Thursday, 17 October 2019

Books to Look Forward to from No Exit Press and Oldcastle Press

November 2019

Reap The Whirlwind is by Mark Timlin.  Poor old Nick Sharman may be dead and gone, but there's still life left in the old dog yet - as Mark Timlin shows in this collection of stories about his memorable detective. Follow Sharman as he rocks through the underworld of 90s London and beyond with more than a helping hand from his old mate Detective Inspector Robber, both men still sharp as a pair of tacks. There's murder, mayhem and maybe a few laughs on the way - plus an interesting soundtrack.

December 2019

Doesn’t trust the police.  She used to be one…. Harden by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Doctor Sian Love had seen it all.  So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new house, she knows the drill.  Except this time its different.   This time, its personal.  Dead Flowers is by Nicola Monaghan 

Trust Me I’m Dead is by Sherryl Clark.  She hasn't seen her brother in years. Now, he's dead.  When Judi Westerholme finds out her estranged brother has been murdered, she assumes it's connected to his long term drug addiction. Returning home, she is shocked to discover he had been clean for years, had a wife – now missing – a child and led a respectable life. But if he had turned his life around, why was he killed in a drug deal shooting? And where is his wife?  Desperate to know what really happened, Judi sets out to uncover the truth, even though it means confronting her own traumatic past. But she's not the only one looking for answers...

January 2020

In the aftermath of a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec, the local police apprehend Amadou Duchon - a young Muslim man at the scene helping the wounded - but release Etienne Roy, the local priest who was found with a weapon in his hands. The shooting looks like a hate crime, but detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty sense there is more to the story. Sent to liaise with a community in the grip of fear, they find themselves in fraught new territory, fuelled by the panic and suspicion exploited by a right-wing radio host. As Rachel and Esa grapple to stop tensions shutting the case down entirely, all the time, someone is pointing Esa in another direction, a shadowy presence who anticipates his every move. A Deadly Divide is a piercingly observed, gripping thriller that reveals the fractures that try to tear us all apart: from the once-tight partnership between detectives Esa and Rachel, to the truth about a deeply divided nation.  A Deadly Divide is by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

February 2020

The Coldest Warrior is by Paul Vidich.  In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, Dr. Charles Wilson, an Army bio-weapons scientist, died when he “jumped or fell” from the ninth floor of a Washington hotel. As his wife and children grieve, the details of his death remain buried for twenty-two years.  With the release of the Rockefeller Commission report on illegal CIA activities in 1975, LSD is linked to Wilson’s death, and suddenly the Wilson case becomes news again. Wilson’s family and the press are demanding answers, suspecting the CIA of foul play, and men in the CIA, FBI, and White House conspire to make sure the truth doesn’t get out.  Enter agent Jack Gabriel, an old friend of the Wilson family who is instructed by the CIA director to find out what really happened to Wilson. It’s Gabriel’s last mission before he retires from the agency, and his most perilous as he finds a continuing cover-up that reaches to the highest levels of government.  Key witnesses connected to the case die from suspicious causes, and Gabriel realizes that the closer he gets to the truth, the more he puts himself and his family at risk.

March 2020

Robert B Parker’s Blood Feud is by Mike Lupica.  Sunny Randall is "on" again with Richie, the ex-husband she never stopped loving and never seemed to be able to let go, despite her discomfort with his Mafia connections. When Richie is shot and nearly killed, Sunny is dragged into the thick of his family's business as she searches for answers and tries to stave off a mob war. But as the bullets start flying in Boston's mean streets, Sunny finds herself targeted by the deranged mastermind of the plot against the Burke family, whose motive may be far more personal than she could have anticipated...

April 2020

Southern Cross Crime is by Craig Sisterton.  Australian and New Zealand crime and thriller writing is booming globally, with antipodean authors regularly featuring on awards and bestseller lists across Europe and North America, and overseas readers and publishers looking more and more to tales from lands Down Under.   Hailing from two sparsely populated nations on the far edge of the former Empire – neighbours that are siblings in spirit, vastly different in landscape – Australian and New Zealand crime writers offer readers a blend of exotic and familiar, seasoned by distinctive senses of place, outlook, and humour, and roots that trace to the earliest days of our genre. Southern Cross Crime is the first comprehensive guide to modern Australian and New Zealand crime writing. From coastal cities to the Outback, leading critic Craig Sisterson showcases key titles from more than 200 storytellers, plus screen dramas ranging from Mystery Road to Top of the Lake. Fascinating insights are added through in-depth interviews with some of the prime suspects who paved the way or instigated the global boom, including Jane Harper, Michael Robotham, Paul Cleave, Emma Viskic, Paul Thomas, and Candice Fox. 

May 2020

The opioid epidemic has reached Paradise, and Police Chief Jesse Stone must rush to stop the devastation in the latest thriller in Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone series.  When a popular high school cheerleader dies of a suspected heroin overdose, it becomes clear that the opioid epidemic has spread even to the idyllic town of Paradise. It will be up to police chief Jesse Stone to unravel the supply chain and unmask the criminals behind it, and the investigation has a clear epicenter: Paradise High School. Home of the town's best and brightest future leaders and its most vulnerable down-and-out teens, it's a rich and bottomless market for dealers out of Boston looking to expand into the suburbs.  But when it comes to drugs, the very people Jesse is trying to protect are often those with the most to lose. As he digs deeper into the case, he finds himself battling self-interested administrators, reluctant teachers, distrustful schoolkids, and overprotective parents...and at the end of the line are the true bad guys, the ones with a lucrative business they'd kill to protect.  Robert B Parker’s The Bitterest Pill is by Reed Farrel Coleman. 

A Testament of Character is by Sulari Gentill.  In fear for his life, American millionaire Daniel Cartwright changes his will, appointing his old friend Rowland Sinclair as his executor.  Soon murder proves that fear well founded.  When Rowland receives word of Cartwright’s death, he sets out immediately for Boston, Massachusetts, to bury his friend and honour his last wishes. He is met with the outrage and anguish of Cartwright’s family, who have been spurned in favour of a man they claim does not exist.  Artists and gangsters, movie stars and tycoons all gather to the fray as elite society closes in to protect its own, and family secrets haunt the living. Rowland Sinclair must confront a world in which insanity is relative, greed is understood, and love is dictated; where the only people he can truly trust are an artist, a poet and a passionate sculptress.

June 2020

Robert B. Parker's beloved PI Sunny Randall returns on a case that blurs the line between friend and foe...and if Sunny can't tell the difference, the consequences may be deadly.  When Sunny's long-time gangster associate Tony Marcus comes to her for help, Sunny is surprised--after all, she double crossed him on a recent deal, and their relationship is on shakier ground than ever. But the way Tony figures it, Sunny owes him, and Sunny's willing to consider his case if it will clear the slate.    Tony's trusted girlfriend and business partner has vanished, appears to have left in a hurry, and he has no idea why. He just wants to talk to her, he says, but first he needs Sunny to track her down. While Sunny isn't willing to trust his good intentions, the missing woman intrigues her--against all odds, she's risen to a position of power in Tony's criminal enterprise. Sunny can't help but admire her, and if this woman's in a jam, Sunny would like to help.  But when a witness is murdered hours after speaking to Sunny, it's clear there's more at stake than just Tony's love life. Someone--maybe even Tony himself--doesn't want this woman on the loose...and will go to any lengths to make sure she stays silent.  Robert B Parker’s Grudge Match is by Mike Lupica.

Sherlock’s Sisters by Nick Rennison is also being published in June.

A clever, accomplished Cambridge graduate with a good job and an attentive lover, Imogen Lester seems to have the world at her feet.  But when her parents are murdered abroad while working for the Diplomati Service, she is suddenly thrown headlong into a murky world of espisonage and organised crime.  When she is charged with drug trafficking, even Ben Schroeder’s skills may not be enough to save her – unless a shadowy figure from Ben’s past can survive long enough to unmask a web of graft and corruption.  Verbal is by Peter Murphy.

July 2020

Gabby Leggett left her Boston family with dreams of making it big as a model/actress in Hollywood. Two years later, she disappears from her apartment. Her family, former boyfriend, friends--and the police--have no idea where she is and no leads. Leggett's mother hires Spenser to find her, with help of his former apprentice, Zebulon Sixkill, now an L.A. private eye.  Spenser barely has time to unpack before the trail leads to a powerful movie studio boss, the Armenian mob, and a shadowy empowerment group some say might be a dangerous cult.  It's soon clear that Spenser and Sixkill may be outgunned this time, and series favourites Chollo and Bobby Horse ride to the rescue to provide backup. From the mansions of Beverly Hills to the lawless streets of a small California town, Spenser will need to watch his step. In Hollywood, all that glitters isn't gold. And not all those who wander are lost.  Robert B Parker’s Angel Eyes is by Ace Atkins. 

DS Geraldine Steel knows well that circumstances are rarely as simple as they first seem.  As she struggles to shake off her suspicions about a controlling family patriarch, who also happens to be a highly unpopular local council leader, tensions, coincidences and complications begin to pile up – and then a body is found.  Deadly Revenge is by Leigh Russell.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Quantum by Patricia Cornwell (Extract) Cheltenham Literature Festival 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

DECEMBER 3, 2019

I CAN’T SAY for sure when the century-old tunnel was sealed off like a tomb.

Probably around the same time it began popping up in 8-pitch type as a nondescript feature on utility site maps hardly anyone ever sees. Crammed with high-pressure steam pipes and other mechanicals, the section of tunnel designated 1111-A was at some point given the code name Yellow Submarine.

“Never publicly or in print,” I’m explaining to NASA police major Fran Lacey, miserably scuffing behind me on the steep, gloomy stairs. “Mid- to late ’70s is about right for when this might have occurred,” I add, as if she’s listening or cares. “that’s what I get if I factor in the data and do the math.”

Crickets is her response, the same one I’ve been getting, and I turn around, checking on her, fully aware she’s not talking back. May as well enjoy that while it lasts. Except I don’t. I feel bad for her. But that doesn’t mean I’ll cut her any slack. Nope.

“In other words, in the Dark Ages, when you were coming along,” tossing in a dig whenever I can. “And way back then not even NASA had a glimmer about what was ahead. If they’d known, we wouldn’t have the problem I’m trying to make you handle sooner rather than later.”

I pause again for a response that isn’t coming. Our feet slowly thudding on concrete steps nosed with steel safety plates painted screaming yellow. Going down a few. Stopping every second or two as it gets warmer and stuffier the deeper we descend. More like steamy summer than the dead of winter, both of us clearing our throats and sweating.

“I’m guessing some dorky systems engineer or member of the intelligence community was to blame. A Beatles fan at any rate, and therefore most likely after 1968,” I continue to download information Fran couldn’t be less interested in right now.

Talking nonstop in rhythm to our descent. Feet thud-thudding. Another pause or two. Punctuated by the off-gassing of her loud exasperated sighs and coughs. Prompting me to turn around, finding her the same as last I looked, flipping me off with both middle fingers, messing with me the way she usually does. But not really. Because believe me when I say that nothing about this is funny to a legendary badass cop known for being afraid of nothing.

On permanent loan from Hampton PD, Fran oversees investi- gations for NASA Langley’s protective services. Or what’s essentially our police force of some 70 uniformed officers and a dozen special agents, all armed and federally sworn to ensure security and enforce the law on campus. In addition, she supervises NASA’s and the City of Hampton’s joint Marine, Aviation and Crime Scene Units. Plus our mobile response teams, riot squad and SWAT.

Not to mention providing executive protection for visiting VIPs. And coordinating with the military police on Langley Air Force Base, separated from our center by guard gates and an 8-foot-high fence topped with barbed wire. Suffice it to say, Fran is not someone to dismiss, disrespect or underestimate. that doesn’t mean I’m letting her off easy by offering empathy or the slightest hint about how much it secretly bothers me to put her through this ordeal. Or any. But if I’m really her investigative partner and closest ally and friend, then for me to give in to her problem would be the worst thing I could do. It would be selfish and dangerous. Worst case, it could be catastrophic. “I’ll take your profane sign language as a yes. You’re doing okay,” responding to her latest doubly offensive gesture, and it’s pointless to react personally when she’s distressed to the max.

“Shut up,” she manages to gasp, and thankfully her current unpleasantness is predictable and for the most part inconsistent with who she is the rest of the time.

But extreme anxiety, no matter how buried or quiet, rarely makes anyone more cooperative or nicer. Her mop of dark hair plastered to her scowling brow beneath her cockeyed hard hat, her safety glasses constantly fogging up. Staring at her boots, watching every tentative step as she makes her way down a claustrophobic dusty stairwell that she’s avoided like the plague in the past. And would continue to do so were it up to her. Fortunately, it isn’t. Even if she outranks me. Technically.

“The reason I know, obviously, is their iconic album by that name didn’t come out until then,” I answer what she doesn’t ask. “Yellow Submarine. We’re all living on one, a metaphor for spaceship Earth, right? Which is appropriate considering what’s down here, as you’re about to see,” I carry on as if oblivious to her fear of confined anything. Including caves, orthopedic casts, subways, seat belts, handcuffs, bunkers, submarines and most of all, tunnels, and it’s not that I’m insensitive. But as matters relate to her phobias, I’m her sponsor and never her enabler. Meaning I wasn’t happy about her refusal to shadow me along this very route when I ran a routine network analysis inside the Yellow Submarine tunnel yesterday. A very important test. In fact, critical in light of current circumstances, and Fran would have none of it. She stopped answering my text messages or calls on the subject. She ducked and dodged. I worked without her.

Excerpted from Quantum by Patricia Cornwell with permission of Thomas & Mercer. Copyright © 2019 by Cornwell Entertainment, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

Quantum by Patricia Cornwell, published by Thomas & Mercer

On the eve of a top secret space mission, Captain Calli Chase detects a tripped alarm in the tunnels deep below a NASA research center. A NASA pilot, quantum physicist, and cybercrime investigator, Calli knows that a looming blizzard and government shutdown could provide the perfect cover for sabotage, with deadly consequences.  As it turns out, the danger is worse than she thought. A spatter of dried blood, a missing security badge, a suspicious suicide—a series of disturbing clues point to Calli’s twin sister, Carme, who’s been MIA for days.  Desperate to halt the countdown to disaster and to clear her sister’s name, Captain Chase digs deep into her vast cyber security knowledge and her painful past, probing for answers to her twin’s erratic conduct. As time is running out, she realizes that failure means catastrophe—not just for the space program but for the safety of the whole nation.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

ASK ME NO QUESTIONS – and why write about identical twins?

The germ of the idea for Ask Me No Questions started at a supermarket late at night. I imagined a woman walking the aisles, followed by a mysterious man in black. He thinks she’s someone else, in a case of mistaken identity. But why? I wondered. Perhaps he’s confusing her for her identical twin? And where is this identical twin now?

This woman became Thea Patterson and the man became Mortimer. From this tiny scene, Ask Me No Questionswas born.

So why twins? At the end of the day, I like to write about what I’m interested in. After all, writing and researching a book (and editing, and editing again…) takes the best part of a year, so why not write about something you’re fascinated in?

I read every news article and watched every documentary I could get my hands on. I studied Psychology at university and was always especially interested in twin studies. Scientists love to examine what happens to the same thing under different conditions, so identical twins who have grown up separately are ideal. How much of an influence does nature (their DNA) versus nurture (their families and home life) have? Even when identical twins have never met, they have similarities in their lives. From the small, such as driving the same type of car, to the more significant, like the same body language and gestures. These can’t be explained by mere coincidence, surely? There’s something incredible going on in those cells and neurons.

Strangely, many of my friends are identical twins, and I interviewed them to get insight into what it was like. While most of them talked about how annoying it was to be asked the same old questions (‘can you read each other’s minds?’ ‘can you feel each other’s pain?’) they did mention a few things that made me take note.

My friend told me about a game he played when they were teenagers. Taking a stack of cards, he held up one by one, while his twin had to guess what was on it. He got the first ten completely right. It freaked them out so they stopped, and they haven’t been able to replicate it since. My other friend, based in the UK, knew exactly when her twin sister was going into labour. In New Zealand.

It’s phenomenon like this that keeps me interested, that made me sit up a little straighter in my seat. The unknowable creates a fascination. It gives us something to wonder about.

But my friends also talked about the unique bond they had with their twins. One pair described viewing themselves as a collective, not as individuals. There was no sense of self outside the other. My other friends weren’t quite so connected, but all discussed the closeness, and being two halves of a whole. Fights were moved on from and quickly forgotten without saying sorry. After all, you’re fighting with yourself, so where’s the need for apologies?

They all talked about their mannerisms being similar; all could predict what the other would do in any given situation. And all had an innate sense of protection, at any cost.

So I followed the story to its next conclusion: if you take two sisters who look identical, with an unbreakable bond across eighteen years of their life, what happens when one does something unthinkable? Is it possible to forgive? And what if they both fell in love with the same man? What then? It’s these dilemmas I had so much fun exploring in Ask Me No Questions, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading what happens in the book.

Ask Me No Questions by Louisa De Lange (Orion Publishing)
Twins have a special bond someone will kill to break.  As children, Gabi and Thea were like most identical twin sisters: inseparable. Now adults, Gabi is in a coma following a vicious attack and Thea claims that, until last week, the twins hadn't spoken in fifteen years. But what caused such a significant separation? And what brought them back together so suddenly?  Digging into the case, DS Kate Munro is convinced the crime was personal. Now she must separate the truth from the lies and find the dangerous assailant - before any more blood is spilled