As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Orenda Books, 6 October 2016. ISBN:
Abuse within marriage has been very much in the news lately, largely
because of the radio story which has been hitting the headlines; but Michael J
Malone’s chilling psychological drama puts a different twist on it.
been tragically widowed before he was thirty, Andy Boyd never thought he’d find
love again. But then he meets Anna. Unfortunately she is not all she seems; her
own past has left her damaged, as Andy begins to discover when they have been
married only a few hours.
Over the next few years, Andy’s entire life takes a downward spiral as Anna
not only corrodes his confidence and ability to concentratebut also drives a wedge between him and his
family. Like many people, I have often wondered why abused spouses don’t simply
walk away, but this novel makes it very plain that sometimes it just isn’t that
Domestic drama of this kind could become a little repetitive, and to
avoid this pitfall Malone weaves another strand through the heartrending
accounts of violence and denigration. Money has been going missing at the bank
where Andy is a manager, and as the powers-that-be launch their investigation,
in addition to the treatment meted out to him at home, he also has to deal with
his immediate boss, who is not only inefficient but thoroughly disagreeable as
The resulting tale makes for a gripping read based around well-drawn
characters it’s easy to care about, though it’s not without a few flaws. Malone
is an award-winning poet, so the quality of the writing is impeccable –
occasionally, perhaps, a little too much so; stopping to admire a beautiful
phrase or image can hold up the narrative as effectively as wincing at an
unfortunate one. And if Malone believes a two-year-old remains unaffected by
tensions at home, he can’t know many two-year-olds.
But these are minor points; taken overall, Michael J Malone has done a
grand job of raising consciousness about a very human issue without resorting
to preachiness. It just goes to show that fiction is an excellent medium for
illustrating big truths.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Michael J Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns'
country, just a stone's throw from the great man's cottage in Ayr. Well, a
stone thrown by a catapult, maybe. He has published over 200 poems in literary
magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland
and Markings. Blood Tears, his debut
novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association
of Writers and when it was published he added a "J" to his name to
differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake. He can be found
on twitter - @michaelJmalone1
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.
Published by Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, 16 June 2016. ISBN: 978-1-474-60451-2
Walter Moseley’s first novel Devil in a Blue Dress was published in
1990. Ezekial (Easy) Porterhouse Rawlins returns to Los Angeles after World War
II, to find his home town a place as full of tension as the Europe he has just
risked life and limb liberating. Easy is a black war veteran, out of work and
up against the world.
Five years later
the film of the book was released, starring two of the current greats of
American cinema – Denzel Washington as Easy and Don Cheadle as the forever
menacing Raymond Alexander (Mouse). Since then Easy Rawlins has moved into
legend. And earlier this year, Moseley received the Grand Master Award from the
Mystery Writers of America. It is no
surprise that Moseley, himself a black native of LA, is so tuned into the flow
and the dangerous vibe of the world Easy Rawlins inhabits.
a long way from West LA to Watts. It’s the same city but a darkness closes as
you progress eastwards. You pass from white dreams into black and brown
realities. There were miles to cover but distance was the least of it. It was
another world where I was going.
since Devil in a Blue Dress, Easy
Rawlins is back in Charcoal Joe. It is 1968, just after the Watts riots, and
Easy has come a long way in twenty years. He has opened a detective agency with
two partners, he has money in the bank and he is about to propose to Bonnie. Then
he gets a visit from Mouse and everything goes to hell.
Charcoal Joe, the
man who pulls most of the strings in the LA underworld – currently spending a
few months in the Avett Detainment Facility – wants Easy to clear the name of a
young friend arrested for the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Seymour
Braithwaite is a Doctor of Physics, smart and going places if only he can get
Easy owes Mouse his
life and Joe is not a man to be crossed, but this is no small favour they are
asking. And as the story progresses, the shorter become the odds on Easy’s
survival. He finds a host of violent people on his trail. With his hands full
and his life in danger, he is menaced, beaten up, double crossed and gets his
heart broken. The life which seemed so potentially glorious a few days earlier,
disintegrates into a shambles. Being black and on everybody’s wrong side
doesn’t help. At one point he mutters ruefully…
we came from ‘he’s dead’ was as common as ‘he’s sick’ or ‘he’s saved’.
Joe is a tough,
no punches pulled story which motors along. Lean, sharply observed and witty,
with sequences of diamond hard dialogue. Peopled by memorable characters,
unflinchingly well drawn. And full of moments of Walter Moseley ironic wisdom…
stood there alone and assured, as American as redwoods and Manifest Destiny.
This novel is
exciting, mysterious and as always with Moseley, contains huge chunks of
Mosley is one of America's most
celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have
been translated into more than twenty languages. Mosley is the author of the
acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless
Jones series, including Fearless Jones,
Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark;
the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream; and two collections of
stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always
Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf
Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He lives in New York City.
worked in arts and entertainment business since the mid 70s. Beginning as a
theatre writer and director – specialising in work by Alan Plater, Howard
Brenton, Joe Orton, Harold Pinter; and European writers Samuel Beckett, Max
Frisch and Bertolt Brecht. He took this
experience into television and joined ITV company, Granada, as a writer and
producer; which in the mid 80s, launched a second career as an independent
screenwriter/producer/director.Recently, after a decade as a script producer, edit
producer and executive producer, he sat down at his desk and decided to go back
to writing full time.
Published by Pan, 8
September 2016. ISBN 978-1-5098-1541-8
The illegal trade in rhino
horn is the eco-crime at the heart of this new novel by Tony Park who writes
books set in Africa. For decades the trade in elephant tusks has been in the media
but Tony Park focuses on the equally lucrative trade in rhino horn, a currency
worth millions in Asia and Russia. The setting of Namibia with its tantalising
wildlife and barren coastlands provides a backdrop with a difference for this
The main character, Sonja Kurtz, is of Germanic decent and grew
up in Namibia. Sonja trained as a soldier and now works as a mercenary. The
story unfolds with Sonja on a revenge mission in Vietnam where she is out to
assassinate one of the ringleaders in the trade in rhino horn, a man who is
responsible for the death of her husband Sam.
When Sonja receives a text from her daughter, Emma, asking
for help, she rushes to Namibia to rescue her. Emma is working as a trainee on
an archaeological site in Namibia's Etosha National Park where she discovers the body of an airman dating from
the war in the 1980s. In fact, Emma's incomplete text was prematurely sent and
she isn't in danger at all until word gets out about the discovery, then she and
her colleagues are soon dragged into a struggle for survival.
Michael Allchurch is still looking for his pilot son,
Gareth, whose plane went missing during the war. Allchurch is desperate to find
out what happened and why his son was on an unauthorised flight. The discovery
of the airman at the dig provides the missing piece of the puzzle as to where
the plane might be and leads him and others on a chase to find it and a cargo
people are willing to kill for.
With large-scale shoot-outs, helicopters and action-packed chases
across the wild Namibian countryside, the multi-viewpoint narrative allows the
reader to know the danger the main characters are going to be in and creates
great tension. A good read if you want something a bit different.
Reviewer Christine Hammacott
Tony Parkwas born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of
Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and England, a
government press secretary, a public relations consultant, and a freelance
writer. He is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve and served six months
in Afghanistan in 2002 as the public affairs officer for the Australian ground
forces. He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between their home in
Sydney, and southern Africa, where they own a tent and a Series III Land Rover
Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy.
She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates
covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the
psychological effects of crime. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash was published in 2015.
by Simon and Schuster, 10 March 2016. ISBN: 978-1-4711-3191-3(PB)
Berlin 1938. The city is jubilantly celebrating
Hitler's birthday. But at the same time there are those in Berlin who lead
double lives. One of those is the film actress Clara Vine, half-English and
half-German. Because she is a film star she has been taken up by some of the
wives of the Nazi elite who gossip interminably, particularly Magda, wife of
Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister in the Hitler government and one of the
dictator's most fanatical supporters. (Being befriended by Magda Goebbels is
not dissimilar to being befriended by a poisonous black tarantula!) What no-one
suspects is that Clara has also been recruited by British Intelligence to report
back on all the gossip she picks up. British Intelligence is especially
interested in anything confirming the rumours that Germany and Russia are about
to enter into a non-aggression pact. And Clara has a secret even more dangerous
to herself; her German mother was actually Jewish and Clara's identification
papers are forgeries.
Meanwhile the body
of Lotte Franke from the Faith and Beauty Society which trains suitably Aryan
young women to be wives of the Nazi elite has been found in a shallow grave in
woods outside Berlin. (The Society really existed; I thought it sounded too
absurd to be true but online research showed that that was not the case.) The
murder is dismissed as the act of a maniac but Lotte's friend and fellow
student Hedwig Holz knows that there was something more: Lotte had a secret
lover. And she had hinted at a major secret. Clara had known Lotte and felt
that the intelligent, independent-minded girl was not committed to life as a
Nazi bride. But Clara has her own troubles: Magda Goebbels has murmured that
there are people within the Nazi ranks who are suspicious of Clara. Is Magda's
warning genuine or is she activated by malice? And what is the role of the
handsome SS officer Konrad Adler? Is he just an Aryan automaton? Or is he
something else? What was Lotte Franke's secret and did it lead to her death?
And, for Clara above all, what has happened to Clara's lover, the British
Intelligence officer Leo Quinn who had recruited her into undercover work? Is
he, as she has been told, dead? Or is that yet another lie?
I heard Jane
Thynne speaking at an event in Chiswick Library on September 19th.
She was one of four writers who had set books in Germany before, during and
after World War II. And I discovered she is the wife of the writer Philip Kerr
whose Bernie Gunther novels, some of which have been reviewed in Mystery
People, cover that period although I can't pretend to have read them all.
Jane Thynne has used extensively the diaries of various Nazi wives particularly
that of Magda Goebbels. It seems that the marriages of the various Nazi leaders
were tumultuous to a degree and the leaders themselves loathed each other
almost as much as their wives loathed their husbands, their husbands'
mistresses and each other. For me this was a real eye-opener as was just how
delusional was the myth of Aryan racial superiority and the extraordinarily
ridiculous lengths to which the so-called scholars of the time were prepared to
go to support it. The myth was ludicrous, leading to the proposition that Tibetans
and Mongols were really Aryan and that the builders of the Inca and Mayan
temples were descended from Aryan tribes who settled in South and Central
America a million years ago! One might laugh except that the consequences for
Jews, gypsies and other groups deemed sub-human were so terrible. Today, of
course, thanks to scientific research, we know that human evolution is a far
longer, far more complex and infinitely more interesting story.
I was also struck
by a fundamental difference between the two writers albeit that they share a
home and family. Far be it from me to suggest that all male writers write in
one way, and women writers write in another way. They don't; nor should they.
But in the Bernie Gunther novels Bernie has a number of relationships none of
which ultimately work out and I suspect he doesn't really try. He is
essentially a cynical, wisecracking loner. However, although Clara is also the
protagonist who features in Jane Thynne's novels, her attitude to her lover Leo
and his to her are quite different; her love for him is intense and profound
and one senses that his love for her is the same, whatever the truth about his
apparent disappearance.As for what
happens to them both that will have to wait for more novels in the series. The
same is true of Hedwig, Lotte's friend, and her Polish-origin beloved Jochen,
active in the Rote Kapelle anti-Nazi movement: will they survive the horrors of
World War II? I rather liked Hedwig: essentially innocent and lacking in
self-confidence and, although supporting the Nazi ideology - after all in the
totalitarian state it was all she knew – yet aware that something was very
wrong and prepared in the end to follow her conscience and do what was right.
I was deeply
impressed with this book, both the gripping story and the research which went
into it. I shall look for the previous Clara Vine novels – Black Roses, The
Winter Garden, A War of Flowers – and await eagerly the next in the series,
Reviewer: Radmila May
Jane Thynne was born in Venezuela and educated in
London. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English and
joined the BBC as a journalist. She has also worked at The Sunday Times, The
Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as for numerous British magazines.
She appears as a broadcaster on Radio 4. Jane is married to the writer Philip
Kerr. They have three children and live in London. Find out more at
www.janethynne.com connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter
Radmila Maywas born in the U.S. but
has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague.
She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for
many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them
including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late
husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015.
She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two
of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is
to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now
concentrating on her own writing.