Publishers, Bloodhound books, have done something very special. They have brought together a group of crime authors and each of them has written a short story that together makes up the new book, Dark Minds. The proceeds of the book go to two amazing charities, Hospice UKand Sophie’s Appeal making the book even more special.
You can watch a promo video of the book to get you in the mood, but there are so many authors contributing to Dark Minds that everyone is bound to find something that they enjoy. Perfect Christmas present I think, so much so that my brother will be getting a copy.
I was sent one story to read but I really wanted to support the book and was keen to read many of the stories by some of my favourite crime authors so I also bought an ebook of it. I’m still reading the book but loving it, I’ve never read short stories before, it’s something that I’ve never really been interested in but I think that Dark Minds has changed my mind. I’m enjoying the fast pace and the stories are short meaning that I can read one or two in a sitting which works well for me. At 400 pages the book is a big one, but broken down into smaller stories it is easy to read. As I haven’t finished the whole book yet I’m just going to talk about the stories that I have read.
Author B.A.Morton kicks the book off with the story Ten Green Bottles, telling the story of Zoe who wakes up in hospital, covered in blood that isn’t all her own she slowly pieces together the pieces of what happened and faces the full consequences of her actions. Is it her fault that people died?
Next Emma Pullar gives us something completely different. Jody leaves work to find London deserted, a thick fog covers everything and she has no mobile reception. As she walks the empty streets she can’t help feeling spooked but is there a good reason for that? Of course there is! This book was really creepy and definitely got under my skin!
The fabulous Louise Jensen‘s The Shoes Maketh The Man gives us some twists and turns as Bill, an old man living in a nasty area fearful of being attacked in his own home like many other pensioners in the area. When he hears his upstairs neighbour Bill’s reaction is not what you think it will be, that’s for sure! She has another book out this week, The Gift, and this short story has made me determined to read it soon.
Then comes Never Tell a Lie by Tara Lyons who co-authored The Caller which I really enjoyed. I loved her story about a man working in a coffee shop and looking for the woman for him. He has some unusual ideas about what that might mean though!! Yikes.
Richard Burke gives us his story, A Christmas Killing about a man who gets an intriguing delivery and has some very strange things in his fridge. The story leaves you guessing and trying to get your head around just what it is that is in his fridge.
Author Betsy Reavley who has published two brilliant book this year, The Optician’s Wife andFrailty, doesn’t disappoint with the unsettling By The Water, about a woman who finds herself in a river covered in blood, did a doctor’s attempt to cure her from her mental health problems actually cause more damage?
Next up is Tony Cox with his story, A Cup of Coffee and a Slice of Life. A man in a cafe overhears two old ladies talking about old times, it all seems innocent until the woman start to talk about events that are anything but innocent. This story gave me the shivers.
S.E. Lynes gives us Slow Roast Pork, a woman’s husband goes missing and she deals with it by cooking. Guests get given plenty to eat, including the police who particularly enjoy her roast pork. But is all as it seems?! This one got under my skin, and the end was not what I was expecting!
Finally, I read Paul Gitsham‘s story, A Stranger’s Eyes. In this story, we follow a man who wakes up in a hotel room, beaten and bloodied he can’t remember anything, not even who he is. In his room, he finds a stash of money and soon enough a knock at the door tells him that whatever he has done, the police want to talk to him about it. Panicked he runs, but what is it he did and will he get caught by the police?
So far I have enjoyed all of the stories and I hope that many of you are tempted enough to buy a copy for yourself or for someone as a present. It always feels even better buying something when the proceeds go to two amazing charities. I will be publishing my full review when I have finished the complete book.
Matching the Evidence is, I think, the first novella that I have read. I’m really not sure that it has converted me but I did enjoy it.
Evans is a cop who does things his way, before he is forced into retirement Evans and his team are facing the consequences of his unconventional ways in their previous case. Snatched From Home is the first book in the Harry Evans series and I believe this book follows straight on from that. As punishment Evans and his team are given the job of policing a football match where there is predicted to be a lot of trouble between the home team fans and the away team, Millwall.
Of course all is not as it seems, but Evans sniffs out the problem and once again ignores protocol to ensure that the baddies get caught.
Matching The Evidence is well written and can be read as a standalone book although I’m sure that it would be better being read after Snatched From Home. I would happily read the other books in the series as I’d like to find out more about the characters and the author is clearly a good writer. My only gripe about Matching The Evidence is that it felt like Smith had tried to pack too much into it, one strain of the story seemed pretty irrelevant in the end and could easily have been removed without losing anything from the book. It also ended pretty suddenly and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but I guess that is probably done on purpose so that I’ll read the next Harry Evans book.
I received a copy of Matching The Evidence in exchange for an honest review.
Matching The Evidence will be released on 8th September 2016 and is available for pre-order now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Carlisle United are playing Millwall and the Major Crimes Team are assigned to crowd control as punishment for their renegade ways. Typically, DI Harry Evans has other ideas and tries to thwart the local firm’s plans to teach Millwall’s notorious Bushwhackers an unforgettable lesson.
Meanwhile an undercover cop is travelling north with some of the Millwall contingent. His mission is to identify the ringleaders and gather evidence against them.
Three illegal immigrants have been transported to Carlisle and are about to meet their new employers.
Nothing is as it seems for Evans and his Major Crimes Team as they battle to avoid a bloodbath while also uncovering a far more heinous crime.
I’m delighted to have Carol and Bob aka RC Bridgestock on If Only I Could Read Faster today as part of their blog tour for When The Killing Starts which was released yesterday. First I have a guest post from them followed by my 4* review. Enjoy!
From Fact to Fiction – A job like no other…
It is often said that we should ‘write what we know’ and so far that method has worked for us. But then again we write crime fiction, and between us we have nearly 50 years of police experience. This unique combination has enabled us to create our down-to-earth character Detective Inspector Jack Dylan, with warmth and humour because he is loosely based on Bob. Dylan’s partner Jen is also loosely based on me, very loosely I might add… And some traits of characters you meet in the Dylan series are also taken from those we’ve met ‘in the job’ – a profession often regarded as ‘a job like no other’.
It is one thing reading or writing fictional crime novels or watching them on TV; but why would anyone want to deal with the aftermath of man’s inhumanity to man, or be able to? Questions like this makes me wonder if ‘life’ prepares us for what’s to come …
Bob spent his school holidays on his grandparent’s farm, he had a paper round before and after school and his Saturday job was in a butchers. Leaving Grammar school before the mock exams, because he was offered an apprenticeship, meant that he had no academic qualifications, and he soon realised after qualifying as a butcher that unless he owned a shop there was little money in it. So, with a young family to provide for he went to work in a dye works. He stuck it our for two years. The money was good but when he saw colleagues with terrible burns, and when he blew his nose it gave off the colours of a rainbow, he knew enough was enough.
He had encountered three runs-in’s with the police in his young life. Once when he was five; his brother gave him a fog detonator that he had taken from the railway line. Bob being smart knew it wasn’t the watch his elder said it was and he threw it away. His railway inspector father found out what he had done and knowing how dangerous the detonators could be, immediately called the police. A short ride in a blue and white Morris 1000 police van took him to the ‘scene of the crime’, in the company of a stern looking police officer. Bob got a clip round the ear for wasting police time and another from his dad when he got home. The second incident was in his butchering days. Returning home on the bus one dark night, over the moors, from the slaughter house, the bus was stopped and a police officer climbed onboard. After speaking to the driver the officer walked slowly down the aisle, his eyes only for Bob. He grabbed the young butcher boy by the scruff of the neck and escorted him unceremoniously off. Apparently an eagle-eyed passenger had caught sight of Bob’s blood splattered smock which was tucked neatly under his arm, and on alighting promptly informed the police. Bob assumed the blue and white apron might’ve given the police officer a clue as to his profession, but nevertheless he was given a clip around the ear for wasting police time and told to put it in a plastic bag next time. He and was left by the side of the road to walk the four miles home – his allocated bus fare already spent! On the third occasion he was quietly enjoying his ‘pie and peas’ from the van in Birstall market square after a night out, when a copper barked at him to ‘move’! Before Bob could say, ‘Bob’s your uncle,’ he was thrown into the back of a police van with a dog that, if it wasn’t called Bite, it should’ve been. Luckily on this occasion the officer got an urgent call and Bob was released promptly with another clip around the ear.
So he decided, if he couldn’t beat them he might as well join them…
But please don’t despair if you haven’t walked the walk and talked the talk. You already know more than you think…
Eight years ago we had never put pen to paper – some confidence for those just about to start writing their first novel. The bad news is on hearing the wordswrite what you know I have seen faces immediately show defeat. But, these four short words can be misleading, build barrier as well as impose limitations on the imagination, and breed uncertainty.
The good news is that we all know a lot more than we think we do. Funny, it took me years to realise that little snippet of wisdom! What we ‘know’ isn’t just what our everyday material life we live. It is so much more…
For instance, we all know what scares us, what being frightened feels like, how we react if we touch something hot or cold, or smell something rancid. It’s that knowledge that we, the author has to draw upon to make our stories believable to others. Your fears of the dark, pain, the unknown, are other people’s fears too. You know what prompts these feelings just as much as the other primal emotions of happiness, sadness and anger; for these are a range of feelings that we all share as human beings. Just remember that when you are writing your story to make those emotions/reactions real to your reader.
Everyone knows what it feels like to have the sun on your back, to sit in front of a nice warm fire and feel snuggled, warm, safe; to fall over and scrape your knee – you probably did that hundreds of times as a child.
Think also of the other senses. What do you hear?
You know full well how you react to a loud bang and how others do too. Or what your body does when you put something tart in your mouth. By sharing those sensations the reader will immediately know how your character is feeling too. For example, Daisy put a slice of lemon in her mouth and pulled a sour face. We don’t need to add, she recoiled and cringed at the tangy taste because we, the reader, can imagine it.
So, by drawing upon what you share with others you’ve instantly created a rapport between you, your reader and your character, and this trigger in turn will help share emotions. This in turn will help you build a place. What do you see? The place is irrelevant you could be in a garden, a lounge, a bedroom… Now, as you move on you’ll begin to realise that the situations that you ‘know’ does not necessarily have to happen where it happened to you. This experience could happen anywhere you want – even in another time, or in a fictional world.
The next step is to create a character – someone who we want people to remember whether they love, hate or feel indifferent towards. Give them a look, a trait, a catch-phrase that is unforgettable – for instance, do you remember Kojak the big, bald, hard-nosed detective with a lollipop addiction who constantly said, ‘Who Loves Ya Baby’? See what I mean?
To make characters in stories in the past or the future come alive we do our research to find out what the fashion was, transport, the technology of the time. Research is another form of knowing.
You will need to know how to make them real today.
Remember people are people, no matter where or when they lived. They will all have experienced love, hate and curiosity just like you and me. Even if your characters are from another planet, or exist in some futuristic land you’re going to have to give them traits that your readers can identify with, here and now so the story will work.
So, taking what you have and what you know, from experience and research you can make-believe….
A story’s success is only waiting to be shaped by your imagination.
Now what are you waiting for?
We often get asked how we write together.
Bob writes the police procedural which is the main storyline for each DI Jack Dylan novel. All the Dylan books stand alone in terms of the crime story. He writes this with the ‘mask’ of the detective clearly on, as he doesn’t concentrate on the victims background until the evidence is given to him by way of it being revealed to the investigation team. The initial crime scene in mind he writes through the enquiry. The reader of a Dylan book is firmly sat on the detectives shoulder throughout both in his professional life and at home treating them to all the highs and lows of any case he takes charge of.
Once the crime has been solved I get the narrative and I start from the beginning – Bob doesn’t do a re-write – that’s my job. I write the home-life storyline, the emotion. I draw out of Bob his ‘real’ feelings and write the scenes from his sometimes harrowing descriptions. Personally I think writing has been cathartic for Bob. Bob says its work! We’re lucky to write procedurals as there is never a case of not knowing how to move the story forward.
However, we don’t write about factual murders. We have too much respect for the victims, or the relatives of the victims who have already suffered enough; but every crime scene we write about Bob has seen. Every post-mortem is etched in his sub conscious forever: all he has to do is draw on the memory of the incident. He will never forget. The family saga which ties the books as a series also allows a new storyline in each book so the books do truly stand alone and this is due to us watching the couple grow, as well as their family with all the drama that brings…
‘When The Killing Starts’ Di Jack Dylan (Book 7) released 30th June 2016
When the Killing Starts is the seventh book in the D.I. Jack Dylan series. However, it is the first book in the series that I have read and I had no problem keeping up so it can easily be read as a standalone book.
RC Bridgestock is in fact two people, a husband and wife team who now write together (and do a huge amount of amazing charity work).
Perhaps because it is written by an ex police officer, this book felt really real and true to life. Dylan’s relationship with his wife felt particularly genuine which may well be down to the real life experience of the other half of the writing team.
The main storyline in When the Killing Starts is focused on the frankly evil Devlin brothers. I found their part of the story really good, and I enjoyed reading about how Dylan was tracking them down. While Dylan is running that investigation he is also overseeing another murder investigation. I found that a bit of a distraction really, I would have preferred it if Dylan had focused on one investigation. Although I do recognise that no doubt in real life they do run multiple investigations at the same time.
If you are new to police procedural books then these are great books to start with. The assumption is made that the reader has little to no knowledge of how police investigations work, so things are explained clearly.
When the Killy Starts is a really good book, it is well written and I will definitely be reading more from RC Bridgestock and D.I. Dylan.
I received a copy of When the Killy starts from the authors in return for an honest review.