If a book is set in New Zealand then you can be pretty sure that I will want to read it so I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour for The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell. Thank you to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for asking me to be part of the tour. I received a copy of The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell but I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
When most people think of New Zealand they think of sheep, greenery and stunning views. They would be right, all those things exist in New Zealand but there is a far darker side to the country than most people know. Gang culture is big and that leads to crime and violence that you wouldn’t think would be part of life in a county that is often hailed as one of the best places to live.
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell is a gritty crime book, following Detective Matt Buchanan as he tries to solve some truly heinous crimes. The death toll in the book is high and many of them involve people that Buchanan is close to, it drives him to do everything to solve the crimes and ensure that those responsible are held to account, and that often leads him to act far outside the law.
I often wondered how much of the book was based on fact rather than fiction, it felt so very real at times. The author, Nathan Blackwell although that is not his real name, does a frankly remarkable job of portraying the mental impact of the job on the Detective. It is hard for me to put into words how real it all felt and how at times it was painful to read Matt Buchanan’s breakdown.
This book is not for the faint hearted or the easily offended. There are many, many swear words in the book including the ‘c’ word, it is strong and that might bother readers. I don’t mind swearing if it is appropriate, and most of the time it was but the one thing I would change about the book is the number of swear words including the ‘c’ word.
But if you can stomach that and the gruesome murders and the descent into madness then read this book, it is disturbing and thought provoking and may just make you look at policing a little bit differently. I was blown away by The Sound Of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell and it will stay with me for a long time to come. Hopefully, the author will write more books as I will be keen to read them!
Some murder cases you can’t forget. No matter how hard you try.
The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach – over a decade after she was murdered.
Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.
Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society – and back into his deepest obsession…
Sound of her Voice is an authentic, gritty, character-led police procedural by an elite former detective – for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart Macbride, and Joseph Knox
About The Author:
Nathan Blackwell was raised on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys’ High School before commencing a ten-year career in the New Zealand Police. Seven of those years were spent as a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Branch, where he was exposed to human nature at its strongest and bravest, but also at its most depraved and horrific. He investigated a wide range of cases including drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, serious violence, rape and murder. Because some of his work was conducted covertly, Nathan chooses to hide his true identity.
The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Race to the Kill is the first book by Helen Cadbury that I have read. I wish that I had read her previous books, and I very much hope to rectify that, but Race to the Kill can easily be read as a standalone.
I didn’t know the author personally, but I knew Helen Cadbury in the online book world, I didn’t know her well but I knew her to be kind and funny. The news of her death sent shockwaves through the community, not only had a lovely lady died but also a fabulous author.
I really enjoyed Race to the Kill, it was well written and I loved the character Sean Denton who the book is centred around. The book kept me guessing and I really enjoyed the journey that it took me on. I did also feel incredibly sad reading Race to the Kill. I was enjoying it so much and really felt that Sean Denton would have made a brilliant crime series that would have given readers many great reads, if only the author had lived longer.
If you like your police crime thrillers then you’re bound to enjoy Race To The Kill. I wish that I could be looking forward to the next book in the series.
It is the middle of a long night shift for PC Sean Denton and his partner PC Gavin Wentworth when they are approached by a dishevelled-looking woman desperate that they follow her. She leads them to the old Chasebridge High School where they find the dead body of a Syrian refugee. The investigation which points to the neighbouring greyhound stadium finds Denton caught up in a world of immigration, drugs and sexual abuse, and one in which his private life becomes increasingly entwined.
About The Author:
Helen Cadbury was a York based writer whose debut novel, To Catch a Rabbit, was joint winner of the Northern Crime Award.
Helen was born in the Midlands and brought up in Birmingham and Oldham, Lancashire.
I have to admit that I haven’t read the first book in the DI Hamilton series, In The Shadows, but I don’t feel that this mattered. I quickly got into this book and its characters. I have read The Caller which Tara Lyons co-wrote with M.A. Comley which I really enjoyed (and am still waiting for the next in the series, nudge nudge), so I was keen to read more by the author.
As a single parent, I think that the premise of No Safe Home got under my skin, my home is my sanctuary and the thought of someone coming in and hurting myself and/or my children is frankly horrifying.
The story of No Safe Home focuses on Katy, a single mother whose home is no longer her safe place. Thankfully she fought off her attacker but now she needs to face her past and learn to trust others in order to save herself and her son.
I really liked the characters in this book, the investigation team trying to help Katy and solve the horrific murders were all interesting and the newcomer, Rocky, particularly so. I hope to read more about him in the future as I think that he’s a great character. DI Hamilton, as leader of the team he showed us why he is the leader, but that he also had his Achilles heel, something that makes him feel more human and interesting.
The author writes well, creating believable characters and an engaging storyline. I will for sure be reading In The Shadows and look forward to reading more from Tara Lyons. Definitely an author to look out for.
Thank you to Bloodhound books for a copy of No Safe Home by Tara Lyons.
Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is haunted when the suspicious death of a teenage girl triggers suppressed memories. With a stalker targeting vulnerable women in Central London, and his team rapidly diminishing, Hamilton must conquer his emotions before another family is destroyed.
In a sleepy town in Hertfordshire, Katy has worked hard to rebuild her life after leaving behind everything she knew. But when her past catches up with her, and her young son’s life is threatened, Katy must admit her true identity if she has any hope of surviving.
A home should be a safe place, shouldn’t it? But sometimes it is hard to know who you can trust…
London’s murder investigations team returns in the second novel from the bestselling author of In the Shadows.
This book is a belter and what a way to start 2017 on If only I could read faster! I have a strong suspicion that this book will be in my top reads of the year.
My 5* review:
I’d heard a fair bit of rumbling about Ragdoll before I read it, all of it positive but I had avoided reading too much about it as I do like to avoid the hype and building my expectations too high.
I loved how Ragdoll started. The author, Daniel Cole, told us how the book had come about. He told us about years of knockbacks and rejections and how he wrote many, many, short stories. But one story stayed with him and he decided to turn it into a book. And that book is Ragdoll.
Reading Ragdoll reminded me of books that I used to read, real proper police procedural, crime books. A bit like Patricia Cornwell in the early days when her books were gripping and wonderful to read. I loved so much about this book! The crime that kicks it off is suitably gruesome and unpleasant and as the police try to untangle the crime and who is behind it suspicion turns to one of their own, pulling the team apart and making them question everything.
The way that the story unfolds with a time pressure with lives at stake makes it a gripping read, who will survive? Will the police catch the killer in time? Who can they trust?
The writing was good and solid, the characters were really well developed and interesting, everyone gave something to the story. And they are characters that I’d very much like to read about again, and soon. It would appear that this book is the first in a new detective series which makes me very happy, I cannot wait to find out what happens to detective William Faulks next! If this is the author’s debut book then we are surely in for an outstanding series.
I’m trying hard not to give too much away, but if you like crime books then read this. I am sure that you won’t be disappointed. Seriously, this is without a doubt one of the best crime books that I have read and I am now waiting (im)patiently for part two.
I received a copy of Ragdoll from the publishers via Netgalley but was under no obligation to review it.
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?
Ragdoll is set to be released on February 23rd, 2017 by Trapeze and is available to pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
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.
‘The Doll’s House is M.J. Arlidge’s third book about Detective Helen Grace. The series started with a bang with Eeny Meeny, a brilliant book. Next came Pop Goes the Weasel which was very good but not quite as good as the first. Then came the Doll’s House, and Liar Liar and finally Little Boy Blue is due out soon.
I had read the first two but I’d heard that The Doll’s House was nowhere near as good so I’d never quite got round to reading it. But I recently got a copy of the soon to be released Little Boy Blue and knew that I really needed to read books three and four first. So The Dolls House was pushed to the top of my tbr pile.
If anyone else had written this book I’d probably of given it four stars, but having been blown away by Eeny Meeny I know that Arlidge can do better. This just felt slightly predictable, although it was very well written and left you guessing over who the baddie was. From what I hear The Doll’s House is a little blip for Arlidge, with books four and five heading back to form. But The Doll’s House is an important part of the puzzle, that needs to be read to keep the reader up with the police characters that feature in all the Helen Grace books. But this all sounds pretty negative and yet The Doll’s House is a perfectly decent book, just not as good as Arlidge is capable of.’