Pat McDonald: The Blue Woods Trilogy Sunday, Oct 25 2015 

From time to time Auntie M likes to mix things up. So today instead of a formal review, she’s introducing readers to a writer they may not have found. And being a series writer and a fan of reading them, Pat McDonald has a great one to seek out. Here’s her background and then in her own words, get to know this remarkable woman who has persevered despite a heavy medical condition to continue to write.

Pat_McDonald
British Crime Author Pat McDonald lives in a rural part of the Midlands, United Kingdom. She has an extensive career working as a researcher, project manager and programme manager within the British National Health Service and in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Her work encompassed Heart Disease, Mental Illness and Learning Disability (her formal publications under the name Pat Mounser). Her lifelong ambition has always been to become a writer of fiction; after all, fiction is a reflection of life of which she admits she is a long time voyeur.

“I am a people watcher, and nothing pleases me more than sitting in a public place observing the world as it passes by – hence my penchant for writing my novels in my favourite coffee shop, where I have met some extraordinary people.” She is now a full time novelist.

Her crime trilogy (nicknamed ‘The Blue Woods Trilogy‘ because of an over-active imagination at disposal of bodies!) consists of (1) Getting Even: Revenge is best served cold, (2) Rogue Seed and finally (3) Boxed Off.

Pat’s fictitious detectives D.I Luke Wariner and D.S Aidey Carter tackle a range of Major Crimes against a background of corruption and deception involving some of their own officers. Boxed Off, published in December 2014, brings the plot to its conclusion – or does it? “I only meant to write one book,” Pat confesses, “but I have a real difficulty in ending stories!” Well crime does go on!

Her current work in progress is a move to a different genre. It’s a Young Adult paranormal thriller about stalking, based in the North of Wales, UK, and has a hint of historical W.W 1 drama that is surprisingly haunting!

‘The Blue Woods Trilogy’

When I began writing fiction, I started by writing snippets of my own life which if I ever decide to write an autobiography would contribute as the basis to such a book. But I was far more interested in other people, having spent most of my life watching the world go by with all of its most interesting people.

That is why almost all of the ‘Blue Woods Trilogy’ was written in a coffee shop and other public places. Some of Getting Even was written on a plane out to Dubai and in United Arab Emirates hotels, what I call ‘real’ research; I was there so it had to go in the book.

I love to create my characters from snippets of conversations with strangers; such a character was Hugo Bott, the most unlikely person to become a Police Constable. Having spent seventeen years meeting police officers, I can honestly say my characters are my own creation, within the police setting I knew very well.

I like to take a real situation or setting and say “what if……” just for the sheer hell of it. I loved creating Hugo Bott because he is different with a twist and no psychosomatic testing in the days he was appointed, he became one of my characters.

I have been accused of having too many characters and hence too many personal situations, when what the reader wants is only the action and the thrills. My books are real life with a twist, and my disappointment with most crime books, films and dramas is that the police officers don’t seem to have a life outside of their work. Police officers do. Not only do they have to balance their home life against their work, it can often get in the way and influence it. One impacts on the other. I have tried to reproduce this and then add the – what if.

I don’t really do happy endings, life is not like that or if it is then I would say that these were charmed lives and I have yet to meet someone who has one. It doesn’t mean that my trilogy is all doom and gloom, far from it. I like to weave a theme through each one. The first is about revenge, but explores all facets of it; part of which is life has a natural justice. Rogue Seed was, yes, botanical – a plant growing in the wrong place by force of nature; but also it explores what would happen if a person grew in the wrong place and of course ‘Going Rogue’ is the police concept of going bad. Boxed Off was about finishing the books for me, making one’s life neat and tidy, but also about containing – a body, a person or in one scene people at a ‘rave’.

Finishing the trilogy left me wondering about a character in the first book who drops out of the plot. Needing to know what happened to her became my fourth book (although separate); Breaking Free allowed me to find out. You see I am a ‘free flow’ writer. I don’t plan my plots–they evolve. And so I decided what would happen if she, Livia Morrison, was to come back to the UK? It was my opportunity to explore another genre and is a mix that led me find my ending in Wales at Caernarfon Castle where the Royal Welsh Fusilier’s have their exhibition. This book is a combination of paranormal, historical and crime I wrote for my granddaughters and will be out during 2015.

I am currently editing this book whist I convalesce from a recent operation to remove a brain tumour and take up a new venture. Oh, did I mention the one I’m also writing? It is a humorous look at crime from the villain’s side…..working title ‘A Penny For Them.’

You can find Pat and her books here: Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pat-McDonald/e/B00R372WK4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434467288&sr=1-2-ent

Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pat-Mcdonald/502374626484358?ref=bookmarks

Twitter: @issyblack

The Death of Bees and Shadowkiller Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

Two new Harper imprints to tell readers about.

First up is the highly unusual debut novel of Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees.images_011 O’Donnell’s screenwriting background gives the novel a visual immediacy of the dramatic action as it unfolds that will draw readers in to this story.

This novel is told in rotating narratives, starting with that of fifteen year-old Marnie and her younger sister, Nelly, with their distinctive voices describing their personalities and actions and reactions.

The book opens on Christmas Eve in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate, and the girls’ have just finished burying their parents. “Neither of them were beloved,” Marnie tells us.

In their narrative we learn that Izzy and Gene were far from the best parents, negligent and abusive. Marnie’s goal becomes to secretly take care of Nelly without them entering the foster system. Once she turns sixteen she will be legally be allowed to care for them both. There is a mystery surrounding the death of Gene, although their mother has committed suicide, that hangs over this year’s events.

Then their gay neighbor, Lennie, notices the parents’ absence. Grieving over the loss of his own partner, his voice is added to the mix, and the story of the unlikely trio unfolds. Lennie becomes the lynchpin in their little unit, cooking for the sisters, doing their wash, keeping them safe from the system by showing up at Parents Night pretending to be their grandfather.

An unlikely friend, Vlad, also coping with his own grief, is added to their mix, and adds to the affecting nature of the story.

Marnie’s story is that her parents have left them in Lennie’s care to travel to Turkey. But deals Gene has made before his death soon unravel that lie, and one lie leads to another, until the day the sisters’ real grandfather shows up on their doorstep, demanding to know where his daughter has gone.

The characters are gritty and real, with all the flaws humans possess, and with an added dark humor that will have you rooting for these girls.

This is a most unlikely family story that is oddly compelling, as it addresses just what family means and what lengths those who love us will go to in order to protect us.

 

images_005Next up is the third in Wendy Corsi Staub’s trilogy featuring Allison Taylor, Shadowkiller. 

Allison has had to live through the tragedy of 9/11 while fighting a serial killer in Nightwatcher; but that led to her meeting her future husband, Mac MacKenna. In Sleepwalker, set a decade later, terror entered Allison’s life once again, threatening her family, now expanded to include three young children, in their suburban home.

Just when Allison and Mac should be able to take a deep breath, a predator will again enter their life.

A stranger’s death in the Caribbean leads to the string of events that seem far unrelated to Allison, yet will prove threatening and connected.

Memories of Allison’s troubled childhood bring back that threat as the MacKenna’s travel to the Midwest for a family reunion with Allison’s half-brother and his family.

A madwoman from Allison’s past, with ties to Mac, has bided her time to seek revenge on Allison, at one point staying next door to their Westchester home and watching the family’s every move as they prepare to take off on what should be a relaxing vacation. Tapping into their wireless network, the killer knows every move Allison and Mac have planned, and will stop at nothing to bring off the plan she’s hatched to kidnap and eventually murder Allison.

Several key characters of the series return, and readers who have followed the books will be surprised at the twist that opens the novel when the identity of the killer is revealed.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers have been anticipating this final installment in the trilogy.

Simon Toyne: The Key Sunday, Sep 2 2012 

Simon Toyne, author of the first in the Ruin trilogy Sanctus, returns with book two in the series and The Key is every bit as compelling as the first.

A vertical mountain of carved rock, The Citadel of Ruin is the oldest continually inhabited edifice known to Man, and the seat of the Catholic Church.

After the events detailed in Sanctus, an explosion has left three people with intimate knowledge of the secret of the Sacrament, previously only known to a handful of elevated Santi monks.

One of those three is New Jersey journalist Liv Adamsen, who traveled to Ruin to find the truth surrounding the death of her Sancti brother. As The Key opens, Liv lies in a hospital bed, suffering the effects of post-traumatic amnesia. Four doors away, survivor number two, Kathryn Mann, nearly deaf from the explosion, ponders her fate and that of her only son, Gabriel, survivor number three.

In the Vatican City, The Group, composed of three world financial heads, hastily meet with their fourth member, Cardinal Secretary Clementi. Clementi holds his own key: to the Vatican’s Bank. He’s used the Church’s independence and secrecy for the past years to hide the practices of past centuries that have left the Church rich in priceless arts and property but virtually without cash.

For The Group, Liv and the others represent ticking time bombs, threatening to destroy their carefully crafted plan. While inside The Citadel, with the abbot and prelate both dead from the explosion, elections must take place to secure The Citadels’ hierarchy. But their centuries-old secrets are slowly unraveling, as disease spreads and with it, unrest inside the compound.

The Key sucks you in, with its detailed settings and complex sense of history and traditions. The Globe and Mail says:  This is a gripping read, as fast-paced as any action movie and covering Rome to Ruin, and New York to the Middle East deserts, as Toyne fits together his complicated plot until it all makes horrible and terrific sense.

 

Simon Toyne: Sanctus Sunday, Jun 17 2012 

Simon Toyne’s first novel in a new trilogy has been compared to The Da Vinci Code with good reason, but this reader was reminded more of Umberto Eco’s wonderful The Name of the Rose. In any case, Sanctus will leave readers looking forward to the next book in the Ruin series. The Daily Mirror (UK) says: “Hard to think of it as a debut, better to think of it as the beginning of a massive new adventure.”

This bold thriller has an almost relentless quality as Toyne builds a remarkable, twisted world, complete with futuristic details housed within the very epitome of antiquity. Nothing is as it seems on the surface, and this soon becomes apparent to the reader in this stylish and entertaining novel that is built upon a foundation of its character’s lies and deceit.

Sanctus opens with a monk climbing a high cliff to top the mountain called the Citadel, a closed off Vatican-like city towering above the lower city of Ruin in what we know of as Turkey. His bold gesture, seen and documented worldwide by the media, sends a message to several groups with far-reaching circumstances. The Citadel is the oldest inhabited place on earth, and the monk’s climb brings attention to this group living within, the Sancti, who hold a terrible secret, built upon thousands of years of protection and tradition.

Liv Adamsen is an American reporter seeking answers to a tragic personal loss. She finds herself suddenly traveling to Turkey to unravel a message left to her from beyond the grave.  The monk’s gesture also has particular meaning to a foundation worker, Kathryn Mann, and her family. What Liv finds with Kathryn’s help, and how she solves this mystery will change the very foundations of what the world has known from the beginning of Man.

This is highly ambitious thriller, with an imaginative plot. It’s high concept will immediately draw fans of grand conspiracies, with its plots and subplots, relentless action and superb writing. It is to Toyne’s credit that his mix of action, history and suspense seem almost credible as the reader is plunged into a cinematic ride that reveals Toyne’s background in television as a writer, director and producer.

The second book in the trilogy, The Key, will be released June 19th, and Auntie M has no doubt readers will be lined up to buy it.

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