#BookTour Trolls by Ron Butlin @RonButlinMakar @BCKidsBooks @SKARPHEDON @BirlinnBooks @LoveBooksGroup

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Our Review:

Here Come the Trolls:

Dora aged seven: It is quite funny sometimes but it is a bit not kind which I didn’t really like as they weren’t very nice to the trolls. The pictures are a bit different to other kids books but I do like them, they aren’t that colourful though. The writing is also a bit different but I could read it ok although it was harder to read than normal books. 

I liked the book, there wasn’t a particularly strong storyline to it and there was no message in it as there often are with kids, it is just a book that is purely for fun. And it definitely is fun. The illustrations are great, they are quite simple and as Dora said not very colourful but the expressions on the trolls faces are often amusing and made my children giggle. I think that at seven the book is too young for my children, it would suit ages 2-6 quite well and I’m sure that the story would get lots of laughs from younger children who would enjoy the pictures and the lyrical story.

Day of the Trolls:

Jake aged seven:  It was really gross when the troll farted and when the troll had snot. It was really funny when the granny got thrown to the roof. The pictures were really funny because it looked like it was so weird and silly. I think that boys and girls aged three to five would really like this book.

Dora aged seven: It was quite gross but it was quite funny when the troll picked his nose. I do think that it was quite good and I did like the pictures a bit too. 

I enjoyed reading Day of the Trolls and felt that it was better than the first book as it had a better storyline and more happening in it. It is a funny book and the words and the pictures make it funnier, they go well together. I think that this book would be perfect for children aged 2-6 who I’m sure would find it hilarious to hear about these naughty and rude trolls!

Blurb:

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Through gaps in the roof we didn’t repair

through cracks in the walls we pretended weren’t there…

…the trolls have come creeping

while we were all sleeping.

Trolls on your chair, trolls in your bed –

is anything worse than a troll on your head?

What happens when your house is invaded by trolls – mischievous creatures who do nothing but cause havoc and mayhem? Find out in this zany and charming book which tells you how to get rid of them for good and make your house a troll-free zone!

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It’s the Day of the Trolls: Fart-Fart and all the trolls are back! Join them in the shopping mall where they go wild, causing havoc as they overrun the place. But when they follow sign saying All Trolls – This Way, things turn out very differently to what Flycatcher, Bumscratcher, SnotFace, Squeer and the rest of them expected …

About The Author:

Ron Butlin is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer and librettist whose works have been translated into many languages. He regularly gives creative writing workshops in schools, and was Edinburgh Makar from 2008 to 2014.

James Hutcheson is Creative Director at Birlinn. He has been designing books, book jackets and album covers for many years.

The books are out now and you can buy Here Come The Trolls here and Day of the Trolls here.

#BlogTour: Guest Post Veronica’s Bird by Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. @Authoright

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When I first heard about Veronica’s Bird I was immediately intrigued and I wondered what would it be like to be one of the only women working in a men’s prison. So that is what I asked Veronica Bird to write about. I hope that you find it as interesting as I did.

Guest Post:

‘Being a woman among male prisoners’

Veronica’s Bird

 Veronica came to male prisons following several years in female jails – some would say she was taking on a far harder job, solely because the cells were filled with men.  But, one should understand that running a female prison is just as difficult, and certainly as dangerous. One female inmate managed to put all six of her nurses in hospital with broken limbs, and described by the doctors as: ‘capable of attacking with murderous severity.’ As she was escorted to a prison van she required six prison officers to attend to her.

Men may be physically more powerful, but one can die from a well-placed shard of glass, as a squeeze to the throat. It is, perhaps, the sheer bulk of some of these men, the silent ones especially, who are the most intimidating, but staff are well-trained to understand each prisoner’s characteristics and react accordingly.

Veronica’s time with men began when she took over at a male young offender’s prison where they stood deferentially when she entered a room. Packed with testosterone they often got up to high jinks, but it was just that, and she began to earn their full respect. This was never more clear than the time she arranged for Frank Bruno, the heavyweight boxer at the height of his fame, to spend a day in the prison, flying in by helicopter to be met by almost hero worship. Frank spent the day talking with the inmates, exhorting them to stay on the straight and narrow. His visit must have been worth a hundred visits by official visitors’ groups and when he left at the end of the day at least one prisoner was heard to say to Veronica: ‘…that was the best day of my life, Miss.’

In Veronica’s experience over thirty-five years, she found men would respect a Governor if she was to keep her word on pledges made. Fairness as well as strict attention to the rules to both staff and prisoners, allowed prisoners to see where she was heading and they, along with her. In all of her time as a serving Prison Officer, she was never assaulted, though, naturally she has never down-played the inherent danger of her job. She had two mantras: never to find out what they were in for, and always to honour a promise to help a prisoner with a particular problem in life. Her plan was to get the inmate through his term with as little disturbance to the life of the prison as was possible.

Some prisoners show a curious mixture of gentlemanly behaviour, being polite and co-operative and at other times they could ‘lose it’, making restraint a task for half a dozen burly officers. Charles Bronson was one of these, a man who Veronica looked after for a month, to give Wakefield Prison respite from the day to day stress which arose from his conduct. Bronson, now renamed Salvador, after his hero artist, is one of the best-known prisoners in the country with a documentary film to his name, his paintings sell all over the world. He has written books with proceeds from sales going to charities of his choosing. Reputed to carry out two thousand press-ups a day and built like a bull, this same man who would politely discuss the time of the day with Veronica through an open cell door, could also wreak havoc when ‘…the demons take hold of me.’ She was never allowed to come too close to him, but Charlie was always a gentleman and never swore.

To be a woman in a male only prison means understanding each and every one of one’s charges, getting to know their foibles, fears and faults in equal measure but refusing to allow them to overstep the mark. There is a red line which, from time to time, they may lap against, but Veronica never permitted them to cross to the other side. It is probably not surprising, therefore, to find that, given a ‘basket case’ of a prison to take over, with no extra money, she turned it around in a year making it into a model against which all others would be judged.

Male or female, they both have their own demands, their own strengths whether it is physical or mental; both have to be watched just as carefully as the other, for unpredictability is the watchword.

Veronica’s Bird   –  Copyright © Richard Newman 2018. Authors Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. Publisher Clink Street Publications January 23rd 2018.

Blurb:

Veronicas Bird CoverVeronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

About the Authors:

After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Veronica’s Bird is released on 23rd January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

#BlogTour The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. @AmyLloydWrites #TheInnocentWife @ClareJKelly

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Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour for The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd. I haven’t read this book….yet, but I will be doing so. The blurb alone makes me want to read it, let alone all the great reviews the book is getting. Amy has stopped by to tell us about unlikeable narrators and difficult characters. I hope that you enjoy it!

Guest Post:

Unlikeable Narrators and Difficult Characters

Poor Samantha gets a lot of stick for being an unlikeable character. She’s got extremely low self-esteem and makes some terrible choices but this is why I found her so interesting to write. I don’t want characters that do exactly what they’re supposed to, what fun is that?!

When Sam and Carrie first meet in the novel they riff on the idea of what a ‘strong woman’ is. There’s a temptation to make every woman character in your novel a kind of role model, a feminist badass who we can all look up to. Or at least to make them ‘likeable’ (*shudder*), relatable and inoffensive.

I’m here to fly the flag for the deplorables. I say, Let women be awful too! Aren’t we all a little awful sometimes?

Male characters are allowed to be flawed but we hold women in fiction to a different standard. Take, for example, the way Hannibal Lecter was received when Silence of the Lambs was in cinemas. Some audiences applauded each time he appeared on screen. They revelled in his evil; they loved to be afraid of him.

Compare that to reactions to Amy in Gone Girl. I’ve seen her character called misogynistic and misandrist, depending on which Reddit forum you’re looking at. My own reaction to Amy was one of excitement. Finally! I thought, now women can be real villains too. Not an evil stepmother or a Lifetime movie mistress but a bon-a-fide psychopath just out there doing her thing. Progress!

So I was dismayed to see so many think-pieces devoted to analysing how her character reflects on all women. We accept that Hannibal Lecter is an evil character and we celebrate him but we are afraid to do the same for Amy because, as a woman, she is representative of her gender as a whole.

I’ve always found it fun to not like characters in fiction. I like to feel conflicted, frustrated by a protagonist’s flaws and to follow a murderer or a liar down the wrong path. I read so I can live different lives and have alternate experiences, so this was also how I wanted to approach writing.

It would be easy to dismiss Sam as weak or pathetic but she’s more complicated than that. Many people have said that there are moments where they related to her and those moments reminded them of when they were their worst selves.

We meet Samantha at a low point in her life. She is broken after a terrible relationship and she’s taken a huge leap that she’s not entirely confident in and this is what makes her so vulnerable and why she allows herself to be treated so badly by Dennis. This is hard to accept and it should be! We want her to find her strength and stick up for herself but will she? Or is there something more sinister about her motivations…

Blurb:

You love him. You trust him. So why are you so scared?

Her obsession started eighteen years after the first documentary … As the story
unfolded on screen everything else started to fade away. At the heart of it the boy,
too young for the suit he wore in court, blue eyes blinking confused at the camera,
alone and afraid. It hurt her to look at him … barely eighteen years old, alone on
Death Row.
You’re in love with a man who’s serving time for a brutal murder on Florida’s
Death Row. He’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a
frenzy online.
You’re convinced he’s innocent, and you’re determined to prove it. You leave your
old life behind.
Now, you’re married to him. And he’s free, his conviction overturned.
But is he so innocent after all?
How do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

About the Author:

Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan
University. Her writing combines her fascination with true crime and
her passion for fiction. The Innocent Wife is her first novel and was
borne out of a course module in university. She lives in Cardiff with
her partner and two cats.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

#BlogTour Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb @OrendaBooks @CrimeThrillGirl #DeepBlueTrouble

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My Review:

I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour for Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, Deep Down Dead, but really wanted to having heard so much about it. So I figured that if I agreed to read and take part in this tour it would give me a good reason to read the first book. Unfortunately life gets in the way and I just didn’t have time to read Deep Down Dead before Deep Blue Trouble but thankfully I’m pretty sure that that didn’t matter.

The events of book one quickly become apparent and more is revealed as the book progresses, I’m sure that it is always better to read the books in order but if you haven’t read book one, don’t let it stop you reading Deep Blue Trouble.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it has a fast pace and plenty of twists and turns along with the who can you trust element too. I liked Lori, the main character who is a bounty hunter in Florida who finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she goes to California to hunt a dangerous man. It is a job that she doesn’t want to do but she is forced into it by an FBI agent who promises her that he will help out a friend who is in trouble with the law.

The case proves to be more difficult than Lori had hoped and it causes her to push herself in ways that she had never imagined but will she manage to catch the fugitive in time?

The only little gripe that I had was that we were constantly reminded of the reasons why Lori had agreed to take the case, we knew why she was doing it and how much riding on her succeeding and I didn’t need to be reminded so often. But apart from that I loved the book, I still really want to read the first book in the series and I look forward to the third book! It’s great to read about a feisty female character.

Blurb:

DEEP BUE TROUBLE AW.inddSingle-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT—Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything—alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson “The Fish” Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.

 

About The Author:

Steph Broadribb

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her ‘alter ego’ Crime Thriller Girl she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. He debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories and hit number one on the UK and AU Kindle charts.

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

#blogblast #review Dying Breath by @helenphifer1 @bookouture

Dying Breath - Blog Tour

My Review:

I really enjoyed Helen Phifer’s first book, Dark House (previously called The Lost Children) that introduced readers to Lucy Harwin, a feisty detective who feels the pain of murder victims so deeply, so when I heard that the second book in the series was coming out I knew that I had to read it.

And it did not disappoint. In fact, I think that it is an even better read and story. I just loved how the story played out, there were twists and turns aplenty and I often thought that I knew who the baddie was but couldn’t be quite sure. I just loved reading Dying Breath and enjoyed getting to know the characters a bit more, especially Lucy and her sidekick Mattie.

I really don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll keep it simple. Read this book. That is all that you need to know unless you haven’t read Dark House yet, in which case read that first as although this book is absolutely fine to read as a standalone, it’s always better to start at the beginning. I cannot wait for book three to come out now!

Blurb:

Dying-Breath-Kindle

Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.

Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland.

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality – a killer is walking the streets of their quiet coastal town.

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers.

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?

 About the Author:

Helen Phifer author picture

Helen Phifer lives in a small town called Barrow-in-Furness with her husband and five children.

Helen has always loved writing and reading. Her love of horror films and novels is legendary. Helen adores reading books which make the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Unable to find enough scary stories to read she decided to write her own.

Helen’s debut novel ‘The Ghost House’ was published by Carina UK in October 2013 and went on to become a best seller along with the rest of the Annie Graham series. The Secrets of the Shadows, The Forgotten Cottage, The Lake House, The Girls in the Woods and The Face Behind the Mask.

The Good Sisters is a standalone horror story which will scare the pants off you or so her lovely readers have told her. It scared Helen when she was writing it so she pretty much agrees with them.

March 2017 saw the release of psychological thriller Dark House (previously called The Lost Children), book 1 in the Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin series. Book 2 – Dying Breath is due for release in Nov 2017.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Helenphifer1

Instagram:    https://www.instagram.com/helenphifer

Twitter:       https://twitter.com/helenphifer1

Website:     https://www.helenphifer.com

Dying Breath by Helen Phifer is out now and available from  Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

#blogtour The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland @ShaliniBoland @bookouture

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My review:

Ok, so first off I need to tell you that I really, really enjoyed reading The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland. It wasn’t that it was the best written book or the most amazing storyline but there was something about it that grabbed me and kept me hooked.

I think what made it so good was wondering whether Tessa was actually a reliable witness, was there really a child in her kitchen or was she delusional? And if there was a child then had she really taken it from where he belonged? It is perfectly set up to make the reader unsure of what the truth might actually be as Tessa’s story does sound rather implausible, why would a strange boy be in her kitchen and saying that she was his Mummy? Very clever. Something fishy had to be going on, and sure enough, it was.

The book takes us on a journey with Tessa as she sets out to prove her innocence. Her ex fights her at every turn, seemingly convinced that Tessa is unstable and needs help. But Tessa’s boss believes her and sees something in her that other’s done and he helps her find the truth. I actually really enjoyed reading about Tessa’s relationship with her boss and it was great that she had someone supporting her along the way.

I’ve not given anything away that isn’t in the blurb and so I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I really did enjoy this book and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys books that keep you wondering and guessing and not sure of who to believe. Once again the publishers Bookouture have produced a psychological thriller that is a cracking read.

Blurb:

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‘Are you my mummy?’ 

Tessa Markham comes home to find a little boy in her kitchen. He thinks she’s his mother. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the child is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the boy. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself…

A chilling, unputdownable thriller with a dark twist that will take your breath away and make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and The Sister.

About the Author:

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Shalini Boland lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).

Shalini’s debut psychological thriller THE GIRL FROM THE SEA reached No 1 in the US Audible charts and No 7 in the UK Kindle charts. Her second thriller THE BEST FRIEND reached no 2 in the US Audible charts and No 10 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts. It also achieved number 1 in all its categories and was a Kindle All Star title for several months in a row. Shalini’s recent release THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE reached No 9 in the Kindle UK charts.

Be the first to hear about her new releases here: http://eepurl.com/b4vb45

Shalini is also the author of two bestselling Young Adult series as well as an atmospheric WWII novel with a time-travel twist.

http://www.facebook.com/ShaliniBolandAuthor
http://www.shaliniboland.co.uk
https://twitter.com/ShaliniBoland

The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

#blogtour #guestpost Shadows by Paul Finch @paulfinchauthor @harpercollinsuk @Sabah_K

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Sometimes a book comes along that you really want to read but you know that you will not be able to read it by the date needed. So when that happens if I can I offer to take part in the blog tour with a guest post, Q&A or extract.

So today I have a guest post from Paul Finch whose latest book, Shadows, is out now. I’ve no doubt that it is a great read as Paul Finch is a great author. And for us, he has written a post about a question that he is often asked, what kind of crime fiction he writes. Thanks for stopping by Paul!!

Guest Post:

WHAT KIND OF CRIME FICTION DO YOU WRITE?

 One question I’m often asked is … what kind of crime fiction do I write?

This presupposes that there are lots of different kinds. But while I’m not a big fan of pigeon-holing, I’ve no option but to basically share this viewpoint.

Most genres contain sub-genres. I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that. But certainly, where crime fiction is concerned, the lines between them often blur. There are many overlaps. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few ways to illustrate this point.

For example, take the Village Green murder mystery, which has long been a staple of traditional crime fiction. On this front, one may consider the rules of US mystery writer, SS Van Dine (creator of the ultimate ‘golden age’ blowhard, Philo Vance), wherein …

crimes by house-breakers and bandits are the province of the police department – not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives, and where …

servants – such as butlers, footmen, valets, game-keepers, cooks, and the like – must not be chosen by the author as the culprit … The culprit must be a decidedly worthwhile person,

Such class-based stipulations often meld comfortably with the classic Whodunnit formula, in which the author undertakes to set out a list of viable suspects and the lead detective gradually works his or her way through the entire cast before he or she can name the villain. As I say, this is an age-old system. Crime writers of a certain era loved this. It came natural to many of them to merge it with the quaint traditions of the Village Green. But even today, there are perfect examples. Look no further than successful TV shows like Broadchurch, Grantchester (based on James Runcie’s hit short stories, of course), and Midsomer Murders.

But none of that really applies to me.

I’m certainly not loath to use rural or semi-rural settings. Dead Man Walking (the Lake District) and Hunted (Surrey) should demonstrate this amply. Though I can honestly say that I’ve never consciously done the Whodunnit thing. Okay, it’s always nice to catch your readers unaware if you can; to finally unveil the murderer and leave everyone gasping with shock. But I have never willingly constructed a roll-call of suspects, and provided each one of them, no matter how respectable they may appear on the surface, with a good motive for murder – before working my way through them systematically.

SS Van Dine, real name Willard Huntington Wright, said that the detective novel was ‘a game’.

Erm, no. Not mine.

In fact, it’s rarely the case that I ever build my books around a single murder. Quite often in my Heck novels – which concern the National Crime Group, who have a remit to cover all the police forces of England and Wales – the hero is on the trail of cults, societies and secret groups who are perpetrating repeated heinous crimes, while in the Lucy Clayburn novels, which are set in urban Manchester, the opposition often comes from organised crime. For example, in the new one, SHADOWS, she’s on the trail of a gang of vicious armed robbers, rather than a one-off murderer.

Of course, while this may specifically answer the question what kind of crime fiction do I NOT write, it doesn’t tell you exactly which kind I DO write.

Well, there are other crime sub-genres to consider.

The Police Procedural is another very popular form. And as both my investigative heroes – DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn – are operational police detectives, I think we’re now getting warmer. However, the Police Procedural often relies on an accurate, fact-based portrayal of everyday police protocols. We see the correct ranking structure and legalities, authentic depictions of police station interiors, of shift patterns, of crime scene procedures etc, and now, in the 21st century, the new fangled ultra-sensitivity that police chiefs like to imagine their officers have the time to show in a supposedly more sophisticated age. If all that sounds like a drag in that it means – for both writer and reader alike – wading through a mass of largely irrelevant minutae, I should point out that there is a huge appetite for it. Police Procedural remains as potent a form of crime writing now as it did when Dixon of Dock Green first hit our black and white TV screens.

And anway, just because you’re being factual that doesn’t mean you can’t tell a rattling good story. When I wrote for The Bill in the late 1990s, a TV series which had taken great pains, including the recruitment of senior police advisors, to ensure that it was as authentic as possible, while we writers were often told that facts were good, we were also advised that ultimately, they must not get in the way of a good tale.

The Police Procedural, of course, is a sub-genre much abused by writers, because while TV shows like The Bill may be an exception to the rule, and were admirable for their everyday accuracy, many authors who produce it still find it too much of a distraction to get heavily into the day-to-day detail. And I must confess that I’m increasingly one of these.

I like to be correct in my depiction of modern police-work, but I cut corners and leave out what I consider to be less interesting stuff. I alway say, when challenged on this, that I don’t write police textbooks. I write fiction, and ‘fantasy fiction’ at that, and again, I don’t think this is too controversial a statement. To my delight, a very fine police superintendent once came to my defence on this. When a punter at a literary event commented that depicting ‘fantasy policing’ was irresponsible, the super chipped in with: ‘Well, can anyone tell me where fantasy policing ends and real poilcing starts, because I don’t know and I’ve been in the job 30 years? People get up to all sorts to make this job work. Sometimes, what you call fantasy policing may be closer to the truth than you realise.’

But no, despite all that, I don’t really write Police Procedural any more. At least, not since I left The Bill.

 So, what’s left in crime fiction that could accurately categorise me?

Well, I think we’re getting much closer to the mark if we start looking at the twin schools of Noir and Hard Boiled.

Noir, of course, is another quite specific term. It first emerged in America in the 1940s, as a description of the movie thrillers fashionable in that era. Its main criteria were a melodramatic storyline, usually an urban setting – which invariably would be dark and sinister, hardbitten central characters, and back-stories concerned with corruption, exploitation and organised crime. By definition, the term also applied to the authors who created the moods that these films were trying to capture, the likes of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Dashiell Hammett.

The style is much aped in modern crime fiction by both writers and movie makers alike, to the extent that we now have the offshoot sub-genre, NeoNoir. This more or less ticks all the original boxes, but gives them a distinctly contemporary spin – and now I think we’re really on home soil. I simply love my dark, shadow-filled cityscapes, and utilise them whenever I can. I also love my tough, cynical, uber-conflicted heroes; both Mark Heckenburg and Lucy Clayburn are children of the industrial north, and they display this in their opinions and attitudes. At the same time, though police officers, they are often at odds with their superiors, Heck because he simply doesn’t rate them, Lucy because her own father is a gangster and through her affiliation with him, she has learned just how inherently corrupt the system can be.

If you add a bit of the Hard Boiled to that, you’re almost completely there.

From the outset, the Hard Boiled sub-genre has sat alongside Noir, presenting us with authentically dangerous criminal worlds that are webs of deceit and viciousness, where cruel and violent thugs invariably work for much smoother criminals higher up the food-chain. This often takes us out of the realms of policework altogether, and presents us with lead characters who are reprehensible antiheroes – men like Jack Carter in Ted Lewis’s seminal Jack’s Return Home, or women like Sara Paretsky’s mean-talking, hard-hitting private eye, VI Warshawksi. These are characters you are asked to root for even though they will quicky resort to the same depths of violence as their opponents in order to mete out their own brand of justice.

Okay, my characters are serving cops, but I think most readers would agree that this could also be a fair description of Mark Heckenburg, and possibly, to a lesser extent, Lucy Clayburn.

Well, we’re basically there now. But I suppose there is one other sub-genre of crime fiction, which, if you added in a small doses to what’s gone before, would be the final piece of the jigsaw where my work is concerned – the Action Thriller.

I’ve always felt it important not to go too overboard on this front; the Arnie and Stallone movies of the 1980s now feel like a glaring anachronism. While they’re great fun, they are essentially an imposition of the Wild West on modern US cities, in which completely lawless lawmen engage with hordes of caricature bad guys. The result is earthquake-inducing car chases and thunderous, balletic gun battles in which thousands of rounds of ammunition are expended, and body-counts soar into the high hundreds. In the light of current tragic events, particularly in the States, I think it would be especially tasteless, not to say irresponsible, to indulge in too much of that. As such, in all my books thus far, there has been an action element – but only that, an element.

I’ve always gone out of my way to make my car chases exciting but realistic, to make my confrontations with violent suspects, even the protracted ones, as non-gratuitous as possible. Whether I’ve succeeded in these ambitions, I suppose that’s up to my readers to decide. Thus far, I’m glad to say, they seem to think it’s okay.

Anyway, there we are. For those who are interested, pick up a copy of SHADOWS (or any of my other books, though SHADOWS is the latest) and you’ll get a whole helping of NeoNoir/Hard Boiled, and a generous – though not too generous – dollop of Action.

Blurb:

shadows

‘A born storyteller.’ PETER JAMES

The SUNDAY TIMES bestseller returns with the second book in the PC Lucy Clayburn series – a must for all fans of Happy Valley and M.J. Arlidge.

 

As a female cop walking the mean streets of Manchester, life can be tough for PC Lucy Clayburn. But when one of the North West’s toughest gangsters is your father, things can be particularly difficult.

When Lucy’s patch is gripped by a spate of murder-robberies, the police are quick to action. Yet when it transpires that the targets are Manchester’s criminal underworld, attitudes change.

Lucy is soon faced with one of the toughest cases of her life – and one which will prove once and for all whether blood really is thicker than water…

About the Author:

paulfinch

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation and for Dr Who. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, crime and horror. His most successful works to date are the six-novel DS Heckenburg crime series, and the new Lucy Clayburn series, the first instalment of which, STALKERS, reached no. 7 in the Sunday Times best-sellers chart.

Paul lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry. His blog can be found at at www.paulfinch-writer.blogspot.co.uk, and he can be followed on Twitter as @paulfinchauthor.

Shadows by Paul Finch is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US