The Deaths of December – News & Events

Hello!

As you might have seen on social media, The Deaths of December is OUT NOW! I celebrated with a launch at Blackwells in Holborn on Tuesday night. It was great to catch up with lots of friends, family (and fans?!) and as usual, the book cover chocolates went down a treat!

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The blog tour runs until the end of November, so if you want to read reviews and several Christmassy guest posts by me, keep an eye on the blogs below:

I will be celebrating again on Tuesday, with a launch in Waterstones in Edinburgh (6.30pm, ground floor) – if you’re in the area, come along for a drink and a chat (and get yourself a signed copy!)

It’s been exciting to spot the book out in the wild – the first time I’ve had a book in a supermarket – thanks, Tesco (Osterley, Lisburn & Musselburgh)!

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If you’d like to come and see me chatting to fellow authors, I will be appearing at a few events in the run up to Christmas:

  • 29th NovemberBibliomaniac presents… Christmas Books at Bennett’s Club, Harpenden with Chloe Mayer, Sue Moorcroft and Jules Wake
  • 4th DecemberFirst Monday Crime at City University, London with Chris Whitaker, Louise Jensen and MJ McGrath (moderated by Claire McGowan) – tickets are FREE and include wine (sponsored by No Exit Press) plus special Christmas events: Secret Santa and Pitch The Audience (featuring Clap-o-meter)
  • 7th DecemberMurder in The Library at Osterley Library with Mark Hill and Tammy Cohen

If you fancy joining in with an online book club, with a chat running until the end of the month, pop over to Clare Mackintosh’s Facebook Event HERE

If you want to see what some of my fellow authors are saying about the book, you can go HERE and if you want to check out a brilliant video review by the amazing Angela Clarke, go HERE.

If you fancy winning a copy (and a load of other excellent goodies, as pictured below) – you can enter HERE (Closes 30th November) – Good luck!

If you have already read and reviewed the book – THANK YOU!!!!!

If not, you can buy it HERE 🙂

Merry (Scary) Christmas!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – Mel Sherratt #FollowTheLeader

ftl

Mel Sherratt‘s latest novel – the much anticipated follow up to Taunting the Dead – is a corker. Not just a perfectly executed, entertaining read for crime fans, it covers a topic that many people will relate to, but not many have the courage to talk about.

Bullying.

I’d like to hope that some people never experience bullying of any kind, whether it be at school, in the workplace, online, or even from family and friends. If you’re one of those people, you’re one of the lucky ones.

So here’s a very brave and personal post; Mel’s story, told in typical Mel fashion. From the heart.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

by Mel Sherratt

I’m often known for wearing my heart on my sleeve. And sadly I’ll never have a poker-face as my emotions are written all over it. But one thing I do have is courage. Writing a book about a serial killer who is one step ahead of the police while he seeks payback for his bullies – was it my therapy because I was bullied? In a way yes because it gave me an outlet to show how bullying can affect individuals. But mostly no – it just gave me a licence to twist and say ‘what if’ a lot more than possible reality. Well, hopefully!

We all know a bully, and we all know of someone who has been bullied. Let me share with you my experience. It started several years ago when I became ill almost overnight. I was then ill for years, with major surgery once a year for three years, eight emergency admissions to hospital via an ambulance, tests, scans, more tests, scans. If I could walk at all without passing out in pain (still not sure what that was all about), I walked with a limp. I couldn’t sit at my desk for long periods, and if I did I would often get up and pass out. My life became one long haul of dragging myself through a week of full-time work without passing out, getting home and that was it. I couldn’t even walk around the supermarket to do the weekly shop. It was during these times that my writing became my sanctuary.

It turns out that a fall in my early twenties resulted in the bottom disc of my spine being crushed beyond repair, damaging lots of nerves with it. Now, degenerating with age, my spine is curving to the right and putting pressure on my hip and I have permanent nerve damage – plus it seems I had three lots of surgery that I didn’t necessarily need. Since then, I’ve learned to live with the pain. Sadly I’ve had to forgo my love of killer high heels, but it’s a small price to pay.

During this time, when I was at my lowest, one person in particular mistook my condition for weakness. I was working at senior officer level, and in a nutshell, one of the manager’s made my life hell. I would work on a project for weeks on end and then be told it wasn’t necessary, nor was it good enough. I would be ‘spoken to’ in the manager’s office for hours (I’m talking three or four hours at a time) and told over and over that I needed to buck up my ideas. I would be sent to meetings with all the wrong paperwork, or not be given the relevant information I would need to complete a report, and then be told I was incapable of doing research. I was warned in front of other staff, criticised in front of other staff and was made to look totally incompetent continually. I was tripped up on every occasion possible. Why? I think it was because a project I had worked on had been a success and I’m not sure it went down too well.

I made a complaint through my union rep, other staff did too but sadly nothing happened. During the last three months before I left, I was sat in a tiny office on my own across from this manager. Up until that point I’d always shared an office. The atmosphere was so bad that none of the other staff that I worked with would dare come in to me as the manager would appear and ask what they wanted. It was awful. They were the lowest three months of my entire working life. Being constantly told that nothing I did was good enough, nor gaining any help when I asked for it was soul-destroying. Finally, I was made redundant as part of that manager’s ‘restructure.’ Honestly, I have never been so glad to be finished in my life – I would never have given that person the satisfaction of leaving.

On my last day, I didn’t feel that I could go in. Why should I? To sit in that room again for eight hours, all alone, with no one daring to speak to me for fear of repercussions? I’m not sure how I got in that day, pride I guess – I wasn’t going to lower myself to their standards by not showing up. But what I will never forget is as everyone was saying goodbye to me, my manager took my id card and went into a room closing the door in my face until I had left the building.

Looking back on the situation, I think I must have been one hell of a strong person to stick at it for four years, plus go in to work every day of those last three months. It made me into the person I am now. Yes, I am emotional but that’s me and I won’t apologise for it. I am a strong woman, kindof an underdog if you think about it. But actually, I’d like to thank my bully for making me into a stronger person. Yes, I have my down days but ultimately I know I can always get back up again. I have a fantastic set of friends, and I work for myself – no office politics for me.

So maybe that’s why my serial killer Patrick’s story seems so raw. Two wrongs most certainly don’t make a right, and of course this is fiction, but I wanted to show how someone damaged by bullies could be affected. Yes I write about a serial killer – which is a rarity in real life, thank goodness. But also, in Patrick, as well as understanding what he was doing, I wanted readers to understand his rationale for his justification – he thinks what he is doing is right.

And maybe it will make people think just how our actions might affect another person’s life and mental state.

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Thank you for sharing, Mel. That was a brave post.

Now, at the risk of sounding like a Jeremy Kyle researcher: Have you ever been bullied? Do you want to confront your tormentor? Perhaps you’ve been a bully, and you’re ashamed and want to apologise, but you’re scared. You can tell us in the comments, no need to mention any names. Get it off your chest. And if you need help, clicking here might be a good start.

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Mel Sherratt has been a self-described “meddler of words” ever since she can remember. Since successfully publishing Taunting the Dead and seeing it soar to the rank of #1 bestselling police procedural in the Amazon Kindmelle store in 2012, Mel has gone on to write three more books in the critically acclaimed The Estate Series and Watching over You, a dark psychological thriller.

She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and her terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer, with some help from her Twitter fans), and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for her writing.

Throwing a Lifeline #SaveCallumDoyle

It’s a huge treat for me to share this post with you. One of my favourite crime writers, David Jackson, has taken a new direction with his latest book. Not only is it slightly different in style, tone and the type of story it tells, Dave has decided to ‘go it alone’ and plunge into the world of Amazon White Glove (an agent assisted publishing programme) – in the hope of finding a wider readership for his New York detective series featuring Callum Doyle. Why he is not already a massive name, is a mystery to me; I’ve made no secret of the fact that I absolutely love this series. You don’t have to have read the others to enjoy this one, though – it works well as a standalone. What it will do though, is keep you reading all night and make you desperate for more 🙂

CRY BABY is out now. Over to you, Dave…

Throwing a Lifeline

So there’s this friend of mine, and I’m trying to save his life.

I should step in quickly here and add that this is nothing heroic. Not at all. This does not even register on the scale of what doctors and fire-fighters and police officers do on a regular basis. I certainly wouldn’t want to give that impression.

See, this guy doesn’t exist. Except in my head. And except in the heads of people while they are reading my books.

But maybe that’s enough. Fictional characters can seem real at times, can’t they? Drawn in enough detail, to include not merely their physical attributes but also their hopes and their fears and their memories and their desires, characters can leap from the page and cling to your consciousness for a long time.

When you walk down a street, what do you know of that stranger coming towards you? On a bus or a train, what can you say about the passenger opposite? They’re real – of course they are – but you don’t know anything about them. You might make certain inferences from the way they dress or walk or talk, but that’s about it.

And then there’s Callum Doyle, the detective protagonist in my crime thrillers. If you have read the books, you will know a lot about him. You will know that he has a mischievous and sometimes morbid sense of humour. You will know that he has a wife and daughter, both of whom he loves dearly. You will know that he boxed in his youth, and has a slightly bent nose to show for it. You will know that he was brought from Ireland to New York when he was just eight. You will know that he doesn’t cope well when women cry in his company. You will know that he has secrets – dark, dark secrets. You will know that he has killed.

Above all, you will have been in Doyle’s head. I’ll say that again: you have been inside Doyle’s head. How often are you able to say that, unless you are talking about a character in a book? You don’t even know your own partner or close family members that well. There’s an intimacy there that is possible only in the world of stories. And I, more than anyone, have lived Doyle’s life in parallel with my own.

It’s natural, therefore, that I should want to keep him alive. I gave him life; I don’t want to see his death. For a while, though, it has been looking as though that decision might have been taken out of my hands. I have been urged to move on to new things, new stories. And in response to that, I have begun writing another series of crime novels, based on an entirely fresh protagonist. I’m warming to this new guy. He’s going to be an interesting character to follow.

But I’m not giving up on Doyle so easily. He’s too compelling for that. He’s got more to give, more to show us.

And he does, in my latest novel called ‘CRY BABY’. This is Doyle’s lifeline. My hope is that enough readers will reach out and grasp it to make it obvious they want to grant him a future. We shall see.

* * *

 It’s every mother’s nightmare – the abduction of her baby.

That’s how it starts for Erin Vogel when she is attacked and left unconscious in her apartment. When she awakes, it is to find that Georgia, her six-month-old daughter, has been taken.

But Erin is given a chance to get Georgia back. At an unthinkable price.

Like most mothers, she has always said she would do anything for her child.Now the strength of thatbond is about to be put to the ultimate test.

And when her actions arouse the interest of a certain Detective Callum Doyle, one thing is inevitable: a confrontation that will be as explosive as it is unforgettable.

From the highly acclaimed author of Pariah, The Helper and Marked comes a nerve-shredding novel that questions the line we draw between good and evil.

Review

If you’re looking for a tense thriller that will have you frantically trying to work out the puzzle of what the heck is going on, this is your book. Erin is sent on a horrific, unthinkable mission, and although she thinks she’ll never be able to to it, she has no choice. Either she does what she’s told, or her baby dies. Yet there is something that doesn’t add up about it all, and there’s the added mystery of Albert, who has turned up at the police station claiming to have killed his mother. You know they have to be linked somehow, but good luck working it out!

This is the fourth in David Jackson’s series featuring Detective Callum Doyle, but don’t be concerned about reading this one out of sequence. It’s quite different from the rest and works well on it’s own – Erin is a fantastic character and you’ll be rooting for her throughout, despite what she does… Saying that though, I highly recommend that you read the other three books too, because when you get to know Doyle, you’ll want more – this book has the characteristic humour of the previous three, full of the types of people you wish you could meet in real life, mixed with a stylish and gritty New York setting.

I really hope that there’ll be a follow up to this one – Doyle is definitely one of my favourite series detectives, and David Jackson’s writing is a delight.

More at: www.davidjacksonbooks.com

Girl 4 by Will Carver #review

Detective Inspector January David has always put his professional before his private life, but the two worlds are about to clash horrifically as he visits his latest crime scene. He is confronted by a lifeless figure suspended ten feet above a theatre stage, blood pouring from her face into a coffin below. This gruesome execution is the work of an elusive serial killer.

Three women from three different London suburbs, each murdered with elaborate and chilling precision. And as January stares at the most beautiful corpse he’s ever seen, he detects the killer’s hallmark.

But Girl 4 is different: she is alive – barely. And January recognises her…

* * *

It’s not often that you read a book that is just so completely different to all of the others in the same genre. Not an easy thing to do, as most stories do seem to follow a similar plot or style, no matter how original they might think they are.

So imagine my surprise when I finally sat down to read Will Carver‘s Girl 4, the first of a series of supernatural serial killer novels featuring DI January David, and discovered that it was possibly the most unusual and unputdownable novel of its ilk?! Why have I not read this before?! Where have I been?!

What I liked:

  • several characters written in convincingly unique 1st person POV
  • a prose style that is sparse yet intelligent, witty and dark
  • completely satisfying twists
  • *contains magic*
… and it is just so damn clever.

Will Carver: I salute you.

* * *

Find out more at: http://www.willcarver.net/

Forward Slash by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss #review

Forward Slash is the fourth novel by crime writing duo Mark Edwards and Louise Voss and to sum up in three words – WHAT A CORKER!

The book opens with a graphic prologue from the POV of ‘him’ an unnamed creep who takes great pleasure in killing women and keeping various body parts as souvenirs. Some of the detail in this section may make you wince, but it’s an opening that hooks you in from the start; and for the squeamish among you, keep reading – it’s not all so gruesome!

Using the successful narrative structure employed in Voss and Edwards’ first novel Killing Cupid, the story switches between the first person viewpoints of Amy and her sister Becky as Amy tries to work out why  Becky would leave a bizarre note about going travelling, and vanish without a trace. Amy believes this to be out of character, but as Becky is a grown woman, the police are not interested. Plus, to back up her story, a photo pops up on Facebook of a beach, followed by a single tweet telling Amy to stop looking for her.

Amy employs the help of Gary, Becky’s (conveniently sexy…) neighbour to help try and piece together Becky’s recent movements to try and find out what happened to her; meanwhile, a young woman’s body has been discovered at the bottom of a dried-out cesspit…

The story explores the familiar idea of secrets – of no one really knowing who anyone is. Amy thinks she knows her sister well, but as we hear from Becky about what she got up to in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, it becomes obvious that things are not what they seem. Drawn by feisty, but bored teacher colleague Catherine, Becky has been led into a world of seedy internet liaisons that Amy had no idea about, and as Amy uncovers more and more about her sister’s life, her fear for her safety escalates.

The sections written from the killer’s POV are genuinely creepy and disturbing. There are clues to the killer’s identity, but there are also sufficient red herrings in there to throw you off the trail. As the book works to its conclusion, the feeling of anxiety ramps up as Amy races to find Becky – but in doing so, puts herself in danger… is it already too late to save her?

I literally couldn’t put this down, I read it until 3am, sure that I knew how it ended, with only a tenth of the book to go – but when I picked it up again the next night, it became obvious that it wasn’t quite as cut and dried as it seemed… I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, but I had absolutely no idea why;  and although desperate to know what was going on, I didn’t want it to end.

Some stand out pieces of description from the killer will make you feel sick, but enthralled; and a rather steamy kitchen sex-scene will definitely stick in your mind!

If you’re new to Voss and Edwards, I’d highly recommend reading all of their books – but for me, this is their best yet.

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Thanks to Mark & Louise and Harper Collins for the netgalley review copy.

Review: The Helper – David Jackson

First off I have to say that this book was more than eagerly awaited after I finished the first one in the series – Pariah. So when I got an email from Amazon to say it’d been released earlier than planned, I couldn’t wait to get started…

So I read it all in one go.

Then I was gutted because it was finished! I’d only planned to read a couple of chapters, having started reading it at 10.30pm, but it hooked me from the first line and I flew through it with heart-thumping, page-turning speed to the extremely clever denouement, finally dropping it down the side of my bed at 2.30am, when of course I couldn’t sleep! On uncovering the identity of the killer, I recalled feeling the same way when the twist of The Sixth Sense was revealed… there were clues all the way through, and in hindsight they should’ve been obvious… but they weren’t. Damn you M. Night Shyamalan and damn you David Jackson, you clever, clever people… 🙂

From the back cover: ‘A grisly murder in a shabby New York bookstore seems to hold a special significance for Detective Callum Doyle: the victim’s been marked with a message that could have been left especially for him. But why? Then the sinister phone calls start…’

What I liked most about the story is the way I was learning things and anticipating things at exactly the same time as Doyle, which is not always an easy thing to pull off. There was only one occasion where I overtook him, and I can’t tell you when it was without dropping a massive spoiler, but lets just say it was the character’s name that gave it away for me, and a certain book.

I was also pleased that one of my favourite minor characters from Pariah made a reappearance – Paddy the Barman. I was side by side with Doyle as we walked into that bar!

As well as the ever-brilliant Doyle, who more and more sounds like someone I want to have a beer with, the viewpoint of the killer and his crazy reasoning was both disturbing and fascinating… especially for me.  I do love a good serial killer…

Verdict: Better than chocolate*

*Pretty much nothing is better than chocolate 🙂