Fair winds and following seas… Launching Tenacity by JS Law

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 12.29.50Bestselling author Patricia Cornwell calls it ‘addictively readable’… and on Thursday evening, despite the trains conspiring against me, I had the great pleasure of attending the launch of James Law’s Tenacity, at The Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.

I went on a ferry, caught up with writing friends and met some new ones (there were close to 200 hundred people there!) loads of books were signed, many jugs of Pimms were consumed, two (yes TWO) Lord Mayors attended, James was interviewed by Emlyn Rees, there were readings by John Taylor, and I got to go on a real submarine…

…which was great fun, but the thought of spending up to 2 months at the bottom of the sea cooped up like a sardine, did not really appeal – huge kudos to the submariners who do this for a living!

Well done to James Law and Headline for creating a very unique launch for a very unique book. I also got to stay in a very scary hotel, but luckily I had CrimeThrillerGirl for company 🙂

Pics gallery below…

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Here’s the blurb…

Suicide must be investigated. Especially when a Royal Navy sailor kills himself on a nuclear submarine, only days after his wife’s brutal murder. Now Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy’s finest Special Branch investigator, must interrogate the tight-knit, male crew of HMS Tenacity to determine if there’s a link. Isolated, and standing alone in the face of extreme hostility, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival. Justice must be served, but with a possible killer on board the pressure is rising and her time is running out…

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Over at Shots Magazine, James told me: 

“I used a lot of anecdotes and real experiences to help form elements of the story and the characters, but if twenty years in the Royal Navy taught me one thing, it’s ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’. So the accuracy is pretty good, though I obviously had to conform to security rules, but in places I changed what I needed to, to make the story entertaining and hopefully gripping. I should say that although there are lots of nasty, evil submariners in Tenacity, my true experience of submariners is worlds away from that. Submariners are a close-knit community of some of the best, most generous and committed men and women I’ve ever met, but that wouldn’t make for much of a crime-thriller.” You can read the rest of this interview, including James’ reaction to Patricia Cornwell’s quote, HERE.

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What did I think of it? 

Dark, tense and claustrophobic – and that’s just the opening chapter. This is a story about Lt Danielle ‘Dan’ Lewis, a flawed, determined female naval officer tasked with the investigation of a suicide that may not be all that it seems. Possibly they best possible setting for a ‘locked room mystery’, this is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. There is a large cast of characters, with perfectly-drawn villains and good guys that you just can’t help but root for. The author has done an excellent job of taking a predominantly male environment, and opening it up to a wider audience. The descriptions are vivid, the prose is tight and fresh – and there are some excellent one-liners and some brilliant naval slang that gives it a entirely realistic feel – which isn’t surprising when you hear that the author was a submariner himself. If you want something a bit different from your usual crime thriller, then this is it. Highly recommended.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it… already some great reviews coming in from Adrian Magson (Shots), CrimeThrillerGirl and Grab This Book… and it’s already hit the nationals, with a write up in The Sun. Nice work, James.

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J. S. Law started in the navy as an apprentice engineer and worked his way up through the ranks. He has worked on helicopters, ships and towards the end of his naval career, submarines. He is a passionate advocate for education and now works providing nuclear training and education to the defence and civil sectors. James lives in Hampshire with his wife and his two children. Tenacity is his debut novel and the first in the Lieutenant Danielle Lewis series.

Find James on facebook and twitter.

Website: http://www.jslawbooks.com

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Thanks to Headline for the proof copy, and to CrimeThrillerGirl and Daniel Pembrey for letting me steal some of their pics.

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary #review

Even though I flew through the pages, Sarah Hilary‘s incredibly assured debut, Someone Else’s Skin is a difficult read. Not because it’s not well written (the language and style is quite beautiful and unique, and I put this down to Sarah’s skills as a short story writer, her ability to tell a story using the perfect words in a shorter medium) but because the subject matter – domestic violence – is a difficult one to let into your head.

Hilary has stayed away from graphic violence for the most part leaving it to the reader’s imagination, but many of the scenarios are ones which will stick in your head for a long time after you’ve stopped reading. Each of the main female characters, Ayana, Hope and Simone have experienced very different and all very shocking events – leading them to end up in a womens’ refuge.

It’s the refuge that kicks things off in this story, when a male intruder is stabbed and left for dead – leaving DI Marnie Rome, DS Noah Jake and victim support worker, Ed Belloc to work out what’s gone on. Rome has issues of her own to deal with, having arrived home 5 years earlier to find both of her parents murdered. Her own demon is guilt – for rebelling against them and for not being there to save them – and she addresses this in unconventional ways.

Although a police procedural in the usual sense, this novel is much more of a character piece, highlighting the far reaching effects of domestic violence, and the way that the most seemingly obvious things are not always cut and dried. Each of the characters has something to offer – even Rome’s boss with his recovery from illness, that makes you flip back the pages to see the point where it started. It’s this attention to detail that makes this book stand out.

The ending works perfectly, tying up most of the loose ends, but leaving just enough strands for the sequel; and I’m very much looking forward to reading about what Rome et al will be investigating next.

Oh, and I’d like to offer the author an award: ‘Most innovative use of a kettlebell in crime fiction’ 😉

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Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until February 2014 for this book. I was lucky to receive a proof copy in my Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival goody bag (thank you, Headline)