I always enjoy coming across new authors, particularly those who write crime thrillers, my favourite genre. The books of MJ Arlidge were recommended to me by my fellow members of a book group on Facebook. Matthew Arlidge is an English author of crime novels starring DI Helen Grace. He has also worked in television for the last fifteen years specializing in high-end drama production and I could certainly visualise the action as I read the first in his D I Grace series, Eeny Meeny.
Repeatedly, two people are abducted at the same time, then imprisoned together, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.
Eeny Meeny introduces DI Helen Grace and the first case she is presented with is a cruel, strange, game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case, with its seemingly random victims, has her baffled.
As more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense. This was one dark book. A couple who are hitchhiking are kidnapped and left for death – unless one of them kills the other. One is found and an investigation begins by DI Helen Grace, a hard-working woman who has her own issues.
The cover and title for Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge made this an easy reading choice for me. It gave me a feeling of danger and kept me reading to the end. It is this author’s debut novel, and it’s a good one. I highly recommend Eeny Meeny and certainly intend to read more by this author.
I am delighted to be with my friend Nina Romano on her blog today. We share a love of reading and writing: this is a powerful link.
I believe that to be a good writer you must first develop a love of reading and stories and telling stories. I remember when my younger sister and I were little girls our Mum used to make time to sit and read us stories on a Sunday afternoon. These were not like bed-time stories, on a Sunday we would get to sit in the ‘good’ living room and she would read us books including ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ by H. Rider Haggard,’Swallows Amazons by Arthur Ransome and ‘Emma’ by Jane Austin.
We loved listening to the stories but after we were in bed, having heard another story, my sister often could not get to sleep right away, so I would make up my own stories to tell her until she fell asleep. The first book I ever wrote was one of these stories, an adventure entitled ‘The Douglas Family’. I was about 9. I always planned to write a sequel, maybe one day I will.
It is often said that when we are teenagers we rebel and when we grow older we become ourselves again. It was certainly true of me! I have always read voraciously but my writing, for many years was confined to studies, work and journals. However, when I was older, I discovered blogging. It was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My way of coping during my treatment was to revert to type. I read all I could about the disease and began to blog about my journey at www.survivingbreastcancernow.com However, I have also always enjoyed good food and loved to travel. It is said I would go to the opening of a paper bag! So I decided to start another blog to encompass these interests. Whenever I go anywhere, or go out to eat, I will share the experience here at wwwhotelandrestaurantreviews.com – to date it has not resulted in free meals, but I live in hope!
It was also during the time that I was recovering from cancer that I began my book review site. For almost a year I was too ill, first from the disease and then from the cure, to do very much. However, I could read: and I did, even more than I ever had. It seemed sensible to extend my blogging to include reviews of the books I was reading, so my third blog, www.bookreviewstoday.info was born. I began to get asked by writers to review their books and I am always happy to do that. I do not make a charge, but I receive many excellent novels and biographies in return for my honest reviews.
I always enjoy reading books by writers that are new to me, as well as those with whose work I am familiar. I just like to read. I have always found that reading can take you to a all kinds of places to meet different people. Perhaps it is my love of travel, this time through the medium of the written word. This was a great way for me to escape, especially from myself, when I was ill.
I particularly enjoy sharing my views on books I have read, I read a lot of book reviews too. When I am reading a book review, I am looking for an honest opinion about the book. I also like to learn a bit about the author, their background and how they came to write the novel. It is also important that any review, like any other piece of writing holds my interest but please, please don’t spoil my enjoyment of the story by telling me what happens! That really upsets me.
My own debut crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ is to be published by Crooked Cats Books in February next year, so I will have to get used to being on the other side of reviews. My goodness, hat is a daunting thought.
In ‘Hunter’s Chase’ my story is set in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Setting is very important to me in my writing, even when I wrote ‘The Douglas Family’ for my sister all those years ago, I could visualise the house the family lived in, each room and the garden in which they had so many of their adventures.
I did consider creating an imaginary town for my protagonist, DI Hunter Wilson. However, I know the city of Edinburgh well as I lived there for many years and it has everything a writer could need. It is a diverse city with all different kinds of buildings and people. It is small enough that characters can move around it quickly and large enough for it to be credible that anything I want to happen there, could happen.
Edinburgh is also a beautiful city with a castle, a palace and a cathedral, wealthy homes, horrible slums, fine restaurants, fast food outlets and idiosyncratic pubs. It is home to an Olympic size pool, the National Rugby Team and two famous football teams. It also hosts the Edinburgh International Festivals every August. What more could I or my characters want?
Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland will be published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. She is now writing the sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’.
Several books by Robert Harris have been recommended to me, and The Fear Index is reviewed on this site: https://bookreviewstoday.info/2017/07/20/the-fear-index-by-robert-harris/ . However, I the first read Pompeii when it was book of the month in our local book group. Robert Harris is a British author and previous journalist and BBC television reporter. Pompeii was originally published by Random House in 2003. The ability to disguise the outcome is held to be a vital part of the thriller writer’s art. Robert Harris, though, has built a major career in the form through open defiance of this rule. Indeed, Harris is successful in making us flinch and fear for characters who are going to a doom which we know before them.
Pompeii, although it is an ancient story, is one which still holds fascination for us. Robert Harris is an author who can comfortably shoulder the mantle of the old fashioned storyteller. Pompeii is the story of Marcus Attilius Primus, the aquarius, or chief water engineer, who is sent to the Bay of Naples to manage the water supply to all of the towns in the area.
The main artery of the supply is the aqueduct, Aqua Augusta, which Attilius’s grandfather may have built under the supervision of the great Agrippa. Water engineering has been the career path of Atillius’s family back through at least four generations. However, Attilius is up against it. His predecessor disappeared mysteriously, and neither his team of engineers and slaves nor the masters who govern Naples and the surrounding area, are inclined to trust him as the new aquarius.
From the first chapter the reader is gripped by the horrendous execution of a slave who has been held responsible for the death of one of the local lord’s prize fish. The lord’s daughter, accompanied by the unfortunate slave’s mother, urgently seek the help of Attilius. He quickly discovers that it is something in the water that has killed the precious fish. Unfortunately, it is too late to save the wretched slave.
Events unfold and develop during the two days leading up to the famous eruption which buried Pompeii. There are many dangers to overcome, and, the reader wonders who will survive and who will not: it does not become clear until the final pages.
I do not often go back to a book, but I reread this marvellous book when my husband and I recently visited the ruins of the city Pompeii. That is a sign of how well Robert Harris engages the reader with the characters in this book.
If you enjoy historical fiction, or thrillers, I highly recommend this book.
My local library was selling some discontinued books in aid of Macmillan Cancer Nurses and the novels by author Chris Carter had been recommended to me. So, when I noticed that one of the books for sale was An Evil Mind by Chris Carter, I decided to buy it to take on holiday. Carter is a criminal psychologist and this novel was based on subjects he encountered in his professional capacity. It is a chilling thought and makes for a disconcerting read.
The main protagonist, Robert Hunter, is a detective with LAPD who becomes enlisted to work with the FBI when his friend, Lucien Folter, from his days at Stanford, attracts the attention of law enforcement after a random traffic accident finds two severed heads in the trunk of his hired car. From the very start, the reader is absolutely shaken and stirred by the events that follow. For my money, Carter has written one of the finest opening chapters that I have read in terms of shock value. The transition from languid breakfast time in an all American diner to the impact (literally) of a freak occurrence that heralds a shocking opening to the book, is beautifully played out.
Lucien, says that he will only speak with his former friend and detective, Robert Hunter, and so the game is afoot. What follows is a titanic mental battle between the evil, clever and highly manipulative Folter, and Hunter, a man incredibly pre-disposed to navigate and decipher the actions and motivations of some of the most disturbed individuals with his innate intuition in relation to the darkest human psyches. As quickly as Hunter appears to break down the twisted actions of Folter, in a series of claustrophobic encounters with fascinating and entertaining verbal sparring, Folter begins to resemble an evil onion, with layers of perversity and wickedness that are revealed piece by piece. Folter has prepared a whole series of unique and nasty surprises for both Hunter and the FBI team, that Carter unleashes with a superb sense of pace and timing, so much so that as each chapter ends only the strongest reader will resist the temptation to stay firmly rooted to the spot to continue reading.
As the book rattles towards an incredibly tense, violent and exciting ending, the torment that Folter projects on Hunter and the team is nerve shredding and simply brilliant. I liked this book very much, providing as it does, not only a tense and disturbing thriller, but in its perfect placing of brutal shocks reveals itself as a violent flight of fancy, that entertains throughout. I highly recommend An Evil Mind and, although this was the first novel by Chris Carter that I have read, but it certainly will not be my last.
The author was born in Brasilia, Brazil where he spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, he moved to the USA and studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. He worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where he swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well known glam rock bands, he decided to try my luck in London, where he played for a number of famous artists. He then toured the world several times as a professional musician but a few years ago he gave it all up to become a full time writer. I, for one, am glad he did.