Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb


Do you remember reading this a couple of weeks ago on my blog?

On Sal’s cell phone speaker, the ringing stopped. A nasal voice bounced off the kitchen walls. ‘Nine one one, can you tell me the nature of your emergency?’

The gun fired. My eyes closed. Everything faded to black.

This was my teaser for Deep Down Dead. I’ve now finished reading it and one of the best things was reading those few sentences in context. And all I can say is, wow!

Lori Anderson is a single mum in Florida, struggling to find the money to pay for her daughter’s hospital bills. Her job as a bounty hunter is haphazard so when a big bond comes in she has little option but to take it. But the man she’s after is the one man who knows her past.

Other authors and reviewers have mentioned the names Janet Evanovich and Lee Childs when reviewing this book and I have to agree with them. I adore Stephanie Plum but thankfully, Lori Anderson is a bit more capable. She’s much more kick-ass and only totals one car! Lori’s bounty hunter skills are written with accuracy due to Steph Broadribb’s research. She didn’t just Google ‘bounty hunter’, she went to the USA and trained to be one. So be warned – Steph knows how to use a taser!

But accurate research isn’t enough. Broadribb has combined it with compelling characters, a fast moving plot and an authentic American voice. Without trying to give a spoiler, there’s something in the book that’s glaringly obvious to the reader. When Broadribb confirms it later, it’s done naturally and with subtly. So, add fantastic writing and you have one amazing debut. Best of all, we’re left with a bit of a cliffhanger. Book 2 is on its way!


Steph Broadribb is also known as CrimeThrillerGirl, an amazing book blogger now turned an even more amazing writer. Check out her website to find out more about her.  Deep Down Dead is available for pre-order now for paperback here but if you prefer electronic then you can buy the ebook here .

Deep Down Dead is published by Orenda Books. To find out more click here for their website and click here for a post I wrote earlier this year about Orenda authors.

Killer Women Fest

Saturday 15th October has been marked in my diary for months – Killer Women Fest. Eagerly anticipated by the many who went, it did not disappoint. I wrote copious notes but you’ll be pleased to hear that I’m not about to write up all 24 pages! Instead, I’ll put up a few of my slightly better photos and some highlight quotes.

Having just missed a train on my way there, I had a few minutes to kill before the next one and noticed this lovely advert.


But more about Ann Cleeves later!

Having reached Shoreditch Town Hall (a venue that once housed the inquest for Jack the Ripper’s last known victim, Mary Kelly – so very apt for a crime writing event), we were welcomed by some of the Killer Women.

l-r Helen Smith, Sarah Hilary, Kate Medina, Melanie McGrath, Laura Wilson & Kate Rhodes

Melanie McGrath told us how Killer Women had come into being through ‘wine and crime’ and what had started off as a small group of female crime/thriller writers, had now grown into their first festival.

There was a ridiculous amount of workshops, panels and author interviews to choose from (I could have done the day three times over) but I did have to make choices in the end. I started off with a workshop on How To Pitch A Novel with Sam Eades (Commissioning Editor at Trapeze) and Nelle Andrews (literary agent at PFD). Killer Woman, Jane Casey, asked the questions. So rather than transcribing all 5 pages of notes (!), I’ll give you a few choice morsels:

Nelle – ‘No one ever takes a book back to Waterstones’, ‘Can fix plot and characterization but can’t fix bad writing’ and  ‘Authors make our careers’.

Sam – ‘Love getting my hands dirty’ – editing a book, ‘You want someone who absolutely loves your book’ and the worst pitch she’s heard, ‘Josef Fritzl meets The Sound of Music’!

I managed to sneak in and hear a little from Martina Cole. She often works for 25 hour stretches at a time and likes to write long hand as then she can write anywhere. And she sometimes gets told in Asda that she looks like ‘that Martina Cole’.

Back to Ann Cleeves, who appeared alongside Mark Billingham, Gaby Chiappe (screenwriter for Shetland) and Douglas Henshall (who plays Jimmy Perez in Shetland) for Serial Thrillers. Colette McBeth chaired the panel.


One question that Colette asked was, what makes books work well on television?

Mark Billingham said that almost everything is optioned. A strong sense of character is needed but it helps if you have a name attached. For 10 years he said that he wanted David Morrisey to play Tom Thorne. It was only when Morrisey bought a Billingham book and Googled him, that he discovered his name there too!

Gabby Chiappe said that you have to really understand the character when adapting for TV but sometimes you have to make changes because of time constraints – much shorter time to grow characters. Also have to take into consideration advert breaks. They have to finish with a hook each time to keep the audience.

Colette also asked, is there too much crime drama on TV?

Douglas Henshall answered yes. Most new optioned drama is crime. Gaby Chiappe thought that was probably because crime comes with an inbuilt hook but maybe it stops commissioners taking risks with other shows. Ann Cleeves thought that there is now a breadth of crime drama that we didn’t have before and Mark Billingham agreed that it reflects the enormous umbrella of crime. However he did think there were too many adaptions and he would like to see more original crime dramas.

I managed to ask  Mark and Ann if, like Colin Dexter, they were tempted to have a cameo role in their shows?

Mark said that he did have an extra part but it was cut! However he does have a very small cameo in the new series. Ann – no! Having been on set for both Shetland and Vera, and seeing how the weather can change so quickly, she’s happy to sit in her car and watch!

After a brief lunch break with fellow blogger and writer, Rachel Emms, it was time for the event that I had been looking forward to the most – Val McDermid talking to Laura Wilson. Titled ’30 Books and Counting’, we had a brief overview of how Val was fast-tracked at school and so went to St. Hilda’s, Oxford, at age 16 – their first Scottish state school pupil.

Her first book with character Lindsay Gordon, was her attempt of feeling her way into fiction. The third book was the one that she really wanted to write but it meant writing the other two books first! Ian Rankin has described her as ‘a restless writer’ as she writes lots of different books. She finds that she can’t do two books back to back with the same characters as she gets bored. And she finds that the next book she’s planning in her head, helps propel her to write the current one. She recently wrote 4 books in 18 months – a reworking of Northanger Abbey, Forensics and 2 crime novels. Once, when she was struggling to finish a book and a deadline was looming, she took herself off to Italy. She wrote 65,000 words in 9 days!


And her top tip for aspiring writers? Find sacred time to write. Ring-fence it. Commit to yourself. Be thinking about your story, rehearsing it in your head so that you’re ready to roll when you sit down. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time!




Up next was How To Solve A Murder with former Detective Superintendent David Swindle and current Detective Chief Superintendent Dr. Jackie Sebire. It’s fair to say that they are more than qualified to solve a murder. They were talking to Louise Millar.

Again, rather than regale you with my 6 pages of notes, I’ll give you some nuggets.

DCS Jackie Sebire gave us the ABC of solving a murder – Assume nothing, Believe no one and Challenge everything.

David Swindle spoke about how a hunch paid off when solving the murder of a Polish woman found under the floorboards of a church. He felt sure that the murderer had committed similar crimes before. Eventually he was able to find the victims and bring justice and closure for the families.

And that was something that shone through the whole talk, how these two officers are ‘like a dog with a bone’ (Jackie’s words). They  persevere with a case, even if it takes years. They do not give up.


The penultimate event for me was Silver Scream or I Preferred the Book/Film. Talking about their experiences of having their work adapted for film/TV was (l-r in photo) Louise Doughty, S.J. Watson, Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins and Erin Kelly. Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard is soon to appear on BBC with Emily Watson. Louise mentioned how excited she was to have Emily playing the lead and she tried to play it cool when she met her. However she failed and began gabbling! (Nice to know that successful authors gabble too! I gabbled at Val McDermid at the book signing in a fangirl moment – sorry Val!).

Paula Hawkins is pleased with the way that Emily Blunt has managed to portray Rachel’s self-loathing in the film of The Girl On The Train.

S.J. Watson was still trying to get Before I Go To Sleep published when he had an email from Ridley Scott wanting to option it. Steve’s first thoughts were, how did you get my email and how did you get a copy of the book? Once on set, he saw Nicole Kidman do a scene in pouring cold rain. He told her afterwards that in the book, that particular scene took place indoors with a roaring fire. ‘Yes but it wouldn’t have been as dramatic’ was her reply.


The final event of the day was a Murder Mystery with Helen Smith, Colette McBeth, Erin Kelly, D.E. Meredith, Kate Rhodes and Mark Billingham as Detective Alan Barnes in Who Killed Eddie Glass? Written by Erin Kelly, we were given the scenario and four possible suspects to choose from. I’m not going to say anymore about it in case you ever get the chance to see this. But what I will say is that I failed to use the ABC technique given earlier by DCS Jackie Sebire! I should have listened to fellow team mate Michelle Davies. As she clearly knows her stuff, I think I need to add her debut, Gone Astray to my TBR pile.

And on my way home, my day ended as it began – with a very large advert! Thank you Killer Women for a tremendous day!


Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb -The Teaser Tour

It’s my turn today on the Deep Down Dead teaser tour. One of the most talked about books for 2017, it’s available for pre-order now for both paperback here and ebook here . The great news is, you don’t have to wait until next year to get it on your Kindle! You can download it from the 15th October.

Do you want a short, sneaky quote to whet your appetite? Of course you do!

On Sal’s cell phone speaker, the ringing stopped. A nasal voice bounced off the kitchen walls. ‘Nine one one, can you tell me the nature of your emergency?’

The gun fired. My eyes closed. Everything faded to black.

Is that it, I hear you cry? Yes. I’m giving you nothing else except a picture of the splendid cover. Orenda Books provides the most gorgeous covers to match the brilliance of their books. I’ve been fortunate enough to start reading this novel and I’m already hooked by Lori Anderson, bounty hunter.

30141176Steph Broadribb is also known as CrimeThrillGirl, an amazing book blogger now turned an even more amazing writer. Check out her website to find out more about her and a competition to win a proof copy of Deep Down Dead.

Deep Down Dead is published by Orenda Books. To find out more click here for their website and click here for a post I wrote earlier this year about Orenda authors.

The Harbour Master by Daniel Pembrey


I went to a James Bond concert the other week and as well as playing Bond themes, they also played iconic tunes from successful crime shows – Cagney & Lacey, Miss Marple, Poirot, Hill Street Blues  and The Bill (yes, really, but the composer was playing guitar in the orchestra). One tune not included was Van der Valk. Having just listened to the theme tune again on YouTube (it’s called Eye Level in case you’re interested), I’m not surprised. It’s far too jolly and upbeat. I have a vague recollection of Van der Valk wearing a brown jacket but that’s all I remember. So I don’t have a vast knowledge about Dutch police officers but I suspect that Henk van der Pol isn’t your usual copper. Close to retirement, he isn’t worn down by the job, sitting on his laurels until he can escape. Instead, his sense of justice is keener than ever before and with age, comes the tenacity to take on anyone, no matter who they are – local gangs, corrupt officers or even politicians. Whether investigating murder, stolen paintings or the kidnap of a politican, Henk gives his all – much to the despair of his put upon wife, Petra.

Daniel Pembrey lived in Amsterdam when he wrote The Harbour Master and you can tell it was more than just a short research trip. Even from the opening line, ‘There’s a spot down by the harbour, with bicycle seats mounted on bollards like fishing perches, where you can’t help but feel alert and vigilant’, you get the sense of seeing the city through Henk’s eyes. But don’t be fooled. This isn’t tourist Amsterdam (although he does go there too). It’s clear that Pembrey stepped off the well-trod tourist path to create an authentic Amsterdam. He doesn’t stop there though. Brussels and The Hague are two more destinations that Henk visits in pursuit of the truth.

Pembrey also links in to Dutch culture and history, particularly in reference to the kidnap of Freddy Heineken in 1983. It seems as though Pembrey has packed a lot in but that’s not surprising. The Harbour Master was originally three linked novellas (Pembrey is a master at them) but No Exit Press have brought them together to make one novel. But thankfully, this isn’t the end of Henk. There’s more to come in the form of a new Henk van der Pol book – Night Market.

The Harbour Master is available to buy now on Kindle – click here  – and will be out in paperback on 10th Nov and can be pre-ordered here

I’d like to thank Daniel Pembrey and No Exit Press for an ARC of the book. I wasn’t even asked to review in return but am more than happy to do so.

If you want to find out more about Daniel and his other books, then check out his website It’s worth it to see the cover page alone – beautiful picture of the Amsterdam skyline!

First Monday Crime – October

The Library is the new venue for First Monday and kicking off proceedings was Antonia Hodgson, Stuart Neville, William Ryan and SJ Watson. Karen Robinson, editor of the Times/Sunday Times Crime Club asked the questions.

First up – how important is research and authenticity, especially if you’re writing historical novels?


William Ryan said how important it is to get the period right and make it believable for the reader. However, it’s easy to get bogged down in too much detail so you almost have to forget it all but it leaves you with the confidence to write in that time period.

Antonia Hodgson gave us, perhaps, the best quote ever at First Monday Crime. She said that she likes to have a well of research but only draw up a thimbleful.

Stuart Neville likes to write first and then research later, otherwise too much information can kill a book. Better to write and then check back. All writers are procrastinators and would probably rather Google than write (I know I do that!).

SJ Watson is glad that he writes contemporary novels as he thinks he’s too lazy to write historical! But it’s the little details that help to make it feel real, even in fantasy.

What about characters? How are they created?

DCI Serena Flanagan was originally a minor character in another one of Stuart Neville’s books. He originally wrote her as a hardnosed, single officer but after watching The Fall and seeing Gillian Anderson’s character, he knew he had to change her. Now, Flanagan is married with two children and diagnosed with breast cancer.

Tom Hawkins is in his mid twenties and lives during the Georgian period. Antonia Hodgson deliberately wanted him to be young. He’s rejected the life that was planned for him (the priesthood) and doesn’t really know where he’s going. But he does have a habit of getting into trouble!

William Ryan originally thought that another character would be the main protagonist in The Constant Soldier [Neumann perhaps?] but realised it needed to be told by a different voice, someone much more conflicted and at the point of no return. Ryan also said that you may have an idea of where a novel is going but characters will often take it another way.

SJ Watson likes to find characters to live in his created world but they sometimes refuse to do what they’re told. He likened it to riding a horse that wants to go in a different direction from you.

Finally, the last ingredient for a story – the plot!

SJ Watson doesn’t really like plotting. He likes to be amused by his plot and not bored by it. He thinks a lot about what ifs? And then, how do you make it work? His answer – sit down and make it up!


For Stuart Neville, characters are plot and plot are characters. The choices that they make are the motivation. However, he does have to know the ending. What happens in between doesn’t matter too much. If things get changed, then that’s ok.

It’s all about the characters too, for Antonia Hodgson, and she’ll write copious notes about them. Until she starts writing, they don’t come alive. She allows space for changes, particularly for new characters.

William Ryan likes to force his characters to make choices. He did try to plan his second novel but it didn’t really work. Like Neville, he needs to know the ending and know which direction he’s going in but even that might change. But it’s important that something happens in each scene, it must have a purpose. Earlier, William Ryan had mentioned that he’s always watching the movie of his book in his head, so he sees it as a series of scenes. He always tries to write the book he wants to read and the film he wants to see.

Of course, for SJ Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep, he’s already had the experience of seeing his book made into a film, with Nicole Kidman as the lead. But he doesn’t go in for fantasy casting. He prefers to allow the readers to make up their own minds.


First Monday Crime will be back on Monday 7th November but as yet, the panel remains a mystery!


To buy Antonia Hodgson’s latest book, A Death at Fountains Abbey, then click here

To buy The Constant Soldier by William Ryan then click here and you can read my review and author Q&A here

To buy So Say The Fallen by Stuart Neville then click here and read my review here

And finally, to buy Second Life by SJ Watson click here