Ian Patrick: Rubicon and Stoned Love Sunday, Jul 14 2019 

Please welcome guest Ian Patrick, to discuss writing a series. Ian’s the author of the DS Sam Batford thrillers, with the third, Fools Gold due later in 2019. Rubicon and Stoned Love are books 1 and 2 in this series hailed for its authenticity:

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Ian Patrick and I’m a crime fiction author in Scotland. Whenever I’m talking about writing I always present the caveat that it’s just my experience. Use what you can and discard what’s unimportant. If we all follow the same path and write the same way then the world of story telling would be poorer for it.

I’ve been asked to talk about what it’s like to write a series now that I have two books out and another in August. I never set out to write a series but the initial response to my debut, Rubicon, led to it happening. It’s one thing capturing the attention of a publisher but it’s readers that keep an author and publisher in employment.

One thing to consider from the outset is the age of your protagonist. Will he or she be able to age with your books or does it matter? Lee Child and Ian Rankin have successful leads after many years with the same lead so it really is up to you. With a detective lead be mindful that at some point they will be too old to be in the force. Rankin has survived this with Rebus but it’s worth bearing in mind all the same.

Make sure you enjoy the protagonist and that you want to stay with them book after book. If you tire of them then so will the reader. Keeping ideas and storylines fresh is also a challenge. I carry a notebook and record observations and conversations. Despite twenty-seven years policing experience, times change so you have to keep up to date.
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I was based in London and my experience of procedures will be different to my colleagues elsewhere in the UK. There are police consultants out there who will help writers. Some charge for a service and others don’t. Twitter is a great place to find ex-cops and consultants. Twitter is a great platform for engaging with readers and was where I connected with Marni.

Above all, enjoy what you’re doing. It’s not an easy industry to be a part of and it will have its good and not so good days. Treat your work with respect and before you send it out on submission get it professionally edited. A good editor will work with you not against you. They will maintain your voice while improving your story. I recommend Emma at

https://edmcreatingperfection.com

Watch out for Rubicon hitting your TV screens as it’s in development with the BBC for a six part series. Links to my books and more about me can be found at https://www.ianpatrick.co.uk

Fahrenheitpress.com also offer a free ebook of the same title with every paperback bought direct from them.

http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_rubicon.html

Many thanks to Marni for being a great host.

I was educated in Nottingham, leaving school at sixteen. I spent three years in the Civil Service paying out giro cheques. I enjoyed public service but wanted something more. My career choice happened while standing on a picket line and seeing the way the police operated. Calmly and professionally doing their job of maintaining order while letting us peacefully protest against government cuts. I was sold and applied to join the Metropolitan Police. I spent twenty-seven years as a police officer, the majority as a detective within the Specialist Operations Command. I retired as a Detective Sergeant. I’ve investigated many offences from theft to murder and completed my final seven years within SO10 – Covert Policing.
Ill health forced my retirement. Muscular Dystrophy was the culprit and a very rare form at that. I’m still young and needed an outlet that would lead to an income.
A career in policing is a career in writing. I’ve been used to carrying a book and pen and making notes. I found the need to explore a different type of public service and found that writing fiction was something I could do.
Rubicon is my debut novel published by Fahrenheit Press. Stoned Love the second in the series with another, Fools Gold, out later in 2019. The BBC has optioned Rubicon for a six part TV series currently being written.
I now live in rural Scotland where I divide my time between family, writing, reading, and photography.

Ashley Dyer: The Cutting Room Wednesday, Jun 19 2019 

Ashley Dyer’s debut last year was the wonderful Splinter in the Blood, which had one of the most intriguing openings Auntie M had read in a long time. The writing duo of Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper return with a second one featuring the detective team of Ruth Lake and Greg Carver in The Cutting Room, every bit as good as the first.

A psychopath has hit on a new way to attract gawkers to his crime scenes: digital invites to the gruesome tableaus he’s set up that he considers art installations.

The plot shows the public’s fascination with reality television and true-crime, as the narcissist behind these disturbing murders uses social media to advertise himself and court popularity.

Soon he’s earned the nickname The Ferryman, and both Lake and Carver are determined to bring his spree to an end. Carver is still recovering from the effects of the head wound that nearly killed him in the first book, with unusual side effects that play into the plot. Lake is hiding her own secrets from her friend and co-worker.

Readers who enjoy shows such as Criminal Minds will enjoy the look into this engrossing procedural, filled with suspense and not for the squeamish, but yet totally believeable as the detectives realize to find this demented killer, they must get inside his mind to anticipate his actions.

Highly recommended.

Roz Watkins: The Devil’s Dice & Dead Man’s Daughter Wednesday, May 22 2019 

It’s Roz Watkins Day, and if you’re not familiar with that name, keep an eye out for this strong new series that mixes a police procedural with the best of psychological suspense.

Roz Watkins burst onto the crime fiction scene introducing DI Meg Dalton, in the atmospheric The Devil’s Dice. The Peak District setting evokes Stephen Booth’s Fry and Cooper series, but with its own spin readers will enjoy.

A strong protagonist is required to carry a series, and Meg Dalton does the job here, despite having her own baggage to carry, when a local patent lawyer, Peter Hamilton, is found dead inside a cave known as a suicide point, part of a network of caves known as The Labyrinth for their complexity.

A local legend of The Labyrinth revolves around ancient witch sagas, with the the lore that a large chamber holds a noose. If your initials are found carved into the cave wall, the noose is there for you. Spooky and creepy but the stuff that makes legends like this endure.

So it’s even creepier when a carving of the grim reaper is found by Hamilton’s body, along with an inscription that says ‘Coming for PHH.’ DI Meg Dalton isn’t a stranger to suicide, but she’s hoped to leave her past in the past.

When Meg interviews Hamilton’s his wife and sister,the wife fears the local rumours about a curse attached to her home have come true. Hamilton’s business partners are soon added to Meg’s suspect list with good reason.

The plot is nicely contorted, with the setting taking on its own part to play. Meg’s family have a unique contribution to the story, and her colleagues are a mixed bunch of different characters who leap off the page in their individualism, including a lapsed Sikh and a misogynistic DC who enjoys putting Meg down.

This is a strong start to the series and since we’re having a bit of a Roz Watkins day, we’ll go on this sequel, Dead Man’s Daughter.

Starting off with a strong opening, Meg finds a ten-year old girl running barefoot through woods in a blood-stained nightdress toward a spot called Dead Girl’s Drop by the locals.

When she rescues Abbie Thornton and inspects her home, the girl’s father has been stabbed to death in his bed. There’s a history of death in the family before, and medical transplant issues that have bearing on this family, but right now Meg is convinced she can’t take on this big case, with a family committment due next week that runs like a thread throughout the book and may have consequences for Meg’s professional life.

But reluctantly, and with great misgivings, when Abbie is considered to have killed her father, Meg does become involved as she digs deeply into the history and the suspects surrounding this case to clear Abbie’s name.

This leads to dark and often surprising places for Meg as she pushes the investigation forward where others on her team would settle for the easy path out. Using vivid descriptions adds to the feeling readers are there with Meg on her investigation, and Watkins knows how to ratchet up the tension with a complex plot that twists at just the right moment.

The difficult themes of organ donation and of assisted suicide are explored with sensitivity by Watkins. Meg must deal with office politics, too, and her own quirks as she tries to heal her past. These issues add a layer and thoughtfulness to the series, and tied with the exhaustive research Watkins must have done, pays off beautifully.

In Meg Dalton, Watkins has a created a spontaneous detective who relies on her hunches at times but never loses her heart. Highly recommended series.

Bernard Minier: Night Thursday, Feb 7 2019 

The fourth Commander Servaz thriller, Night, brings the Toulouse detective under the scrutiny of all of those around him after a death-defying opening, with its resultant effects.

In a church in Norway, a woman’s body is found on the altar. A female detective, Kirsten Nigaard, is investigating that case due to her own name being discovered. Then she becomes coupled with Martin Servaz, when photos of the French detective are found on the offshore oil rig where the dead woman worked.

Both feel this is the work of serial killer Julian Hirtman, Servaz’s nemesis, the most dangerous man Servaz has encountered. Indeed, the Daily Mail has called Hirtman “…a villain possessing the intelligence of Thomas harris’ immortal Hannibal Lecter…”

It’s a chase throughout Europe, from France to Austria, in search of Hirtman and young boy in his custody who desperately needs to be saved. Along the way, they will encounter acolytes of Hirtman, and foes in the form of parents of his victims, until the ultimate surprise is coupled with a huge betrayal.

This has a complicated and complex plot, with fast action and yet Minier never stints of the emotions behind several of the main characters. It’s easy to see why this was a number one bestseller in France, where Servaz’s first case, which introduced Hirtman, was made into a six-part series now available on Netflix.

Robert Scragg: What Falls Between the Cracks Wednesday, Nov 28 2018 

Robert Scragg has a cracking good debut of a new series with What Falls Between the Cracks.

Introducing the London detective duo Jake Porter and Nick Styles, their latest case is a mix of old and new, when a severed hand is found in a freezer.

It’s strange enough to find a hand, in this case one missing a finger. Yet once DNA matches the hand to the apartment’s owner, Nina Barclay, its even stranger that her family agrees Nina hasn’t been since since 1983.

Why no one has been looking for Nina is just one of the many questions Porter and Styles must answer as they investigate Nina’s extended family and acquaintances, and find far too many unsavory characters.

As their search extends itself, everywhere they turn the team come up against walls thwarting their progress, from interior police structure politics and a drug squad case that has been slowly gathering evidence against one of their main suspects.

One of the highlights is the nice banter between the two detectives, balanced by Porter’s struggle to restart his life after a tragic personal loss.

This is the kind of police procedural Auntie M eats up. An accomplished debut, one that will have readers seeking the second Porter and Styles outing. Highly recommended.

Bruce Robert Coffin: Beyond the Truth Friday, Oct 26 2018 

Coffin’s third Detective Bryon crime mystery, Beyond the Truth, just may be his best yet.

The former Portland, Maine detective brings his knowledge of the town and his feel for the politics of crime management to the forefront in this newest addition to his series.

Both of the previous mysteries in the series, Among the Shadows, and Beneath the Depths, have a feel realistic feel because of Coffin’s background, and that truthfulness rings through here as well. The lousy food, long hours, mixed emotions and job culture are all exhibited.

Beyond the Truth has multiple layers that elevate it from the usual crime drama. There are issues haunting Byron that must be addressed and the status of his personal relationship, but at the center of it all is an officer-involved shooting, when a colleague and good cop shoots a teen fleeing from an armed robbery.

It doesn’t help that the gun the teen pointed at the officer isn’t found at the crime scene, and with echoes of so many recent officer-involved shootings, protests and riots soon break out.

Then there are the politics that revolved around that kind of crime, from the Mayor’s office to the police hierarchy. At the heart of it all is a dead boy and a good officer who feels he’s become undone by the circumstances and must face the fact he killed a young man.

This is topical on so many levels, yet has a very personal feel about it. Portland and its environs come alive under Coffin’s pen as he captures the many faces of that town. The investigation feels real, with families and friends of the dead youth investigated, his school and mates, and above all, the seedy underbelly of the town.

A tense and exciting read with a swiftly-paced storyline. Engrossing.

James Hayman: A Fatal Obsession Saturday, Oct 6 2018 

James Hayman’s McCabe and Savage thrillers bring the Maine detectives to a very personal New York City case in A Fatal Obsession.

When his brother Bobby calls to say their mother is in the hospital, dying after a bad fall at her care facility, he knows it’s time he headed down to make his farewells. Bobby can’t reach his daughter, Zoe, a talented young actress, but as it was the closing night of her playing Desdemona in Othello, he figures she’s out late at a cast party.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, for Zoe has been kidnapped and beaten up, and spirited away from the city, where she’s hidden by her captor.

Maggie Savage accompanies McCabe to meet the family she’ll be entering, as the couple as just become engaged the night before. But thoughts of happy times are pushed aside when it becomes obvious Zoe’s apartment is the scene of a struggle–and then a woman’s body is found.

This comes in a wave of abduction murders of young starlets, actresses and even a ballerina. With the stakes so high, McCabe and Savage ask to be seconded to the team searching for Zoe.

It’s a twisted and high-speed investigation as the clock ticks down the time Zoe can survive. Old wounds must be bandaged over for McCabe to join in but finally he and Maggie are legitimate members of the team.

With its look inside the teamwork needed to pull off a major investigation, Maggie’s interviewing skills will come to the forefront when a suspect is finally found, with unexpected results.

A compulsively readable and fast-paced thriller to this series.

Roger Johns: River of Secrets Tuesday, Aug 28 2018 


Roger Johns’ returns with a sequel to last year’s stunning debut, Dark River Rising, which introduced intriguing Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman. River of Secrets is a compelling read that will have readers placing Johns on their favorites list and waiting anxiously for the next installment.

The case Wallace is handed hits close to home when the half brother of her best friend from childhood is the main suspect in a murder investigation.

Controversial state senator Herbert Marioneaux has been murdered in a disturbing way, and his past and present behavior leads to a long list of suspects. But Eddie Pitkin heads that list when his DNA is found on Marioneaux’s body.

As Wallace investigates, she learns the chameleon-like senator changed his views as often as some people change their clothes, leading to factions on many sides of hot-button issues who had reason to distrust the man. Is Eddie being set up?

Protests from many factions clog Wallace’s investigation, and she receives political pushback from higher ups, while dealing with a snarky new partner. Then it becomes obvious there’s a leak, and suddenly she doesn’t know whom she can trust. A touch of romance hits just the right note as Wallace tries to cram a personal life into a detective’s hours.

This is a well-plotted and crafted procedural readers will gobble up with its quick pacing and engaging characters. Johns balances literate prose with a strong sense of his setting and natural dialogue. A series to follow. Highly recommended.

Emily Winslow: Look for Her Tuesday, Feb 13 2018 

Names are important in Emily Winslow’s newest, Look for Her. The author’s Cambridge mysteries are so much more than standard police procedurals, plumbing the depths of a complex psychological thriller.

With each chapter in first person point of view, suspects and detectives alike spring off the page as we enter their thoughts and see how they act and react. Detective Chloe Frohmann in particular has a wry humor that freshens up her scenes and keep readers hooked in seeing how she and her old boss, Morris, now on Cold Case reviews, will handle things when he asks her to for help on his first case, even though she’s technically still on maternity leave and trying to decide what to name her newborn daughter.

The small town of Lilling had never gotten over the disappearance and presumed death of a young teen in 1976, and when a decomposed body wearing her clothes is found in 1992, wearing the missing girl’s clothing, as least her end result is known. Or is it? New DNA evidence complicates more than it solves.

What’s still unknown is who took Annalise Wood and killed her. It’s a name that becomes important as the celebrity of the missing girl lingers. For one young woman, Annalise becomes the object of her jealous obsession, leading to catastrophic events as secrets long buried rise to the surface, just like the body found by a dog walker after the roots of a tree gave up their secret bounty.

An accomplished addition to the series, Winslow’s ability to shade people and show their many sides adds texture and believeability to the story, even as both obfuscate the complicated truth.

Cambridge and its environs are also meticulously woven into the fabric of the story, so that even if a reader hasn’t visited that storied city, they will come away feeling the presence of the ancient colleges residing alongside more modern buildings as yet another character, almost essential to the story.

A compelling and intricate plot makes this an evocative read. Highly recommended.

Clare MacKintosh: I See You Sunday, Feb 26 2017 

i-see-you

After Clare MacKintosh’s I Let You Go comes the chilling tale of an average woman in an average town, where nothing about her life becomes average at all, in I See You.

Zoe Walker has two children still living at home and a partner who adores her. She’s even civil with her ex, after a failed marriage. Working means a long commute into London, which she uses to people-watch and she passes the time reading magazines and newspapers.

Then an ad catches her eye: is that her own picture staring back at her from the site FindTheOne.com? What starts out as a possible mistake soon turns into something much more, when Zoe’s nervousness at the ad has her scouring back issues and she uncovers sees a pattern. Other women whose photos were in these ads were raped, had their houses broken into, or worse–were murdered.

Kelly Swift it a policewoman on a mission, determined to show her superiors she’s learned from an early mistake when she let her rage get the best of her when dealing with a rapist. After time spent paying her dues on different details, she begs for a chance to prove herself once she and Zoe convince the powers-that-be that these cases are connected.

They soon uncover that these women were stalked by people who pay into a website to gain their daily routine. It’s a nightmarish concept that has Zoe and everyone around her looking over their shoulders.

This is a multi-layered story, with Kelly’s as strong as Zoe’s, and interlaced with snippets of the voice of the person behind the scheme. Soon Zoe doesn’t trust anyone, and the spectacular twist at the end evolves into a double twist.

MacIntosh’s twelve years on the police force give her police scenes authenticity, whether Kelly is dealing with police politics or interviewing a suspect in the custody suite.

Readers won’t be able to put down this accomplished psychological thriller.

As a special treat, here’s a short video of Clare MacKintosh talking about her first piece of writing and the surprises of a writer’s life:

https://youtu.be/bY0ku9BwfcU