Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

My elder daughter introduced me to Linwood Barclays’ books when we were on vacation on the island of Mallorca. I have read, enjoyed and reviewed several of his novels since then. I even had the pleasure of meeting him once, he is a delightful man. When I saw Elevator Pitch, the title amused me, I was looking forward to reading it.

The Blurb

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its Friday night ribbon-cutting. 

The Review

I started this novel with great expectations because I have enjoyed every book of Linwood Barclay’s that I have read. Elevator Pitch certainly got off to a gripping start when a budding author follows a woman into a lift with a view to pitching his work to her before she get out of the elevator. Two other people get in, but the elevator doesn’t stop at any of the chosen floors. It crashes to the ground and all four are killed.

The Mayor of the city Richard Headley is being investigated by a journalist, Barbara Mathieson and is looking to his team for help to draw that to a close while police officers Bourque and Delgado are called to the scene of a murder and find the fingertips of the corpse have been removed.

The elevator crash seems to be a tragic accident until several similar emergencies occur around New York. This is an orchestrated attack, but it is not clear who is behind it nor who is the target as the victims have no links.

The story then weaves its way through Barbara’s investigation, the police officers’ case and Headley’s corruption. True to his roots, Barclay explains his characters backgrounds, and the reader gets to know them and understand why they act as they do.

Unfortunately, this author’s usual humour was lacking from Elevator Pitch and the number of strands to the story were interwoven quite late in the book and I did not warm to the characters. I was bitterly disappointed, because I had expected to enjoy the book, but regret that I did not.

The Author

Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for adults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.

Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. His two novels for children – Chase and Escape – star a computer-enhanced dog named Chipper who’s on the run from the evil organization that turned him into a super-pup.

Barclay’s 2011 thriller, The Accident, has been turned into the six-part television series L’Accident in France, and he adapted his novel Never Saw it Coming for the movie, directed by Gail Harvey and starring Eric Roberts and Emily Hampshire. Several of his other books either have been, or still are, in development for TV and film.

After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.

Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two grown children, Spencer and Paige.

Val Penny

The Time Detective – Discovery by Mark Carnelley

I had had this book on my radar for some time, the title was so intriguing, so I shuffled my ‘to be read’ pile and The Time Detective Discovery by Mark Carnelley came to the top. I am glad it did.

The Blurb

Marshall Bellows is a present day crime fighter and Allan Besley his alter ego in 1956 (after the discovery of a wormhole during the chase of a sick, perverted serial killer). Can Marshall/Allan survive this double life in two times, two seemingly different worlds and two loves or will one the worlds pull him in deeper, where he finds it harder and harder to leave? This first book, Discovery, begins the fight for Marshall in both worlds. A man with strong convictions with no qualms about “getting his hands dirty” if that is what’s required. Is he judge, jury and executioner? Strange and desperate times require certain measures and Marshall is the man for the job, in both times.

The Review

The Time DetectiveDiscovery has a gruesome and explosive start however, I’m glad I persevered. This is an gripping time shift story that deserves more recognition than it has had to date.

The story is set in England and main protagonist, Marshall Bellows is a most attractive character. The reader learns not only about him but also about the relationship he has for his dog and with his neighbours as well as his love story. He sets about leading the investigation into the crimes of a serial killer who has discovered a worm hole in time and space that he uses to his advantage,

Marshall stumbles across the worm hole too and devises a way that he can pursue the killer in the present day and 1956. It is a cleverly conceived plot that leads to a satisfying conclusion.

I really enjoyed The Time DetectiveDiscovery and am think that it is a fine crossover novel.

The Author

My name is Mark Carnelley. I am a 58yo 1st (soon to be 2nd) time author. I have been married for nearly 35 years and have 5 children (4 boys & 1 girl) and 1 granddaughter.
My 1st published book is “The Time Detective- Discovery”. The story of Marshall Bellows, a Police Officer here in the present who, during the chase for a sick, serial killer, discovers a wormhole that allows him to travel back into 1956, where he takes on the persona of Allan Besley. He is a crime fighter in two times, two different worlds. Book #2 is currently being written and will be titled “Between Two World” and is the continuing saga of Marshall/Allan and their fight across he times and the internal conflict he is facing regarding which time and world to live in.
My second book, “The Omega Chronicles” will be released on 31/1/18 and is the story of one mans struggle after he miraculously survives a situation that kills on life on earth.

Val Penny

Boy Soldier by Andy McNab and Robert Rigby

I recently set one of my tutor groups to read Boy Soldier by Andy McNab and Robert Rigby. To make sense of the challenge and allow me to set questions, I read the book too.

The Blurb

Danny Watts’s grandfather, Fergus, was a traitor. One of the worst sort. An SAS explosives expert who betrayed his country and his Regiment for money. Drug money. He was arrested and left to rot and die in a Colombian jail.

At least, that’s what seventeen-year-old Danny is told when his hopes of becoming a soldier are destroyed for ever.

But he knows something the army doesn’t seem to know. Fergus Watts is alive and in the UK, living in secret under an assumed name – but where? Fergus is Danny’s only living relative.

Burning with fury and desire for revenge, Danny sets out to track down his grandfather and expose him. In doing so he sets in train an explosive sequence of events which throw Danny and Fergus together on the run from the people who want Fergus, and now Danny, dead.

The Review

I usually try to avoid books with more that one attributed author. However, as I had set Boy Soldier for a tutor group, I could not avoid this one, and I’m glad I didn’t. The book is a gripping, action-packed SAS thriller. It is ideal for adventure-seeking readers.

Boy Soldier commences in Colombia in 1997 where a former SAS soldier, Fergus Watts, is shown to be training members of the illegal guerrilla force FARC but quickly moves to England in 2006 where a promising recruit, Danny Watts, fails to be accepted for the army that he dearly wants to join.

The reader learns more about the youngster, Danny, and his friend Elena when he returns home to the hostel where he lives since being orphaned in a tragic accident. The connection between the two men and Danny’s search for Fergus develops into an exciting adventure that requires Danny to learn fast and stay safe.

Boy Soldier is packed with breathtaking action, SAS procedures and surveillance and survival techniques, this is a fast-moving, action-packed thriller for teenagers. I highly recommend this book.

The Authors

Andy McNab

Andy McNab joined the infantry in 1976 as a boy soldier. In 1984 he was badged as a member of 22 SAS Regiment. He served in B Squadron 22 SAS for ten years and worked on both covert and overt special operations worldwide, including anti-terrorist and anti-drug operations in the Middle and Far East, South and Central America and Northern Ireland.

Trained as a specialist in counter terrorism, prime target elimination, demolitions, weapons and tactics, covert surveillance and information gathering in hostile environments, and VIP protection, McNab worked on cooperative operations with police forces, prison services, anti-drug forces and western backed guerrilla movements as well as on conventional special operations. In Northern Ireland he spent two years working as an undercover operator with 14th Intelligence Group, going on to become an instructor.

McNab also worked as an instructor on the SAS selection and training team and instructed foreign special forces in counter terrorism, hostage rescue and survival training.

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby began his career as a journalist, then spent several years in the music business as a songwriter and session musician. He turned to writing for radio, television, and the theatre, and has also directed and performed in children’s theatre throughout the country. He has become an established young people’s playwright, and his award-winning work with youth theatre companies has been seen in Britain, Europe, the USA, and Africa. He wrote the novelizations of the movies Goal! and Goal II, and his scripts for television include the long-running BBC children’s drama series, Byker Grove.

Val Penny

Memories and Stages of Love (vol. 1) by Racquel Singleton-Quiney

I recently received a copy of of Memories and Stages of Love (vol.1) written by Racquel Singleton-Quiney. It is a beautifully produced book full of poems, quotes and reflections of love, life and relationships.

Truly, I had no idea what to expect from this book, but I was entranced by the wisdom and truth of the words, stories and quotes. let me give you an example: From Stages of Love: Your Eyes

I look into your eyes and watch as the hazel oceans sweeps me through the many storms in my mind,

We dream together a future of unity and understanding, our passion flow as… I look into your eyes.

The second Chapter of the book deals with Quotes on Love, Life and Relationships and the depth of feeling reflected in the words on the page is truly inspiring. I found the poem, Life a beautiful prayer that I have enjoyed sharing with friends. It reminds me ‘Life is a blessing.’ Indeed, it is.

In the third part of Memories and Stages of Love (vol.1) the author, gives her reader the benefit of her thoughts on topics that she has spent time considering around the human condition and emotions.

This is a generous book full of wisdom and love. I highly recommend it.

The Author

Racquel Singleton-Quiney has been writing poetry since high school and has had much of her work published in anthologies. This is the first collection of her work. Racquel is a Certified Professional Life Coach and received her certification from Fowler Wainwright International. She hopes to help her readers and clients change and improve their lives with her poetry and words.

She lives in Michigan with her husband.

Val Penny

Paparazzi by Jo Fenton

I think this is the fourth novel by Jo Fenton that I have read and I have enjoyed each one, but in Paparazzi, this author really comes into her own. It is an exceptional novel that tells a complex story dealing with murder, fame, stalking and PTSD.

The Blurb

It’s thirty years since Becky White joined the police. Now, six months after leaving the force, she is suffering from PTSD, when an old friend turns up with a tempting offer. 

Following the creation of The White Knight Detective Agency, their first client is a press photographer – a member of the Paparazzi – a young woman with a mysterious and troublesome stalker.

But as the case develops, Becky and Joanna find themselves embroiled in murder. When they are unable to prevent further deaths, their investigation takes them down an unexpected path.

But can they trust their instinct? And will they identify the killer in time to save a child’s life?

Paparazzi, the second instalment in the bestselling Becky White Thriller series. takes you on a journey into the deceptive world of superstars – and those who follow them! 

The Review

I had read the first in the author’s Becky White series but, although this was the second book, and I enjoyed the first, Paparazzi works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel. The story is set in and around Manchester, England.

It follows the protagonist Becky White, who has recently left the police force, as she sets up a detective agency with an old university friend, Joanna, they name the business The White Knight Agency. Their first client is a female photographer who is terrified of an unknown stalker. Not only does she have demons to overcome, but so do Becky and Joanna.

The story follows the establishment of the agency and the enthusiasm of its founders to solve their client’s problem. However, before they can do that, they are caught up in the murder of family members of a local rock star and it is clear that Joanna’s past is linked to that of Becky’s husband. Unresolved issues must be dealt with to secure the future of Becky’s own family and Becky must find a way to come to terms with her fears.

This is a beautifully crafted novel that held my interest throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sure that the issues raised in the book would make for most interesting discussions in a book group. I heartily recommend Paparazzi and look forward to the next book in the series.

The Author

Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire, UK. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.

Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.

When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.

Hunter’s Chase in Audiobook

I am extremely excited because the first novel in my series, The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries is now available as an audiobook. It is read by an Edinburgh man, Sean Pia. He went to Leith Academy, a state school in Edinburgh, which boasts around 900 pupils and is the school that my main character, Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson attended.

Sean is a teacher from Edinburgh who now lives and works in the Southside of Glasgow. In his spare time he likes to read fantasy novels. Hunter’s Chase is his first completed audiobook but he is now working on Hunter’s Revenge, the second book in the series which will be added to his repertoire in the near future.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

The books in The Edinburgh Crime Mystery series are also free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Val Penny

Style and the Solitary by Miriam Drori

This is the first murder mystery by Miriam Drori that I have read. It is an interesting departure from he previous books and, as this is my preferred genre, I was excited to read it.

The Blurb

An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.

A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure. The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.

Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?

His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?

The Review

Style and the Solitary is a gripping tale of murder, belief and self-belief, or rather a lack of self belief. The story is set in the magical city of Jerusalem and tells of Asaf, one member of an office work-force, who has decided to live his life differently. He certainly does that, when he arrives to work early, as usual and finds a corpse with a knife sticking into it. Needless to say, his already fragile mental state is horribly affected by this. All his social anxiety comes to the fore and the only person who believes in him is Nathalie, a new colleague who is also new to Israel.

The way Asaf’s mental health issues are drawn and discussed by this author make the novel unique and absolutely fascinating. I was enthralled by the murder mystery, but even more so by the development of the main character.

The heroine, Nathalie, and her housemates form and amusing and vibrant trio determined to prove Asaf’s innocence and discover the true perpetrator. While they search for the murderer the reader is treated to a tour of Jerusalem.

All in all, with a gripping plot, interesting characters and a beautiful setting, Style and the Solitary is an excellent new novel by Miriam Drori which would make for great discussions in a book group and I highly recommend it.

The Author

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives with her husband and one of three grown up children in Jerusalem.

With a degree in Maths and following careers in computer programming and technical writing, Miriam has been writing novels and short stories since 2004. After some success with short stories, Miriam turned her hand to longer fictional works, publishing NEITHER HERE NOR THERE and THE WOMEN FRIENDS: SELINA, co-written with Emma Rose Millar.

Social anxiety features in Miriam’s latest publications. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED is a non-fiction guide that explores this common but little-known disorder from multiple points of view. The book has been highly recommended by ‘sufferers’ as well as professionals in this field. CULTIVATING A FUJI is the story of a fictional character who battles against social anxiety before learning to make friends with it. STYLE AND THE SOLITARY, a crime novel, asks an important question: what happens when a suspect can’t stick up for himself?

When not writing, Miriam enjoys reading, hiking, dancing and travelling.

Find Miriam Drori here:

Website/blog: miriamdrori.com
Facebook: miriamdroriauthor
Twitter: @MiriamDrori
Goodreads: miriam_drori
Instagram: @miriam.drori
Wattpad: miriamdrori

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

I was recently on a panel during a crime festival with Jackie Baldwin. She is a bestselling Scottish crime writer and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to discuss Dead Man’s Prayer with her. I have always found her main character, Frank Farrell a most interesting one and it was interesting to learn more about him from the author herself.

The Blurb

A dark and gripping crime debut, the first in an exciting new series. Eighteen years ago, DI Frank Farrell turned his back on the church. But when an ex-priest is murdered in his hometown, he has no choice but to delve into his past. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, James Oswald and Val McDermid.

The Review

The author creates a most interesting main character in Frank Farrell: he was formerly a priest but, having left the priesthood has become a police detective. This in itself marks Baldwin’s series out from other police procedurals in the field.

Dead Man’s Prayer takes the reader through the investigation of a priest’s murder and combines this with the kidnapping of twin boys. Considering the chequered past of the main character the author sets herself a challenge and a gripping story for her readers.

Personally, I especially like Farrell as a main character. He stands out as unique amongst the many detectives that are written about in crime fiction. Farrell’s priesthood background and faith adds another dimension to this novel. I also enjoyed Mhaire and thought she made the perfect foil for Farrell.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan to read the rest of the series. I highly recommend Dead Man’s Prayer.

The Author

Jackie Baldwin was born in Dumfries. She studied law at Edinburgh University returning to Dumfries to practice criminal and family law for the next twenty years. During that time she married and had two children and a variety of pets. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Her DI Frank Farrell series is set in Dumfries and Galloway in SW Scotland. She has recently moved closer to Edinburgh.

Val Penny

The Chair by G.B. Williams

I recently appeared on a literary panel at a crime festival with Gail Williams and, although I had not previously read any of her books, I thought it important to know about her book that we would be discussing and I am really pleased I did. The Chair is a gripping stand alone novel.

The Blurb

On a snowbound Cader Idris, death comes stalking.

Cobb retreated to Cader Idris for a solitary life of peace and quiet, and to escape his dangerous past. Though that illusion starts to crumble after he and Branwen Jones, the local vet, find a mysterious RTA victim and shelter him in Cobb’s home.

When elements of London’s criminal underbelly reach Wales, and their presence throws the close-knit community into stark relief, the chance to settle old scores could prove too tempting.

With no choice but to try and hide the RTA victim from people who want to kill him, Cobb’s not sure he’s ready to rejoin the world he’s running from, when that means putting another woman in the firing line. Meanwhile, Branwen’s not sure she can face the revelation of her darkest secret.

But as they face the final showdown, a race over the snowed-in mountain, will anyone survive unscathed?

The Review

This tense and gripping thriller is set in North Wales. I had just finished reading Torn by Karen Moore set in Wales and Sicily and prior to this, I do not think I had ever read a book set in Wales. I am delighted that I have rectified this. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and it grabbed my interest right from the beginning. Both the plot and characters are credible and the story is exciting.

I became invested in the main characters early in the story because they were so well drawn and had interesting back stories. The backdrop of the Welsh mountain, Cader Idris, and the harshness of the way of life in the little village where the story was set added interest for me. There was an increasing feeling of jeopardy that developed as the story progressed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more novels by G.B. Williams.

The Author

I like to walk on the darker side, thankfully there are people and publishers willing to walk there with me.

Once upon a time I was going to walk around Europe. Then I met a guy. I kept the guy, kissed the travel goodbye.

Now I live and work and write in old South Wales, and frequently get mistaken for Clair from New Zealand – no idea why the Clair, but I grew up in Kent, and New Zealand is sort of halfway between Kent and South Wales – if you go the long way around.

Val Penny

Torn by Karen Moore

I had never read any works by Karen Moore, but I had heard a lot about her novel, Torn, and was keen to read it.

The Blurb

Like any mother, Hanna would do anything to protect her small daughter, Eva.

When she discovers that her husband, Luciano, is not all he seems and their blissful life on the island of Sicily is threatened, she wastes no time in seeking refuge abroad. But just as they are settling into their new life in North Wales, Eva disappears. 

In a race against time, Hanna is forced to return to Sicily and face the dark world of organised crime in a bid to secure her daughter’s safe return. She must also confront the truth about Luciano’s business dealings and their horrific consequences.

But will Hanna succeed in getting Eva back and bring Luciano to justice?

Or are the stakes just too high?

The Review

Torn is Karen Moore’s debut novel, but it does not read like a debut novel. It is an assured, gripping tale of a young woman who progresses from a carefree job as a tour guide in Sicily to protecting her young child in a Welsh village.

The story builds gradually as the reader is introduced to Hanna, her daughter Eva, best friend Ceri and Ceri’s brother Rhys. The action jumps between Wales and Sicily as the author weaves the tale of Hanna and how she finds herself hiding in the Welsh village seeking safety for herself and Eva.

Hanna’s husband, Eva’s father, is an exciting, handsome man that Hanna falls completely in love with. It is only after Eva’s birth that she begins to discover more about her husband and his family than she knew when they married.

I usually do not enjoy books that jump either in time or place, and this story does both. However, the changes in place and time were so clearly marked in this book that they posed no problem for me.

The story is carefully constructed and layered so cleverly that the tension mounts and the reader is drawn into the problems Hanna encounters. As a result of the character building in this book the reader lives every emotion and struggle that Hanna encounters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would be an excellent read for a book group as discussions would be wide ranging and varied.

The Author

Karen Moore is passionate about all things noir – crime, mystery, thrillers – and writes in that genre.

She has been writing all her life, mostly for work purposes, and is now delighted to be able to spend more time developing her own creative work.

Her debut novel, Torn, is a dark tale of intrigue and betrayal set in Sicily and North Wales. She is currently working on the sequel.

Karen worked as a tour guide across Europe, North America and Canada, followed by a career in PR and marketing. She has lived in France and Italy and is now based in Cheshire, England.


Val Penny