First Monday Crime Book Review – Red Snow by Will Dean @1stMondayCrime @willrdean #RedSnow

First Monday Crime is back for 2019 and has a fantastic line-up to kickstart February! Christopher Fowler, Lucy Foley, Will Dean and Gytha Lodge will be put through their paces by Barry Forshaw. To get you in the mood, I have a review for one of the hottest new books – Red Snow by Will Dean.

The Blurb


One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?


Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.


Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

red snow

My Review

When I read Dark Pines last summer, the October weather portrayed in the book helped to cool me down. But Red Snow is set in February and it’s very, very, very cold. Like -20 degrees. Brr! And we complain when the thermometer hits zero! How anyone can function in that temperature is beyond me. Yet in the small town of Gavrik, life has to continue. Particularly at the Grimberg Liquorice Factory. Along with the Paper Mill, it’s one of the main employers for the town. Tuva Moodyson, reporter for the local paper, is due to leave to start a new job in a couple of weeks. But when she witnesses the apparent suicide of Gustav Grimberg, she knows she can’t leave Gavrik without solving the mystey of his death.

Although I like standalone books, I much prefer series novels. I love finding out more about the main protagonist and seeing his/her life develop. I also find it much easier to get into the story as I know the style of writing. So it felt as though I was meeting up with an old friend when I began reading. With Red Snow, Will Dean proves that he is much more than a one-hit wonder. Tuva Moodyson is such a fantastic character. It’s not easy for a man to write a female character in the first person but Will Dean manages to do so with great aplomb. This time we find out more about Tuva’s fears and desires, and all with sardonic wit. My favourite line is Tuva (or rather Dean) describing the sewage works as ‘A swirling, steaming soup of poop’. Tuva’s personal story is balanced well with the suicide and later murder. Neither parts of the plot dominate but instead weave well together.

And then there’s the freezing setting of Gavrik – the small town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business. I loved the description of all the layers of clothes that the residents have to wear just to survive the extreme cold. The casseroles that they leave outside because who needs a freezer in this weather?   The long winters must be quite oppressive – the feeling that they’ll never end, increasing the sense of claustrophobia. It’s almost as though Gavrik is in a snow globe. Escape to the south can’t come quick enough for Tuva. But will it bring her happiness?

Dark Pines was great but Red Snow is even better. Tuva Moodyson is definitely here to stay. Roll on book three!


There’s still time to reserve your free seat for First Monday – just click here.

Books will be available on the night for all the authors who will happily sign them. If you can’t be there then you can buy Red Snow by clicking here.


The Author

Will Dean

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. He is the author of Dark Pines.




Review – The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK #ThePuppetShow

Happy paperback publication day to M.W. Craven for The Puppet Show! I was lucky enough to get a paperback proof at Harrogate last summer (thank you Steph Rothwell!). I’d heard lots about the book and I’ve now finally read it.

The Blurb

Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …

the puppet show

My Review

Set in Cumbria, the main protagonist is DS Washington Poe. He had previously been a Detective Inspector but there’s an excellent back story as to why he’s been demoted. In some respects he’s the archetypal police maverick – loner, drinks a bit too much and is willing to break the rules. Having said that, Craven has made sure that Poe isn’t a cliché and one way he’s achieved this is by pairing him with Tilly Bradshaw, a civilian analyst. Tilly is socially awkward but fantastic at her job. To me, she reads as though she’s on the autistic spectrum. I don’t know if M.W. Craven had intended this but if so, it’s great to have characters like this.

The plot is quite dark. A serial killer appears to be targeting random individuals and setting fire to them – not a nice way to go! Poe is on suspension but it’s lifted when one of the victims has Poe’s name carved into his body. This is an intricate plot which unfolds beautifully. I liked the way that Craven focuses in on the mundane part of police work – searching CCTV footage for example – as well as the lightbulb moments that all fictional detectives have.

The setting is fantastic. It’s always good to get away from the main cities and Cumbria exemplifies this. There are of course the tourist areas, particularly around the Lakes, but there’s also a terrific sense of wilderness. The murders take place inside stone circles adding to the creepy sense of place.

This is a great start to a new series and I look forward to reading the next instalment of Poe and Bradshaw.

You can buy The Puppet Show here.


The Author 

mike (mw) craven

M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance abuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals…

The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.



Blog Tour – Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb @CrimeThrillGirl @OrendaBooks @annecater #DeepDirtyTruth #TeamLori

Deep Dirty Truth Blog Tour Poster

I’m delighted to take part in the blog tour for the latest Lori Anderson adventure – Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb. Thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for asking me to take part. And a very big thank you to Steph for sending me the book as part of #TeamLori. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.

The Blurb

A price on her head, and just 48 hours to expose the truth, and save her family…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob, who they want her dead. But rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With only 48 hours before North is due to appear in court, Lori sets across Florida, racing against the clock to find him, and save her family…

Deep Dirty Truth AW.indd

My Review

She’s back! One of my favourite kick-ass female protagonists – Lori Anderson. Seriously, this poor woman never gets a break. JT is slowly on the mend after being attacked by the Miami Mob. But the person they’re really after is Lori and they find her right at the beginning of the book. In order to lift the ‘kill’ order that’s been placed on her, Lori is tasked with doing a job for Old Man Bonchese. One of his men has gone rogue and is in hiding with the FBI. All Lori has to do is find him and bring him home. Simple, eh?

This novel hurtles along at break-neck speed. Although we mostly hear from Lori, there are some chapters from JT’s perspective. He and Dakota (his and Lori’s daughter) have to go into hiding as the Mob are also after them. Being apart puts a strain on Lori and JT’s relationship as JT discovers more about his daughter’s illness.

We also get to see Dakota in a whole new light. Although she’s scared and JT does his best to protect her, she has oodles of fighting spirit – not surprising given her parents.

I absolutely loved this book. Just everything is right – from the plot to the characterisation to the setting as we weave in and out of the southern States, including the ominous ‘Gator’ country. The authenticity of Steph’s language is, as always, impressive. I raced through the story as the tension grew, wondering how Lori was going to get out of her latest escapade.  For me, this is the best Lori Anderson so far. And, judging by the ending, I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

You can buy Deep Dirty Truth as an e-book now or pre-order the paperback for 24th January here.


The Author


Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most
of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego –
Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging
at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest
releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls.
Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University
London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori
Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and
chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good
Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.