Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater #WorstCaseScenario #SomethingAboutMary

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the tour for Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald. I’ve heard such great things about this book that I knew I had to read it. Thank you to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for making that possible.

 

The Blurb

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

Worst Case Scenario Cover

My Review

I have to confess that I haven’t read The Cry. But I did watch it avidly on TV. So from that, I know Helen Fitzgerald can write believable characters. I know she can write tense, taut and twisty scenes. I know she has perfect timing in surprising her readers. However, I didn’t know how incredibly funny she is.

Mary Shields is a woman on the edge. You get the impression that she’s always been a bit of a rule breaker and has had a volatile life. But menopause has tipped her over the cliff and she’s desperately hanging on by her fingertips. Roddie, Mary’s husband, is away in Australia. As we read through the book, we discover that they balance one another. So with Roddie away, there’s no one to counter balance Mary. And Mary desperately needs that. Lurching from one disaster to another until she comes face-to-face with her worst case scenario. From that point on, life spirals completely out of control.

It sounds tense and tragic but there is such a rich vein of dark humour running through this story. In Worst Case Scenario we meet probably the most marginalised people in society – offenders – but Helen Fitzgerald doesn’t shy away from the reality of their situations. At times it’s an uncomfortable read and it’s the humour that makes it palatable. Having recently seen Janey Godley on Have I Got News For You, I was imagining her as Mary. I don’t know if this has been optioned for TV but I would love to see Janey play Mary.

As I am *ahem* reaching a certain stage in my life, there’s so much here I can relate to. In fact I think Worst Case Scenario should be provided on the NHS as a guide for the menopause. That sense of losing control is all too real. And the anger – oh, the anger! However, you don’t have to be in this position to appreciate Helen Fitzgerald’s writing. Hilarious, uncompromising and painfully accurate, Worst Case Scenario is a wonderful taboo-buster. Thank you, Helen,  for making invisible women visible again.

 

You can buy Worst Case Scenario here.

 

About the Author

Helen Fitzgerald Author Pic [10595]

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and nine other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011) and most recently The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She is one of thirteen children and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children. 

 

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First Monday Crime Interview – Peter Hanington and review of #ASingleSource @1stMondayCrime @HaningtonPhan

It’s less than a week until our First Monday Crime Summer Bonanza when we’ll have TEN authors! To get us in the mood I have an interview with one of our panellists – Peter Hanington. Peter is the author of A Dying Breed. As well as the interview, I’ve also had the chance to read and review his latest novel – A Single Source.

 

So Peter, tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a journalist, first for print and on a local newspaper and for the last 25 years a BBC radio producer. I’ve worked at GLR, 5 Live, Radio 4 (mainly on Today) and most recently at the World Tonight and Newshour on the World Service. I write under the heavy influence of the likes of Greene, Ambler and Highsmith and I try to write a little every day, even if its only a few words or a half formed idea. I’m married to Victoria Scott and have two children (19 and 24) one of who is travelling in South America and the other is studying Spanish and Politics in Glasgow. This is my second book, the first A Dying Breed was Sunday Times thriller of the month and is under option from Company Pictures.

 

How has your career as a news journalist impacted your writing?

Its at the root of it all really. When I started at Today I used to regularly become hypnotised by the wire service reports…story after story from all corners of the world which would march across my computer screen. It often seemed that these snap shots of drama, hope, horror could and should stand further examination and eventually that’s what I ended up doing…picking a handful of stories, fictionalising them and pulling them together to make a wider tale. The day job helps inspire but it also makes finding writing time tricky.

 

There are three plotlines in A Single Source. So, a purely practical writing question – how did you write this book? Which story came first?

I knew I wanted to bring my central character, William Carver, forward in time after his first appearance during the Afghan war and 2011 and the Arab Spring seemed an obvious choice. The refugee / migration crisis which as you say forms a second plot line springs naturally from that and for the last couple of years we have had refugees from Syria and Uganda (not Eritrea yet) living with us through the Refugees at Home charity and I wanted to try and write a little inspired by their various experiences. The third arms dealer element is also based in fact and inspired by some of the moral decisions that politicians were struggling with (or not struggling with at all) at that time. I mapped the three stories out on flip chart paper pinned to the walls of the shed and then over time found ways to bring the three together. A few reviews have described the book as something of a jigsaw and it isn’t the easiest read in the world but hopefully it rewards people sticking with it.

 

Although the novel is set in 2011 at the time of the Arab Spring, it’s still relevant today. Migrants were found off the coast of Kent this month and more died in the Mediterranean. But there’s less news coverage now. As a journalist and an author, how do you get the story heard amongst the clamour of everything else?

I think this is huge question… the refugee / migration crisis is going to become more urgent in coming years and is really a challenge to our humanity. I worry that some of the coverage is lazy and some is simply racist –  the journeys these people are making are incredible, the reasons they are leaving  are complex and the tragedies that are befalling them along the way are truly awful. Some of the media’s response (and a worrying number of politicians’ responses) is having a dehumanising effect that should make us all fearful and spur us to action.

 

To finish – on a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about appearing at First Monday Crime?

Its a stone cold 10.

 

Thank you Peter for taking the time to answer my questions. If you want to hear more from Peter then come along to First Monday Crime next week on the 3rd June. Make sure you reserve your seat by clicking here.

 

I’ve had the chance to read A Single Source. Before I share my review, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

Veteran BBC reporter William Carver is in Cairo, bang in the middle of the Arab Spring. ‘The only story in the world’ according to his editor. But it isn’t.

There’s another story, more significant and potentially more dangerous, and if no one else is willing to tell it, then Carver will – whatever the consequences.

A Single Source tells two stories, which over a few tumultuous months come together to prove inextricably linked. There are the dramatic, world-changing events as protests spread across North Africa and the Middle East, led by a new generation of tech-savvy youngsters challenging the corrupt old order. And then there are two Eritrean brothers, desperate enough to risk everything to make their way across the continent to a better life in Europe.

The world is watching, but its attention span is increasingly short. Carver knows the story is a complex one and, in the age of Facebook, Twitter and rolling news, difficult stories are getting harder to tell. If everyone is a reporter, then who do you believe?

A Single Source

My Review

A Single Source is the second William Carver book by Peter Hanington but it’s the first one I’ve read. Set in 2011, there are three plotlines based in Egypt, London and Eritrea. It took me a while to get into the book with three different storylines but I’m glad I persisted.

My favourite of the three is the Egyptian thread. The Arab Spring is in full flow and has reached Egypt. William Carver is one step ahead of the rest of the news journalists and is already making local contacts through Zahra, the receptionist at his hotel. I don’t want to give too much away but Peter Hanington has managed to recreate the tension of the Arab Spring – excitement mixed with real danger along with the belief that things really could change.

In Eritrea, brothers Solomon and Gebre are encouraged by their grandfather, Gabriel, to leave and travel to Europe. He has insured their safe passage at huge financial cost. We don’t often hear about migrants and refugees until they’re near our coastline. A few weeks’ ago two dinghies were found off the coast of Kent with migrants, thankfully alive. But more migrants had died prior to that in the Mediterranean. Through this storyline, we see the terrible predicament that people go through, risking everything for a better life.

Rob Mariscal, a former radio news editor, is now the Communications Director for the MoD. He’s good at spinning stories but he finds himself caught in a web of deceit. He’s tasked with taking down the person who’s threatening to expose a scandal that could rock the Government – William Carver.

To begin with, it’s hard to work out how these stories are going to mesh together but Hanington slowly does this, before picking up pace. A Single Source really packs some punches and is harrowing at times. Although this is fiction, Peter Hanington’s journalistic experience shines through and it feels all too real. This book may be set in 2011 but it’s still just as relevant today. Looking back, and I think the book hints at this, we have to ask the question, did the Arab Spring really achieve freedom? Or was it a perceived freedom which kept power in the same elite hands? I can’t think of another book (fact or fiction) that has made me think so much about today’s world. I’m intrigued to see what Peter Hanington comes up with next.

You can buy A Single Source here or buy it on the night and get it signed!

 

About the Author

Peter Hanington

Peter Hanington worked for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme for 14 years and throughout the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts. He initiated the special guest editor programmes and worked on special projects including collaborations with the Manchester International Festival and Glastonbury.

He still works for the BBC and lives in London.

Blog tour – Sleep by C.L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #daretosleep

Sleep_BlogTourP3

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Sleep by C.L. Taylor. I’ve read a few of Cally’s other books and absolutely loved them. Thank you to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part.

 

The Blurb

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Sleep cover

My Review

Oh my! Where do I begin? I’m not quite sure how C.L. Taylor manages it but she writes characters that seem to crawl into your head and take up residence. Anna is no exception. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about it and wondering how Anna was going to escape her nightmare scenario.

And being stuck in an isolated hotel, cut off from the rest of the island and the world by a terrible storm, is definitely a nightmare! I’ve read other books that have a similar set-up so it’s not easy to find a fresh approach. However, C.L. Taylor has managed to do so. Maybe it helped that Storm Gareth was crashing around outside when I read this novel but I really felt I was there, immersed in the storm and the story, panic rising all around me.

Multiple viewpoints add depth to the narrative as well as diversion. They also make great contrast with Anna’s paranoia and make you think about her reliability.

This is an outstanding book but the thing I liked about it the most is the exploration of guilt. When things go wrong, we look for someone or something to blame. Sometimes accidents are just accidents but we don’t seem able to accept that anymore. Blame culture is rife but as Sleep suggests, often the person responsible is more than capable of punishing themselves.

It’s hard to write about this novel without giving away spoilers. But what I can say is that I didn’t work out what was going on. It’s a very clever plot and I daren’t say more than that.

So, compelling characters, creepy setting and a clever plot – what more do you want? Sleep is definitely a contender for my top ten reads of 2019.

You can buy Sleep here.

 

The Author

C.L. Taylor

C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of six gripping psychological thrillers. They are not a series and can be read in any order:

2014 – THE ACCIDENT
2015 – THE LIE
2016 – THE MISSING
2017 – THE ESCAPE
2018 – THE FEAR
2019 – SLEEP

She has also written a Young Adult thriller, THE TREATMENT, which was published by HarperCollins HQ and is currently writing her second, which will be published in June 2020.

C.L. Taylor’s books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 25 languages and optioned for TV. THE ESCAPE won the Dead Good Books ‘Hidden Depths’ award for the Most Unreliable Narrator. THE FEAR was shortlisted in the Hearst Big Book Awards in the ‘Pageturner’ category.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.

 

 

Blog Tour – Black Wolf by G.D. Abson @garry_abson @TheMirrorBooks #BlackWolf

BLACK WOLF blog tour banner

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Black Wolf by G.D. Abson.  It’s the second in the Natayla Ivanova series after Motherland. Thank you to Mel Sambells at Mirror Books for inviting me to take part. I have the opening extract for you but first the blurb.

 

The Blurb

A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

BLACK WOLF_DARK EDGE

 

The Extract

Prologue: September 2012

Sometime after six the train stopped at Vologda. The smokers got up. Diana Maricheva stood too, clutching her school rucksack. She edged past the compartments, their little tables overflowing with tea mugs, beer bottles and abandoned playing cards. Outside on the platform, hawkers were selling herbal teas and packets of dried noodles. Her stomach tightened when she walked past them.

Diana found the toilets and handed over a twenty-rouble coin to the attendant. She wanted to freshen up without inviting any searching questions from the women in her carriage. Inside, she took off her T-shirt to wash her armpits, cleaned her underwear using soap from a dispenser, and then pushed everything back into her rucksack: school uniform, phone and charger, toothbrush and toothpaste. On the platform, she waited for the provodnitsa – a conductor of about her mother’s age – to check her ticket, before re-boarding the train.

They set off again, and Diana stared out of her dirty window watching the never-ending columns of larch trees roll by. The autumn sun caught her carriage and she turned away, seeing children half her age clamber over the bags and coats spilling into the corridor as they raced each other. In the next four-bunk compartment she saw pink-faced women fanning themselves while listless, bare-chested men spoke in low voices. She tucked her rucksack under her head and went to sleep.

After the train left Tyumen, the carriage filled with the smells of eggs, garlic kolbasa, and smoked ham. The two Chinese girls sitting on the opposite bunk opened plastic containers full of rice and fish. One of them gestured to her, making an imaginary bowl with a palm and scooping the contents with chopstick fingers. Diana shook her head, although the two piroshki rolls she’d bought for the journey were long gone.

Yesterday her stomach had growled from lack of food. Now it cramped tight as a fist. There was comfort in the pain, the muscles squeezing the shrimp inside her. That’s what it had looked like on the internet: a pink, curved creature with a tail, not the start of a baby. Now it was a simple equation. The less she ate, the more the shrimp would disappear. And she was bigger. It would be gone long before her.

The hunger and heat made her drowsy. For much of the three-day journey a dull half-sleep had overtaken her. She yawned, rubbing a hand over her face.

The train jolted to a halt. The two Chinese girls were sitting on the bottom bunk, each with a packed suitcase pressed between their knees. The one watching her turned away sharply as the platskartny passengers fought to leave. She waited for them to go, then twisted her arms into the straps of her rucksack. She stood. Her limbs went slack and she felt herself fall back onto her bunk.

When her head cleared, the two Chinese girls were gone, along with most of the carriage. Only two flabby men in sailor’s telnyashka blue-and-white-striped vests remained. Their suitcases scraped as they dragged them along. They stank of vodka and sweat. She followed them out – at a distance.

 

I don’t know about you but I’m slightly worried about Diana! To find out what happens you can buy Black Wolf by clicking here.

 

About The Author

Garry Abson

 

G.D. Abson was born in County Durham and grew up on army bases in Germany and Singapore before returning to the North-East. He is the author of Motherland, the first in a series featuring Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, and was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger.

Blog Tour – The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @deboc77 @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheDangerousKind #1in100People

Deborah O Connor Blogtour FINAL

I’m delighted to kick off the blog tour for The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor. This is Deborah’s second book but the first one I’ve read. I managed to get my hands on a proof last year at Harrogate and then it sat with all my other proofs in a bag that I dip into when I can! So I’ve only just read it. But I’m so glad I did as it’s a powerful read. Thank you to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of the tour.

1 in100

The Blurb

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.

What if the people we trust are the ones we should fear?

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My Review

Told through a variety of voices, this novel looks at the ‘dangerous kind’. The killers and abusers that no one saw coming. Those who wear a mask of civility to hide their sins. Jessamine Gooch is the main protagonist. A radio broadcaster of a ‘certain’ age, Jessamine is fighting to save her radio show whilst fighting her hormones. Having just read Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald, it’s encouraging to read about women going through the menopause. It’s something  I increasingly relate to. Unfortunately for Jessamine, her hormones get the better of her and she finds herself ‘released’ from her show for a while. But that allows her time to look into the disappearance of Cassie Scolari.

Jitesh is an 18 year old trainee at Broadcasting House. Crippled greatly by a stammer, he has other ways of making friends. Ways that may not be entirely legal. I particularly loved Jitesh and his story. He and Jessamine make an unlikely pairing together in the hunt for the missing woman.

We also hear from Jessamine’s daughter, Sarah. She’s a typical 14 year old who spends too much time on her phone. But maybe she spends too much time on one particular app talking to one particular person.

The final thread of the story is set in 2003 whereas the other three are current. Rowena is 13 and in a care home. I don’t think I need say anymore. These sections are heart-breaking. I wanted to read them but not read them at the same time.  Deborah O’Connor’s writing is just stunning.

I’m always impressed by authors who can write multiple viewpoints. Deborah O’Connor makes this look easy. Somehow she manages to weave all four stories together for a painful but powerful climax.

At the core of the book is hidden abuse, both past and present. It’s been a common theme in novels for a while now. Finding a new way to look at this isn’t easy but through the character of Jessamine Gooch, Deborah O’Connor has achieved it.

I was fortunate to see Deborah O’Connor at First Monday Crime this month. It was great to hear how Deborah got the inspiration for her novel. For her it was a collision of ideas. She’d heard Laura Richards, a criminal behavioural analyst, talk about a list of people that the police have. A list of possible dangerous people who are yet to commit a crime but have the potential to do so. At the same time, two other things were going on – Operation Yew Tree and the terrible plight of teenage girls in Rotherham. These three threads became a plot in Deborah’s brain. Although these storylines are deeply harrowing, Deborah always holds out hope that it will be OK in the end for her characters.

And I think there are three ‘H’ words that sum up this book perfectly – harrowing, heart-breaking and hope.

 

To buy The Dangerous Kind click here.

 

About the Author

Deborah O'Connor

Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer. Born and bred in the North-East of England, in 2010 she completed the Faber Academy novel writing course. She lives in London with her husband and her daughter. She has not worked at the BBC.

 

Euro Noir at West Barnes Library with David Young and Daniel Pembrey @djy_writer @DPemb @ZaffreBooks @MertonLibraries #Stasi77

Euro Noir 11
All photos by Beth Kluver

This was our fourth author event at West Barnes Library and joining us to discuss Euro Noir was David Young and Daniel Pembrey. David’s very successful Karin Müller series is set in East Germany and the latest book, Stasi 77, finds Karin dealing with some particularly difficult murder cases that initially looked like accidents. Daniel has previously written about his Dutch cop Henk van der Pol in The Harbour Master and Night Market but has also moved to Germany for his latest WIP (work in progress) as well as California. For both of them, having a European location actually allows greater freedom for imagination. It’s hard to be objective about a place you know too well.

Euro Noir eve 6

Imagination is one thing but they both felt it was vitally important to visit the place(s) they’re writing about. It’s one thing to look on Google Earth but quite another to actually be there and fully experience the sights, sounds and smells. As Daniel does a lot of travel journalism, he’s been able to utilise those trips for research purposes too.

Euro Noir eve 1

David and Daniel each have two threads to their stories. David’s main thread is with Karin in East Germany in 1977 and Daniel’s is contemporary California. Their other threads are both WW2 Germany. Apart from all the research, I also wanted to know if there’s added responsibility to get things right when dealing with historical matters. Both of them spent a lot of time looking at secondary sources to ensure accuracies in their writing. As David’s WW2 thread looks at an actual event, he took the time to visit the places where it happened.

Euro Noir eve 7

I asked how they created their protagonists. David had already set himself the hard task of writing about a closed European country set in the past, so why add the extra step of a female protagonist? David was keen to point out that women in East Germany were far more likely to be employed than women in the West. So it seemed quite natural to have a female police detective. He did have the benefit of checking with his wife and two female tutors on his MA Crime Writing course to make sure Karin was authentic. Daniel drew on his experience of living in the US for ten years to create his British private investigator who lives in LA.

 

I asked David and Daniel what’s next for them. David has written a book set in Japan. (I’ve also heard on the grapevine that there may be a book 5 for Karin – hooray!). Despite saying that it’s hard to be objective about a place you know well, Daniel has started something London-based but it’s very early days.

A big thank you to David and Daniel for entertaining us so well. Thank you also to the Friends of West Barnes Library for putting on the event.

 

 

To find out more about David Young and buy his books click here.

To find out more about Daniel Pembrey and buy his books click here.

We’ll be back quite soon on Monday 24th June with Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan as we discuss Murder Most Indian. Vaseem will explore the background to his Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, talking murder, priceless diamonds, and corpse-eating vultures. He will also answer the intriguing question: how do you fit an elephant into a crime story? Alex Khan meanwhile will take us behind the scenes of Bollywood where murder, sex and glamour are all in a days’ shooting. Literally.

 

First Monday Book Review – Their Little Secret by @MarkBillingham @1stMondayCrime @LittleBrownUK #TheirLittleSecret #ThorneIsBack

First Monday/Tuesday Crime is now just around the corner. Have you reserved your seat yet? If not click here.

To give you some idea of what to expect I’ve just read Mark Billingham’s Their Little Secret and it’s published today. So happy publication day, Mark! And thank you to Little, Brown for letting me read an advance copy through NetGalley. But before I share my thoughts, here’s the blurb.

 

The Blurb

She says she’s an ordinary mother.
He knows a liar when he sees one.

Sarah thinks of herself as a normal single mum. It’s what she wants others to think of her. But the truth is, she needs something new, something thrilling.

Meanwhile, DI Tom Thorne is investigating a woman’s suicide, convinced she was driven to do it by a man who preys on vulnerable women.

A man who is about to change Sarah’s life.

My Review

Now, I have a slight confession. Mark Billingham has written a ridiculous amount of books but this is only the third one I’ve read. I’ve previously read Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne) and Die of Shame (Nicola Tanner). The two characters come together in Their Little Secret and I love the way they work and wind each other up. Nicola has a very sensible down to earth approach whereas Tom’s life just resembles the Country and Western songs he loves so much – only happy when he’s miserable.

Thankfully both he and Nicola (who’s still grieving for her dead partner) have a case that stretches and tests them. Tom Thorne is called to a suicide at a Tube station. It’s meant to be an open and shut case but there’s something that bothers him. Something off kilter that niggles. As Tom and Nicola start to investigate, they discover that their perpetrator isn’t going to be easy to spot. How do you find someone who manages to transform like a shape-shifter and then hides in plain sight?

Mark Billingham has a writing style that’s easy to read, even with changes of viewpoints. I particularly liked it when we heard from Sarah, the single mum. Now (trying not to give any spoilers) if I’d come across Sarah at the school gate, I think I’d have rumbled her. I’ve been doing the school run for 14 years (!) but all schools work differently. At our school, the parents wait with their children by the classrooms but at others the pupils go in straight from the gate. I liked the slow reveal about Sarah and certainly at the beginning I was convinced by her.

I also like the little ironic touches Mark Billingham puts in, such as the congregation singing Amazing Grace at a Humanist funeral and the special reference to The Blacksmith and Toffee Maker pub, just across the road from City University. I’d like to think that Mark included it especially for First Monday Crime. The irony, of course, is that it’s currently shut and so we won’t be going there next Tuesday!

Although most of the story is tied up, there is one loose thread at the end. In one way, it’s really annoying but in another, it mimics real life cases where criminals keep their mouths shut, refusing to reveal their final little secret. There’s a particular real life case that Mark Billingham refers to (I won’t say as it’s a spoiler) and in the final chapters, the pain of the fictional victim’s family member is evident. But it made me think of the families of the real life victims and the terrible suffering they have gone through.

I don’t think you need to have read all the DI Tom Thorne books to enjoy this. It works well as a standalone as Mark Billingham adds in background information for his characters. I enjoyed Their Little Secret immensely.

 

If you’re able to get along on Tuesday 7th May then you’ll be able to buy a book and get it signed by Mark. If you can’t make it then you can buy Their Little Secret here.

And remember to reserve your seat if you want to come and listen to Mark Billingham discuss Their Little Secret with the First Monday (Tuesday) panel! Click here.

 

About the Author

Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. A former actor, television writer and stand-up comedian, his series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award as well as the Sherlock Award for Best British Detective and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller IN THE DARK was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, SLEEPYHEAD was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. Each of his novels has been a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and a BBC series based on the standalone thrillers IN THE DARK and TIME OF DEATH was shown in 2017.

Mark is also a member of Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. Performing alongside Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville, Doug Johnstone and Luca Veste, this band of frustrated rockers murders songs for fun at literary festivals worldwide.