Spook Night at West Barnes Library Monday 29th October 7.30-8.30pm @WilliamRyan_ @SJIHolliday @MertonLibraries

It is with absolute delight that I announce a series of author talks at my local library – West Barnes – starting with the scarily good SJI Holliday and the ‘spooktacular’ William Ryan on Monday 29th October at 7.30pm. They’ll be telling us all about their new books.

The Lingering - ebook cover

The Lingering by SJI Holliday is a contemporary ghost story. I finished it recently and it was quite discomforting right from the start – perfect!

The Blurb

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for a fresh start. The local village is known for witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history.

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

A House of Ghosts

I’m currently reading A House of Ghosts by W.C Ryan (initials are clearly important for ghost stories). It’s set in 1917 in a large house on an island. It’s been described as The Woman in Black meets And Then There Were None. And from what I’ve read so far, I can see why!

The Blurb

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one…


Date: Monday 29th October

Time: 7.30-8.30pm

Location: West Barnes Library, Station Road, New Malden, KT3 6JF.

Please click here for more details of the library and a map. The library is right next to Motspur Park station (trains from Waterloo) so it’s easy to get to.

Cost: It’s free to get in as the event has been set up by the Friends of the Library but they will be asking for a donation – especially as you’ll get a glass of wine. And maybe a cookie! *CHANGE OF PLAN! THERE WILL NOW BE A £1 CHARGE FOR A TICKET!* Apologies for the change but this means we can now guarantee being able to buy the wine!

To reserve your seat, you can pop into the library if you’re local, ring 020 8274 5789 (the library is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays) or let me know either by commenting on this post or contacting me on Twitter @JoyKluver

As it’s quite a small library, places are limited so please book ASAP.  It’s going to be ‘fangtastic’!

The Authors


S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk, and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved  Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination with and fear of ghosts.


W.C. (William) Ryan is the author of The Constant Soldier and the Korolev series of historical crime novels set in Russia. His books have been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA Historical Dagger and the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award, and have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Coming soon – October @1stMondayCrime with @ak_benedict @lisajewelluk @jodysabral @lucyclarkebooks @AmyHeydenrych

September is always so busy! I’m afraid I’ve not had time to sort out an interview with one of the panellists for October but hopefully I will for November. But I can at least tell you who you can expect to see and the blurb for their books. And it’s all out girl power for October!

Starting with the chair for the evening –  Slice Girl, A.K. Benedict. Her most recent novel is Jonathan Dark or The Evidence for Ghosts.

Jonathan Dark

Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell but now that surgery has restored her sight, the world seems a scarier place and she doesn’t want to see it.

DCI Jonathan Dark also sees a different side to the city. He’s in the shadows, haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker, and he won’t let it happen again.

Now a killer has set his sights on Maria, and Jonathan must find a way to stop him. But when gathering evidence, you can’t choose your source.

Can you save the living by talking to the dead?


Watching You is the new novel from Lisa Jewell.

Watching You

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.

You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.

That’s when you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.

All the time.

But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you.


Jody Sabral has had an interesting path to publication for I Never Lie which is published by Canelo.

I Never Lie

Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit…?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occurs within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger to herself – or to others?


The latest novel from Lucy Clarke is You Let Me In.

You Let Me In

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her home…


There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.


Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.


As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…


And the debut novelist for the panel is Amy Heydenrych with Shame On You.

Shame On You


Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself?

Have you every lied about who you are to get more likes?

Have you ever followed someone online who you think is perfect?

Meet Holly.

Social media sensation. The face of clean eating.

Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

But when Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?



What a great panel! Sadly I can’t be there so no cookies for the authors (very sorry!) and no write-up afterwards. But you can be there! Just make sure you reserve your free seat by clicking here. You can buy books on the night from Big Green Bookshop for the authors to sign. I’m sure you will all have a great evening and I’ll see you in November for another fab panel.






@1stMondayCrime is back from its hols! September – with @claremackint0sh @lucyatkins @VickyNewham @bethklewis @Rod_WR

The sun was shining, the trains were baking and the aircon wasn’t working in the First Monday room. It felt more like July than September! And we had a smokin’ hot panel to kick us into Autumn – Lucy Atkins, Clare Mackintosh, Vicky Newham and Beth Lewis. Rod Reynolds (the token male) asked the questions.

The authors told us about their books first.

FM Sep 18.2

Beth Lewis’ new book is Bitter Sun. It’s set in 1970s America in a small mid-Western town. A bunch of kids find a body and set out to solve the murder.

Turn A Blind Eye is Vicky Newham’s debut. It’s a police procedural set in East London. And it’s the best time of year to read it as it starts with the murder of a head teacher on the first day of term!

Clare Mackintosh (Queen of the Twist) has a new ‘woman in peril’ called Anna in Let Me Lie. Anna is a new mum, coming to terms with her parents’ suicides. An anonymous note suggests that things aren’t quite what they seem and Anna sets out to discover the truth.

There are two main women in Lucy Atkins’ latest book, The Night Visitor. Olivia is a very successful TV historian who appears to have it all – a great career and family. But she also has a secret. And Vivian knows what it is. Will she bring Olivia down?


These all sound fab but what makes an effective Crime book? What ingredients are needed?

Lucy – Character. A plot may be easily forgotten but characters are often remembered.

Clare – Relating the story to your innermost fears. She thinks this is why Domestic Noir is so popular.

Vicky – A compelling story but this applies to all fiction. She likes to look at different kinds of crime and is interested in the psychology of violence.

Beth – Murder can get a bit dull so a variety of interesting and destructive crimes are good. Character and a compelling voice is also important as is a different setting that takes you away from what you know.

FM Sep 18.3

A compelling voice is definitely important. How do the authors decide viewpoints?

Beth – She’s used 1st person narrator all the way through in both her books. She likes ‘outside’ viewpoints, especially children as they see trauma through innocence.

Vicky –  There are multiple viewpoints in Turn A Blind Eye. Her protagonist is DI Maya Rahman and is written in 1st person. Another officer, DS Dan Maguire is written in 3rd person. There’s a teacher who’s also in 3rd person. And the killer gets a look in as well.

Clare – There are two main points of view – Anna, the ‘woman in peril’ who’s written in 1st person, present tense. Clare does this so the readers are inside the head of Anna and feel the threat and fear more acutely. Her investigator, Murray Mackenzie, is 3rd person, past tense. This creates a more objective viewpoint. And then there’s a third viewpoint who talks directly to the reader, purely to mess with your head! [And this is done extremely well in Let Me Lie].

Lucy – We see the events in The Night Visitor through two different female viewpoints. But who can we trust? Who’s reliable? Lucy doesn’t really plan as such so she delves deep and her characters emerge.


Focusing more on specific characters…

Lucy – Vivian, in her 60s, is socially awkward and is probably Autistic but undiagnosed. Lucy has some knowledge and experience in this area and particularly wanted to look at women on the spectrum.

Beth – Momma is a tyrannical character but there’s still empathy for her. There’s a feeling from her children of not wanting to disappoint Momma.

Clare – Murray Mackenzie is an amalgamation of retired police officers that Clare used to know. It’s not uncommon for them to then work in a civilian role afterwards but they have a wealth of experience. But there’s more to Murray then just the investigation. His wife has mental health issues but Clare uses this to create depth to her characters. She doesn’t like to use mental health for a plot device.

Vicky – DI Maya Rahman is originally from Bangladesh but she moved with her family as a child. Vicky likes to write diverse characters and she used to live and teach in Tower Hamlets. Her experience from that helped to motivate the ideas for Turn A Blind Eye. She did lots of research and checked with people she knew to make sure that Maya was correct and believable.


All four books seem to touch on parental relationships. Was this deliberate?

Lucy – No. Her debut novel was much more about motherhood. Although Olivia is a mother and her children show her vulnerability, Lucy wanted to focus more on Olivia’s career.

Beth – It just came out in the writing so it wasn’t deliberate. Beth has an interesting family set-up but she wasn’t consciously thinking about it.

Clare – Not really a starting point as the twist is the main point. We sometimes only really understand our parents when we become parents ourselves (not meaning to be controversial as obviously not everyone is a parent) but it’s at that point we think of her parents as people. Anna becomes an investigator to find out her parents’ secrets. We often don’t find out about our parents until after their deaths and we discover things as we go through belongings. And there’s a feeling of stepping up to the next generation after the death of a parent.

Vicky – Maya has a complicated relationship with her mother. After the family arrived from Bangladesh, Maya, her sister and her father thrived but her brother and mother didn’t. Her mother didn’t learn English and her brother committed suicide. Her father has also disappeared. It’s a very interesting back story!


Final question from Rod – one thing you’d wish you’d known earlier and one writing tip.

Clare – She wishes she’d started writing earlier, that you don’t have to wait. Her tip – never start the day on a blank page. Finish in the middle of a page, paragraph or sentence. Write a few notes about what will happen next. That way you can go straight back into it.

Lucy – Writing is a skill that you need to learn but it will improve as you write more.

Vicky – Anyone can be a writer. You don’t have to do a course. Just write. But write stuff that really means something to you.

Beth – She wishes she’d known how long publishing takes! Savour all the pieces of the publishing journey. Trust your instincts.


So that was the end of First Monday in September. Well, almost. The lovely authors all provided prizes for a draw. And rather embarrassingly, I won! I’m very pleased though and I even christened the Turn A Blind Eye mug yesterday. Thank you to the authors for your kind gifts and to Big Green Bookshop for providing the bag!

FM Sep 18

First Monday will be back on the 1st October. Keep an eye out for the panel announcement. I have to make some apologies now though. I won’t be able to bake cookies that day for the authors (sorry!) and I might not even make it to First Monday due to a prior engagement. But I definitely plan to be there for November.

To find out more about the authors and buy their books:

Clare Mackintosh  – click here.

Lucy Atkins – click here.

Vicky Newham – click here.

Beth Lewis – click here.

Rod Reynolds – click here.




Blog tour for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final

I’m thrilled to take part in the tour for Louise Beech’s latest book, The Lion Tamer Who Lost. Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for asking me. My blog buddy today is the lovely Karen Cole over at Hair Past A Freckle. Feel free to check out her post. I have an extract for you to whet your appetite but first the blurb.


The Blurb

Be careful what you wish for…

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seem to be guided by fate. Or is it?

What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…

The Lion Tamer Cover

The Extract
I’m Going To Lie Here

Ben slept, knowing the lions would wake.
Andrew Fitzgerald, The Lion Tamer Who Lost
For the next five days Ben concentrates mostly on Lucy. He is grateful for the challenge Stig has set him; glad to have something to occupy so much of his time.
Each morning – after his solitary sunrise, the usual banter with Simon, and a muesli breakfast – Ben and Esther head to The Nursery. Calling hello to Lois, a volunteer who seems to spend time with the newborns around the clock, they collect their bottles of milk and then part ways, each with their own ward to tend.
As soon as Ben enters the dimly lit room, Lucy is up on her feet, snarling savagely. He stoops low on the straw-covered cement floor, about six feet away, and talks to her in an even tone, ignoring her teeth baring and swinging paw.
‘Look, milk,’ he says the first time. ‘You know you want some of this lovely stuff. You must be bloody ravenous, girl.’
Most cubs her age would have already begun the process of being weaned off their milk, but Stig insists Lucy should have three bottles a day for now. She should also be winded like a human baby so she doesn’t get tummy ache, but Ben can’t get close enough to do that.
The first bottle ends up being hurled against the wall by her left paw. Thankfully, it’s plastic so it bounces, and Ben retrieves it and tries again. Lions have a special organ on the roof of their mouths that picks up odours, so he unscrews the teat to let her smell the creamy contents more strongly, and holds the open bottle as near to her as he dares.
‘Come on, you stubborn little madam. I reckon you want this more than you don’t want me.’
She sniffs it. Growls softly. He screws the teat back on and holds it out, a little closer still, shaking it so that some drops spill on the floor to tease her. He has seen how most of the newborns are fed here. Volunteers cradle them closely, stroke their fur, whisper words of encouragement – giving them that feeling of being with a mother. The real mothers of these cubs are either dead or have abandoned them, so without the care at the project the babies would perish. Ben doesn’t think Lucy will let him stroke her while she drinks, but for now he doesn’t mind, if she will only take it.
In the end, he ignores her.
After a while, she approaches the bottle. Making no eye contact with Ben, she latches onto the teat. The noisy slurping as she drains the milk in minutes shows just how hungry she really is. Ben doesn’t speak, not wanting to disturb her. He doesn’t reach out to touch her, even though he longs to.
The hair on her back looks the coarsest, with dark little tufts dotted here and there like the bushes on the surrounding landscape. It appears softer at the sides, and particularly behind her ears, where it is most glossy and golden. Perhaps one day Ben will get to feel it under his fingers.
For now, he is just pleased Lucy has drained her first bottle.
‘Good girl,’ he coos. She snarls and returns to the far corner of the room.
His heart sinks.
After this, however, she takes her bottle at least. Each time Ben enters the room with one, she sits and allows him to feed her, the only sound her slurpy guzzles. Once done, she retreats. Ignores him. For hours in between these feeds, Ben sits about six feet away from her, talking gently, and crawling a little closer when she seems to calm. For this he receives just a clawy little scratch on his cheek as payment.
‘Well, cheers for that, Lucy.’
Ben wipes the blood from his face and looks at the crimson streak on his palm. Flashbacks engulf him. The circus. Blood streaming from a fingertip. A bathroom. A new baby. Blood staining every surface. A hospital ward. A streak of red near a radiator.
The clanking chain dispels the memories. Lucy is getting comfortable for a snooze. Ben can try as hard as he likes to bury them – he can devote his energy to making the most of his time here – but he is powerless when some random sound or sight or smell evokes them. Maybe if he looked back on the happier moments before he came here then the past would not haunt him so much.
But he knows what those good days will lead to.


Like the sound of that? Then click here to buy the e-copy or pre order the paperback which is due to be published on the 20th September.


The Author

thumbnail_Louise Beech


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her next book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.



Blog tour – Overkill by @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater #Overkill

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

My turn on the Overkill blog tour today. This fabulous book has made it’s way over from New Zealand. Thanks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part. My blog buddy today is Mart over at beardybookblogger.wordpress.com so feel free to check out his post.  Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.


The Blurb

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.

Overkill Cover

The Review

Well, I always think a sign of a good book is how difficult it is to put down. I read most of this book while at the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival,  in the middle of the night. Right from the opening paragraph, I was gripped –

The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die there were no harbingers, omens or owls’ calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited Death in.

The tension continues through the Prologue and doesn’t let up until the end of the novel. Sam Shepherd is the lone police officer for Mataura, a small town in New Zealand. Like other small towns, it’s affected by financial difficulties, loss of employment and secrets that crisscross their way across town like telephone wires. Sam Shepherd needs to tap into some of those wires to find out the truth.

Of course, the investigation doesn’t run smoothly (there’d be no drama if it did) and Sam is bumped off the case and suspended when it’s revealed that the victim was the wife of Sam’s former lover. So she has to put herself in danger as she hunts down the vicious killer.

I’m amazed that this is a debut novel. It’s incredibly well written, creating atmosphere and tension in equal measure. Sam Shepherd is a fabulous character, always determined to do the opposite of what she’s told, whether it’s her parents, or her boss, or her friend Maggie. I loved the slice of New Zealand life that Vanda Symon serves us, right down to the Toffee Pops biscuits (I want some of these!).

When I get gripped by a book, it’s sometimes hard to pin down what that special ingredient is, what it is that keeps me reading. In this case, I think it’s the chilling prologue. It had such an impact on me that I had to know who was responsible for Gaby’s murder. The best news about this book is that it’s the start of a series. There are more Sam Shepherd novels to come and I, for one, can’t wait.

You can buy Overkill here.


The Author

vanda_jacket_br (1)

Vanda Symon (born 1969) is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.