Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Alex Barclay – The Drowning Child

About The Drowning Child:the-drowning-child

When Special Agent Ren Bryce is called to Tate, Oregon to investigate the disappearance of twelve-year-old, Caleb Veir, she finds a town already in mourning. Two other boys have died recently, although in very different circumstances. As Ren digs deeper she discovers that all is not as it seems in the Veir household – and that Tate is a small town with big secrets.

Can Ren uncover the truth before more children are harmed?

The Ren Bryce series continues with, The Drowning Child.

Barclay delivers a gripping crime fiction novel which keeps the reader enthralled from start to finish. The plot, this time based in Tate, Oregon, revolves around a missing child in a town which is already mourning two young boys.

In the wrong hands, the subject matter might have troubled some readers, but it is handled delicately throughout, allowing the readers imagination to fill in the gaps instead of painting a gruesome picture.

Although it can be read as a stand-alone, loyal fans can also enjoy the underlying story running through all six Ren Bryce books. After all, life is never dull for the bipolar FBI agent who has still not come to terms with the recent trauma she suffered in Killing Ways.

You can catch the full interview over on writing.ie by clicking here.

 

Freedom’s Child

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller

‘A terrific read from a powerful new voice.’
Karin Slaughter

‘Original, compelling and seriously recommended.’
Lee Child

A heart-stopping debut thriller about a woman named Freedom, who will stop at nothing to save the daughter she only knew for two minutes and seventeen seconds.

Call me what you will: a murderer, a cop killer, a fugitive, a drunk…

There’s a lot people don’t know about Freedom Oliver. They know she works at the local bar. They know she likes a drink or two.

What they don’t know is that Freedom is not her real name. That she has spent the last eighteen years living under Witness Protection, after being arrested for her husband’s murder. They don’t know that she put her two children up for adoption, a decision that haunts her every day.

Then Freedom’s daughter goes missing, and everything changes. Determined to find her, Freedom slips her handlers and heads to Kentucky where her kids were raised. No longer protected by the government, she is tracked by her husband’s sadistic family, who are thirsty for revenge. But as she gets closer to the truth, Freedom faces an even more dangerous threat.

She just doesn’t know it yet.

Check out the Killer Reads TEASER TRAILER here.

Book Review: Alex Barclay – Killing Ways

Killing Ways by Alex Barclay

Over the years, I’ve read and enjoyed all of Alex Barclay’s books. Darkhouse, up until now, would have topped my all-time favourite books. As an avid reader, that’s high praise indeed – but that was before I read Killing Ways. Don’t worry – I guarantee no spoilers – but if you enjoy your crime fiction gritty with plenty of twists and turns then look no further. Engrossed in the story and the characters, about half-way in I had my first of many “oh, my God” moments, as the tension, along with my blood pressure, ratcheted up.

Sitting on the Luas I nearly missed my stop and couldn’t wait to dive between the pages again on my return journey; half of me wanted to race through the pages to the end while the other half wanted to savour every moment.

It was reminiscent of reading childhood books where I became so engrossed in the story that my real world virtually dissolved. The characters were alive and I felt as if I knew them as intimately as close friends and family; my mind already worrying about their future, long after that final page. Barclay is, most definitely, at the top of her game!

About Killing Ways

In the game of vengeance, he holds a killer hand.

In her most shocking case yet, FBI Special Agent Ren Bryce takes on a depraved serial killer fuelled by a warped sense of justice.

A master of evasion, each life he takes ramps up Ren’s obsession with finding him. Then one victim changes everything and brings Ren face to face with a detective whose life was destroyed by the same pursuit.

Together, can they defeat this monster?

Or will he take them both down?

Crime Fiction Reviews

Crime Scene Book Club Reviewers over on www.writing.ie

Who could possibly argue with Louise Phillips, author of Red Ribbons, when she compared us – Joe McCoubrey, Mick Halpin, Triona Walsh and little ‘auld me – as similar to the X Factor panel!  Just as discerning – and possibly even more dangerous – all of this in our roles as part of the Crime Scene Book Reviewer Panel over at www.writing.ie . . .

As avid readers, I know this is a role we are all enjoying immensely.

Joe McCoubrey Mick Halpin Triona Walsh Susan Condon

You can find links to a number of my reviews below to whet your appetite:

The Doll’s House by Louise Phillips

Headstone by Ken Bruen

In The Darkness by Karin Fossum

The Chosen by Arlene Hunt

Bad Moon Rising by Frances de Plino

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes

And don’t forget to check out what Joe, Mick and Triona are reading and reviewing.

Happy reading!

Interview: Alan Glynn – Graveland

Dublin born, Alan Glynn, is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He has written three graveland alan glynnprevious novels: Winterland, described by John Connolly as ‘timely, topical and thrilling’, Bloodland, which, according to the Sunday Independent is, ‘a cracking conspiracy thriller worthy of Le Carré’ and his debut, The Dark Fields, which was released in 2011 as the movie Limitless, and went to number 1 at the box office on both sides of the Atlantic.

His latest novel, Graveland, released this month, is the final part of a loose-trilogy of conspiracy thrillers. A Wall Street investment banker is shot dead while jogging in Central Park. Later that night, one of the savviest hedge-fund managers in the city is gunned down outside a fancy Upper West Side restaurant. Are these killings part of a coordinated terrorist attack, or just coincidence? Set deep in the place where corrupt global business and radical politics clash, Graveland is the explosive thriller of, and for, our times.

I had arranged to meet Alan Glynn at his Dublin home. He arrives to the door; phone in hand, as he deftly finishes one interview, ready within moments to begin another. He’s a natural. It was a pleasure to sit over a welcome cup of tea, surrounded by books, as he chats easily about his writing career, movie deals and his time spent in New York.

You can catch the full interview over on writing.ie by clicking here.

HOPE

All of us live with hope in our hearts and each hope, at different stages in our life, can, I’m sure you’ll agree, be all-consuming and extremely personal. But not too many of our hopes and dreams can save lives.  The New Big Book of Hope is the exception!

It was introduced to me, by my good friend Orla Coffey, who has a non-fiction piece included, entitled, Flashflight, describing her first encounter with a Malaysian man in a Thai prison.

You may not know Orla – yet – but you soon will . . .2013 Face of MS Ireland 2013

Orla is currently the face of MS Ireland’s World MS Day campaign for 2013, which this year focus’s on young people with MS. Her photo is currently plastered across buses and billboards and it is hoped that it will show sufferers and their families that many people with MS go on to live full and happy lives.  Orla, a qualified solicitor, is a walking statement of how true this is. Karma ensures that her many good deeds are rewarded, which means her friends also get to share her good fortune – an evening with Joseph O’Connor, author of Ghostlight, which she won in ‘A Novel Break’ competition with the ‘Dublin: One City, One  Book’ festival – was, most definitely, a prize treasured by us all.

As winner of the Curry’s and PC World writing competition, she was famous on YouTube in a fake, electric wedding, to Batman – since realised in true life – and definitely worth checking out.

But back to The New Big Book of Hope – also worth checking out – in the literal sense!

Compiled by Vanessa O’Loughlin, from writing.ie and Hazel Larkin and with its astonishing range of bestselling authors, political figures, business people and media celebrities, The New Big Book of Hope eBook has something for everyone. Claudia Carroll, Don Conroy, Brian Crowley, Brian Keenan, Sinead Moriarty, Kate Kerrigan and over forty other unlikely bedfellows rub shoulders – the only common denominator being their considerable talent. And in this special eBook edition, four new writers – Alison Wells, David Fairclough, Fr. David Keating and Orla Coffey – have been selected for their contributions in making this book a truly unique collection.

new-big-book-of-hope

This book will save lives.

To live without hope is the ultimate deprivation. The Hope Foundation reaches out to the street children of Kolkata, India, on a daily basis: rescuing sick and abandoned children; delivering food and clean water to the slums; providing crèches where destitute and slum-dwelling mothers can safely leave their children while they do what they can to earn money; running its health-care programme, including its new hospital; fighting child labour and child-trafficking; breaking the cycle of poverty through education in its many coaching centres.

This extraordinary collection celebrates The Hope Foundation and – hopefully – will play a significant role in publicizing and supporting its courageous work. A potent blend of fiction, poetry, memoir and non-fiction, the contributions explore the theme of ‘hope’ and its vital presence in all our lives.

The New Big Book of Hope is now available to purchase in digital form online at Amazon and all digital outlets.

Eveyone involved in the project would greatly appreciate your support – even clicking the LIKE button on the Amazon page will make a difference to the collections sales and the work The Hope Foundation can do.

The Hope Foundation

Worthy Of A Second Read?

Are there any characters or books you read many years ago that suddenly, for no apparent reason, pop into your head so often that you have to go and seek them out again?

Front Cover

There are so many books I want to read that it is rare, if ever, that I would consider re-reading one. But, as always, there are exceptions. Three authors who have compelled me to come back for second helpings are Brian Lumley, Ann Rice and Andrew Laurance. Check out my favourite offerings from them which push your imagination through unknown boundaries of other worlds with the aid of the Mobius Continuum, witchcraft and even astral projection.

Lately, Harry Keogh – Brian Lumley’s character – has been tapping me on the shoulder. Shudder. If you’ve read any of these books, then you’d shudder too! The covers alone were enough to send chills running up your spine and more than a weird glance or two if read on public transport. The books, for anyone with a taste for the supernatural involves Harry Keogh, (the necromancer who can speak to the dead and is a member of E-Branch), vampires and the other worlds where Harry must travel to fight evil. I’ve read so many of these books over the years, beginning with Necroscope, but a couple are still waiting, not so patiently, it appears, on my bookshelves! Rumour has it that Necroscope is due to be filmed – with his Bond qualities already well-honed, I could see Daniel Craig fitting the role of Harry Keogh perfectly – as long as he’s not creeped out by talking to the dead . . .

A huge fan of Anne Rice and her vampire chronicles, I was surprised to find myself enjoying the Mayfair Witches, mainly set in New Orleans, even more. Beginning with The Witching Hour, the trilogy continues with Lasher and Taltos to complete the set and each haunting, spellbinding book seduces you deeper into a world from where you are reluctant to return.

Another series of books I couldn’t put down were by Andrew Laurance (pseudonym for Drew Launay), beginning with, Premonitions of an Inherited Mind, from 1979. The blood of Nostradamus, unknown to Michael Dartson, flows through his veins and traumatic visions of past and future have him questioning his sanity until his terrifying predictions begin to come true. This was followed by The Link and The Unborn. The only set of books I’ve ever bought twice and read twice. Writing this post has sent me trawling through the web to see if I can purchase them again – and fingers crossed – with a new title and the real author’s name I’ve found, The Premonition.

And how about that original tag line:

In the present you die only once
But the past can kill you a thousand times’

Such great memories I plan to relive again of stories, characters and worlds that drag you, kicking and screaming within their pages and only allow you out again when you reach that last word on the last page!

I’d love to hear your favourites from long ago that you deem worthy of a second read. And let me know if you are a fan of any of my favourites or have you not yet returned from the worlds they’ve conjured . . .

Red Ribbons Blog Tour

The Wait Is Almost Over!

Red Ribbons

Red Ribbons, the debut novel by Louise Phillips, will hit the book shops on Monday, 3 September.

But, if you can’t wait that long, it’s already available on Amazon, where reader reviews hail this chilling, psychological crime fiction book as one to make your heart pound and freak you out!

Louise, as well as being an accomplished writer, is also an inspiration to all around her, offering help and advice to writers on every rung of the literary ladder.

I would like to wish her all the success she so rightly deserves and look forward to helping her celebrate at her book launch on:
Wednesday, 5 September at 6.30pm in Hughes & Hughes,
St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Anyway, time to get this Blog Tour on the road. Check out the answers to the ten questions that,
as a fellow crime fiction reader and writer, I put to Louise:

1.  Tell us about your debut novel, Red Ribbons:

Well the best way to describe it is to give you a mini-blurb.

A missing schoolgirl is found buried in the Dublin Mountains, hands clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair. Twenty-four hours later, a second schoolgirl is found in a shallow grave – her body identically arranged. Police call in criminal psychologist, Kate Pearson, to get inside the mind of the murderer before he strikes again. But the more Kate discovers about the killings, the more it all feels terrifyingly familiar. As the pressure to find the killer intensifies, there’s one vital connection to be made – Ellie Brady, a woman institutionalised fifteen years earlier for the murder of her daughter Amy. Ellie stopped talking when everybody stopped listening. But what connects the death of Amy Brady to the murdered schoolgirls? As Kate Pearson, begins to unravel the truth, danger is closer than she knows.

The bad man is everywhere, but can she see him?

2.  Which character, that you have created, is your favourite and why?

That’s a hard one. When I finished the first draft of the novel, I missed all my characters, even the killer. It was before Christmas, and I had no Christmas shopping done, no decorations on the tree, but still I turned around when I got to the end of the manuscript, and I thought, gosh, their voices won’t be living with me every day anymore! And it felt like they had vanished. But of course they did come back – in the editing process and beyond. And in a way it was like old friends visiting, and in a kind of way, like they had never really left. But which one is the favourite???? I think it has to be Ellie, mainly because she went on the biggest journey. I also wrote her in first person narrative, which is always a more intimate experience for the writer. I lived her life for a time, or as close to it as a writer can with their fictional creations. Ellie is the woman who stopped talking because everyone stopped listening. She is the woman life left behind for a time, a person on the margins, but a woman of great strength in my opinion. I knew that from the moment she came to life on the page. Ellie was her own woman, and a testament that there is always light within the dark.

3.  Where do you get your ideas from?

They come from everywhere, and nowhere, the present and the past, the imagined and the actual. I know that sounds very vague, but it is kind of a vague process. I sometimes think logic has no place in writing. By this I don’t mean you should put a garbled mess on the page, but more that sometimes it’s not a good idea to try to quantify it too clearly. On occasions, you are not completely sure what the story will be about, you have an idea yes, but often the end result is very far from what you perceived initially. It usual starts with an idea or a visual stimulation for me, something which asks a number of questions. I like to write about things which will push me as a writer, and also something with a huge emotional connection. It has to be real, it has to mean something to me, otherwise, if it doesn’t, and it doesn’t excite me, well it isn’t going to excite the reader either.

4.  Who, in the writing world, has inspired you most?

So many writers, far too many to put down here on the page, and many of which are Irish. If there was an Olympics for writers, Ireland would come home with plenty of gold medals. I love great prose, and by that I don’t necessarily mean heavy literary stuff, but words which get inside my head emotionally. Most readers are the same. You recognise something good very quickly – it simply works. And when you write, you very often get a sense when something has that extra quality. It usually arrives around three o’clock in the morning when you want to sleep, but an idea is bubbling inside of you. If I had a euro for the amount of times I’ve gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and written in long hand, well I’d have a much bigger bank account! Like many, I have a favourite book shelf, and when I’m old and very grey, I’m going to take the books down one at a time, and read them slowly all over again.

5.  When and where do you write best?

Early morning generally before the rest of the world gets in the way. Life is complicated, and we are bombarded with stuff, not simply with work or family, but noise everywhere – television, the radio in the car, social media, voices of strangers, and the credit card bill that you have to pay. It all gets caught up in a traffic jam called life. I live in the Dublin mountains, and in the early morning I can hear birdsong. After stormy nights, I listen to the wind whisking across the valley. It reminds me of when I was younger, and I would get up before everyone else woke up, to catch the sunrise as it reached a gap in the tenement buildings where we lived.

In the morning you are fresh, unburdened in many ways. As to where, I have different places, but I’ve often written in the bedroom with all the blinds down, blocking out a beautiful day. You don’t need great views to write, or even birdsong – all you need is an idea, a pen and paper, and the mental space to create.

6.  What book are you currently reading?

At the moment I’m reading, Ancient Light by John Banville, but I have a stack of books by my bed yet to be read. They are The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, On Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry, Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke, Solace by Belinda McKeon, and Blue Monday by Nicci French. So much joy, so little time!!!

7.  Could you ever see yourself writing in another genre?

Yes is the simple answer to that, and perhaps even for a different age group. I didn’t set out to write a crime novel, although I recognised fairly early on that my writing tended to visit darker issues. My children have often asked me why I don’t write about happy things, but I don’t see it like that. I like to think I find light within the dark, hope when there might seem little. Crime fiction is well suited for exploring elements with high emotional stakes, and I do think genre is important as a means of quantifying the script for the reader. At the end of the day however, you write about something you feel passionate about. If that happens to be under the crime umbrella, well that’s fine. If it’s another kind of exploration, well that will work too. Most of us read many genres, which is good, and writers and readers are like-minded souls.

8.  Do you think it’s important for writers to connect with their readers on-line?

For sure. Online participation is not for everyone. I can understand that. Some writers find it makes their environment too noisy, and I can understand that too. Online presence however is part of our current communication system. Years ago complete strangers got to know each other, and became lifelong friends, writing letters to their pen pals, others people might have spoken for endless hours on their phone. Ireland is a nation of talkers – we didn’t have the highest per capita use of mobile phone users in Europe because we don’t speak a lot to one another. Now online activity, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, email, is everywhere. When cars were invented, some preferred another means of transport. It is of course down to the individual.

A writer needs to connect with their readers, or potential readers. The emergence of writers going down the self-publishing route has broken down many of the old barriers to publication. If you are happy to connect with others online, you will find an audience – at the end of the day, you can have the best story in the world, but you want people to read it.

9.  I know you’re currently working on your second novel, The Dolls House, can you share a little about it?

Yes, I’m writing The Dolls House, and yes, I’m very excited by it. I’ve chatted to a couple of people about it, and when I do I notice I start to talk faster, and louder, and my eyes open wide – all tell-tale signs! I can tell you it involves hypnosis, the sub-conscious, the death of a well known television personality, and memory. If I was to put a question out there, it would be – What if the one memory which could save your life, is the thing you cannot remember? You can read the prologue for The Dolls House on my website www.louise-phillips.com but I will give you a quote from it as a kind of introduction.

“After the fall, her white porcelain face spilt in two, half-cracked like me. I looked inside the crack, into the dark, and found emptiness. She is still here, just like the others from my doll’s house – living inside of me.”

10.  And finally, what do you predict will be happening when I check back with you in a year from now?

Well, it will be six weeks to publication of The Dolls House. I hope, and I think, I will have learned a lot along the way. I’m learning all the time, and not just about writing. I’m learning about all aspects of one of the biggest contradictions of all – the solitary writing process saying hello in a very public way to the world outside!

I look forward to checking back, Louise, after we’ve had a taste of Red Ribbons. In the meantime, we’ll just have to whet our appetite with the Red Ribbons trailer . . .

RED RIBBONS Trailer – Click Here!

You can follow Louise Phillips on her Blog Tour and watch her exciting book launch as it unfolds:

 Twitter:  @LouiseMPhillips

Facebook:  HERE

Book Reviews: Red Ribbons

Red Ribbons
by Louise Phillips

Not a review – yet – but I guarantee that from the snippets I have had the pleasure to read, this book will be one, that like me, you’ll be rushing out to buy.

If you don’t believe me, then let me whet your appetite with not one, but two fabulous trailers . . .

RED RIBBONS Trailer No 1Click Here!

RED RIBBONS Trailer No 2Click Here!

And the good news is, you don’t have long to wait.  
 
 
  
Red Ribbons will be launched, by Crime Editor of The Sunday World, Niamh O’Connor at:
 
6.30pm
on Wednesday 5th September
Hughes & Hughes, St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre.
 

THE SERIAL KILLER:
A missing schoolgirl is found buried in the Dublin Mountains, hands clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair. Twenty-four hours later, a second schoolgirl is found in a shallow grave … her body identically arranged.
A hunt for the killer is on.
 

THE CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST:
The police call in profiler Dr Kate Pearson to get inside the mind of the murderer before he strikes again. But the more Kate discovers about the killings, the more it all feels terrifyingly familiar . . .

THE ACCUSED WOMAN:
As the pressure to find the killer intensifies there’s one vital connection to be made. . . Ellie Brady, a mother institutionalised fifteen years earlier for the murder of her twelve-year-old daughter. She stopped talking when everyone stopped listening.
 
THE BAD MAN IS EVERYWHERE … BUT CAN YOU SEE HIM …
 
Learn more about the author, Louise Phillips, and her upcoming debut novel by checking out her Blog:

www.louise-phillips.com

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