price.  With vivid characters and flawless pacing, Tom Bouman immerses readers in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region in the grip of change.  In these derelict woods full of whitetail deer and history, the hunt is on.  Dry Bones in the Valley is due to be published in April 2015.

When three deadly bombs rock a sleepy, devout town in 24 hours an extraordinary mystery is unravelled.  The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is the story of Clark Houseman, a rare books dealer, an expert in his field, beloved of both collectors and The Faith, the immensely powerful local church and one of his biggest clients.  Beloved, that is, until he is blown up by the city’s third bomb.  As Clark hovers on the brink of death, first on the scene are detectives Sinclair and Alvarez who after the previous deadly blasts are under pressure to close the case and stop panic spreading through their community.  In a maelstrom of conspiracy theories and local politics, their investigation unearths a web of intrigue surrounding The Faith and its secretive dealings.  With time running out, the detectives start to wonder if there is more to the mild mannered, bookish Houseman than first thought.  The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is by Cat Moriarty and is a tale of deception, forgery, and murder.  It is due to be published in May 2015.